THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello. This is your host, artist, Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to episode number 95 of The Inspiration Place Podcast. I am so honored that you’re here. Now, you may know that not only am I a working artist who sells her own art and an art teacher, but I also coach other working artists on managing the business side of their art business as well. What I thought would be really valuable to share with you today is the coaching I invest in and how that helps me, and also share about what really goes on inside these coaching sessions, but before we get there, I want to directly address what’s going on right now in the U.S.. In terms of the issue of racism in our country, we are at a tipping point. At least I hope that we are.
It’s one of those moments that comes along once in a generation or so, and as a leader of this large platform, meaning, this podcast, I feel the responsibility to directly respond in a meaningful and honest way. My philosophy for this podcast has been to avoid politics since our country has been so divided, and I see art as a way to bring us together no matter what your politics are. Not only that, I know that many of you listening do not live here in the U.S.. I have lots of listeners from Canada and all across the world. This is not going to turn into a political podcast.
I’m not going to start talking about what policies the government should or shouldn’t have. I don’t want to avoid discussing anything that might be deemed by some as political at the expense of affirming my own values. One of my core beliefs has always been human rights and the fight for social justice, but what the events of the past few weeks have taught me is that it’s not just enough to believe these things. In other words, it’s not enough just to not be a racist. I also have to be an anti-racist.
If you’re white and you’re listening, I’m sharing this with you not to preach to you. Believe me, I have not been perfect in my efforts and I’m only now just beginning the necessary work. My guess is that you may want to do something, you may feel the impulse to do something, but you might be afraid of making a mistake, and I guess that because that’s exactly how I felt. I was afraid of causing more pain and getting it wrong, but to be an ally means I have to show up, and silence was not the way to do it, which means I’m going to get it wrong.
Now, if you identify as a person of color, I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, I’m learning, and I am listening, and I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve had to endure for generations, and I’m really sorry for my own complicity in that through my own ignorance.
I know that this apology or sharing a black square post on social media is also probably not enough. I thought you should know that inside The Inspiration Place, we have many skin tones represented on my team. I’m very proud of that. That’s the way it has been. That’s the way it’s always been, and I also celebrate the diversity inside my watercolor classes, meaning not just that we have a diversity of students, but also, that I teach inside the Watercolor Portrait Academy how to paint a rainbow of skin tones.
However, I also know I can do better, and I’m starting to see many ways that I can. It’s like the more I see, the more I see. In an effort to amplify black women and men’s voices, I’ll be sharing more of their art and their message on my social media platforms and on this podcast, and not because of the color of the skin, but because there are so many brilliant and talented men and women that we can learn from, and this matters. There are so many ways to show up during this time. Some of us have done that through marching, protesting, and others show up in different ways, through donating.
By the way, I did make a short list of organizations to donate to. The show notes are schulmanart.com/95, but there are other paths that help, so marching, and protesting, and donating are not the only ones. You can also make a huge difference in the world simply through education and through your art. Throughout the ages, artists have used their art this way. My firm belief is that art is a connector and a healer.
Now, whether you create art that brings you or others calm, whether you use it to process your own emotion, whether you use it for activism, any way you use art, your art matters, so don’t stop creating. You can care about what’s happening in the world, whether it’s this new civil rights movement happening, or whether it’s the pandemic or anything else that’s happening, you can care and create. It doesn’t need to be a choice. Now, during the pandemic, I had been sharing strategies that helped me cope with the heartbreak in the world, and many of those strategies I’ve used to cope involved running away from my own pain, but the strategy I’m using right now to cope with the pain of this moment is to actually run towards my pain. The first step has been to diversify my bookshelves.
I’m reading classic African-American fiction to develop a deeper empathy for their stories and their history, so that is my summer reading project, as many of you may have heard me say on this podcast. I reread the entire Harry Potter series as soon as the pandemic started. I dove in. I finished with that project, and now I have a different summer reading project. I’ve shared with you my complete book list on the show notes, schulmanart.com/95.
