image by B_Zedan
From Cory: When I met Lisa Verdi, today’s guest author, I knew immediately that I had to have her guest post on the site. Simplicity is something that I am not great with, but for which I constantly strive. If you’re like me, you frequently find too many things piling up and need to cut things out. The cutting process can be painful. Lisa outlines a great strategy for keeping life a little more simple so that you can actually enjoy it.
A sustainable art business provides the income you need to live the life you want without burning out.
Make time today to consider the big picture. Does your art business support your ideal lifestyle, or are you feeling overwhelmed and struggling to pay your bills?
Overwhelm is a sign that you’ve got stuff that’s getting in the way of growing your creative business to make it sustainable. The solution is to embrace a minimalist mindset. This means deliberately choosing what’s essential and letting go of the rest so that you can create space for your art business to evolve.
Survey Your Current Situation
The first step is to take an inventory of your revenue streams, your selling venues and your marketing strategies.
– List all your revenue streams (artwork and other physical products, ebooks, consulting, freelance work, etc).
– List all your marketing strategies (social media networking including Facebook, Twitter and discussion forums, content strategies such as your blog or newsletter or podcasts, advertising etc).
– List all your selling venues (your own ecommerce website, your shops at other online marketplaces, craft shows, trade shows, art galleries, consignment gigs etc).
Then do a brain dump. Grab a notebook and write down everything that’s on your mind. Include new product ideas, marketing strategies you want to try, blog post ideas, things you’re worried about, things you think you should be doing and everything on your to-do list.
Get Real and Decide What’s Essential
Start with a clear vision of your ideal lifestyle and how much it costs to maintain. To find out what you value, notice what you actually make time for and what you spend your money on. The things that align with your vision are essential. Everything else is getting in the way of growing your art business to make it sustainable.
According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your profits result from 20% of the work you do. Revisit your inventory of revenue streams, selling venues and marketing strategies. Your core business activities are the ones that generate profit now or in the future. This is what you need to focus on to grow a sustainable business. For example, it’s better to create more of your most profitable products and services instead of trying to market what isn’t selling.
Eliminate! Declutter! Let Go!
Once you’ve figured out the 20% of the work you do that generates 80% of your profits, you can start to declutter your art business. This part of the process is where you get very clear about what you don’t want to do.
First let go of your least profitable products and services along with those that drain your creative energy. Repurpose some older artwork to create a downloadable gift that you could offer to people who sign up for your mailing list. Ask a blogger to host a giveaway contest to help bring traffic to your shop while at the same time clearing out your studio. You may even decide to donate artwork that hasn’t sold in a very long time, especially if it no longer represents your style. There comes a time when it’s better to cut your losses so you can create space for new ideas and opportunities.
Then look at your website analytics to determine which online selling venues and marketing strategies get results and are worth your time and money. Let go of the ones that are not working. For example, if you rely on social media marketing, you may decide to pick one networking site that you use consistently and delete your profiles on all of the others.
Also notice the kind of busyness you engage in when you’re feeling lonely, bored or uninspired. You may be surprised to see how many extra hours certain distractions add to your work week. Make time instead to create or just relax for a while.
Revisit the list you made when you did your brain dump. Eliminate everything that’s not in your control. Also eliminate things you think you “should” be doing. If you’re spinning your wheels on certain projects or keep leaving them off your schedule, then you don’t really want to do them. They are weighing on you, even if it’s subconsciously. Let go by crossing them off your to-do list once and for all!
Schedule Time To Cultivate Your New Minimalist Mindset
Decluttering your art business is not something you tackle once and it’s “done”. Just like when you clear out the attic or garage, there are layers of stuff you need to sort through. Though it’s relatively easy to let go of the obvious junk, you can expect the process of deeper decluttering to trigger some uncomfortable feelings.
To keep on track, schedule time on a regular basis to continue paring down to just the essentials, guided by your vision for your art business and your ideal lifestyle. As with anything, decluttering gets easier with practice. The freedom that you’ll feel when you start to let go just might become addicting!
If you’re not sure about something, ask yourself if it will move you towards or away from growing a sustainable art business.
What will you do today to start decluttering your art business?
Lisa Verdi is the minimalist who works with artists, coaches and other creative entrepreneurs who want to declutter and redesign their business to make it sustainable. Sign up at MindfulBIZ and get the free plan to let go of the stuff that gets in the way of growing your creative business. Connect with her on Twitter @lisaverdi.