It doesn’t have to be daunting, it just has to get done.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the how-tos out there that dive into details about business planning and market research and finding your niche. I’m not saying these things aren’t important, I’m just saying it’s easy to get lost in them and never move forward.
There will never be a perfect time to start a business. And you might never feel “ready”.
However, turning your creative passion into a business doesn’t have to be a giant daunting task.
I mean, if I really oversimplify it, if someone, ANYONE, pays you money for your art, then congrats! You’re a business!
Okay, I know, that was too simple, and not actually helpful. So here:
10 Bare-Bones Business Basics for making your art a legitimate business.
- Create your business plan
- I’m not talking about one of those giant bound business documents here, I’m talking a simple one-page document that covers some basic questions about who you are and what you create, as well as your goals. Even if you don’t write much, it’s important to start with WHY you’re doing this. Here’s a site that walks you through a simple version.
- Choose your products and your niche
- What exactly are you going to sell? Chances are your creative talents get expressed in multiple ways. Are you going to focus on originals? Prints? Buttons and stickers? Plush? Jewelry? In what genre? Fantasy, fandom, comics, books?
- If you create detailed pieces that each take you months to complete, it isn’t realistic to think you will have inventory to take to shows once a month. Also, if your items are all HUGE, transporting them to shows or shipping them to customers will be a problem.
- Are you going to have items at different price points?
- Who are your ideal customers? What do they want?
- Choose a business name
- Are you going to use your actual name? Do you have an “artist” name or nickname? Do you want to have a pseudonym or company name instead of using your own?
- Keep in mind, whatever you choose, you want to use it consistently across social media, in marketing, on your website, at shows. Don’t use different names in different places, people won’t realize both are you!
- Don’t make it too long or complicated, you want people to be able to remember
- Check online and locally to make sure your chosen name isn’t already taken.
- Get appropriate licenses or permits for your area, and pay taxes on your income!
- These requirements vary by state, so please research in your area
- One of my favorite resources for help with the legal stuff is The Artist’s JD
- Create pricing that actually pays you
- Establish your brand (your voice, your feel, and the look)
- Good photographs
- If you are going to sell your work online, or promote it in print or online, you have to have good photographs.
- Here’s a great guide for small business photos.
- Etsy has a pretty good guide to product photos. https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/the-ultimate-guide-to-product/143986679284
- Decide where you’ll sell your work
- Online? Then you’ll need to decide if you’re using your own website, Etsy, Shopify, or something else. And you’ll have to set that up.
- In person? If you’re planning on selling at conventions or craft fairs you’ll have to start researching and applying for shows.
- Build relationships
- The best thing you can do is to get to know your fans and build actual relationships with them, whether online through social media, or in person being a friendly face behind a vendor table at a show.
- Collect emails
- It may sound old fashioned, but email is still the best marketing tool.
- You can add a simple email sign up to your website through services like MailChimp.
- Start out with an autoresponder that sends new people on your list a series of welcome and get to know you emails.
- You don’t have to email constantly, just consistently. Once a month with an update of new works, new shows you’ve booked, and a little personal story is plenty. The point is to share and get a little personal, not just sell.
Obviously, each of these 10 basics have more parts to them and can become rabbit holes you fall down if you’re not careful.
What’s most important is just that if you want to do this, start now. You can keep improving and building and perfecting as you go. Business and life are a constant process of learning and growing. You just have to DO.
There’s no time like the present.