TRANSCRIPT Ep. 273: Art Business Basics: 7 Steps to Setting Up Shop


[00:00:00] Miriam Schulman: So I’ve identified seven steps for really nailing down the art business basics. And these basics, they’re really for every online business owner, not just artists. So if you’re listening and you don’t consider yourself an artist, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. 

[00:00:22] Announcer: It’s the Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world inside a 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. 

[00:00:44] Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there, artpreneur. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration. And welcome to the Inspiration Place. You are listening to episode number 273, and as always, I’m so grateful you’re here. 

So today’s episode is inspired by a lot of the questions I get asked that I never understood in the past what the confusion was until I started talking to artists during my one-on-one call. So whenever I have a promotion for the artist incubator, I usually offer the first 10 people to sign up for a free one-on-one call with me, and then anyone who doesn’t get the free one-on-one call they can, you know, add that on of course. So I’ve been talking to a lot of artists lately, either because they took advantage of the first 10 signups or there are people who were getting it all a cart to talk to me, and it was really helping me clarify exactly what the confusion is when it comes to going back to basics. 

And even though this is a back to basics episode, even if you’ve been in business for a while, I want you to listen to this carefully because some of these things I’m seeing even in my more advanced students, clients who have been in business for a while, they still may have skipped some of these basic steps.

Some of these I’ve talked about on the podcast before, and when I’ve gone more in depth about it, I am going to make sure I tell you which episodes to check out. We’re gonna link to all related episodes in the show notes. Again, this is 273. So if you’re listening in the car, if you’re listening while you’re walking, you can always go back later to and make sure you check out all the related episodes. And of course my book, Artpreneur, has more information as well. 

Okay, let’s get started. So I’ve identified seven steps for really nailing down the art business basics. And these business basics, they’re really for every online business owner, not just artists. So if you’re listening and you don’t consider yourself an artist, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you.

So step one is, open a separate business checking account. Separate from personal, and I know people who have been in business for years, for years, who admitted to me that they don’t do this, and they read my book and they’re like, oops, maybe this is something I should do. Now, I go into a lot of depth in this in episode number 108. I call it the one thing you need to make your art business real. I also talk about it in chapter four of ArtPreneur, which is take the first step. 

So the reason why this is important is not just because of bookkeeping and accounting reasons. Although let me tell you, it’s gonna be so much easier at the end of your fiscal year when it comes time to filing your taxes if you do this. But it’s also because it creates a mental container for separating out your finances. Artists and business owners who mix them up, they’re never really sure what income is coming in from business versus personal and how much money they have and how much they can invest. And then it makes it very confusing, especially if you have a partner who is not your business partner. By that I mean you have a romantic partner, a life partner, a spouse, and if you mix everything together, you’re always gonna feel like you need their permission. Before you invest in your art business. Whether that is more art supplies or a business coach or a coaching program like the artist incubator, or perhaps software that you need. And when you separate these things, it’s gonna make those decisions much easier and it’s gonna be more motivating for you as you watch your business account grow. 

Make sure you also practice some related affirmations so that you can increase your capacity for having money. So I enjoy watching my bank accounts grow might be one that you need to practice. I know some people, they don’t have a problem with making money, but they have a problem with keeping money and as soon as they have money, they feel like they need to spend it. 

So keep these things separate and also practice increasing your capacity for having money. So you definitely want a dedicated business checking account with a linked business savings account. I always like to keep several months of expenses in there for when those dips ultimately come. Inevitably, we do have ups and downs in our business. And it’s nice to know I have that cash cushion in that linked savings account. 

The other thing that I have is a business credit card when I opened my business account with Chase, so They’re mostly in New York, but I know they have a national presence in the United States. They provided me these three accounts; the business checking, the business savings, and a business credit card.

Now, here is where some confusion comes in, which I know your question only because of talking to so many artists. Alright. You don’t need an LLC in order to open your business checking account. And you don’t even need to have come up with your name or your logo. And so that’s where some artists spend some time spinning. They think, oh wait, I need, which do I do first? Do I do the LLC first? Do I do the business account first? Do I get my website first? No, you can file all your taxes and create a business checking account without having an official name for your business. And once you do create an LLC or you do change your name of your business, you do not have to change any of those accounts.

So when I first opened my business checking account, my business savings account over 20 years ago, it was under Miriam Schulman. I still have the same account. When I opened my LLC, which I did I wanna say that was about 10 years ago, I didn’t have to change my bank accounts at all. Now I can have Schulman Art, which is my LLC name, I could have that added to my checking account. I can do things like that, but I didn’t have to change any of that. So you can open up your business checking account without having an LLC. So don’t worry about that. 

