THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Before we dive into today’s topic, let’s address what’s happening in the world.
No matter where you are in the world. All of us are experiencing a shared anxiety in this current climate. I’m grateful I have my art to soothe my anxiety and keep my sane. We are living in a tough time now as we enter the fifth month of this pandemic. As artists, we have the gift to use our art to navigate through these challenging times and through life. On the other hand, the good news is that the pandemic has not interfered with online art sales, at least not my online art sales and not the ones of many of my peers. So if you’re thinking that you can’t sell art at this time, that just isn’t true. And besides that, I want to go through five common limiting beliefs that I’ve seen artists hold any time pre-pandemic.
Who this is for
Here’s what I see cropping up over and over again that holds artists back, and that’s what we’re going to talk about. I’m also going to share what you do need to focus on so that you can sell your art no matter what’s happening in the world, as well as the next steps to sell more of your art so that you can turn the art you love into a real profitable business. If you already have a profitable art business, then pay attention to see if there’s something here that’s holding you back so that you can sell more of it.
Who this is not for
However, this is not for you if you believe the reason you can’t sell art is because you need to become a better artist or if you just want to paint for fun. All those things are fine but really, this is for those who want to make a steady, consistent income that you can be proud of by selling art that you’re already proud of.
Move over art world gatekeepers
Maybe you think the reason you can’t sell is because you’re spinning your wheels, confused about what to do next, and what you actually need to make it all work. If you’re watching others effortlessly selling their work or you hear me chatting about it, and maybe I make it look easy or other people make it look easy and you wonder, “Wait, why can’t I do that, too?” But, the truth is there really hasn’t been a better time to sell art on your own outside of the traditional gallery system. And actually, SoHo, Chelsea, those galleries, they aren’t open right now anyway, at least not legally that I know about. But even before this pandemic, the art world gatekeepers who used to decide what was worthy of being featured are being pushed aside by the internet.
Anyone can make a thriving living from their art
Now, anyone with a laptop and a dream can make a thriving living from their art. That’s so groundbreaking I want to say it again. Anyone can make a thriving living from their art. So, why are some artists still struggling? For many artists who want to turn their art into a thriving business, it can be overwhelming to cut through all the noise and discover what really works. There are endless books, podcasts, business courses, gurus to follow, tech tools to choose from, and tons of conflicting voices about what you really need to be successful.
So, why don’t we get it all out of the way and be clear and break down some things you don’t need? Ready? All right. Here are five things you don’t need to build a successful art business.
THE 5 THINGS YOU DON’T NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL
Number one: You don’t have to schlep your art to every festival across the country.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely not against festivals and selling art in person because those things are highly lucrative. However, there’s no need to spend your days driving around the country when you have the right pieces in place. The key is to make the in-person shows you do attend the most profitable possible and stay in touch all year long with those collectors and prospects that you meet there. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of festival artists who were really dependent on that income and unfortunately had it stripped away from them the summer of 2020. It isn’t essential that you do festivals. Festivals can be a lot of work.
Now, lots of people ask me where my income comes from because when I talk about being a six-figure artist, they want to know. “Is that from the podcast?” “Is that from the online classes?” “Where’s that from?”
The truth is before I started teaching online art classes, or had a podcast, before any of that, when I was only selling my art and my commissions, I was making over $60,000 a year with very little overhead. That was, again, from my art, my sales of originals, prints, commissions online and in person. Yes, I did do in-person shows, but I never did more than a few a year.
If you listen to my podcast episode number 76, Anatomy of a Successful Art Show [SchulmanArt.com/76], I describe in detail how one show, which wasn’t even a traditional art festival, netted me over $10,000. When you can leverage every opportunity, then you don’t have to work so hard. You can earn a full-time living from your art.
Number two: You don’t need a verified Instagram account.
No. Nope, no, and no. Lots of people think if only they can build up their Instagram following, then they’ll be able to sell more art. You do not need to be Insta famous or have thousands of fans to make this work. Sure, social media definitely has a place. But again, it’s all about leveraging it strategically. You can completely leave out Instagram and still have a successful art career. So many artists have that false belief that they have to build a huge following on social media and that just isn’t true.
