THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
[00:00:00] Miriam Schulman: Learning how to sell, really, is the first thing that you need to do when you decide to create a business. Period. You’re in the business of sales the moment you even think about becoming a professional artist and you can’t learn the art of selling fast enough.
[00:00:19] Announcer: It is the Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman.
Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast; an art world insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the arts. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.
[00:00:41] Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there are artpreneurs. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and host of the Inspiration Place Podcast. You’re listening to episode number 272, and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
So I’m recording this on July 4th. It’s kind of a lazy day for me and my daughter. We’re hanging out in New York City together. My husband’s actually down South and I’m just helping Talia get ready for her. Oh, she’s 25. I don’t really have to help her with anything. I’m spending a really quality time with my daughter while my husband’s visiting the rest of our family down in the south. And it’s a rainy day here in New York. It’s sort of a lazy day. So I don’t feel pressured to really be productive. But because I like to batch my podcast content a month ahead and we don’t have a lot planned today, I’m perfectly happy to be inside. I already went to the gym. I did my workout. I even spent a little time procrastinating, rehanging the paintings in my apartment, which I had hung too low. It’s always a pain in the neck for me to hang up art in my apartment, because it’s a pre-war building and the plaster walls are really hard to get nails into, so I end up bending a bunch of nails. I have a whole pile now of bent nails. But I did manage to hang up most of the art. I think I’ll have to go back to the hardware store and get more nails so I can finish the job. But anyway, here’s what I wanna talk to you about today. It’s about the difference between feeling productive versus being productive. Which means focusing on what matters most.
And for this conversation today, I wanted to focus on creating collectors rather than content. Now, yes, I do see the irony that I am creating content for you while I’m telling you, you don’t need to.
So by content I don’t mean your art. Your studio practice always takes priority. For where I am in the trajectory of how I’m serving the planet, my art is my book and my podcast, and my fine art studio practice has taken a backseat to that at the moment. But for most of you listening, your studio practice is your art.
And before getting into what you should be spending your time in, I do wanna clarify that a lot of artists are confused about. How much time they should be in the studio. And I know this because I spend a lot of time talking to artists in my programs. They tell me they feel overwhelmed by everything they have to do. So many times the very first thing that I do with new clients is I help them develop an ideal work week so they know what they should be focused on. And what I share with ’em is that research shows that most artists, and by artists we’re using the term very broadly – writers, musicians, composers, any type of creative genius really – that we only have about four hours of genius time. That’s right, four hours a day.
Now, if you want a deeper dive into that research, go back to listen to one of my early podcast episodes. I interviewed Dr. Alex Pang about his book Rest. This was actually episode number 15, so it’s schulmanart.com/15. Of course, we’ll link it up in the show notes and we’ll also link up his book Rest. And that book, by the way, is on my book club page, which is schulmanart.com/bookclub.
But let me give you the skinny here. Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, and history, his research demonstrates that many accomplished people use rest and play and exercise in ways that help them be more creative. And part of that is also limiting their work time.
So writers from Maya Angelou to Ernest Hemmingway found they could only be creatively productive for a few hours a day. This was also true for scientists like Einstein and Marie Curry who needed structured exercise time in addition to their work. So they had to limit their work in order to rest and play and exercise. And this was also true for composers like Beethoven, or painters like Picasso, and Dali ,and others.
So when planning our studio time, 20 hours a week or four hours a day should be your maximum. Any more than that, you’re burning yourself out in ways that isn’t helpful to your artistic practice.
Now, this is great news for people who work at other jobs or who are caregivers. We all have 24 hours in the day. That gives us eight hours to sleep. Eight hours could be used for caretaking, for family, or working another job, and you still have eight hours. You still have another eight hours for studio practice or writing practice, as well as selling your art.
Now here’s the other place where people get confused. So now that we’ve established – and I’m assuming you’re sleeping eight hours, maybe you’re sleeping a little less – so now we’ve established that you only need 20 hours for your art practice, whether that’s a writing practice, a painting practice, a sculpting practice, whatever that happens to be. Let’s talk about how you’re gonna be making money from your art.