Now, I’m gonna just say a few things that are gonna be specific to where you live. So for us residents, you can open a checking account as a sole proprietorship without needing an LLC. And like I said, you don’t have to change it once you do. It’s very convenient to have that business credit card for managing your expenses, always charging to the business, credit card, anything online doing that. For international, my international artist friends, you also can do this. But I do encourage you – and this is true for everything throughout this episode – I encourage you to research the requirements and consult with local experts for more accurate information. And this is even gonna be true when we get into step two. 

Step two, you need a sales tax ID and collect sales tax. So this is for US residents. Obtaining a sales tax ID for collecting sales tax is required for some states within the US. Now this is where it’s gonna get a little hairy because the requirement for a sales tax ID is gonna vary by state, and the threshold or exemptions is gonna vary by state. I know New York, I needed one. I know when I wanted to sell in Connecticut, even though I was a New York resident, I needed one. 

If you are selling in any state outside of your own, if you’re selling in person, you usually need that sales tax ID for selling in that state. So those who are doing the festival circuits, they need to have a sale tax ID for every state. If you’re selling your art online though, you don’t need a sales tax ID for every state that you’re selling to. So if you live in New York and you have a sales tax ID and you sell something to Connecticut, you actually do not need to collect Connecticut sales tax and you do not have to pay it. Your domicile is New York. So you don’t have to collect or pay sales tax online as long as your domicile is in that one state. 

So one of the reasons why people like Etsy so much is because you no longer have to collect sales tax for all the different states that Etsy sells to and they will actually do it for you. So they will collect the sales tax and they’ll pay the sales tax for you for your own website. You only need to collect the sales tax if your state requires you to collect and pay sales tax. So you’ll need to check that. And again, different countries. I know you have totally different tax structures. I am not gonna speak on any of that. And for legally, for my big disclaimer for everything here, is that please check with a tax professional. This advice is for informational purposes and does not take the place of legal or financial counsel. 

Alright, moving on. Step number three, track your income and expenses. 

Alright, so in addition to having your separate accounts set up, you don’t wanna use just the balances in your accounts to track your income and expenses. Now, it is so easy to track this. There are online apps and tools that completely automate this. My favorite one is Self-Employed Intuit. I got that, hmm, I wanna say that was 10 years ago also, and it’s been a game changer for me. I used to keep everything in a spreadsheet and it was so time consuming come tax time to figure it all out. I don’t have to do any of that anymore. Now when my accountant says it’s time to pay the taxes, all I have to do is go over to my Self-Employed and plug in the tax year and mail ’em the PDF. It’s really that easy. So what you have to do with the Intuit version is that you do link your – again remember you have that separate bank account – so you link your bank account if you’re using PayPal. Most of us are for both receiving and paying things. You link PayPal, you link your business credit card. If you have more than one, you link all of them. So you link all these things up and then every time you spend, make a payment, or you receive a payment, you can set up rules in your app. That will market as business expense and what category it’s in, or business income. And then, like I said, end of the year, I just download the PDF. It’s all done for me. It’s amazing. And anytime I want to, I can always check and see how much money I’ve made, which makes it really, really motivating to help me figure out, like, how much money I’ve made this month, how much money I’ve made so far this year. How much I spent, do I need to watch my expenses? I can also see, oh, how much am I spending on software versus advertising? So all that makes it really easy. 

I link these resources and many others in the Artpreneur book bonus. So those of you who have bought the book, Artpreneur, make sure you get the book bonuses. If you had the physical copy of the book, either because you got it from the library or you bought the book, you can just go to page 232. 232 is where we’ve linked up where the QR code and the top secret URL for getting the book bonuses. So it’s there if you want to, you can also just email us your book receipt. So if you bought on Amazon, if you bought an Audible or you have an Audible account, any of those things, ’cause I know the Audible people, they don’t have that page number. You can also get it and if you’re listening to the book from a different type of book app that’s, you know, audio book app that’s not audible, just take a screenshot of it in your library, send it to us and we will hook you up with the bonus package. We just need your email and proof of purchase. Okay? So we wanna make sure you get all the bonuses. The book bonus, the reference guide is just one of many book bonuses. 

And if you haven’t gotten the book yet and you wanna know the complete list of book bonuses, you can head on over to There is an art journal video series, there’s this reference guide that we have, as well as three different panel guides on messaging and marketing, spirituality, and successful artists insights. You’re gonna absolutely love those bonuses so make sure you check them out. 