Some of the most successful famous living artists … And by success, I’m measuring it in two different ways. The first way I’m measuring it is by whether their art is included in museum collections. Some of those artists only have a few thousand followers. For example, Faith Ringgold who is in the Museum of Modern Art doesn’t even maintain an Instagram account. She has one, has a few thousand people. Really doesn’t have more because she doesn’t maintain it. The art world insiders don’t really pay attention to her Instagram account.
In addition, many more artists whose success is measured by income have very small social media accounts because they know that popularity online is not where the money comes from. They rather count their dollars than their Instagram likes or their Instagram followers. So please, do yourself a favor and stop wasting time checking likes, researching the perfect hashtag, or making videos for Instagram. It’s very time-consuming, and it’s not really what’s going to make a difference in earning a living from your art.
Number three: You do not have to move to New York.
All right, this only cracks me up, but I do hear this one a lot. You do not have to move to New York. You can sell art from your kitchen table. And it isn’t just New Yorkers who buy art. Art collectors can be found all over the world, not just fancy galleries in SoHo. Yes, I live in New York, but I do sell art all over the world. And with this thing called the internet, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere, not only do you not have to move to New York City, but you do not even have to leave your house.
Number four: You don’t need to have a podcast.
A lot of people say, “Oh, Miriam, you can sell art because you have a podcast.” Trust me, it has nothing to do with it. I also don’t believe that you have to maintain a blog for that matter. Your collectors, the people who fall in love with your work, do not care if you are famous or not. They collect your art because they feel a connection with you and no fame is required.
Number five: You do not need to spend hours procrasti-learning.
Finally, you do not need to spend hours procrasti-learning. When I hear somebody say, “Oh, I just need to know how to do XYZ and then I’ll be ready,” well, here’s the thing. You’re never going to feel ready. So many artists get caught up in wanting to get it all perfect that they never actually get it going.
Do you have one of those 5 limiting beliefs?
I see so many artists who get stuck because they have one of those five limiting beliefs I just walked you through. What they don’t realize is that there are just five things that you do need to build a thriving art business. Not those five. Different five. If you want to know, keep listening. I’m going to get there in just a moment.
I’ve coached dozens of artists who all came in believing one or more of these myths. And to be perfectly honest, I believed most of them at one time or another as well.
My journey from Wall Street to Fulltime Artist
Back in the ’90s, you’d find me at the World Trade Center in one of my Ann Taylor suits. I admit, I loved the income and the lifestyle, but I did feel disconnected to my life purpose. So when 9/11 happened, I knew with every cell of my body that I could not go back to that world. Yet, I still didn’t believe that I could make a full-time living from art. At first, I painted on the side and taught Pilates at New York Sports Club. New York Sports Club, which recently went out of business, is a very large chain of gyms in the New York metropolitan area. While working for them, I was introduced to selling strategies that the club wanted me to use to sell personal training packages. That’s when I had my aha moment and realized that these time-tested selling strategies could be used to sell anything, including art.
Why I created the Passion to Profit planning framework
At that time, I also noticed that the difference between the starving struggling artist or the hobby artist that I also saw and the ones who were successful who were making a living from their art had a plan. They planned for profit, which is why I created the Passion to Profit planning framework, to help artists develop their business, to develop their selling of art as a business so they can have the time and freedom to create art and do what they love.
Since I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, episode number 66 goes into the detail of the Passion to Profit framework [SchulmanArt.com/66], I’m going to go through these fairly quickly. But, just know these aren’t just the five things you need to build a career as an artist. These are actually the five things you need to build any business.
THE FIVE-PART PASSION TO PROFIT FRAMEWORK
1: The Production Plan
You do need to consistently build a body of work. Just because you’re marketing your art doesn’t mean you should sacrifice studio time because you definitely can do both.
2: A Prospecting Plan
You need to build a list of people who want what you’ve got and are prepared to pay top dollar. Building a list of collectors who love you and your art is easier than you think. And you do not need expensive or complicated advertising.