There’s a list of fiction books, some of which I’ve already finished as of this recording, and also non-fiction books about how to be an advocate and an anti-racist. I’m also following leaders who coach on diversity and taking a really hard look at the way that I market my art classes. Like I said in the show notes, I’ve included those resources, the books, but I also included links to leaders that I’m following right now. I invite you to click on those links. Follow them if their ideas resonate with you, watch their stories, read their posts, follow their directions.
At the same time, I caution you not to ask them to clarify things for you for free. If you have questions, of course, you can educate yourself by listening, learning, reading books, or you can pay for their time. For myself, for The Inspiration Place, I have hired a one-on-one coaching session with Erica Courdae for guidance and how to move forward and do better, which leads us to today’s topic, which is all about coaching. That’s what I want to talk to you about today on this show. We’re going to talk about what art business coaching looks like, specifically for artists, and how to know if you’re ready for coaching.
Since we’re going to talk a lot today about coaching, if you’re interested in finding out if coaching is right for you, if coaching with me is right for you, you can schedule an absolutely free 20-minute Passion to Profit strategy call. All you have to do is go to schulmanart.com/biz. That’s B-I-Z, or the other thing you can do, if after listening to this episode, you’re still not sure if you’re ready for coaching and you’re hesitant to schedule that call, I have a marketing quiz you can take, and that will help you determine your next best steps, whether that’s coaching or something else. I don’t tell everybody who takes that quiz to get coaching. To take that quiz, go to schulmanart.com/quiz.
All right. Now, on with the show. In today’s episode, you’re going to discover how artists can become better business owners through coaching, why I regularly invest in coaching, and how to know if you’re ready to start working with a coach. Now, as you may know, in addition to being a working artist who still regularly sells art, I also run classes to teach art techniques, like my Watercolor Portrait Class, and I also coach other artists in my Passion to Profit system, to help them learn how to make money and run the business side of their art careers. Throughout my career, teaching artists, I found that many artists at different levels in their business are lacking marketing skills, and that makes me really sad because I’ll watch some really talented artists struggle to make a living because they had no idea how to run the business side of art, and I saw that over and over again, not just with my art students, but I’m in a lot of artists’ Facebook groups, and I hear the conversations there, and it’s the same struggles and the same problems repeat over and over again.
I started my Artist Incubator Program to help other people with what I learned about the business side of art, to help other artists become successful at making a living from their art. Now, the artists who get the most out of the Incubator program have complete confidence in their own art. Meaning, they have confidence in the value of their art, but they recognize that they need to learn the ins and outs of marketing and selling, so maybe they lack confidence in marketing their art. That’s why each time we meet, I teach the artists in the Incubator sessions a set of skills. Most of the time, I’m focusing on the promotion strategies, the promotion plan, since that is where I see artists needing the most help, but sometimes it’s on one of the other parts of the framework, such as their productivity plan, their production plan, their profit plan, or their prospecting plan.
Now, after about 20 to 30 minutes of focused teaching, and it’s interactive teaching, it’s not just me up there talking, they ask questions, and we can clarify things, which is why I really value doing it live. After that first 20 to 30 minutes, I shift into group coaching, where each of my artists get my full attention one-on-one, but in a group setting. When I switch from teacher mode to coach mode, the purpose is to help people help themselves. The artist is in charge of directing any change that happens, I’m there to push them and motivate them to take action, and notice blind spots and see where limiting beliefs might be getting in their way. I’m also there to lend a hand if what’s holding them back is a lack of understanding of the marketing.
That’s why there’s no bright line you can draw where teaching stops and coaching begins. It’s a spectrum. A teacher will almost always do some coaching, and a coach will sometimes teach. They blend together. Sometimes when I’m coaching my artists, I will often circle back to a teaching point, and the best curriculums are built in this format.