Okay step number four, pay your business bills with your business money. Again, this is very similar to the whole idea of having everything separate, but you really do need to have all the separate and have the habit of paying your business bills exclusively with your business funds, not moving money back and forth.

I had an artist in my program once ask me, whenever I make money, how much do I like whenever I sell a painting, how much should I pay myself from it? I said, well, you pay yourself all of it. And I think her problem was she didn’t have this as a separate business account. 

So you have a separate business account when you sell your art, all the money from those art sales goes into that account. Now you can pull money out of that account and that becomes your personal money. That becomes your income. All right, so when we come back, we’re gonna talk about websites. But first these words. 

[00:15:14] AD Announcer: And now a review of Artpreneur from artist Sabrina Beam. Sabrina writes, “A must have for all artists. As the title indicates, this book is about the business aspects of art marketing, promoting and establishing and maintaining enduring relationships with customers. There are many books on the market that discuss the very same. What’s distinctive and refreshing about this one is that it digs deep into the psychological factors that hinder our growth as artists, both professionally and financially. It discusses in depth issues of our own perceptions of the true value of our work, why we do it, and most importantly for whom, in other words, our target audience. All too often we put our stuff out there without ever identifying our unique buyers. Schulman explains in her lighthearted, yet eloquent style, how to identify and expand exponentially one’s target audience. She explores and demystifies the wise of getting stuck creatively and shares highly relatable, real life case studies that illustrate solutions to the problems that plague many of us. If you are interested in thriving as an artist and taking pleasure in the journey, I highly recommend Artpreneur. Schulman’s insights are a gift. They have totally transformed my perceptions of my work and of myself as an artist. Buy this book. Priceless.” 

Thank you, Sabrina, for leaving that thorough review. To order your copy of Artpreneur in any format, head on over to Once you’ve ordered it, you can enter your order number there for exclusive bonuses. And now let’s carry on with the show. 

[00:17:07] Miriam Schulman: Okay. Welcome back. Step five is all about setting up a website, and by website I mean an e-commerce website. So we’ve had, or I’ve recorded episodes already. About the importance of having a website. So most recently, episode number 268 why having a website matters? ’cause I get that question a lot. Do we really need a website? So I want you to go back. If you haven’t listened to that one yet, go back and listen to it. It’s a deep dive of why you need a website and how it can benefit your art business. And if you already have a website, be sure you check out episode number 178 what’s wrong with your website. Because I identify common website mistakes. And I’ve seen these same mistakes over and over and over again. But the number one mistake that I see is artists who don’t have e-commerce enabled to accept online payments. 

So it’s so important to be able to make it easy for your customer. Don’t make them give you their bank details. Like to do an automatic bank transfer thing. Don’t make them send you a check. Don’t make them email you to find out how much shipping is or what the price is. No, no, no and no. You want them to be able to see something and click and pay for it. Make it easy for them to buy things. Think about the things you buy. Could you imagine going on to Anthropology and seeing a dress you like and you have to email them for the price or email them to find out how much shipping is? Just decide. Make domestic shipping free and if you live outside the US and shipping is expensive to the US it doesn’t have to be free. You can make shipping within your own country free. But make sure you accept e-commerce, you have e-commerce enabled. 

I noticed that most of the websites that are designed specifically for artists, there’s a few of them I really don’t like the ones designed for artists. They usually are set up either where it’s a print on demand site where they encourage you for every artwork you upload, that you have a zillion different things you can smack your art on. That’s one kind I don’t like. The other kind, it’s set up like a gallery website where you have to inquire for prices and you have to click five times before you ever find out what the price is and how to buy it. So that’s a different kind that I don’t like. 

The ones that I do like are built with either Squarespace or Shopify. And don’t spend too much time struggling over which one is better. They’re the same. It’s like buying a toaster now. Just just pick one. It really is not gonna matter. Pick one, make it amazing and move on. 

Okay, so you want a website that takes online payments. 

Step six, build an email list. I have talked about building an email list so many times throughout this podcast, and there are so many episodes that I can link to about deep diving on this. One of my favorites, though, is with Teresa Heath-Wareing. That was episode number 168 why you need an email list. That one provides further insights on the importance of having an email list why social media is not a substitute for emails. So make sure you check that one out. 