3: The Profit Plan
I know this is one of the biggest sticking points for artists at all stages of their business, myself included. The key to raising your prices is to communicate with confidence, even when you don’t feel it. I show you how to price for profit at premium prices. And, of course, a lot of it has to do with adjusting your mindset, which is why I talk about that so much on this on my podcast, The Inspiration Place.
4: A Promotion Plan
You absolutely need a promotion plan. Once you have a collector base, you need a step-by-step plan to turn them into repeat collectors and raving fans who will tell their friends about you. When you develop a sales and marketing plan, you’ll know exactly what to say so that your ideal collectors joyfully whip out their credit cards for your art.
5: The Productivity Plan
This is all about getting more done with more focus in less time. I work with my artist clients a lot on this. I give you the exact processes and tools to get quickly organized and stop spinning. With these few handy time management techniques, everything will move faster. Imagine going from standing at a sink for hours, washing dishes by hand to getting a dishwasher for the first time and your business runs like a machine.
Dedicate More Of Your Precious Time To Actually Painting
Now, once you have the Passion to Profit plan in place, that’s when you can create and market a body of work your collectors will want, and you’ll generate consistent income, and you can dedicate more of your precious time to actually painting. Oh, yeah, and doing some other fun stuff that you love because, hey, you deserve it.
Now, by the way, you can book a call with me to see how the Passion to Profit plan can work for you. And if we both agree that you’d benefit from my help, I’ll share with you the programs that are available. I work with a maximum of 14 artists at any one time inside my mastermind program, and my self study program allows for more. To see how a personalized artist profit plan can work for you and if my programs would help you book a call with me by going to SchulmanArt.com/BIZ.
Sell Art At Prices That Feel Good
Next time, when someone says, “I love your art,” you won’t just say, “Thank you.” Instead, you’ll know the exact script to use to send them how with your artwork at a price that feels good and makes you do a happy dance. That’s why Janice Saunders of jms-art.com, one of my clients, is getting commissions during the early summer of 2020 while a pandemic is raging on.
Now, working with me is by application only because I want to make sure that it’s a good fit for both of us. That’s why you won’t see a signup page about the incubator on my website. I don’t want just anyone signing up for the program. I want to make sure it’s right for you. And I want to work with committed action takers and artists who are serious about growing their art into a full-time profitable business.
Like I said in the beginning of this book, if your goal is to make just enough to cover your art supplies, then I don’t think the Artist Incubator is for you. The Artist Incubator program is a private group coaching program, which means I work with a small group of artists at the same time, teaching them the best methods for getting their art in front of the right buyers and building a collector base of raving fans who will collect their art.
If you’re new to coaching, you might be thinking, “Well, I rather have a mentor that’s just focused on me, not a group,” and I totally get that. The truth is that’s why I made the Artist Incubator into a hybrid program because the artists do get several one-on-one calls with me during our time together, and every artist gets my attention during the group calls every time we meet. That’s why I keep the program size limited to about a dozen artists, which is why you won’t see a signup page just to let everyone sign up who wants to sign up. I want to keep it very exclusive.
Now, for myself, I’ve invested in all kinds of programs, large groups where the guru keeps everyone at an arm’s distance, masterminds where you learn from both each other. Sometimes I’ve done that as a paid mastermind run by a coach, and other times I’ve done this as part of a peer group. I love in-person retreats, and I’ve also invested in one-on-one coaching for specific issues when I wanted targeted help.I’ve worked with copywriters on my copy. I’ve done other things one-on-one like that.
Magic That Comes From The Group
Which means that I’ve seen it all, and do know what works best. But, the main reason I decided to run my program as a group program like a mastermind is because when I started interviewing artists who were interested in being coached by me, I noticed that they were all describing the same problems, and they all had the same limiting beliefs, like the five I mentioned at the beginning of the show. Plus, there’s definitely magic that comes from being in a group. If you’ve ever been part of a critique group as an artist, you understand the special dynamics that can happen when you have a small group all committed to each other’s success.
I wanted to walk you through some of the magic that happens when you’re part of a group or a mastermind like this. First of all, you get more support. When you work with a one-on-one coach, there’s definitely one person in your corner. But when you join a group or a mastermind, you have basically a virtual room filled with artists who are all pulling for you to succeed. I see so many friendships blossoming amongst my art students and my artists who join me. You’ll get the benefit of the coach’s experience as well as different perspectives, opinions from the group members, hearing about their success because they may be doing strategies that I didn’t suggest and you learn from them. All artists are assigned an accountability buddy when they join. There’s power being part of a community all working toward the same goals.
