1. Suck it up and accept the fact that you are an entrepreneur and that you are running a business. Artists can handle business stuff. We are not, by definition, airy, fairy flakes. Get organized, get Quicken for financial recordkeeping, Evernote for keeping track of everything and make the commitment to nurture your career. No one else will do it for you or as well.
2. Create a marketing plan or you won’t have a clue about what to do. Without a context and the bigger picture, how can you know whether or not doing a particular show makes sense or if you should do prints or sign with that gallery? Not having a plan is throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something (like money) sticks. Find your local Small Business Development Corporation office and take advantage of their free and low-cost services. I did and it’s really paid off. Literally.
3. Make social media work for you. Yeah, I know “but I already spend too much time on the computer (whine)”. Like it or not, online career-building is where it’s at now and has the major advantage is that it’s often free, unlike traditional advertising and promotion. These days you must have: a website that you can update yourself (I use Go Daddy. There are others that are probably simpler to set up but don’t offer the design flexibility; google “artists websites” to see what’s out there); a blog (This is a WordPress blog. Blogger works fine also, but the backend isn’t as sophisticated); a Facebook public page (easy to set up); a Twitter account (you’ll need to experiment to see how well it works for you); a newsletter (Constant Contact is the way to go); a LinkedIn profile (lots of artists there these days) and whatever else you find out there that can help get the word out about your work. It’s the synergy between all this that is what counts. There is no “one place to be”. The question is “how many places can I be?”
4. Always do the very best work you can that reflects your passion and point of view, NOT what you think the market wants. That way lies imitative, mediocre art that is always going to be two steps behind. Be the best YOU can be and then back it up with numbers 1 and 2.
5. Buy Alyson Stanfield’s book “I’d Rather Be In The Studio: the artist’s no-excuse guide to self-promotion” and check out her website and blog. She’s the best resource out there for ideas, advice and encouragement for building an art career. One of the things she emphasizes over and over is how critical your mailing list is because these are the people who are interested enough in what you do to let you contact them with news of what you’re up to.
Notice all the links? That’s no accident. Part of the purpose of this post and the links is to drive traffic to this blog.
Feel free to add any further thoughts and ideas in the comments!