Thursday, 26 July 2012

Growing an Art Business

When I first started to work as an artist, I thought I'd got it cracked if I created a painting and sold it.  I was very naive back then, I didn't know much about running a business, in fact it would be true to say that I actually believed I couldn't run a business - you had to go to college and do a BTEC in business and finance to do that...didn't you?  Get yourself a certificate saying that you were capable?  I didn't know arty people could also be business people and so for quite a few years I fumbled my way forward, selling the odd painting and learning bits and pieces here and there as I went on.

I remember standing in a book store business section one day, after having a light bulb moment where I thought I might be able to teach myself the basics, but it wasn't to be.  I gazed unhappily at the boring tomes in front of me and sighed.  They didn't exactly inspire me to conduct a home study course and I remember walking out empty handed, and feeling just as stuck.  Back in those days, creative people didn't have the resources that we can easily lay our hands on now.  Back then, business was strictly for people in suits with large mobile phones.

It was a frustrating time for me.  I knew that I could paint, I knew that the people who had bought my paintings liked what I did, but I didn't understand how to get myself out there, or how to go about getting myself noticed.

Cue the internet.

We are so lucky in many respects to live in a very technological age, and what this means for us artists and crafts folk is that life becomes a whole heap easier and potential customers become a whole lot more reachable.

However, people aren't going to come to us if we don't let them know we're there.  Yep, if I've learnt one thing from my biz studies it's about the importance of marketing yourself and being bold enough to blow your own trumpet and shout about what you do.

Now to tell you the truth, for a long time the business side of my business didn't interest me.  In fact, you could say I was downright ambivalent about the whole thing and I think this stemmed from the deep rooted belief that you had to study at college or university to be a Business Person.  But this year I've been reading and studying business, learning how to expand to create new income streams, how to reach more people and how to make more sales.

We don't have to rely on our income to appear from just one source.  We can create diverse ways of bringing money into our lives.

I mean - WOW!  This is really true!!  And for long enough I had no clue that you could do this!

I used to work in an office, and I just took for granted that I earned a salary and each month that set amount of money went into my account.  Once the bills had been paid and my outgoings taken care of, there was a predictable amount of money left over to play with for the next four weeks - it wasn't much either.  I never dreamed back then that I could have created extra income streams to supplement my office job earnings.  Nowadays we have the added bonus of the internet, which makes earning extra money for ourselves even easier - we have the whole world to share our wares with, it's an exciting prospect isn't it?

So, with the knowledge I've soaked up from various books, courses and online entrepreneurs this year, I'm confident that I can create different products and experiences for people through my business.  My main focus is on creating products that people actually want and need.  As well as my art, prints and cards I also sell an e-book that I wrote to encourage people to live more creatively; and I'm currently working on creating a new e-course.  As we drift from one recession to another, and the world continues to juggle it's finances, I think we have to adapt to our current situation and become a little more savvy and clever at how we go about earning money for ourselves.

One of the tools I've found works best for me is social media, by which I mean Twitter and Facebook.  Social Media is fast, it's easy and it's current.  The opportunities that have arisen from using just these two types of social media to share what I'm up to have been incredible.  I've had numerous commissions and sales come through these accounts, been invited to exhibit work at a gallery, had business owners contact me about selling my work in their shops, been involved with a school art project and also made some wonderful connections with other online artists.

There's still heaps of room to expand my business and I feel excited about the future.  I've been emailed about whether I would ever consider art workshops, and as it's something I've done before and enjoyed, I think that I would eventually like to do them again.  I'd also love to arrange an art retreat in a beautiful space with accomodation for the students, as I think this would be a wonderful experience to add to my business and it's something I'm investigating.  I'm also considering online art tutoring/coaching, and am looking at devising a program that would work remotely, so that people around the world could be involved.

We don't have to limit ourselves to just one thing - we can allow ourselves to dream bigger and to leap into new adventures.

Maybe you work at a job all day, but have a hobby that you could turn into a lucrative income stream?

Maybe your existing business feels a little stagnant?  Why not brainstorm some new ideas to take your biz forward ~ make a list, choose the one that makes your heart leap, investigate, plant the seeds, do it.


So back to now, and what I've been up to this last week or so:

Another recently new addition to my biz have been Mini Canvases - in fact, the ones I've painted so far, along with a couple of commissions have all gone off to new homes!  I've also been asked to create some for a gallery in Derbyshire and I'm very pleased with how they have taken off and the response I've had to them.

I've also got a brand new product to share with you all too.  After listening to my customers who have asked me for art postcards for long enough, I'm really pleased to tell you that at long last I have released a range of glossy art postcards!


There are six designs included in the set which feature images from some of my more popular paintings.  For a limited time you can order a set for just £5.00 which includes free p&p; in the UK*.

I'm now off for a little break in Suffolk, I send you sunshine and warm days, jugs of wildflowers and inspiring dreams.

With love

*please note ~ any orders placed between 27th July and 5th August will be shipped when I return from my trip.


  1. Sweet. Yes, we have to think outside the box. I we grow we continue to learn. That is what life is about.

  2. I would be interested in an online art course. I would love to be able to paint but have little confidence in my own ability. An interesting post, especially about the income streams - I work in an office, but would love to make some money from my creations. Love your artwork, by the way.

  3. Lovely post Julia, you're right the internet has made selling your work more accessible to everyone, I love that you can make/paint something, pop it into your online shop and hey presto someone sees it and loves it and buys it! Your paintings are exquisite really redolent of warm happy summers. Have a great time in Suffolk. We are heading down there for the first time ever on the 4th, can't wait to see those big skies!

  4. Love this post Julia :-) By the way have you thought of creating cups or coasters with your art on them?

  5. Love the hens..... and I am so pleased that now others can see your work and that you are feeling confident about it all. You have to believe in yourself and your talent first and foremost I think, don't you? Then you need the bottle to go and try to sell it. Been there and done that many decades ago so I know it's not easy, even harder in these economic times, so I wish you all the luck in the world.

  6. Good post Julia. So so true. I admire your ability to be clear and focused despite having a little one to look after! I am aim to add more strings to my selling bow, but doing the MA makes my head spin, so will have to take it slowly for a while. Delightful work! x

  7. thanks, Julia, very good post. it is so nice to hear you are going more deeper into your art business. and I think you are succeed ! It is a big encouragement for other people, for example -for me :) thanks again!

  8. Brilliant idea Zoe, thank you!

  9. What an uplifting and inspiring post!
    I love your new postcards and I wish you good luck with those.

  10. With a nascent business I am very grateful for this post, Julia. Thank you so much for your honesty and useful tips. The only way forward is to be adaptable, I believe.

  11. Thank you Julia, what a fabulous and inspiring read. I continue to grow my business by hearing your words, inspired :))) Enjoy your holiday

  12. Very nice post. I found it inspiring. Thank you. I too want to start my own business with my crochet items, but feel a bit lost in the world of sales. I have read many blogs of people who have just "Done it". That's what I want to do. Your post made me feel like I should just start.

  13. Good luck with your new venture, im glad this post has inspired you!

  14. I've been running from my fears about my own creative abilities for years, but have recently re-acquainted myself with them. I purchased your e-book and LOVE it. Your ideas about expanding your offerings are wonderful. YAY, Julia!!!

  15. Hi Julia, Your new blog looks exciting and interesting, I will definitely be back to read more. It's good to hear about your journey. Might have to treat myself to some cards and a look at your e-book! enjoy the summer Heather


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