THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello. This is your host, artist Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to episode number 108 of The Inspiration Place podcast. I am so thrilled that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about the one thing you need to make your art business real. And by the way, if you already consider your art business real and not a hobby, make sure you have this one thing. So in today’s episode, you’ll discover why I never have to ask my husband’s permission to spend money, why this one thing will help you make the most important decisions that will grow your business. And as a little bonus, I’m going to catch you up on all the art news in and around New York city.
All right, it’s the first day of fall, which is giving me major flashbacks to 9/11, mostly because that month is the anniversary of starting my business. When I was in the wake of 9/11, I realized there was just no way I was going back in any way, shape, or form to Wall Street. Before that, prior to 9/11, I was starting to fantasize about what it would be like. I was on maternity leave. I was enjoying my kids. But you know, I was getting bored of it, and I was just thinking about what it would like to put back on pantyhose. Well, maybe not the pantyhose part because they’re miserable. But, that’s what women did back then, by the way, except for the really chic ones who understood that pantyhose was about to go out of style. I don’t know if you figured this out by now, but I’m not so chic. And I needed the control top, hence the pantyhose.
I was fantasizing about putting on my suits and going back to that world, and nothing to do with the pantyhose or the suits. It was mostly because I was just wanting to be intellectual again. I wanted to be my own person again. But what happened during 9/11 really shook me to the core. If there’s anything I learned from then and we’re experiencing that same thing now is that the time is now. It’s not I’ll make an art career after my kids grow up, or after they’re out of high school, or after I retire, or I’ll do it next year, or next month, or next something, if there’s anything. Anything we’ve learned over the past couple of months, now I’m talking about 2020, what we’ve learned collectively is that there is not time to waste. So that’s why I’m hosting the masterclass I had mentioned at the top of the show that’s going to help you get started if you’ve been dreaming about either starting an art business or amplifying the one you already have and really lighting the fire under it.
Now, when this podcast airs, I would have just finished wrapping up being a partner for Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy. It’s a program I do believe in. But what I was hearing from people who decided they weren’t ready was they felt like they were putting the cart before the horse. Even though they were excited by the idea of teaching art online, they weren’t sure if this was for them because either they didn’t have a website or they didn’t have an email list yet, or they were just feeling not readiness for whatever reason. Or maybe that wasn’t the reason at all, but they really wanted to build a business around selling their art, not art classes. So if any of those reasons resonate with you, or if you’re one of those people, I hear you. That’s why I wanted to put this together so you have something that you can get started with right away.
I’ll mention that masterclass at the end of the show. But before we get there, I do want to talk about both the one thing, but I also promise to catch you up about what’s going on around here in New York. Because some of the museums have started opening up again, and I’ve been there.
First of all, Bisa Butler, who is a contemporary African American artist, she’s at the Katonah Museum of Art, a very small museum just outside of New York City in Westchester, New York, Katonah, New York. Her art is unbelievably beautiful. I had seen it online, and you can, of course, look for it online.
But what she does is she takes the tradition of quilting from her African American heritage of using quilting as an art form, and then she combined it by using fabrics and colors from tribal sources, from African sources. She weaves them all together to create these portraits that are all sown. They’re all fabric. It’s not on canvas. It’s actually a stitched quilt. And she stitches together these beautiful colors and interweaves it with meaning. And it’s the meaning making in her art that really take her art to the next level, truly stunning. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to see it, whether it’s online in New York or coming to a museum near you. This is an artist who is having a moment, and her art is being collected internationally by other museums.
The other thing I wanted to share with you is that I was also able to go back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was super fun. So both of these museums, it’s very limited how many people can get in. So at the Katonah Museum, you have to buy a time ticket. They put tape on the floor to help you maintain social distancing so you can step into that square to view the art. And you can’t advance to the next square until the other person leaves. I was explaining this to a friend of mine and she said, “Gee, I wish they always had that at museums because sometimes it can be really difficult to look at art when you’re pushing and shoving with other people.” So, they had that at the Katonah museum.
At the Met, they didn’t have taped off sections on the floor, but they did have time tickets as well. They took your temperature when you entered the museum. I didn’t take public transportation. I parked underneath, and it was so wonderful. I felt like almost back to my normal personhood again, being able to go through the museum. I visited the Dutch masterpieces that I had wanted to visit back in April. You may remember one of the shows that I was waxing on and on about how I was going to lead an in-person retreat to see that. Little did I know the world was about to be turned upside down. So, I did finally get to see that as well as visit some of my favorites, which include the works of Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot.
And if you’re not familiar with those two women artists, they were dominant figures in the impressionist circle, and they were accepted and celebrated by the other men in their circle and viewed as equals. If you are not familiar with them, that is the fault of art historians who have not included them quite as prominently in the works. But, their art stands at and above that of their peers. So, that’s a little catch up. If you want to see this art, I have included a highlight reel on my Instagram stories. That’s @schulmanart.
