5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Turning Your Art Into A Business
- Don’t, underprice your work
Pricing is a very tricky topic in most businesses and the arts or craft world is no exception. Perhaps it’s not tricky to price a pack of gum but artwork is a totally different animal. First step is to make sure you calculate an hourly wage for yourself based on your skill level and to keep a mental or written tally of hours put in to each piece. Next, add in the cost of your raw materials. Now your at the STARTING line for finding the right price. Please trust that your customers are judging your prices. If you’ve priced your work too cheaply they will assume that the piece is perhaps not worthy of a larger price tag but if you price the piece too expensively they obviously will not buy it. Confused? Well, that’s ok. Price the work so that you can live from the profits. Remember, if you don’t make a profit you will not be doing this for very long.
2. NEVER EVER EVER let someone haggle your price.
Did I say NEVER? Once people hear through the grape vine that you can be haggled you can trust that your prices that you’ve worked so hard to set are about to get a beat down. I’ve created my own 15 second response to the inevitable question, “what’s the best price you can give me”. It goes a something like this: “ If you’d like to come out and work with me for a day I can assure you that at the end of the day you’d tell me to raise my prices.” My coastal sculptures have lots of blood, sweat, and tears in each piece and I immediately let the customer know that in a very friendly but firm manner. Over the past 15 years in being in business I’ve only been “haggled” with 30 or so times and I’d say that only 2-3 customers have walked away but the remaining majority immediately opened their wallet and they will for you too. Just be ready.
3. Be patient and don’t expect overnight success.
I lived on beans and rice for three yearsI love the saying, “the harder you work the luckier you become”. Don’t keep that side job longer than absolutely necessary. If you believe in your own vision drop your parachute and see if your wings take flight. If you fail your not going to die, To be or not to be, that is the question. When I first started creating in 2001(pre-e-commerce), I kept a side job or two to ensure I could pay the bills. After about a year the art sales were totally sustaining my lifestyle so I was technically a professional right? Well, not exactly. I kept the side jobs b/c I was enjoying the extra money but I kept getting the question, “how’s the art business?”. People in my community knew I kept side jobs so they assumed the art business was not going to well. This is not good because people like to chat and you don’t want that kind of a story floating around. Once I realized this I immediately kept the faith and quit the side jobs and when people asked, “how’s the art business” I’d tell them “Awesome, I had to quit the side jobs”. This becomes a great story of success that your customers love to hear as well.
4. Success is rarely found with an absence of sacrifice.
I’d even go so far as to say that sacrifice is one of the common threads found in people who have turned dreams to reality. When I first started out my diet consisted of the equivalent to beans and rice and I’m not exaggerating. I’d rarely go out for a “night on the town” now commonly known these days as “just a glass of wine”. To me that money was much needed for raw materials, new tools, and oh yeah, to pay bills. I drank cheap bear and cooked a lot. I passed on the really fun things in the beginning. I was 24 when I started and I must have skipped at least 10 weddings. I’m only 39 now and I know I sound like someone from the Great Depression but I really believe that my disciplined approach to careful spending played a “priceless” part in why I’m successful to this day. I still drink beer but I do get to go on some pretty amazing vacations which was simply not a thing that I thought of in the first three years.
5. Never claim ignorance!
Never claim ignorance unless for some reason ignorance is needed to save an elderly woman from a burning building. Obviously I’m kidding but lets face it, we all have Google these days and Google has the answers to almost everything. This means that excuses such as “I don’t know how to create a spread sheet” or “I don’t know how to use Pinterest” or “I wish I knew how to weld a hammer to a bicycle” simply don’t cut it. If your serious about taking the step of turning your craft/art into a business, make sure your ready and willing to educate yourself. The web is full of tips that will majorly help you in becoming a successful entrepreneur. You can bet that all successful artists, artisans, and small businesses have very resourceful people to accompany that gift of creativity.
***Now that you’ve read about the 5 mistakes I’d like to help you avoid making, please believe me when I tell you I’ve made hundreds of mistakes and so I have advise that extends far beyond what you are about to read. Please feel free to reach out to me personally via email me via my contact page with questions relating to these tips and/or other mistakes you might want to avoid. Also, please, don’t keep this helpful information to yourself! Share this post with others that you might know are interested in taking the same risks you are considering taking at this very moment. Sharing this will help creativity to thrive!