THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hey there. It’s Miriam Schulman, Chief Inspiration Place Officer and host of this podcast. I’m here to help you reconnect with your creativity or profit from your art. Today, you’re listening to episode 126. Shout outs to my new listeners in Italy, Denmark, and the Philippines. By the way, I know we always have new listeners every day from Canada, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, but I always get excited when I see how this podcast is helping people from all over the globe. It’s super exciting to me, and I’m so grateful that you’re here. So thank you for listening.
Today I thought it would be interesting for us to go behind the scenes on what I’m working on. Here’s what I’m going to cover today. I’m going to reveal my four big initiatives for the first quarter of 2021. I’ll share why it isn’t always rainbows and daisies. We’re going to get real. I’m going to also go behind the scenes on how my book is coming along. I’m going to share with you how it’s made and how I plan to sell it to publishers. In other words, how to get a publishing contract.
A lot of people ask me, how do I do it all? And the truth is that I don’t do it all, at least not at the same time and certainly not without a lot of help. I probably did bite off more than I can chew this quarter, for sure. I’m going to talk about that as well.
I have seasons in my business and ebbs and flows in my creativity. I may be more immersed in one side of my art. Maybe doing lots of commissions. Maybe getting ready for a show. Maybe my creativity is being used more for creating classes. Or maybe right now, my creativity is different because it’s going into my book. Also with my business, I may focus on different sides of my business from time to time.
This quarter I’m focusing on four things. Like I said, I wish it was only three because I do feel I’m spread too thin. I do. I’m going to share with you what’s going on. Tell you briefly now what those four things are. They are my online art classes, the Artist Incubator, which is my art business coaching program, the book I’m writing and redesigning the website. Now I’m going to briefly pull back the curtain on what’s going on with both the art classes and the coaching program. I’m not going to say so much about those since you do hear me talk about those a lot on the podcast. Then I’m going to share with you what’s going on with the website, why I’m redesigning. And finally, we’ll talk about the book.
What I decided would be the most interesting for you to hear, not only am I going to share with you the process of getting a publishing contract and where I’m at with that, but I’m going to share an excerpt from the book proposal. Before we dive into all of that, I wanted to make sure you know that I actually have room inside the Artist Incubator program. Technically I normally have room for 14. I am not allowing the maximum right now because of all four the projects that I have going on. I am allowing two more people to come in and I may actually have a space opening up in February. I’m not sure. There’s either two or three spots right now.
If you are lacking a solid strategy and a winning mindset for selling art, you’re already selling art, but you’re disappointed with your current sales, this is for you. I can show you how to double your art sales.
If you’ve been listening to this podcast and you found my tips helpful so far, it’s probably time for you to take the next logical step and work with me on a deeper level. Now I’m really picky about who comes in. That doesn’t mean I reject people. It’s for your benefit. I have you apply. I make sure that before we even get on a phone call together, that my program is going to be a fit for you. So you’ll fill out an application, I’ll look at what you have to say about your art business, and then I’ll make a recommendation, whether it’s the Artist Incubator or something else, so there’s no risk for you to apply.
If you’re ready to turn your dreams into reality and join this dynamic community of artists who are going to inspire you to do the same, I would love for you to apply. Go to schulmanart.com/biz, as in B-I-Z to apply now. Just know it’s not a sales call; it’s a discovery call. I want to learn about your goals, your struggles, and I will share the next steps you need to take to make those dreams real. If based on what we talk about, we both agree you’re a good fit, then we’ll talk about the Incubator, how it will help you and you can ask me any questions about the program. To learn more, go to schulmanart.com/biz. Let’s get back to the show.