Then, the last thing I want to catch you up with isn’t totally art related. I was arguing with my husband a little bit about whether or not to include this on the podcast. He does not want me to get too personal. I have been arguing with him that the problem with my podcasts is I don’t think I get personal enough. The artists I see who I admire, the influencers I see that I admire who are at the top of their game, they show up … Well, one person I’m thinking of in particular. But, one influencer that shows up on Instagram in her underwear. And here’s what I’m starting to understand. It’s not that I need to show up on Instagram in my literal underwear. But if I want to be real and authentic and not watered down and not whitewashed, I have to start showing up in my metaphorical underwear, which means things are going to be raw, real. You’re going to see my moles. You’re going to see things that maybe you don’t like. And I’m going to learn to be okay with that.
So, sometimes I will say things later on that I will regret, too, as I evolve into the next version of myself. But, I rather do that. I rather make mistakes along the way than be quiet or not be true to what I’m thinking and feeling right now.
One of the things that I wanted to share with you was that my husband and I are trying to buy a farm house in the Catskills. He thought that was too personal. I think he’s worried. Actually, he said this. He’s worried I’m going to start sounding like Howard Stern and discussing penis size. Now, since I don’t have a penis, let’s assume my husband is worried I’m going to be talking about his. Don’t worry. I’m not.
But, there are definitely a few things that happened this weekend and the past week that are important and relevant to today’s topic, that one thing that you need. And I think it feels really weird to try to walk around what it is that we were doing and not share that with you and still tell the same stories. So yes, we are buying a house, a farmhouse in the country, and I am not ashamed of that. And by the way, the house thing isn’t official, but we do have an accepted offer. So, here are the conversations I want to share with you.
The house is up in the Catskills in the country, and it’s near where my husband grew up. His 80-something-year-old father lives a short drive away, so he came with us to look at the house. Now, first of all, the real estate agent was chatting me up. And when she found that I was an artist, her reaction was pretty similar to what I hear from a lot of people. She said, “You don’t really make a lot of money doing that, right?” I’m not sure if she was just making conversation or trying to size us up to see if we had the funds to get this house. The best negotiator might’ve held back a little and pretended that I didn’t make money, but my feminist pride always comes through in these situations, and as well as my big mouth. So, I had to let her know, actually, I’m doing really well right now because I teach online art classes and I also sell my art online. That has been true for me for a very long time. Even before I had the art class thing going on, I was selling most of my art online. It was either online or commissioned art.
By the way, even when I do tell people I’m doing fine, they still don’t believe me. A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out at my friend’s house. Don’t worry. We were six feet apart. I was trying to explain to her what I do. And since I knew her son worked at Facebook, I was telling her how I actually spend a lot of money on Facebook ads. The mom brought her son back from wherever he was quarantining in their house, brought him outside, and asked him if he could share his ad credit with me, which actually was kind of embarrassing to me because I really don’t need his ads credit. So, maybe she wasn’t listening when I told her how much I invest in Facebook ads, so I really don’t need his employee ad credit. And I wouldn’t want to take it from a 20-something-year-old kid who maybe wants to do it to invest in his own business. So, yeah. Anyway, people don’t believe me when I say that I’m making money, but that’s okay.
The other conversation that happened when we were looking at the house was from my father-in-law. Remember, my father-in-law is in his 80s, pretty traditional guy. And he was trying to size up the people who owned the house. So he was remarking about what a nice car they drove. And he said, “So, the husband must be making good money.” Again, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. My fiercest feminist instincts kicked in, and I had to pipe in, “Or the wife is making good money, or maybe both.” This is probably a blind spot for my father-in-law.
This is my father-in-law, by the way, who recently lost his wife, my husband’s stepmother. I mentioned that on an earlier episode. It wasn’t COVID. She a heart problem and finally succumbed to it. But, all of us were a bit surprised that my husband’s stepmother had a checking account her husband was not really aware of. It had $80,000 in it. This money was all left to her daughter. My mother-in-law had a job. And because my father-in-law never asked her to contribute to the house bills, probably because of that same machismo pride or that same chauvinistic thinking you saw earlier, that’s how she was able to squirrel away $80,000 in her little checking account.
Now, what I want you to know from this, the lessons I’m going to be sharing today, even though I’m cloaking it in a lot of feminist ideology, this is not just for women in traditional partnerships. My message is not, number one, that you shouldn’t contribute to your family. I do actually contribute to my family, and I take great pride in contributing to my household bills. But, I do want you to see how my husband’s stepmother was able to enjoy a degree of financial independence and security by saving money in her own account.
