Knowing when to make a pivot in your art business

I get a lot of questions from artists along the lines of:

“Can you take a look at my site and let me know who my audience is? Or they’ll explain their situation with their art business…(explains what’s going on)…what do you think and any advice?”

And I totally understand the questions.

But my advice is always the same 100% of the time:

  1. Audience.
    Five artists can make the same kind of art in a similar style, but they will have totally different audiences. If you’re making honest work, then your audience will depend on who you are as a person based on your experiences and interests.
  2. Perseverance.
    Almost anyone can set-up a website and list their work for sale. What people don’t realize, everything else is tough. Getting traffic to your site. Finding and sending out introductory emails to creative VIPs and decision makers takes time. If you crumble at not getting the results you want the first time you try, your art business will suffer. And, if you fold over at the second, third, fourth or 1000th thing that doesn’t go the way you want…you’ll crumble.
  3. Marketing.
    There are obviously lots of skills you will need to develop over time. The most important one is marketing and selling. Yes, you have to spend time on both “making” and “marketing”. There’s nothing else to say about this. You have to dedicate time to marketing.
  4. Get your hands dirty.
    Doing and messing it up is much better than talking to everyone about what you plan on doing. Write those launch emails, introduce yourself to people who have a larger audience than you. Write introductory emails to potential clients. Don’t get any responses? Find more people to connect with, alter your writing, and do it again. You will get responses, and you will get results.
  5. Pivoting.
    Probably the hardest to deal with is learning how and when to make a strategic pivot in your art business. There’s a big difference between overcoming a hurdle in your art business and trying to push something that just isn’t working.

You can’t be scared to pivot. So how do you know when to pivot or change up your art business? Is there a magical formula that determines “this direction useless, now move on?” Nope. It comes from experience of spending time making mistakes, listening to your audience, and putting yourself out there.

Often times the art business you end up in is not the one you first start with.

There are artists who initially started off wanting to sell prints and originals, but their business saw more success when they transitioned it into a clothing line.

There are artists who had the hardest time selling prints, but now they make a small fortunes selling books of their work.

There are artists who’ve struggled their entire lives trying to sell massive 12 foot oil paintings, but they finally made a pivot to sell smaller originals, and now finally made a living from their work.

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