All right. We’re going to talk about, like I said, what’s going on starting with number one, my online art classes. Definitely a huge part of my business. It basically represented … about half of my income last year was from online art classes. What I’ve been working on doing I began this process last year, but I’ve been moving more towards this direction this year in 2021, I’ve been trying to streamline my offerings. I created over 18 different classes, not to mention the membership site, which I let go of last year. What I am offering this year in 2021 is mostly watercolor. I still have all these amazing mixed media art classes that are in the vault. I may take them out from time to time and offer them for sale. That might happen, maybe not this quarter. The big promotions that I’m focusing on for the first quarter was Watercolor Portrait Academy, which just finished. Then not this quarter, but for the rest of the year, I’m going to offer the Pet class again, Watercolor Secrets.
Actually, one of my really fun projects that I’m working on is I have this class that I haven’t really promoted much, called Go Figure. It’s a nude figurative painting class. I have that in the vault. However, I’m mindful of two things. The first thing I’m mindful of is that inside the course, there’s two demonstrations and both demonstrations are how to paint Caucasian woman, one who’s blonde, one who’s brunette. Even though in the class, I say, “Hey, if you want to paint someone with darker skin, this is how you do it,” I really feel the class would benefit by adding people of color as a full demonstration, so adding one woman and one man. Anyone who had already bought that class in the past, they’re going to get the new material totally free.
I haven’t figured out my promotion strategy for this course yet. That’s why I said, there’s two things. One, I want to add to it and second, I need to figure out how to promote it because one of the things that makes this course so difficult to promote and why I don’t promote it is because of all the restrictions on Facebook and Instagram around nipples. So anything that’s a little bit sexy, even if you don’t use the word N naked or the nude word, and you cover everything up in your photos, it’s still can be very difficult to advertise.
It will be offered. I’ll probably be talking about on Facebook Live. There probably are going to be a lot of free content given away over the next month or so. We’ll see what happens there. I’m kind of excited about creating some new figurative watercolor paintings. That’s number one, my online art classes.
Number two: I said that half of my business last year was online art classes, about I would say not half because definitely there’s still a lot of art being sold, but maybe about a third of my income is coaching. Right now it’s actually one of my favorite things to do. I love helping other artists. I love talking to them. I love sharing everything I know. It really lights me up. I love working with the clients inside the Artist Incubator. I’m actually going to be inviting some of these artists onto the podcast so that you can hear their inspiring stories.
For example, Dawn Trimble, we made a date to come on my podcast. She is so inspiring. You may have heard me talk about her. She shared with me in 2019 she made $300 the entire year from her art. In 2020, when she started working with me, she had her first 5K month within a very short amount of time.
Since I’ve been in the Artist Incubator, I’ve noticed that the type of people and the quality of people that have become my followers and then subscribers and then collectors, that has elevated. The shift had started to happen in terms of thinking of my art as, “This little thing” or, “This little hobby” to stop using words like little and just saying, “This is my business. This is what I’m doing.” I was hesitant to go large. I’m not hesitant anymore. I’ve had so much growth. I think the thing was is that I didn’t even think that I needed that. I knew what I wanted the end goal to be, but I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a middle. There was no story in the middle of how to get there.
What the Artist Incubator has given me is just the tools, the support, the encouragement, the real-time talk to get there. I’m so incredibly thankful I chose to do it. I don’t feel like I have that fear behind, “Oh my gosh, what are they going to think about the pricing?” Now I’m like, “Yeah, exactly, this is what it costs.”
Can’t wait to bring her on.
The other artist I can’t wait to bring onto the podcast is Ciara Gilmore. She is from Northern Ireland. She had her first five figure art class launch. Her story is so inspiring. So excited for her.
Also, this is a little bit premature, but I’m super excited for one of my newest clients, Hannah Adams. She has not launched her class yet as of this recording, but watch out for it. She’s actually combining spirituality with watercolor and a core she named [inaudible 00:11:30] Alchemy. I know it’s going to be a huge hit.