And there’s even a bigger lesson for you here, and that’s whether you’re a man or a woman and you’re in a traditional partnership or some other type of arrangement. If you’re a professional and you want to make a sustainable living from your art, you need a separate account that’s separate from your personal life. Let’s get into that.
But before we do, I want to share one more story about asking permission. I had a few discovery calls about a month ago where after explaining the Artist Incubator program, the three women I was talking to all had very similar responses. They told me that they had to ask their husband. Now, I do know that saying you want to think about it or you want to talk to someone first is an excuse, and it means I didn’t do my job explaining how transformational the Artist Incubator program really is. I mean, this is like the absolute creme de la creme of programs. It’s the best program out there for artists, and the results that the artists are getting in there are truly transformational. Nothing else compares between the mindset coaching they get with Shaun Roney, the work I do with my clients, the support they get from my team. They’re able to double their sales and really transform their mindset to one of confidence.
Nonetheless, I was still a little taken aback to hear the same anti-feminist logic, especially in this day of age. It just sounded so 1950s to me to hear that they had to ask their husbands. Sometimes I’ve heard in the past, “I need to think about it, and I want to talk to my husband,” which kind of has a slightly different angle, but this felt very much like they needed permission. I don’t think that even my mother-in-law ever asked my father-in-law’s permission to buy anything. That was quite a stash she had hoarded in closet. Not only the checking account, but she also had a lot of unused clothes in there. Well, the hoarding is a different issue.
I was sharing the story with one of my businessy friends, and she told me she never hears this from potential clients. Her thought was this was because my audience is older than hers and maybe more traditional. But I have to tell you, these women were actually in their twenties. So they’re not even millennials, they’re generation Z or whatever they’re calling it. That’s why I was really surprised to hear that they wanted to ask their husbands.
I was thinking about this whole issue, and I realized there’s a very practical reason why I or my mother-in-law never needed to ask permission, and that is because we had our own banking accounts. But the bigger lesson here, which this is why I said this is not … I’m not just talking to women in traditional marriages. The bigger lesson here is that my business account is a separate account. It is for me, and it should be for you, a separate bank account for your business.
The reason I never have to ask permission whenever I make any investment in my business is because it’s my account, and I have not mixed my business and my personal either in my mental space or my actual financial space. This makes it so much easier for me to make that decision for myself if I’m ready to invest in coaching or educational resources, or maybe I want to add somebody to support my team. Even the most rudimentary of bookkeeping I can instantly access how much revenue I’ve generated, what my profit is, and how much I have in my business checking account and whether or not I have the money to invest back in my business. And by the way, that’s after paying myself.
That means that I’m not paying for the Etsy shop with my personal account. I’m not paying my personal bills with my business account. No mixing of business and personal. If I want money from my business, I can withdraw it and deposit it into my personal account. So, I can withdraw it and put it into the joint checking account I share with my husband. I can deposit it into the savings account I have for myself. But, I don’t use my business account to pay my personal bills. And I don’t use my personal account to pay my business bills. That is why I’m telling you that the number one thing you have to have, that you have to do to make your business official is to march over to a bank and open a business checking account.
This was one of the very first things I did before I had a website, even before I had an email list, and before I had an LLC. So, this is really step one. You want to have profits in a business? Make it a real business and open a business account. We want to be really clear that there’s your business money and there’s your money. And it’s important to separate them out. If you don’t, you’re going to have all sorts of problems.
Here’s the rule, you must have a business account, and you must have a personal account, and they must be different, period. They could even be indifferent banks. I actually use the same banks, but the accounts are not linked, so it makes it more difficult for me to transfer from one to the other.
You also must start classifying every dollar in your life as either business or personal. So every dollar you spend is either a business expense or a personal expense. Every dollar you make is a business income. Of course, there’s personal income you get as gifts, but we’re not talking about that.
Now, many artists feel out of control and unaware of how much their business has. That’s why they feel broke all the time. They’ll ask me, “Where’d all the money go? Why isn’t it all in my pocket?” Or they’ll keep taking their personal money and putting it into their business and try to float the business, or worse, asking permission. The way you’re going to start separating your money is also by creating a salary for yourself and pay yourself out of the business. None of your financials or profit margins mean anything until you’re paying yourself. Now, whether you’re doing that as an owner’s draw or an actual salary, that kind of question is something that we really need to ask an accountant. I’ll try to get an accountant on the show, but I believe that’s something that’s going to vary where you live in the world, what state, what the local tax laws are, which is going to be the better way to do it. But, you need to start thinking about withdrawing money from your business as a salary, again, whether that’s an owner’s draw or an actual salary.
