How To Start An Art Business

How to Start an Art Business

The days of the starving artist are over, we promise! What we used to believe to be a struggling profession has earned the reputation to be an incredibly profitable and fulfilling career. Trust us, we’ve done it and we have clients doing the same. Starting an art business is an exciting journey for any artist looking to turn their passion into a profitable business, but it takes a lot of work AND most importantly, venturing into aspects that will be new and scary.

Whether you’re an emerging artist or someone with years of experience wanting to expand a bit, establishing your own art business involves careful planning, a solid marketing strategy, and a keen understanding of the art industry and it’s constant changes.

This blog post will guide you through the essential steps to build a successful art business, targeting your potential customers and ensuring you share your creative talents in the right place and in the right way. And it’s probably going to surprise you! 

The First Step: Define Your Art Business

The first thing you need to do when starting an art business is to define what kind of art you will create and sell. This may be obvious for many of you as you’ve already honed in on what you love and what you’re good at or you may be on the fence (which is totally ok, and we’ll tell you why in a moment!) Consider your artistic style, the type of art you produce (original paintings, art prints, sculptures, etc.), and your target audience. Knowing your target market will help you tailor your marketing strategies to attract potential buyers who appreciate your art. More on that in a moment! 

Identify Your Target Audience

Ok, so whether you’ve already decided on what you want to sell or you’re still deciding, knowing your target audience is the first step. Your target audience consists of the people who are most likely to buy your art. These could be art lovers, art collectors, interior designers, or businesses looking for unique pieces to decorate their spaces. Understanding your target customer helps you focus your marketing efforts and create art that resonates with them. But, what’s more effective is to identify who you want your target audience to be first! Why? Because then you can sculpt your business and product offering to them, and go to where they are rather than trying to find an audience for something you’ve already put time and energy into. We wrote a blog post that really explains finding your target audience in more detail. 

Establish Your Business Structure

Many of us skip this step and come back to it later, but knowing what structure you want at the onset can help you make decisions faster. Choosing the right business structure is crucial for your art business. Some common structures include sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), and partnership. A sole proprietorship is the simplest and easiest to set up but offers no personal liability protection. An LLC, on the other hand, provides liability protection and can be a good idea for artists who want to safeguard their personal assets. Our advice is to ask around your art community and get first-hand opinions on how other artists have structured their businesses to learn their experience and what might work best for you. While having a structure isn’t legally necessary in all cases, it does keep you focused and helps with certain decisions. 

Obtain a Business License

Not always necessary depending on your business model, earnings and location, it’s always good to know these things at the onset even if you choose to wait to get a license. Check the legal requirements for starting a business in your area. You may need to obtain a business license and register your business name after certain earning brackets or business ventures.

Make it Official – Set Up your Studio Space

A dedicated studio space is essential for a professional artist. It may not seem like a priority but it will 100% help you treat your endeavour as a “real” job. We can’t tell you how many artists we see give up or lose momentum because they haven’t established physical boundaries, including work space. Investing in a space (whether it’s a corner of your home that is dedicated to you or a separate studio space) ensures that you stay committed and compartmentalize personal from business. Your studio should be conducive to your art practice. Ensure you have enough room for your art supplies, and create a comfortable environment where you can focus on your creative work. If it is at home, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and ensure all your family members understand what is your space. As a mom of two little girls, I can totally relate to this being a very real and common issue. 

Beyond the Art – Create a Professional Online Presence

No surprise here; having an online presence is vital for any successful business. Start by setting up your own website where potential clients can view your portfolio, learn about your artistic journey, and contact you. And believe us, this is where it succeeds or fails. We can’t stress this enough: make sure you dedicate time in your business to growing your online presence! 

Build a Professional Website

This is the most important aspect of your business. Your professional website should showcase your best works and provide a clear artist statement. It should also include opt-ins, resources, helpful content and high-quality images of your art, descriptions, pricing information, and an online store where customers can purchase your pieces directly. A well-designed website builds credibility and makes it easier for potential buyers to find and buy your art. Read more about what to include in your website here, or reach out here to discuss how we can help you design a website that does it all for you!

Leverage Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are powerful tools for promoting your art. Create social media accounts dedicated to your art business and regularly post updates, behind-the-scenes content, and new works. Engage with your followers, respond to comments, and use relevant hashtags to reach a broader audience. We also want to mention here, while being active on social media is important it is not the most important thing to focus on. It should be a compliment to your business – using it consistently (not obsessively) to drive traffic to your website. 

Your Marketing Strategy – Don’t skip this part! 