Overcome The Embarrassment
I also love the way group coaching helps overcome the embarrassment and the fear because somebody else might ask the question you were too nervous to ask. And it helps you realize it’s okay to have a beginner mindset at some of these business things. Other times, you may hear another artist articulate a struggle that you’re having, but it’s easier to see how to fix it when you’re on the outside of that same problem. Anyone who has ever been part of a Weight Watchers meeting has seen how effective that is. And of course, group coaching is always going to be more affordable than working with that same coach privately, so it’s a great value for your money.
Surround Yourself With People Who Have Similar Dreams
But what I love most about being in a mastermind experience is that you’re surrounding yourself with people who have similar dreams. This keeps you in touch with your why and your purpose, and it’s so inspiring seeing others have success. If you’re doubting whether a strategy will work because maybe you think it only works for me because I’m “Miriam Schulman” but you see the strategy working for an artist who’s at your level, that is so motivating.
Earn A Sustainable Income
Now, you’ve already heard about the five plans that are part of this framework and when you join the private group coaching program, you’ll learn how to implement them so you can finally earn a sustainable income. It would be nice and neat if we could say, “Okay, today we’re going to just focus on this plan one at a time.” But, here’s the thing. All of these plans truly overlap with each other. So in order to put these plans in place, we spend a lot of time focusing on your mindset so that you can get out of your own way while learning the time-tested promotional strategies, since these are the two main areas that my artists struggle with the most.
Shorten Your Learning Curve
If you join the incubator experience, you’ll get monthly access to the four essential elements that separate thriving artists from the rest. Successful people, no matter what they’re trying to do, know they will get there faster with an expert guide who has walked the path they want to travel. In the Artist Incubator, not only will you get the benefit of my experience building a six-figure art business, or a five-figure business, whatever your goal is, which will shorten your learning curve to reach your goals a lot faster. You’ll learn the pitfalls and how to navigate them.
Now, if you’re one of those types of people who want to do it all yourself, I want you to rethink that. My guest from podcast episode number 43, Todd Herman, shared this great advice.
The biggest mistake that I made early on in life was I had that ego where I wanted to climb to the top of the mountain on my own and plant that flag up there and say, “I did it, and I did it all on my own. I didn’t get any help to get up here.” It wasn’t until I met a mentor, he just sort of laughed at me as that’s one of the stupidest and slowest ways you could ever reach success. And thank God I got this sort of lesson early on in my career.
Anyone that I’ve ever met that has achieved really great things … And again, this goes beyond business success or sports success, just good human beings that are amazing parents or amazing grandparents. They’ve done it on the power of being around other really great people.
So, I just encourage you that whatever path you’re trying to pursue, get around as many great people as you possibly can. Always build and develop more and more relationships. Find allies and mentors to help get you there. Because anytime you’re up against something, like you’re climbing a mountain and you have to get over a rock … To think about the way that I was doing it, which was slow and trying to climb over that rock by myself, now I’m within hand’s reach or arm’s reach of any one of a number of friends and allies who can help me get over that any one time.
The Confidence Factor
Now, what if I told you the biggest factor impacting your ability to sell art is actually your confidence? Would you believe me? I think you would. Because a lot of artists who come to me, they say they want to increase their confidence.
Deep down, you know that only if you had more confidence it would unlock all kinds of opportunities for you. And I believe that 100%, which is why it’s such a focus of the Artist Incubator. Confidence building is baked into every aspect of the program. So you’ll get access to coaching calls with a certified life coach focused on helping you banish imposter syndrome, overcome overwhelm, and beat back perfectionism and procrastination. You met the life coach in a previous episode, Shaun Roney, and we actually focused on that.
Find Your People
Now, I also want to share with you, and I’m sure you experienced this and you know this already, being an artist can be lonely. You’re alone in your studio, and then you’re alone in front of your computer trying to make this thing work. When you’re part of a group, a virtual café of artists who will lift you up as you do big things, and celebrate your wins, and support you along the way, this is a community that will help you spread your wings and soar.
