So, you’re ready to quit your day job to pursue your art, eh? Congratulations – that’s an exciting transition!
Granted, it can also be a bit scary and difficult to plan for. Don’t worry, there are some things you can do to ease the transition and make sure you’re ready. I know it can be daunting to dive into selling your art, especially if you’ve never done it or haven’t made many sales before, so let’s talk it through. I’ve got three action steps you can take to help you prepare to quit your day job.
1 | Know your finances when quitting your job
This may sound obvious, but so many artists get excited and just make the leap without a safety net of any kind. Don’t be that guy (or gal)! Here are a few things to think about before you turn in your two weeks notice.
How much do you need to make to make ends meet?
Not how much are you making now, but what is the bare minimum? Most of us have a few areas in our spending that we could decrease or remove if we had to. Find those areas and start cutting them now. You’ll not only be better prepared for it when you HAVE to make those cuts, but you’ll also be saving that money, which gives you more of a cushion when you quit your day job.
Are you willing to take a temp or part-time job while you ramp up?
This isn’t something many of us want to think of, but here’s another question: do you WANT your art to pay your bills right away? If you’re not ready to immediately make some commercially marketable pieces or if you’re afraid your muse will abandon you when it has to make you money, a part-time job at Starbucks – complete with benefits – may not be a bad idea.
However, if you’re gung-ho and ready to go, kudos! If you can hit the ground running and start marketing your art from Day One, you’ve got a good shot.
You can start selling your art while working your day job
Speaking of hitting the ground running, get started while you’re still at your day job. Start doing some research and learning what you can before your livelihood is dependent on it. If you have some pieces ready to sell when you quit or even start making sales now, you’ll be more confident and prepared.
2 | Market your art to make sales
Sales start with marketing, especially for artists. If no one knows your art exists, they can’t buy it. It’s your job as the artist to tell them about your art AND how to buy it from you! So how do you do that?
Learn from successful artists
Start doing your research. Look for other artists who are doing well selling their artwork and learn from them. Make a list of ideas and strategies for marketing that you can copy and start experimenting now if you can. And remember that the more failures you have, the more likely you are to succeed in the future! Learn from your failures and the failures of other artists in your space so that you can avoid those mistakes in the future.
Learn how to use social media marketing to make sales
Social media is an extremely powerful marketing engine these days. If you’re not already planning to use social media to market your art… start making that plan. Instagram and Pinterest are two of the most visual social media platforms and are a great place to start for artists.
Start finding those artists who have mastered these platforms and start making note of their strategies like we just talked about. Find your audience and start interacting with them now so that you can build a following before you quit your day job. If you have an audience already built up, you’re that much closer to success!
Decide if you need an artist website
At the very least, you need a way to make sales. That could be something like Dubsado, a Square account (you can get $1k of fee-free sales through this link!), or another invoicing method. Many artists opt for a more robust website option, though. I recommend checking out Squarespace and WordPress.org. Website creation sites like Wix and Weebly are easy to set up, but they can turn into a nightmare down the road. I also don’t recommend using GoDaddy for web hosting; I’ve had much better luck with sites like Siteground and Fast Comet.
If you’re trying to decide if you need a website right away, I would suggest starting with a simple solution like Square and if you end up feeling cramped, start looking at a website once you’re making those sales and can afford it.
3 | Make an art business strategy
This is the most important part! If you don’t have a plan in place, you won’t go anywhere. One of my artist clients creates a few series to give her direction and make her art more marketable. This kind of strategy is great for both you and your audience because it tells a story and lets your audience get invested in your journey through the series creation! Here are some other ideas to get you started:
Make a range of price points
This is important because your audience likely has a range of budgets too. By creating a few different price points, you can meet them where they’re at. Click the link to find out more about creating a range of price points and why it’s beneficial.
This could be something like postcards or 8×10 prints. These prints are also easily scalable because you create the piece once, get it professionally scanned, and then you can have batches printed whenever you need new inventory without any additional work on your end. You could also sell the original piece for a higher price.
You will want to get packaging for these prints – something as basic as a plastic sleeve is fine. If you’ll be shipping the prints, you’ll need to do a few things like making sure you have rigid shipping material as well and that you mark the packages as FRAGILE – DO NOT BEND so that the shipping company is aware and will be more likely to be at fault rather than you if a print gets irrevocably bent.
These are pieces that cost more than your prints but still aren’t outrageously expensive for most of your audience. You might also make prints of these pieces for those folks who can’t afford the original if you’d like. These pieces tend to be a bit bigger and showier than your art prints and thus justify the higher price tag. They may or may not be framed (or you can provide the option for this at the buyer’s discretion). If you do frame the pieces, remember to factor in the cost of the frame and any matting and include a bit of a markup on that expense.
These will be your showstopper pieces. Since these will also be your most expensive artwork pieces, you’ll want to have a few of them to showcase your style and skill, but you don’t want to focus too much on them since you may not be able to sell as many signature pieces when you’re getting started and still making a name for yourself. These can also be commission pieces or the capstone for your art series.
Don’t make art for you – make art for your audience
When you’re creating your art, you have to remember that you’re not the one buying it. No matter how much a piece means to you personally, if it doesn’t make a connection with your audience, it’s unlikely to sell.
That means you need to know your audience. Understand their wants and needs, how they decorate their home, what they aspire to, and get as minute as finding out what colors they gravitate towards. This can make a big difference in making that connection with your audience and making the sales you need.
Don’t forget that you can ask your audience what they want to see from you! They’ll be more emotionally invested in that piece and more likely to buy it.
So as you start your art business, do your research but don’t get too discouraged! Make sure you understand your finances before you quit your day job so that you’re financially prepared. Learn how to market your art as soon as possible. And don’t forget to make a plan and strategy for your art business! The more you have in place before quitting your day job, the better off you’ll be.
Leave a comment with your thoughts on quitting your day job to start an art business! Here are some ideas:
Have you quit your day job to create art? What tips do you have to share with your fellow artists?
What’s your biggest fear AND your biggest motivator when it comes to starting your art business?
What was your biggest takeaway from this post? How will it help you quit your day job to create art?