Then, the one question I want you to consider is how much do you want to make from your business. This seems like such an obvious question, but so many artists I speak to during discovery calls cannot answer that. So I’ll spend a good part of that call just coaching them on believing what is possible for them, and then attaching a number, a specific goal, a specific outcome as their goal.
By the way, I do want to make sure you knew that I have room inside my Artist Incubator program. If you’re lacking a solid strategy and a winning confident mindset, or maybe you’re disappointed with your current art sales, I can show you how to double them. If you’ve been listening to this podcast and you found my tips helpful, then maybe it’s time to take the next logical step and work with me on a deeper level. If you’re ready to turn your dreams into reality and join a dynamic community of artists who will inspire you to do the same, you can go to schulmanart.com/B-I-Z, as in biz, to apply now. Just so you know, it’s not a sales call. It’s a discovery call. I want to learn about your goals, your struggles, and we’ll share the next steps you need to take to make your dreams real. If based on what we talk about we both agree that you’re a good fit, then all share more details about how the Artist Incubator program can help you. To learn more, go to schulmanart.com/biz, as in B-I-Z.
I also want you to know that if you’re listening to this episode as it goes live, I will be running a free masterclass. It’s all about The Artist Profit Plan.. This will help you develop those goals and gain clarity about the steps you need to take to take your art business seriously and generate sustainable income. Now back to the show.
When you separate your money and decide your income goals, you will start producing for yourself. This will give you so much more energy around wanting to make a better business that can produce even more for yourself. If you separate out everything and you’re taking care of yourself in terms of your time and your money, you will be so much more empowered to make those decisions about what types of things for your business you want to invest in. You’ll know for sure how much profit you have.
All right, so let’s sum up. Here are your marching orders. Number one, start a business bank account if you don’t have one already. This should be a checking account, plus a linked savings account. Number two, never ever ask your partner, unless it’s a business partner, permission to spend money on your business. Opinions, maybe. Permission, never. By the way, half the time when I do ask my husband’s opinion, I don’t listen to it. And number three, make it a habit and a rule to only pay your business bills with your business money. And number four, this is the bonus number, find a way to take payments on line. The most basic is a PayPal account. If you have your own website, you should have a way to take credit cards. Lots of website builders will help you do that. And you want those amounts deposited directly into that business checking account we just talked about. So, four things: start a business checking account, stop asking permission, make it a habit to pay your business bills only with business money, and make sure you have a way to take online payments.
All right. Now, if you’re listening to this as it goes live, remember I’m offering a brand new free masterclass called The Artists Profit Plan. Here’s what I’m covering in that masterclass: where your ideal collectors are really hanging out, and two places you don’t need to sell more art. We’ll dig deep to go beyond the starving artist mindset to uncover what’s really sabotaging your success. Warning, major aha moments here. We’ll talk about a new model for online art sales and why there’s never been a better time to do this, and why most artists get stuck when they’re trying to sell their art, plus my top tip for getting your first sales coming in or breakthrough to the next income level. We’ll also go over the five P’s of profiting from your art. These are the five things you do need. You have to pay close attention. And of course, there’ll be lots of inspiring stories of artists who have built a sustainable income selling their art, and you’ll want to see how they did it.
If you’re listening to this in September 2020, just go to schulmanart.com/masterclass and save a spot in one of the two times I have available. And if you’ve missed out on that, don’t despair. There are other ways you can learn from me. As I mentioned earlier, my Artist Incubator program is a private, small group coaching program by application only. I take new artists on a rolling basis as space permits. Again, schulmanart.com/biz. That’s biz as in B-I-Z. And if you qualify, you’ll get my eyes on your art business so we can discuss the steps you need to take to reach your goals and thrive.
All right. We have so many amazing guest interviews coming your way. In a few weeks, we have the one and only India Jackson. We’ll be talking about why your brand isn’t just about the colors and fonts on your website. It’s really about your reputation. I know you’re going to love it. So, make much sure to hit the subscribe or the follow button in your podcast app.
And if you’re feeling extra generous, please leave me a review. It’s just a small way you can pay me back if you’ve been enjoying the free content I share on the show. And we’ve made it so much easier for you to do that. All you have to do is go to schulmanart.com/review-podcast. 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. Thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you same time, same place next week. And remember, every artist deserves a chance to thrive.
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Listener shout out of the week!
“I recently finished chemo treatment and am finally getting back to exercising–getting out walking for a couple of miles a day. I am totally new to podcasts and was lucky enough to find yours. I listened to a few recent episodes and then went back to the first episode and have been working my way forward from there. I’ve found the podcast inspiring and motivating. It has been really wonderful to have that familiar New York voice accompany me each morning. You are making my walks better and hopefully making my art career better as well.”
~James Andrews , jamesandrewsart.com , @james_andrews_art”