A strong marketing strategy is key to attracting potential customers and building a profitable art business slowly. Here are some of our favourite effective marketing strategies for artists:

Attend Art Fairs and Shows

Art fairs and shows are excellent opportunities to showcase your work to a wider audience. They allow you to meet potential buyers, network with fellow artists, and gain exposure in the art community. Participating in these events can significantly boost your visibility and sales.

Utilize Email Marketing

Building an email list of art aficionados and potential clients is a great way to keep your audience informed about your latest works, upcoming shows, and special offers. Regularly send out newsletters with engaging content to maintain interest and encourage repeat business.

Calculate Your Pricing Model

Determine your pricing strategy by considering the cost of materials, your time (hourly rate), and the profit margin you aim to achieve. Research the prices of similar artworks in the market to ensure your prices are competitive but fair. 

Expand Your Art Business – Where Else Can You Sell? 

As your business grows, you may want to explore additional avenues to increase your income and reach more potential clients.We’ve found great success in partnering with retailers, art licensing and marketplaces with Etsy. 

Online Marketplaces 

Besides your website, consider selling your art on various online platforms like Etsy, Saatchi Art, and other art-specific online stores. These platforms can help you reach a global audience and increase your sales – including opportunities for wholesale contracts. 

Offer Art Classes or Workshops

If you have teaching skills, offering art classes or workshops can be an additional revenue stream. This not only helps you earn more but also allows you to connect with art enthusiasts and potential buyers, not to mention confidence and connection in your industry! 

Collaborate with Other Businesses

Partnering with local businesses like coffee shops, galleries, and interior designers can provide additional exposure for your art. Displaying your art in high-traffic locations can attract new customers and generate sales.

Build Your Art Brand

Creating a strong art brand is essential for standing out in the competitive art industry. Your brand should reflect your artistic style, values, and the unique qualities that set your art apart. And most importantly, it should resonate with your target customer. Here are a few aspects to consider: 

Consistent Branding

Maintain consistency across all your marketing materials, including your website, social media profiles, business cards, and artist statement. Consistent branding helps build recognition and trust with your audience.

Engage with Your Art Community

Being an active member of the art community can open doors to new opportunities. Join local art groups, participate in exhibitions, and connect with fellow artists. These interactions can provide valuable insights, inspiration, and potential collaborations.

Long-Term Goals and Planning Your Art Business

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably taken note of the fact that this isn’t an overnight thing. It takes exceptional time management, resourcefulness and an entrepreneurial mindset. Successful art businesses are built on long-term goals and careful planning. Your week will consistent of a lot more than just painting or creating if you do it correctly and sometimes that scares a lot of creatives away. And this is because there are a lot of elements that have nothing to do with the arts and it can be a bit scary. We get it. But we also love that about this industry and we’re here to help guide you. We offer creative business coaching that is rooted in strategy, and designed with purpose. Our process guides you through brand identity development and help you launch into the marketplace with a creative process that channels the root essence of your business, transforming your vision into an online presence that will make you shine. We help you from start to “finish” (pst, there really isn’t a finish!) so that you have a comprehensive understanding and strategy to growing your business. Hands on, we teach you everything you need to know and we’re there every step of the way. That’s our promise. If you want to learn more art coaching, head over here and apply today! 

Here are some honest truths about setting goals and planning what to expect. 

Set Realistic Goals – It takes time, friends! 

Set both short-term and long-term goals for your art business. Whether it’s increasing your sales, expanding your online presence, or entering new markets, having clear goals helps you stay focused and motivated.

Invest in Your Artistic Development

Continually improving your skills and expanding your artistic talents is crucial for sustained success. Whenever you can, attend workshops, take classes, and stay updated with trends in the art world to keep your work fresh and appealing.

Plan for Personal and Business Expenses

Start this from day one as it can get all jumbled very quickly! Budgeting for personal and business expenses ensures you can sustain your business in the long run. Keep track of your earnings, expenses, and savings to maintain financial stability and plan for future investments in your art practice.

Most of all, Starting an art business is really excited. It requires a blend of creativity, business acumen, and dedication. By following the steps we’ve laid out above and leveraging your artistic abilities, you can build a successful business that not only showcases your art but also brings in a steady income. Remember, the art world is vast and full of opportunities – go and achieve yours! 

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Need Help Building a Website And Growing Your Newsletter?

We help creatives just like you create websites that people are actually clicking on – so you’re never just posting and sharing stuff no one will find or want to buy. Head over to our coaching page and apply today! I’ll get back to you with a scheduling link for a free consultation.

What Are My Other Options?

If you’re considering marketing help but want to just chat first and ask some more questions, that’s ok first!. I offer a complimentary 30 min strategy call to help you with anything you’re curious about and different ways to grow your business online. You can book a call here.

Thanks for reading,

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