The One Thing
Artists that come to me for help always ask for one thing, and that’s a plan. They want to spend less time frustrated at their computers and more time actually creating art. So when I tell you that I have five plans, and you’ll get them all, don’t be scared. They’re all shortcuts to where you want to go. I promise.
Coaching is not about pie-in-the-sky cheerleading. It’s about nuts and bolts, practical strategies with relentless commitment. That’s why I want you to listen to what one of my artists, Carol Herd-Rodriguez, had to say.
I feel like I have my focus, and that’s really thanks to you helping me commit to myself. Pretty remarkable, I think. Super glad that I did this individualized guidance and really getting to the nuts and bolts of what needs to be done and why and relentless reminders of doing it. It’s not a romantic answer, but it really comes down to the practicality. I didn’t know how to pull it together. I needed really to sort of have a chance to crystallize it, put it into action, and then sort of bring it into focus.
Take Inspired Action
Now, here’s something important that you need to know. This isn’t about piling on more on your plate or procrasti-learning. This is about taking inspired action and doing the right things that will actually make a huge difference to help you easily sell more art. When Teresa Thomas got on a Passion to Profit strategy call with me, she discovered that she needed to define her niche and ask for premium prices. Listen to what she learned.
I’m like, “No, I’m not the Dollar Store. No. I’m a high end.” I consider myself a sophisticated person. I won’t even go outside without looking a certain way because I have this motto that you dress like you’re going to see your worst enemy every day. So I want my business to be like that. I need to focus in and have one thing, thinking of myself as a high-end brand, having a plan, and then making those steps. We need plan of success. So, I do appreciate you taking the time to help me with that.
How To Know If The Incubator Is Right For You
Now, if you’ve been hearing me talk about the incubator but haven’t applied yet because you’re afraid it’s not for you, I get that. I wanted to share some indicators that might help you know for sure if the Artist Incubator is right for you. Yes, I ask all artists to apply and go through the interview process. And I don’t make it a secret what I’m looking for. But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to apply to things because you’re afraid of getting rejected, let me give you kind of a checklist to help you out so you can pre-screen yourself.
Here’s exactly what I’m looking for (see if you can check of at least 3 of these things)
- You’re already selling your art but you’d like to be charging more for your art or making sales more consistently or both.
- You’re already familiar with Facebook and Instagram.
- You’re comfortable posting your art online, either to social media or you have a website.
- You’re the type of person who’s in this for the long haul.
- You’re not a dabbler.
- You’re not doing this for fun.
- You’re proud of your art, but you might be lacking confidence when it comes to selling it or charging higher prices.
- You understand that success doesn’t happen overnight and anything worth doing will take some time and commitment.
- You’re excited to learn new strategies, to manage your time better so you can get more done. You would consider yourself a person who enjoys learning and growing.
- You’re open to learning new concepts that push you out of your comfort zone.
I listed actually 6 things here. You really only need to check off three of them to know that this would be a good experience for you.
If you’re still not sure, here are some more questions artists have asked before they joined. You might be wondering, “How exactly do you help build confidence?” Mindset coaching is baked in throughout the program, but I recently added Shaun Roney. You may have met her on episode number 96, People Pleasing, Perfectionism, and Procrastination. [SchulmanArt.com/96] She helps artists uncover and overcome their limiting beliefs while also improving their productivity and focus.
We also have all kinds of artists in the group, portrait artists, muralists, felt artists, floral painters, and more. What I love about the group is that the people learn from each other. That cross-pollination of ideas and strategies that happens when you get so many diverse people in a virtual room is what makes this group so unique. In fact, the more diverse the artists are in the group, really, the better it is. And the amazing thing is that everyone contributes their questions, expertise, their opinions, and their knowledge to make the group better. You learn as much from each other’s questions and problems as you do from their successes.
Ready To Put In The Perspiration
Now, I do recognize this group is not for everyone. This is really just for highly motivated artists who are ready to put in the perspiration towards building an art business that allows them to profit from their passion. And “creativity does take courage.” That’s a Matisse quote. But, building an art business, well, that takes even more courage. And I don’t make it a secret that it’s a financial investment to join. When you join, I make a commitment to you and your art business because I put in 100% to make sure you’re as successful as possible.