I want you to think about what you’ve been spending your time on, truly. Recently, I shared an epiphany that I had with my artist incubator accelerator clients about creating content versus creating collectors. I’m always telling them, and honestly I’m always telling you as well on this podcast that you need to focus. On getting out there and creating collectors. That’s what your time needs to be spent on.
So let’s just narrow this down and I’m gonna really beat this like a drum, this podcast. So number one, creating art, obviously. Number two, creating collectors. And that means spending your non-studio time selling.
That’s where people get confused. That’s what this podcast is going to be about. Those four other hours in the day, talking about how we divided up that time, they shouldn’t be used for creating content for the Zuckerverse or Elon Musk, or I don’t know, whoever owns TikTok. That’s not what’s gonna bring you the sales you need to nourish your art career.
So what do you need to do instead? That’s what we’re gonna talk about right after these words, so stay tuned.
[00:07:08] Announcer AD: Now we have a review of the book, Artpreneur from Nicole Servie. Nicole writes “full of great business information for artists, Miriam’s book has helped me with my business so much. She is full of great ideas and strategies. Very grateful she took the time to write this book.”
Next, Stephanie Caulson has also left a review. Stephanie writes, “truly one of the smartest ladies in the art business. I have learned so much from following her. If you want to learn about this ever-changing business in today’s modern world, this book is a must.”
To order your copy of Artpreneur, whether in Kindle audio book or paperback, head on over to artpreneurbook.com.
Also if you are international, we suggest that you order your book through Better World Books as they have the most reliable international delivery and customer service.
Again, to order Artpreneur and check out the bonus package that’s surely worth more than the cost of the paperback book, go to artpreneurbook.com. And now back to the show.
[00:08:18] Miriam Schulman: Alright, welcome back.
Learning how to sell, really, is the first thing that you need to do when you decide to create a business. Period. You’re in the business of sales. The moment you even think about becoming a professional artist. And you can’t learn the art of selling fast enough.
Artists come to me and they wanna do anything and everything but sell. But selling is the only thing that leads to collectors. And that’s even if you want gallery representation, because most galleries, they’re not gonna be interested in you unless you have a track record of sales and you have to sell yourself to the gallerist. If you don’t wanna sell, or you don’t know how, or you don’t understand it, you’re gonna find other things to do.
And the things that you find to do might be things like creating content. And on top of the not wanting to sell and finding other things to do and finding content to do, what also could be happening is you’re looking at successful people who’ve gone before you. Maybe somebody like me who has a six or a seven figure business and you’re seeing what they’re doing in the world and now you’re trying to mimic it.
But like I said to you before, where I am in my career, making the content makes sense. But even I spend most of my time creating clients, not content. But what you see out there is the content people are creating. You’re not necessarily seeing the DMs that people are doing. Alright? So here’s the big problem. What you see people doing isn’t always what’s working to actually make sales.
One great example of this is Ashley Longshore. She’s an amazing artist. I love her entire brand, so this is, don’t worry, it’s not a diss on her. She has a very highly curated Instagram account. And either she, or more likely a team member, spends a lot of time creating content for it, but that’s not what leads to her sales. If you look at her highlight reels, you’ll see she actually has invested a lot of time and a lot of money into getting press to find those high-end collectors. She also has a physical gallery space down in New Orleans, so there’s that as well. And if you read her book, she spent a lot of time hustling and picking up the phone to get those collectors, those early collectors. That’s what actually worked for her. It’s not about a passive experience posting on Instagram.
What I hear the most from artists is, I need to build up my Instagram following. How do I build my Instagram following? Or I need to learn how to make TikToks and reels. But here’s what I want you to start thinking about. Are you creating more work for yourself or are you actually creating more collectors? And how do you know? Are you creating interaction? That’s how you know. That’s how you really know. Is it human to human interaction or is it interaction with your computer? With your computer screen?