There’s a spiral with adding new levels of meaning and circling back to familiar concepts, and I’m always thinking about all the artists in my group, so if I’m coaching one person and I know that something might help somebody else, I will call them out and make sure that they understand how it applies to them. I also step in when I see what’s holding them back is a limiting belief. No matter where you’re at in your art journey, these limiting beliefs rear their head over and over again. That’s why I invest in coaching for myself. Now, we talked about the three most common ones in episode number 93, and the most common ones I see are scarcity thinking, perfectionism, and indulging in overwhelm. I’ve included a link to that episode in the show notes, but there is no magic pill.
The artists, they’ll have to show up and they have to do the work, which is why they get all the credit when they get the results. Now, I mentioned that I invest in coaching and myself. Let’s talk about that. When I think about coaching, I always think about the year that Olympic ice skater, Michelle Kwan … Do you remember her?
When she went coachless on her way to her second Olympics. Poor Michelle Kwan. She went to the Olympics three times, never took home the gold. In fact, she’s been described as the best and most popular figure skater never to win an Olympic gold. In 2001, she unexpectedly fired her coach just a few months before the Olympics in Salt Lake City.
When she got to the Olympics, she floundered in the free skate, and ultimately, the gold medal went to Sarah Hughes, and Kwan had to settle for silver. Now, most sports writers and commentators thought she was nuts to fire her coach, and obviously, I agree, because her results were not so good without the coach. Now, when it comes to my business, I want to avoid falling on my butt as much as possible, and that’s why I turn to experts to help me do my best, so whether that means that I’m getting an outside professional opinion on what I’m doing or I need a step-by-step plan for implementing a strategy. That’s why I’ve always invested in classes and coaches. Don’t just invest in your time in Google.
You can spend so much time searching for answers and do what I call procrastilearning, but never settling on a strategy. There’s going to come a time when you’re going to have most of the knowledge you need, but you’re still having trouble taking action because you have these blind spots. That’s where getting a coach will help you. Now, you’ve met many of my mentors and coaches here on the podcast. For example, I invested over $10,000 to join Jason Van Orden’s mastermind.
Yeah, you heard me right. By the way, that was 10,000, in 2018, which really helped me understand how to position this podcast. My limiting belief at that time was that my followers didn’t listen to podcasts. Now, since you’re listening to me right now, you can see how silly that sounds, but I really believed it back then. Then, the other mistake or blind spot I had was when I was planning to launch the podcast in August of 2018.
I started worrying that it was a bad time. I thought, “Oh, everyone’s away. How can I launch it now?,” but Jason gave me the confidence to do it in spite of these fears because he helped me see that I was indulging in not ready thinking. If you’ve ever felt like you’re not ready, you know that feeling ready hardly ever comes, and you have to be willing to jump off that high dive anyway. Now, if you thought $10,000 was a lot to pay for a mastermind, in 2019, I invested over $20,000 to join Ron Reich’s A-Player mastermind.
That was for a full year. He was the genius behind helping me understand how to structure the Artist Incubator program, and it was Ron’s idea to start this program to coach artists. I remember telling him that I thought most of my students just wanted to paint for fun, and, you know, that’s probably true. Most of them did want to paint for fun, but just because most of them do doesn’t mean I couldn’t start a business coaching artists. These thoughts that we have, that we tell ourselves to be true are really just thoughts, not facts.
I didn’t believe I had enough followers who were interested in selling art. Now, I have on my email lists over 10,000 subscribers. On Facebook and Instagram, I have over 20,000 on each platform. What he helped me see is that I only needed a handful of people to run a successful program, and the truth is I’ve never had more than 14 people inside the Artist Incubator program because I don’t want it to get too big. In order to help my artists succeed, it needs to be a small program so they can get my attention.
