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February 2012
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The Artist Action Plan-plain talk for non-whiners

The Artist’s ACTION Plan-by M Theresa Brown
Plain talk for artists who are tired of the whining and want some action!

OK. It’s been a tough couple of years. We all admit it. Everyone and every business has felt it to some degree.   As working artists, whose total income comes from the sales of our art,  we have had to improvise, expand,tweak, adjust, invent, add and scramble to live a comfortable lifestyle and pay our bills!  To us, making a business plan has always been a call to action and we have done it successfully for over twenty years but never so much as the past two years!
So, IF you have heard enough of all the artist whining that has been going on about the economy and how no one is buying art  and how no artist should have to sell or market and where is the guaranteed way and place to sell one’s art, then this article is for you.   The economy is what it is and to achieve your goals in your plan of action, you simply have to make a few adjustments in your thinking and decide to work within the framework of what is here and now.
And as you can tell, at Art Career Experts, when it comes to selling your art,  we have always felt that there is WAY  too much emphasis on “making the artist feel good” talk and not enough on action. In a world where people feel it is their right and duty to  “feel good” about everything,  the fantasy world of expectations of what being an artist is all about has led to many thousands not realizing a dream. The reality is that all successful artists have had to work hard.  Developing a strong work ethic has never stunted any artist’s creativity.  And whoever thinks that is simply looking for an easy out!

So with that in mind, if you need your ego stroked and your hand held, and my “get ‘er done” directness offends you, there are plenty of other bloggers making big money soft peddling the “artist life fantasy!”  So I won’t apologize for skipping the feel good stuff because if you are serious about making a living with your art, you will be more interested, and won’t mind, getting down to brass tacks and making a  Plan of Action for the year. :-)   Your mindset needs to be on getting it done and turning it into your reality. The one guarantee is that once a plan is written out and put into effect, it is a record of each quarter and each year of your art business and shows you exactly where your ideas are or are not working.
1. Start with what you accomplished last year. It does not matter how you felt your year should have been-  look at all the positive events and accomplishments.
2.  Look at how these accomplishments helped you realize or move toward your goals. Look at what you planned to do and didn’t get done. Did that hinder you or did you end up taking another path toward your goals?   Everyone has a goal whether they wrote it down or not.  Let’s assume for the sake of this article, that you are a visual artist and that your goal is to make  $50,000 in art sales income this year.
Let me digress as I am going to assume that you have the ACE  marketing book  or audio or workbook or even the basic business plan. To have and have read or listened to them indicates your decision to get serious. Because the basics are in them all and you will already know the over 75 places online and offline to sell your art! To not have any of our marketing tools means you’re not  ready to  commit to ANY plan as you are still seaching for the one that suits your needs.  Be truthful and know yourself :-)
Now, what you want to do is look at how what you did or didn’t do last year moved you towards or away from this goal. This is what you need to know to be able to make this year’s Plan of Action and make it work.
The Goal: Earn $50,000 this year in art sales. That is approximately $4200.00 monthly. It is a figure that needs to stay in the back of your mind.
The Action Plan: So how are you going to do that?
1. List every place or way that you sold a piece of art last year or recently and decide that you will improve on it!
2. Look at every place on the ACE list of where YOU can sell your art in public.
a. Narrow the list to 2 places that you can actively pursue
3. Commit to either Etsy or Ebay for your online store.
a. Set up the store
b. Monitor it daily
4. Look at WHO else can help you sell your art.
a. local Gallery
1. contact them with portfolio of work
2. see what they do that will help you
b. Friends, co-workers, family
c. art groups, co-ops, businesses
5. Art Shows
a. which ones will support your kind of art?
b. use common sense and decide if local or distance is the way to go
6. Newsletters-monthly
7. postcards/snail mail-quarterly
8. emails, phone calls, follow ups
9. What else can you do with your art? Multiple “streams of art income” WORK!
a. classes/workshops
1. online and/or offline
b. new products
1. online/offline and where
c. reproductions in all forms-same thing
d. etc.
10. Social Media
a. commit to Facebook and develop your page or your friends
1. Hint: stay away from controversy on your business page!
b. Linked or Twitter-you can survive fine without them-work them if you want
11. Website-
a. This is all in the ACE books -you need one
b. Blogs-yes and keep it up
c. Youtubecan be a good thing for traffic-no experience required-simple
12. Cut your losses-eliminate or cut back your time and effort on anything that is not giving you some return for your investment in time and money!
13. ALWAYS know where you are financially! And which one of your streams of income is falling behind or not working!
14. Plan your marketing using all the free outlets-be very selective with paid advertising.
15.  The five words that will stop you from being successful are “I don’t feel like it.” Decide to change the way you are working and stop complaining! It’s too negative.

Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your effort leads to eighty percent of your results. Look at what worked last year. Build on that. Look at what MIGHT work this year. Build on that.  Nothing works if you don’t try.
We want to work smarter not harder. It’s hard enough already. If you didn’t love doing it, you probably wouldn’t.  Keep you eye on the ultimate goal. Think of it as a destination. Your action plan is your ACTION PLAN.  It is way past time dreaming that past artists had it easier or that an artist should not have to market or that marketing is a “necessary evil.”
Does it really matter if you get to your destination by a different route than you planned?  No. What matters is your attitude. Stop blaming others.  Then add your determination to roll up your shirtsleeve, work with what you have and start making your goal a reality.
“Even a kick in the rear is a step forward.” :-)

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