Looking to Start a Business? Here's What You Need to Know!
Are you considering starting your own business? Or becoming a full time time artist? Have you ever wondered why art is so expensive? Or why people say running a small business is so hard? Well today I am going to be answering these questions and letting you know almost everything you are going to be responsible for to have a successful business. And let me tell you, it’s a lot more than painting and making sales! A whole lot more work goes into it than the 30 second time lapse you see online.
Many people always tell me how jealous they are of my job because it seems like I just get to “paint all day”. While that is true, and I do love to paint, there is a lot more responsibility that come with being a full time artist.
First, we will start with the job of an artist. The basic foundation here is that you'll need enough artistic ability, passion and drive to make items that people will want to purchase and own for themselves. Once you have decided you want to pursue a career as a full time artist, you need to consider if you have the motivation and ambition to own your own business. All the decisions you will need to make will be in your own hands, and your successes and failures are all completely on your own shoulders, no one else to blame or reward. When you're a small business owner, you're also the product developer, the shipping specialist, the hiring manager, the cleaning and maintenance staff, the sales specialist, the product reviewer, the customer service representative and so much more. You will have to manage your own finances, do all your own research, become a small business tax expert, supply and maintain your stocks, manage your emails and communications, and be the collaboration consultant, as well as the event representative. One of the biggest tasks you will have to do is become a marketing expert. The best way to do this today is by becoming a social media influencer, which is how I gained pretty much all of my recognition and success. To do this, I became my own brand ambassador and representative. I gained my following by becoming a social media manager for instagram, tiktok, and youtube. With the growing success also came the need to become a website engineer. I had to show myself and my products in a good light and did this by becoming my own photographer, as well as videographer. I needed to learn how to prep my studio, as well as edit my photos, so my products looked appealing, professional and desirable. I also learned to be a video editor, so I could publish my content to my social media accounts in a more engaging and entertaining way. I became a blog writer so I could gain trust and support from my following, as well as supply them knowledge of business and information on my products and sales. Lastly, but also most importantly, I became a teacher, a leader and a friend. It may not seem like it, but it is very important to build a close knit connection with your followers because they will always want to support you in your journey if you support them right back. It's important to be real with the people you're asking to support you and to give back to them as much as you can.
Now that we have covered just some of the jobs you will have to do as a small business owner, I want to list some of the responsibilities you will also have. Some of the basic responsibilities are restocking the supplies and learning new techniques, as well as improving your regular techniques. Your main responsibility is fulfilling your orders from start to finish. This includes: shopping for supplies, woodworking, painting, sanding, photographing, editing, listing, selling, packaging, and finally shipping. You will also have to restock your website as often as possible to keep sales up and maintain interest in your business, which includes everything above plus website maintenance, updating and listing each item separately and publicizing the listings. This brings us to what comes after the items are sold: the shipping process. This includes shopping for shipping materials, wrapping, packing, and securing each piece. It includes writing a unique handwritten note for each order, cutting out stickers to include with the note or making a small surprise gift to include, and ensuring each item is going to the correct location, sometimes internationally which requires filing international exchange documents. After all that is done, it is time to transport each piece to it's shipping location. Many of the responsibilities for a small business owner, especially one who is social media based, is pushing out content for your followers to see. I post 6-7 Instagram pictures or videos a week, 7-14 TikTok videos a week, and starting now, 1 YouTube video every week. On top of all that, I answer between 100-1000 DMs and emails each week to answer customers' questions, as well as keep a close relationship with my followers. I also occasionally publish blog posts like this, and take business trips when I can to maintain good relationships with the companies I work with (The business trips are always really fun though.)
Owning your own business, especially as an artist isn't just "paint all day, party all night" because as you can see, only about 20% of the job is actually doing your trade. The other 80% is marketing yourself and your products through social media in order to have an audience large enough to make enough sales for a livable wage. I am constantly making content to keep people entertained and keep my work relevant as well as to improve and grow in my own passions. It is so important to have a community that supports you and loves you. One that you can pour yourself out to and share your passions with. Owning this business is way more than just brushstrokes and resin pours.
Looking back at what I used to price my items, I wonder why I ever valued my time and effort so poorly? It was necessary for me to undersell myself starting out to get a foot in the door but I never question other artists' prices anymore because now I know what's going into it. And the crazy stories you hear about someone selling a piece for 50k or more always blow your mind, but you have to have the mindset that a client isn't just buying a piece to put on their walls, you could do that with any cheap print from Walmart or Target, the client is paying for all the history that went into that artist becoming what they are today. They're paying for years of failures that taught you how to be a success. You're paying for each of those jobs and responsibilities that are behind each piece of art being sold. Many people look at an artists' price and they compare it to the cost of materials used or the time they assume it took them to make. And if it took me 8 hours to make a piece, and you'd be generous saying I deserve a $20/hour wage for my efforts, you'd assume the cost would be $160, plus whatever material costs went into it. But that fails to factor in the hours I spent learning how to be an artist and be a small business owner, the time I took to shop for the materials I used, the process involved in marketing that product and creating a community for myself that I can bring my passions to. Then you add the prep time, the time spent after painting that I sand and finish the piece. Then adding the hours and hours of photography and editing, website updating and listings, followed by packaging and shipping. Once you step back and start seeing art as more than just a piece on a wall, but instead seeing it as an expression of the artist and of the years of history that brought they to where they are today, you see that the $160 is an insult to the amount of work that went into the creation of that piece of art.
I'll be the first to admit, being a full time artist is a lot of work and I wasn't prepared for how hard it would be when I started. Way more work than I had ever imagined when I started all this, but it is so worth it to be able to do something you love. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work at all because I'm so passionate about it. So don’t let all the responsibilities stray you from starting your own business if you are on the fence about it because I promise you, it will be worth it. But you'll need to have an honest conversation with yourself about if you have the motivation, dedication, and time to start a business. I was lucky to have started this at a time in my life when I had no kids, no husband, no full time job, and nothing else holding me back. I know that not everyone is in that position, but if it's truly something you're determined to do, you can overcome any obstacle in your way.
So, if you are thinking about becoming a full time artist or a small business owner, I wish you the best of luck and success, and hope that you can learn something from my experience!