Since I’ve started the program, over two dozen people have gone through the Incubator program as either full-time or self-study members, and that’s a lot of art that I’ve helped to sell, but I have to say, one of the best parts of joining a mastermind group or a group coaching program, like mine, is not always the coach, but the community and the network that comes with it. Many of the guests you’ve met here on the podcast, I connected with inside those mastermind groups. They became friends and true connections as a direct result of being part of a mastermind. As the founder of the Artist Incubator Program, I’ve witnessed the blossoming of so many friendships between the artists who have a deep love and respect for each other, and these friendships last beyond their participation in the program. I see them on social media.
They’re still liking each other’s posts. They’re still getting together. I mean, most of it’s virtual now because of the pandemic, but the truth is, many of them live across the country anyway. They’re really enjoying the friendships and the connections that they formed as a result of being in the group, and it’s so wonderful during the group, seeing them lift each other up and inspire each other.
It is the whole group, and everyone is so enthusiastic, but everybody goes ahead, everybody is encouraging. For the first time, my art business is on track and moving forward.
If you’re a working artist, you might be wondering right now, “Well, how do I know if I’m ready to hire a coach?” That’s a great question. I’ve helped dozens of professional artists grow their business through my Incubator Coaching program, and I’ve talked to many, many, many more who were not ready for coaching inside my interviews. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing when someone is ready for coaching and when they’re not quite there yet. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget, like I said, if you want to take the quiz to see if you’re ready, go to schulmanart.com/quiz.
That will give you your marching orders. We put a lot of thought into that quiz to make sure that the results really matched up with what you need to do. Let me go through kind of a checklist for you, the boxes you need to check off to know if you’re ready for coaching. First of all, you definitely need to have a body of work to market. This is the production plan of the Passion to Profit framework.
It’s really just like creating any other business. You have to have assets to sell. If you want to open, let’s say a shoe store, you can’t just have a few pairs of shoes. You need to have a collection. These are your assets, so you either need to have a collection of your art, or if you are selling art as fast as you’re making it, you need to have basically a production plan in place.
You’re continually creating new art. If you’re a portrait artist, what this means is it’s not that you have to have art lying around for sale, but you need to have a portfolio to show prospective clients. I spoke to one artist recently who didn’t feel she was ready because she did not have a body of work to market, and did not have the time to paint, so obviously you can’t make a business out of your hobby if you can’t dedicate time to creating art on a regular basis. All right. That’s box number one you need to check.
The second box you absolutely have to check is you need to believe. You need to believe you can make a living with your art, and this is actually kind of a twofold belief system. First of all, you have to believe that people do make money from their art. I know that there’s some people who, where their belief system, they don’t even believe that that’s possible, so you have to believe not just that it’s possible, you don’t have to believe yet that it’s possible for you, but you have to at least believe that it’s possible for a human to do it, if that makes sense. You have to believe in that.
You don’t have to be in a fancy gallery to do it. Part of what sets my coaching apart from some of my peers, other art coaches out there, is that I am a self-representing artist, meaning I sell my art outside of the traditional gallery system, and I’m also an artist myself. There’s quite a few art business coaches out there who are not artists themselves, and nothing I teach is theory. I’m in the trenches with you. I teach what has worked for me, and I teach what works for my clients.
Now, the second part of this belief system is you have to believe in yourself. Like I said, the first part is you just have to believe that it’s possible, and the second part is you have to believe that you can do it, that you can make money with your art. I spoke to an artist recently, who was selling $4 stickers and small five by seven-inch art on Etsy because he couldn’t believe that anyone would want to pay more for his art, and that belief was what was holding him back. The first thing I told him was to stop selling $4 stickers and double all his prices, but he didn’t believe that would work because he saw evidence of artists selling art, he believed to be better for less money, but if he was looking for evidence of the other thing, he would find artists selling art for higher prices. I know this to be true because I regularly sell prints on Etsy for $50 and more, and those are unframed, unmatted prints, and I sell them every single week.