Now, in addition to me and Shaun, I’ve brought in experts who help the group with specific challenges. Many of the guests of this podcast have been guest coaches inside the incubator. For example, Elise Darma, who’s an Instagram expert, did private training for us. Laura Belgray helped my artists brainstorm email copy angles. And Patty Lennon worked with the artists in the group on releasing their blocks around selling. And those three experts, all guests of the podcast, I’ve linked to them in the show notes as well so you can listen to those episodes in case you missed it.
I also give my artists access to my team. For example, we have regular Ask Anna hours with Inspiration Place studio manager Anna Kuhlmey. She helps with all the tech needs for running an art business and how to get your systems up and running. I love having Anna to support us because so many times the roadblocks that keep artists from moving forward are small but crucial. And sometimes it’s just a technical detail, like how to set up an email campaign properly or which landing page software to invest in, and Anna can help with that.
Then, like I said previously, we have Shaun Roney, who’s a certified life coach. She helps us with mindset coaching. She’s great at really getting at the heart of what’s really going on that has you stuck and helping you bust through that. For example, many artists struggle with pricing their art because of their own money blocks around pricing.
And another secret is there are people at every price point that will find value. So, your job then becomes a marketing job of finding the right people, making sure you’re in front of the right people. But, there are other people that sell art for thousands of dollars. There’s going to be people that think it’s way too expensive no matter the price point that you pick. And there’s going to be people that think it’s not expensive enough, always, no matter the price point you pick. So your brain, actually, it sounds like believes that there’s a right way to raise your prices also. And I’m going to put right in air quotes because what I like to teach is there’s really never a right way.
Let’s say you decide to do it this way and over time slowly raise your prices. You could totally make that right or you could raise it overnight. If someone were to say, “Wow. Your prices look different,” having your own back would be responding, “Oh, they are,” or, “Yes, my prices have changed. Supply and demand. My prices have gone up.”
A Winning Combination
When you combine building your confidence with the Passion to Profit systems, you’ve got a winning combination. You can completely do this yourself with the lessons you have here. The problem is your brain might be getting in your way. So, that’s why I invite you to seriously consider whether the Artist Incubator might be the right solution for you.
Uplevel Your Art Business And Take Control Of Your Career
If you think you’re ready to uplevel your art business and take control of your career, you can sign up for a 100% free call with me right now. We can talk about your specific case. Go to SchulmanArt.com/BIZ. My system works, as you heard from Jan, and Carol, and Teresa, and also Dawn. You can hear more stories and other artist success stories when you go to the application page. I would love to work with you this year to build your email subscriber list, attract high-end commissions, and get more of your beautiful artwork into the world.
Not only can you overcome overwhelm, but you can gain practical strategies in a clear way forward for implementing them. Plus, you get a backstage pass to how I run my own multiple six-figure art business. You’ll learn what really works to sell your art and fill your art classes from an artist who’s actually doing it.
Don’t Let Your Dreams To Turn Into Regrets
Now, if you want to grow as an artist and profit from your art this year, book a call with me. Let’s chat, and let’s go over it. I don’t want your dreams to turn into regrets because you can sell more of your art. Yes, there are art collectors out there waiting for you to have the confidence to show up and sell. So let’s do this together. Let’s not let another year slip by without turning those dreams into reality. With the right strategy, support, and accountability, you can make those dreams real.
Surprise Yourself with What’s Possible
So, here’s to surprising yourself with what’s possible when you commit, show up, and choose to take inspired action. You are enough. You are more than capable. And I want you to have the same confidence in your art business as you do in your incredible artwork. You deserve to prove to yourself that you got what it takes to make your big dreams happen. And it’s my honor to show you the way.
If you’d like me to learn more about working with me inside the Artist Incubator, go to SchulmanArt.com/BIZ. If you qualify, I’ll help you create your own personalized Artist Profit Plan absolutely free during our discovery call and you can learn more about the Incubator.
Subscribe & Review in iTunes
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!