Number three: The website. You may hear designers, website designers, talk about how you really need to design or redesign your website every few years, and unfortunately it happens to actually be totally true. Two years ago, I decided that my websites weren’t going to work with the podcast. I needed a WordPress site. I didn’t have a WordPress site because I had a Shopify site that supported my art, and then I had a blog, which was Blogspot. It wasn’t because I was too cheap to pay for WordPress; it was just because I had started my blogs so long ago that that’s what I was using and WordPress wasn’t an obvious choice.
So two years ago, when I started the podcast, I paid someone to help design a new WordPress blog, and that became my main schulmanart.com website, and so it functioned as a blog. But what happened, and this happens to other entrepreneurs too with their websites, it’s kind of like when you have a house and you get used to the house for so long you don’t realize how bad it looks. That’s what happened to me with my website. One day I just woke up, I looked at my website and it’s like, “Oh, this doesn’t look like a website. It’s a blog with all these blog posts.” In fact, you may have actually heard one of my guests, who when we were talking about the SEO of my site, she was like, “Miriam, how come all you have on your home page are blog posts? When you look at most people’s websites, that’s not what you see on the home page.” So I was, “All right, I got to change it.”
I wish I could just wave a magic wand and say, “Hey website, designer, fix it.” But the thing is, even when you hire people, well, what do you put on that page? You have to make those decisions. What words do you have to put on that page? So I had to hire a copywriter. And even though I hired a copywriter, I still have to take time to meet with the copywriter. And then with the designer of my website, we decide the layout, but what images goes, so I have to choose the images. And then I have to pick, well, what picture of you do you want?
There’s tons and tons of decisions that have to be made, so this is pulling a lot of attention away from some of these other projects. That’s why I said, I really wish there were only three. I’m just at the point where I looked at my website, I was like, “I can’t put this off. It does not reflect how I want my business to feel. It doesn’t represent who I am and where I am in the world.” It was fine. I got away with it, but it doesn’t feel fine anymore. That is pulling a lot of attention.
I actually wanted to add to the mix, this fourth project, which is not happening. I wanted to add a challenge to my free Facebook group, The Artist Profit Lab, how to build your own online art class, just like Ciara did and some of my clients are doing. That’s not happening in February. It’s not happening this quarter. There’s too many things going on. I’d rather get less things done and do them well and serve my clients and serve my students because I need to make time for them as well. For my most recent Watercolor Portrait Academy launch, I added a lot of feedback calls and things like that, so that takes time. I am still doing the challenge. It will happen next quarter, so stay tuned for that.
Finally, number four: The book. Now this project is actually taking most of my time. How do I find the time to do all this stuff? I really don’t know. It’s crazy. My husband says I work all the time and he’s probably right. This is my passion project. This is where my creativity is being poured into. This is something where I want to create a legacy around. I talk about legacy a lot with the legacy of my art, the legacy with this podcast, and I feel called to write a book. This is going to be a non-fiction book. It’s very similar to a lot of the content you’ve been hearing on the podcast. I talk about my story. I talk about how to shift your mindset. And I talk about the steps you need to take. It’s a little different than what you heard on the podcast. It’s a book form, very organized, very laid out, very step-by-step.
Now, if you’ve been listening to my podcast for a while, you may have heard me talk about the book last year. It was definitely a thorn in my side for 2020, because I didn’t make it a priority, and I didn’t enlist the help that I needed to get it done. I knew I needed to move it forward.
One of the things that held me back is that before you write a non-fiction book like this, you actually have to create a document called a book proposal. If this was a fiction book, like a novel, that process looks different. When you’re writing a novel, you write the novel, you write the memoir, you submit that finished manuscript to agents and that really is kind of the proposal. There may be more to it than that actually. I’m not sure because it’s not what I’m doing. But when you’re writing a non-fiction book, which is what I’m doing, you need to create a document that provides the synopsis of the book, the overview, the hook, the market, who it’s for, who’s going to buy the book, who’s going to read the book. What are other books that are similar to your book, but how is your book different? And then they also want to know my audience, my contacts, like if I write this book, who’s going to let me come on their podcast to talk about. All of those things, it’s taking a lot of time.
