- Stefania Boiano
10 tips to start your creative business the right way
All the practicalities, admin, logistic, organisation that are part of our art making are definitely something that takes away the fun from what we are creating. We all would love to live in a fantasy world only in company of our colours and brushes and zero money, taxes etc… BUT if you start thinking that, that will stop you from living out of your art. Then let’s embrace it with all the love and open chakras!
When I started it's been a struggle for me too, and I slowly figured it out how to organise myself better. Step by step, here below you'll find some tips.
1. Create your own website
This is the most important tool to start showing your portfolio. There are tons of them out there, but I find Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix the easiest to use for visual people and non-techie types. Each of these three platforms have pre-made templates you can choose from and easy-to-use interfaces to display your work. Choose a clean design so that your art can be viewed on a clean, neutral background.
2. Get social with the right mindset
Once your website is ready, it’s time to show it off to the world. Social media (unfortunately!) is still a good way to promote your work. Be careful though. The big mistake is to put too much effort on social media and not much on your own website and on how you can actually sell your work. Bear in mind that it's quite hard today to stand out from the crowd on social media compared to years ago when all the social buzz started. So, if I can suggest you something is this: create your social media profiles, BUT use them to drive traffic to your website.
The positive side of social media is simply an easy way to engage with your audience and keep them in the loop about new products and projects such as exhibitions, fairs, work in progress. It's very nice to receive feedback from clients and even get photos sent to you of your art hanging in different locations.
3. Start making a list of contacts for your Newsletter
Newsletters are a personal and direct way to reach out to your audience, to those who are passionate about your journey as an artist, about your work and what you are up to. Mailchimp.com is a great platform to start with and offer a free service to send your newsletter to up 2000 contacts. Start building your Newsletter contact list as soon as you can. Those are contacts that belong to you and not to Mark Zuckerberg ;)
4. Email account for your admin
Create an email account that you use only for all your admin stuff. For example you may want to connect this to: paypal, etsy, other online shops for selling your art, online shops to get your supplies, admin softwares, your bank account, your website platform such as wix, squarespace, wordpress, your own e-commerce, google ads, google adsense, youtube, socials and other affiliates programs.
5. Email account for your contacts
Create an email account that you use for your mailing list, newsletter, direct contacts, basically where you have a contact with people rather than money.
For all these emails I do suggest gmail.com as you can easily and quickly switch from one account to another inside the same interface of your browser.
6. Bank account
Create a bank account that you use only for your art. You don’t need to ask to your bank to open the so called "business account" especially if you are at the beginning of your “artventure”, a personal type of bank account is more than enough. Opening a bank account is absolutely useful because you will have immediately a clear overview of your expenditure and your income as you go along, instead of figuring out in all the long list of bank movements piled up with your personal/private life.
When you choose your bank account, avoid those with monthly bank fees. And if like me, you are a nomad, consider opening a bank account that allows you a multi foreign currency or some solution that doesn’t make you pay pointless exchange rates fees when your clients have to pay you in a different currency or you are abroad and to buy a supply with your card it costs you some % more!
If you are in a cross-border lifestyle, consider also www.transferwise.com. This has saved me many times when I needed to get paid from clients abroad in a different currency.
7. A money tracking software
If the mobile app of your bank account doesn't allow you to organise your income and expenses in categories, then I suggest to set up a software account connected to your art bank account that allows you to track your money organised into categories, send invoices, get a chart of your money situation. I find www.waveapps.com the best for me. And.. it’s free!
8. Card reader
For direct sales (open studio, markets, self organised exhibitions) you may want to consider a card reader device, something like https://sumup.co.uk/. Fantastic tool for our world where nobody is carrying cash anymore. Very low fee when you get a payment.
9. Record keeping and Spreadsheet
Create a spreadsheet for your admin. You don’t need to be a magician of numbers and formulas for this. You will simply organise the spreadsheet into categories, based on the income and expenditures that you have:
income (online sales, adverts, direct sales, workshops, consultancies)
expenses (studio rent, art supplies, shipping and packaging, utility bills, subscriptions, books, equipments,... )
Keep your receipts and fill this file in at least monthly and you have done 200% of your admin job!
I use google drive almost for all of my documents as I can easily access from any device and anywhere in the world.
10) Find Online Marketplaces
Once you are well set with the things above, you'll look around to search for different ways to sell your work. Online marketplaces are ideal for promoting your products to a wider market interested in art. Even though you have your own website with an online shop, you still will need to use sites like Artfinder, Saatchi, Houzz, and Gifts Less Ordinary because they give you another outlet to display, sell and promote your work.
Ah! By the way! Nobody has paid here to list the links above. I truly find them useful.
I hope this post will help you to save time, all the time that it took me to search for answers to my questions. Should I start directly as an art business? Should I keep all my receipts? Should I open another bank account? Will it not be too much in this moment for me? Should I have a different email account for the admin? Which email account should I use for my social media? and many more… In comparison, Shakespeare’s Hamlet was an amateur with his doubts. Ahaha!
I’d also like to know what are your solutions in case you have chosen something different from mine or, if perhaps you have more questions than mine! ;)