In fact, I said this on the podcast, it’s totally true, I’ve been selling more now during this time than I had ever before. All right. Meanwhile, this dude, who I spoke to … I won’t share his name. He’s not one of my clients, but I spoke to him on a discovery call. He’s squandering precious time fulfilling those $4 orders, so in other words, the fact that he’s selling stickers for $4 and serving customers for $4, he’s giving up that time that he could be using his talent to create larger pieces that command higher prices.
What you’ve got to understand is you are not your customer. I know that someone who is stuck in that scarcity mentality and doesn’t believe that artists can succeed will have a really tough time, even working with a coach because that belief is going to hold them back. When someone is stuck in that mindset, they’re constantly looking for confirmation of their own story. This confirmation bias could be that you can’t make money during COVID, and that’s not true. Let me share with you a success story. This is what my artist/client, Carolina [Domus 00:27:44] shared with me, and this was what she shared in the beginning of May, so height of the pandemic.
I already sold six reproductions. Not only that, she refers me to her sister and she bought two too.
What I love about coaching within the group setting is that Carolina’s success lifts everybody up and helps them believe what’s possible for them as well.
Everything she says works. It takes time.
I’m very happy for Carolina that she sold six prints. That was good news.
I like that Carolina is doing, and it’s just showing that persistence pays off, and of course, everything’s doable.
Now, someone who believes they can and will make a living from their art is so much easier to coach, and honestly, it doesn’t matter how far away you are from making a full-time living from your art. It’s that belief in yourself that’s going to matter more. You do have to be ready and willing to do the work. We’ve talked about the difference between teaching and coaching, and there’s also a difference between being a student in a class versus being in a coaching program. Coaching will help you confront those uncomfortable truths about yourself.
It will help you see your blind spot. For example, I know I, because I hear this all the time, there’s so many artists who are afraid of sending an email because they don’t want to bother people. Here’s what happens to people who feel that way. They think that it’s a thought they believe to be true, and somebody who doesn’t want to bother people will rarely send an email out, but if I coach you to send more emails, it really helps you to overcome that uncomfortable feeling and do the work in order to see results. What’s really powerful is, in a group coaching program, if you are not ready to get uncomfortable yet, but you see one of your peers doing it and getting success, that will motivate you.
When artists show up and are ready to do the work, they get results. Let me share with you Annie’s selling. I admire her so much. She is so determined. Every week, she sends out that email, and that work is finally starting to pay off for her. I want to share with you how she secured a commission from just one email.
Everything’s doable. You just got to figure it out, but everything’s doable.
Again, her success inspires the rest of the group.
Well, I want to thank Annie for saying everything is doable.
Everything is doable.
Everything is doable.
Then, the everything is doable, I actually have been telling myself that since yesterday. To hear it from somebody else, I was like, “Yes, I can do it too.”
If you are following along and taking notes and checking off boxes, here’s another one that does make a difference. You have to have taken money for your art in the past. This is so important. This is such an important indicator for me when I get on a Passion to Profit call. In fact, this could be a reason why I will turn down a candidate because people who have only given their art away and have never asked for money for the art do not value their art.
Now, this isn’t to say that if you haven’t sold your art, it doesn’t have the value. It just means that I know that you have a mental block. Sometimes people have such a huge block around selling, that they’re not going to get very much out of coaching with me until they’ve moved past that, so if you’ve only given your art away for free and you’ve never sold anything, then you’re not ready yet for the Artist Incubator program. This is not for people who have never sold their art. Now, I just want you to know if that’s you, that does not mean that just because you’ve never sold art, you never will.
It just means there are better options for you to get started and you’re not ready yet for the strategies that you can learn inside the Artist Incubator program. Okay, and here is the last box you need to check. You’re ready for coaching when you have zero doubt in your artistic ability. I said before, my coaching is not about teaching art skills. I teach that inside my art classes, I teach that inside the Inspired Insiders’ Club.