And I totally get it. You see Instagram feeds that are curated, and you see successful bloggers and successful TikTok-ers and podcasters with thousands of downloads, and you think it has to happen like that in order to get visibility for your art. So you believe that’s the answer. So you spend all this time creating reels, TikTok, and carousel posts. And, by the way, this is much more fun and more comfortable than selling. But this isn’t gonna bring you collectors when you’re trying to make money, especially when you’re doing it for the first time and you’re trying to believe in yourself as an artist, the only thing you need to be focusing on other than your studio practice and getting really good at your art is marketing, selling and building relationships.
That’s why my book Artpreneur starts off in chapter one. With marching orders that you should tell everyone you know that you’re an artist. By the way, if you haven’t read chapter one yet, you do know you can get the first chapter for free. Just go to schulmanart.com/believe or head on over to Instagram and DM me the word believe and I’ll send it your way. My Instagram handle is also schulmanart, S C H U L M A N A R T.
Okay, so if you really want to sell more art, meet as many people as possible. Meeting as many people as possible telling them you’re an artist. And when they ask to see your art, that’s when you get their email to invite them to your next show. I promise it really is that simple, but it does feel uncomfortable. I get it, you don’t wanna get out there and sell. Your brain tells you it’ll be so much easier to sell once you refine your style, or you get your website up, or you build your IG following. Once that happens, then you’ll be confident to sell. It doesn’t work that way.
This process of creating content for blogs, for social media, takes you lots of time and it will feel like you’re doing something. But it’s not gonna sell art for you. And then in an effort to avoid the discomfort of selling by creating this content, you’ll end up and so much more discomfort that you’re gonna avoid your business for weeks.
Think about it. You have this subconscious thought of not wanting to be uncomfortable selling. And sometimes, by the way, this shows up as not wanting to send those emails ’cause it feels uncomfortable because you’re not used to selling. So you create social media and blog post content in a way to make you feel productive and make you feel busy. What you need to do is get out there and sell your art.
Now, the easiest and the cheapest way for most artists when they are first starting out is selling in person. And I know you have a million reasons for not wanting to do that, but it truly is the best way. I do have clients who don’t sell in person. You’ve met them on this podcast. But those artists have galleries and an email list to back them up, and most of those artists have already sold art in person in the past.
Many of you won’t make money as an artist because you’re gonna get stuck in setting up your shop and creating a blog and a podcast or a YouTube channel and daily social media posts and it’s all in one week. Like all of that. And that’s why you want a content calendar to get all that organized. And all that time you could have been meeting people, telling them you’re an artist, building your email list and making offers to sell your art. It’s time you could have been spending building relationships, showing up, sharing. It’s time you could have been going through that discomfort of selling first and make money on the other side of that discomfort.
So let’s think about two artists. One of them is gonna spend 10 hours a week creating videos; you know, TikToks, reels, maybe YouTube videos, I don’t know. While the other artist spends 10 hours a week engaging with other humans. Whether that is at an in-person show or just spending 10 hours a week meeting new people, telling them who they are and what they do, and making offers.
And if you think this doesn’t work, I have to tell you, this is exactly how I built up my portrait business. I volunteered at my kids’ school and when people talked to me, I said, I am an artist. I do portraits. And when they asked me about it, I whipped out my Grandma brag book that was filled with photos of the portraits I’ve done. This is before the age, of course, of Instagram and whatever, Facebook. But I talked to people. Who do you think is gonna be more successful in their art business? The artist who spends 10 hours creating those videos, or the artist who spend 10 hours talking to other humans? The person who spends 10 hours talking to humans. It’s that important. Yes. Even if you’re shy. Yes. Even if you’re an introvert. Yes. Even if doing it makes you feel socially awkward.
Let me be clear, too, this thought, this idea that you can create content on social media to make you money. You only make money online when your content is so good it’s as if you were there, as if you were there in person. That’s the only time that you start making money off your content at the beginning. You don’t really understand how to do that yet, so how could you possibly simulate online what happens in person? You don’t know how that works yet. You don’t know who your ideal art collector is. You don’t know what’s resonating with them. It’s like hitting your head against the wall.