And once you’re convinced you need an email list, you’re gonna wanna listen to episode number 171. I rounded up the best advice from top copywriters. I’m talking Laura Belgray, Lacy Boggs, Tarzan Kay, Kimberly Houston, and Danielle Weil. So this is a great resource to learn about effective copywriting techniques for your emails. 

So you wanna make sure you build your email list. That is important. And I’m just gonna say one more time, you do not need to have a fancy name. You don’t need to have an LLC. You really could build your email list before the website, but here’s why I’m listing it in this order. When you create your website, you’re going to get an email address from the website that’s gonna be something like this, your name at your domain And to send emails from a place like MailChimp, it really needs to be coming from a domain You can’t send it from Yahoo. They won’t let you do that. It has to be a verified email from a verified domain name. And that’s just gonna make you seem so much more professional besides. So, you do want to have a connection between your website and your email list. The other reason I list it in this order is, I know you guys. A lot of you don’t want to send emails out if you don’t have a way for people to buy your stuff, and the only way they’re gonna buy your stuff is from a website.

So build your website. It doesn’t have to be totally built out and totally amazing. Just make sure there’s a few things to buy there and they can buy it with e-commerce. Now when you send your emails, you can link to the website. On your website, there should be also a way for people to join your email list.

Alright, I have one more final piece of advice for you right after these words. 

[00:22:31] AD Announcer: And now we have a review of Artpreneur from Ellie Dashwood. Ellie is a YouTuber and her channel is Ellie Dashwood. She also recorded a video blog entitled Journal with me. We’ll make sure to link to it in the show notes.

Ellie writes, “A perfect place to start for artists. Artpreneur is a perfect read for any artist who wants to go full-time. I’d heard most of it before, but that’s just because I’m super familiar with business and marketing. It had a lot of business techniques taught in fundamental terms and tuned specifically to artists. The information was classic and a perfect primer for beginners. But more importantly, it addressed many limiting self beliefs that are the actual blocks in business growth. I loved how the author walked us through the ideas that could hold us back from believing in ourselves and our art. She helped us examine these beliefs from a different perspective so we could overcome them and reach for our dreams. Overall, it was the perfect combination of believe in yourself and here is what you do to succeed once you believe in yourself.” 

If you want to order your own copy of Artpreneur or check out Ellie’s Vlog, go to the show notes Now let’s carry on with the show. 

[00:23:58] Miriam Schulman: Okay, welcome back. Step number seven, online payment options. 

So we’ve already, kind of, danced around this. I just wanna reiterate it one more time. So it is important to offer multiple payment options to customers. PayPal’s the easiest. Stripe is also very easy for accepting credit card payments. There are a lot of people who don’t wanna use PayPal, so you can’t rely only on PayPal. There are some people who they may have a credit card, but if they’re on their phone or on the computer, they may not have their credit card handy. I know there’s been lots of times where I’ve bought something with PayPal and if they didn’t have the PayPal option, I wouldn’t have bought ’cause I was too lazy to go get the credit card from the next room. Now my computer actually saves my credit card numbers and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve memorized my three digit credit card numbers, so that’s not a problem anymore. But having a PayPal. And a Stripe account is very helpful. 

The other thing I recommend that you do, especially if you’re selling in person, is to make sure you set up Apple Pay and Venmo so that you have additional payment flexibility. There are many customers who are cashless. So you might be meeting them at an art fair and they don’t have a credit card on them. And they may not know their PayPal account by heart, they may not have that memorized and able to do that at the art fair, but they have Apple Pay and they have Venmo. So always the goal is to make things as easy as possible for your customers to shop with you. So adding Apple Pay and Venmo is just one more way to get rid of the excuse that they may have, that I don’t have money on me. They may really want to buy something, but they don’t have money on them, and therefore they can’t, and they just don’t give them your, your business card and hope that they’ll buy it when they get home. Very few people actually will do that. Get them to buy it while they’re still in that spontaneous, impulse buying mode. And you say, oh, don’t worry, I accept Venmo. And they’re like, oh, okay. And then they buy it. That’s how it works. 

All right, my friends. Let’s sum up these seven steps. So step one, open a separate business banking account. Step two, get sales tax ID if you need it for your state or municipality. Step three, track your income expenses by choosing one of those nice apps like from Intuit. Step four, make a habit of paying your business bills with business money only. Step five, make sure you have a website that has e-commerce. Step six, build an email list. And step seven, make sure you have multiple ways of accepting online payments. 

Alright, my friend. I hope that this helps you. 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. 

[00:27:20] Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at on Instagram at Schulman Art, and of course on

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