My classes are where you should go if you want to improve your skills in watercolor or in your techniques. The people who come into my Artist Incubator program are already confident in their skills as an artist, and they do not have to be watercolor artists, so they do not have to create the kind of art that I do. What those artists are doing is they’re looking to improve and grow their skills as a business person. Here’s what I see. Someone who thinks they’re not ready to turn their art into a business yet because they doubt themselves by that, I mean doubting their actual artwork, they’re going to make all kinds of excuses and procrastinate, and they’re not going to benefit from coaching, but if you have doubts about your marketing or how to promote yourself, if you doubt that, then you will be hugely helped through coaching.
I want to share with you one final story. This is my client/artist, Virginia Naegeli. Ginny came to me first for our one-on-one coaching. Then, after working with me for a while, I launched the Artist Incubator program, so she joined that for six months. Not only did Ginny meet her income goals for joining the program, but she was even able to continue to generate consistent income from her art classes and her commissions during the pandemic this spring. I want you to hear what Ginny has to say about her success.
As soon as I posted the watercolor class online, it filled up immediately, so I opened up two more watercolor classes, and the feedback I’m getting from the students are, they’re just so happy that they have something they can do. I really appreciate how you helped me define what my business was because I really didn’t know. You really helped me define it, you helped me put them in place. In working with you, I had given myself a goal of how much I wanted to make a month. In order to make that goal, I had to rethink what I was going to do these next two months, so what I decided to do was open up kits, where people have been coming and they’ve been buying kits.
I have a storage unit outside, and they walk over there, they open it up, they get the bag with their name on it. Since I started with you, you just really helped me see what I’m doing. I knew I wanted to do all this, but I just didn’t know the name for it all, and I’m really appreciative of you and what I’ve learned.
If that sounds like you, if that sounds like something that you want to do, if you can imagine making consistent income from your art, just imagine what that would feel like if you were like Ginny, making thousands of dollars every single month from your art. If you want to join a motivated group of artists who will lift you up and surround yourself with positivity, if you’re ready to take control of your destiny and finally make more money from your art online from home, it’s all possible, it’s all waiting for you. I would love to invite you to apply for the Artist Incubator. As part of the Artist Incubator, you’ll learn the Passion to Profit plan, and once you have that plan in place, you’ll be able to create and market a body of artwork that your collectors will drool over, you’ll generate consistent income from your artwork no matter what the economic climate, and you’ll be able to dedicate more of your precious time to actually painting and less time indulging in confusion and overwhelm. If you think you’re ready to uplevel your art business and start taking control of your career, I would love to invite you to apply for a Passion to Profit call with me.
Just go to schulmanart.com/biz. That’s B-I-Z, and schedule your free 20-minute call with me. Next week, I’m chatting with Shaun Roney. I recently added Shaun to the Artist Incubator program as a mindset coach. Now, although confidence-building is built-in throughout the program, I knew that my artists would benefit from some more targeted help, especially with all the heaviness in the world right now.
What I did was I added on an additional coaching session each week, what Shaun runs, and the artists get to meet with her. She’s a certified life coach and she helps them uncover their blind spots that are holding them back. What we’re doing next week is I’ve invited her onto the podcast so we can chat about the most common mindset blocks that she’s been coaching the artists on. You are not going to want to miss this. Think of this as like your free coaching session, so make sure if you’re listening on an iPhone, Apple Podcast, hit that Subscribe button.
If it’s a different device, hit the Follow button in your podcast app. Of course, if you’re feeling extra generous, leave me a review on Apple Podcast to tell us what you most love about the show. If you’re not sure how to do that, on your iPhone, you can search for The Inspiration Place, scroll down until you see Ratings and Reviews, hit five stars, write a review, oh, and most importantly, don’t forget to hit the Send button. By the way, if you pop your Instagram handle at the end of the review, I’ll even give you a shout out over on my IG stories. All right, guys.
Thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ve definitely enjoyed our time together. I will see you the same time, same place next week. Have a fabulous week.
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