Listen, I’m all about having amazing art and, heck, even good content too. But it still isn’t what makes you money. Selling is what makes you money. It’s how you create collectors and creating collectors is where the money comes from. Literally.
Alright, when we come back I’m gonna give you some marching orders. But first these words.
[00:17:29] Announcer AD: And now we have a review of Artpreneur from down under Astrid Le Pier writes, “Big fan. So I have listened to the audio book twice in the last two months and decided I needed the paperback as well so that I can highlight part.”
Next we have a review from Sherrie C. She writes, “I have followed her podcast since the beginning after stumbling across it a few months after she began. It’s also how I began taking online courses by Miriam as well. This book is so well done. She has taken all the best of her advice that of her mentors, students, and more making it entertaining and memorable. Miriam has shared in the memorable. Miriam has shared in the most straightforward way how to make any artist practice run like a business while maintaining your authenticity. While her podcast is about art, it also encompasses so much more: believing in yourself, taking action, setting goals, and knowing you are worth the effort to follow your dreams, whatever they may be. Before I began painting again, I began changing my life in other ways as I took her advice. I chose to believe in myself, focus on my strengths, and for the first time in years began to take care of myself. I began to feel confident and optimistic about the future. Her book runs the gamut in covering all of this, too. I bought the paperback so I could take notes, and I got the audible version because it’s narrated by Miriam in her signature style. I highly recommend listening to her book to get the full experience. This book does not disappoint, and I am excited to follow the passion to profit framework she has outlined. I’m no longer putting off my dreams or waiting to be happy when I’m happy. Now I’m setting goals, learning how to break them down into action, focusing on my wins, and I’m painting again, and also taking piano again after not playing in decades. I’m finding joy in my everyday life. And Miriam doesn’t know it, but she has paid a big part in my transformation. This book is for any artist, artpreneur, or entrepreneur, really just anyone who wants to transform their life. Finally, if you’ve been struggling to make a living from your art, Miriam tells you step by step how to do it. She wasn’t born with a silver spoon, but made her way through hard work and determination. Since leaving her lucrative career on Wall Street, she’s been making a living as a thriving artist for over 20 years and gives practical, actionable steps that will work for anyone. Get the Audible too and experience Miriam’s signature style. You’ll feel like you’re being personally coached by her.”
You can order Artpreneur wherever books are sold. And now back to the show.
[00:20:25] Miriam Schulman: Alright, so here are your marching orders for this week. I want you to audit yourself this week. Are you spending time meeting people? Are you spending time selling beyond yourself? Notice when you’re feeling accomplished because you got so much done and then you rattle off what you did and it’s, I did a blog post and a reel and a TikTok, and it’s basically everything else but getting your ass out of the house and marketing and selling yourself.
I know all that stuff is so fun. That’s why people do it. I know it feels much more comfortable to create that content than it does to sell. But I have to tell you, you really don’t need any of that stuff. If you wanna make more money as an artist, you have to focus all of your attention. I want you to have undivided attention on creating collectors through marketing, through selling. I want you to be onto yourself.
Here’s what it feels like if you know you’re doing it right, it will feel like putting yourself out there naked. It’s the real deal. There’s no hiding. You expose yourself to rejection when you make offers to sell your art. But that’s the way to make money. You just have to get out there and do it. And the more you do it, the easier it will get. But the longer you avoid it, the scarier and more confusing it will be. This is the law of Goya, the law of get off your ass and it truly makes the difference. It’s the difference between the artist who don’t get off the ground and who take forever to make money and the artists who are the ones who are willing not spend all their time making content, but they spend their time getting out there, being visible, meeting people, selling, telling people who they are and what they do and building relationships. That’s the way to make money as an artist as fast as possible.
Do whatever you have to do to be able to get yourself out there and just start telling the world, like shouting to the world who you are and what you do. Yes your art matters, but nobody knows about it if you don’t tell them.
Alright, my friend, thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.
[00:22:51] Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at Facebook.com/schulmanart on Instagram at Schulman Art, and of course, on schulmanart.com.
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!