Now, my goal is to get this book published through a major publisher. If I was self-publishing, I wouldn’t need this document, but I really want to go through a publisher because I know the book will have a greater impact and it will reach more people that way. By the way universe, if you’re listening, “Hay House is my vision board, but I wouldn’t say no to Penguin or any of the other larger publishing houses. Just saying. Okay?”
About the book proposal; thankfully now I’m recording this February. This book proposal is right now over 88 pages. I know it’s kind of ridiculous. Thankfully, it’s almost done.
The steps that you take to get a publishing contract are first, you need to submit. It’s kind of like a cover letter, but in the publishing world, it’s known as a query letter. You submit that to literary agents first. When you look at a literary agent’s website, they’ll say, “Hey, please attach the proposal to the query,” or they’ll say, “Wait until you hear back from us, and then we’ll let you know to send it.” I found two agents that are on my dream list and both of them said, “We take four to six weeks to get back to you. Don’t attach the proposal until we get back to you.” I says, “Okay. I’m just going to send the query now. In four to six weeks my proposal should be ready.” Well no, it didn’t quite work that way.
The good news is … it is good news. I guess there’s no bad news. The good news is that both of the agents I reached out to wrote back to me within days. Both of them. They said, “We want to see it.” Unfortunately, the book proposal wasn’t done. There’s that. But also this was the same week that we lost my father-in-law. Yes, it was to COVID. That was last week, actually. That’s been a roller coaster to say the least. I don’t want to get too much into the mud with my own grief around this. Many of you come to this podcast to get away from all that sadness, but I wanted to mention it here because I don’t want to pretend with you. I don’t want to pretend everything is perfect and rainbows and daisies and life is perfect, because life gets real. And this podcast episode is supposed to be about behind the scenes with me, so I am not going to pretend that everything’s great.
My own grief actually took me a bit by surprise. It’s not just the grief of my husband. I didn’t realize how much I had considered him my own father until he was gone. My own father died when I was very small girl, when I was five and I had called my husband’s father, dad for the last 30 years. We’ll miss you, Richard. We’ll miss you, Richard Schulman.
All right, back to the proposal. One of the parts that you have to write is who is interested in the book, who the ideal readers are. So guess what? That’s you. You’re my ideal reader. I’ve been starting to use new terms on the podcast. You may have caught on and wondering what is she talking about. I’ve been meaning to come on here and talk about it. You may have heard me use the terms, passion maker, passion professional, passionista. We’ve been throwing them around to see how they feel, see how they fit in, and those terms have found their way into my book. What I thought would be interesting here to share with you is that portion of the book that talks about those different kinds of passion makers. I would love to hear from you what you think about it. Deal?
Let me share with you the market plan of the book. By the way, I’m tentatively calling the book, The Artist Profit Plan. Not to be confused with my free e-book. The e-book is not the full book. Believe me. All right. Okay. The Artist Profit Plan is the essential playbook for all artists ranging from dreamers to true professionals. It goes beyond successful mindset philosophy, and maps out a practical plan to make these dreams an every day reality. This book speaks to passionitas, passion makers, and passion professionals. These categories could be applied to any gender, however, many of these challenges that I’m going to be describing are more acute in women who have been socialized to repress their desires, to ask for what they want. Therefore, I’m going to use the pronouns, she and her, throughout the text.
Number one: Passionista. A passionista is someone who creates for the sheer joy of it but may not feel it’s appropriate to ask for money. Is that you, my friend? Listen up. This is how I would describe a passionista. Since she lacks the courage to put a price on her art, she typically gives it away. Often she’s afraid to express her own style for fear it’s not good enough, and as a result, her art resembles a mashup of the teachers she follows. She longs to develop her own style. Maybe even discover how to sell our art and finally call herself a real artist, but her paralyzing perfectionism holds her back from taking those first baby steps.
