How simple is your approach to marketing and sales? Complicated plans are hard to sustain. Yet, doing a marketing and sales strategy longterm is crucial in our business. If you are like me, you have times when your art business gets so complicated, you stop doing it and just go paint. Is it time to get rid of some of the clutter?
What does that mean? For me, simple plans become automatic tasks I do without having to think. This is much more enjoyable than facing a lengthy to do list.
Here are some ways I have streamlined over the years. I’d love to hear what you have done.
- I try to do things at the same time of day, week or month. Or, I combine a task with the completion of another one. This creates a routine. I always do my social media posts in breaks between paintings. I answer art business emails after meals. Each month I write my newsletter the same time I review the current and upcoming events with my art. I make phone calls at the start of business or right after lunch if they aren’t in the eastern time zone. Once you set up your own routines, it’s like a dance where you get into a natural rhythm.
- I set aside a week or two each year for doing any time consuming marketing work I tend to avoid. Routine maintenance of my mailing lists and addressing mass mailings get lumped into this timeframe. Downloading images to external drives and removing them from my desktop, deep cleaning my studio and teaching spaces, and reordering supplies all take place during this period as well.
- I optimize details to better manage big tasks as much as possible. I think about ways to get each step done easier, faster, with fewer resources. Each year, new tech solutions become available, but I try to utilize tools I already have. If I have to print out labels for my next art show, did you know there is a feature in FASO that allows you to do that easily? I can even print out the description for each painting if I want. I enter things like show application deadlines, membership renewals, regular check ins with my galleries into my Google calendar.
- Sharing paid accounts is a way I have made the business of work that involves others a bit easier. I share a zoom account with friends. I established a habit of meeting regularly with groups I am doing projects with. This makes it automatic to review the status of the shows and workshops we are organizing. I also share a FASO website with two other artists. They have their own FASO websites, but sharing one for our group means I don’t have to do all the work maintaining our site.
- Another simplification that works for me is consistent prioritization. As an example, I prioritize email replies. If you are a commission client, you will hear from me immediately. If you are a gallery or show venue, I will respond within the day. If you are a fellow artist I usually get back to you in a few days. Others may be in my inbox for up to a week. However you prioritize the fires you put out immediately vs. the ones you let simmer, I find it’s important to have a hierarchy. If I try to do everything at once, I get overwhelmed.
- Something I have recently started doing, is bookending my trips. When I travel, I take the day before I leave, clear my calendar, and spend it preparing for the trip. Then I spend my first day home, wrapping up my time away. This makes re-entry into real life SO much easier. I believe it saves me time in the long run. It simplifies things, because I am not constantly flipping between the to do list I generated during my trip and the real life things that have to be done.
- Something I keep meaning to do, but just haven’t been real good about yet, is simplifying my workspace. I tend to spread out and have supplies piled up around me. I would love to take a more minimalistic approach, because the stashes of brushes and hoards of frames and piles of things I use once or twice a year – well, they have turned into yetis in my studio. Now that I’ve written it down, perhaps I will get to work at making my studio space simpler. At the very least, I have it in my google calendar to annually do a studio deep cleaning.
- I also have thought about, but not implemented, a plan to simplify my art venues. I spend a lot of time traveling to remote locations that can be costly and time consuming to teach or attend art show receptions in. I should be better about considering these things when I investigate new venue opportunities. I need some more easily accessible places on my calendar! But I also can work to secure more venues in those remote areas, so it’s possible to combine business at multiple venues into single trips.
- And finally, I’ve started to simplify my online marketing activities. For awhile, it seemed like people were only interacting online. Now that in person events are happening again, I want to use my online resources to direct folks to them. I can reduce efforts in many of the other daily activities. As an example, just because I have always had two instagram accounts, doesn’t mean I need them both anymore. One was created to hold me accountable to sketch each day. I sketch daily so automatically now, I don’t need to keep posting those sketches on IG. One of the groups I do traveling exhibitions with had a routine of weekly facebook live sessions where we would take turns demonstrating various things we were working on. Those recordings served their purpose, but we all agreed we were ready to take a break from doing them. It’s important to keep circling back and reviewing whether the things you are doing still serve a purpose for you. Goals change.
In closing, even if you don’t do them all right away, I believe there is value in thinking about the ways you can make your art journey more enjoyable and more streamlined. Keep it simple. We are all awesome, especially when we declutter enough to feel special instead of overwhelmed.