Much like her sister, the fashionista, the passionista follows the trends. She’s the one you’d find at a scrapbooking party or standing mesmerized in the aisles of an art store. Maybe she keeps an art journal or dabbles in watercolor, or maybe makes her own holiday cards. She might even know the of color the year, and perhaps she decorates her planner with stickers and other creative bling. Her creativity spills out into all these areas because more often than not, the passionista has spent her whole life putting herself on the back burner while looking to please others and wonders when it will be her time.
Sometimes the passionista subjugates her own desires so much that she has relegated them to the back burner. Now, whether that’s been a job or family that’s held her back, she hasn’t picked up a paintbrush since college. She’d love to reconnect with her inner artist, but has postponed those dreams to someday. Coming to terms with their passion to create is like discovering a new lover, which allows their creativity to burst forth.
That is what I call the passionista. If that resonated with you, I would love to hear from you. I’ll remind you of all the ways you can connect with me by the way. You can leave a comment on the blog, you can tag me on Instagram, schulmanart over there, you can send me an email. Any of those ways, I will see it. I’d love to hear from you. There are two other categories.
Number two: Passion makers. Like the passionista, the passion maker is not making a sustainable living from her art. More often than not, the passion maker values her art time and wants to charge for her art, but feels stuck or doesn’t know where to start. She’s neglected her own art dreams to follow a more practical route. Tied to a corporate job that pays the bills, she desperately seeks the exit signs. However, since she doesn’t fully believe in her ability to make a full-time living as an artist, she may never take the leap.
The passion maker paints in her spare time, which may not be much. She also wonders when is it my time? She picked up this book because her friends are always telling her she has talent and should do something with it. The passion maker might even have invested in a website or at least an Etsy shop. She does consider herself a real artist, even if she didn’t go to art school. However, the passion maker lacks confidence and indulges in comparison despair. She wonders why other artists make their success looks so easy. The passion maker picked up this book because she hopes to unlock the secrets that separate thriving artists from the rest.
The Artist Profit Plan provides proof that an artist’s career can be both profitable and sustainable. Old school marketing methods can be used to sell anything, including art. Once the passion maker learns that the predictable selling systems that make up The Artist Profit Plan, she starts to believe that the artist’s life is possible for her too.
Now, by the way, I pretty much consider all three categories a passion maker. That’s why I call you passion makers. Whether you tend more to passionista or more to the third category, passion professional, I just wanted you to hear that.
Who is the passion professional? Last but not least, the passion professional makes a full-time living from her art, but knows she can be doing better. A lifelong learner, the passion professional is always looking for the next best marketing strategy and never assumes that she knows it all. She makes a living from her art, either through selling, teaching or other commercial ventures. She enjoys reading empowering stories of other artists who have made it to keep her inspired to do the hard work of being a professional artist. However, the passion professional is frustrated by the lack of entrepreneur books written by women like her. The bookstore shelves are filled with marketing how to books written by the bro marketing bunch who preached to hustle harder or who are unburdened by children.
She’s disappointed by the conflicting voices that say she has to be insta-famous, move to New York, start a podcast, spend thousands on Facebook ads, or depend on the drudgery of the art festival circuit. She’s frustrated by the outdated advice to do what she’s already doing that she knows doesn’t work. She’s ready for a fresh perspective and to take action on it.
Does that sound like you? Are you a passionate professional, or a passion maker or a passionista? I would love for you to reach out to me. Again, email, social, comment on the blog. Let me know if you feel these descriptions resonate with you or let me know if I missed the mark. Either way, I want to hear from you.
All right, let’s wrap this all up. I included links to everything I mentioned today in the show notes. That’s schulmanart.com/126. If you want to taste of The Artist Profit Plan, I do have that free e-book. You can grab that over at schulmanart.com/profit.
Okay my passion maker, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.
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