Your Artrepreneurial Journey Isn’t Going How You Planned… What Now?

It’s time to step back and evaluate.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

It’s been a month, 6 months, maybe even a year, and your new career as an artrepreneur isn’t working out how you thought it would. What do you do now?

It’s time for rest and reflection. If you’ve already said goodbye to your other sources of income, you might not have time to rest, but you MUST make time to reflect.

#1 What’s going RIGHT?
#2 What’s going WRONG?

Because every artrepreneur’s situation is different, I’ve listed a few possible scenarios below. These scenarios are meant to be an example of how you might go about evaluating what’s going right, and what’s going wrong, with your creative business.

NOTE: Throughout this article, you’ll see many links to this article (and others). Revisiting your business model is one of the most helpful ways to evaluate your situation and make necessary changes. I would suggest that you visit this article and conduct an evaluation of each part of your business model. This will give you a comprehensive view of your art-based business.

Scenario 1

Maybe you’ve secured a few customers, but not as many as you hoped for. Where did these customers come from? Did you already know them? Did they find you via social media? Through word of mouth? Think about the communication you’ve had with them to understand whether or not the channels you’re using to advertise are actually working.

Secondly, who are these customers? Do they match the target market profile you created when you first started out? You might find that your real customers are totally different from the ones you assumed you’d have. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers about how they found you, why they chose you, and how their experience was when working with you.

Scenario 2

Maybe you’ve gotten lots of engagement online. That’s great! Look at the kind of content you’re posting and see who’s interacting with it. By doing this, you’ll be able to tell what kind of content is of interest to whom, and that will help you better focus your time as you continue on.

But perhaps you still aren’t booking customers, despite your positive engagement rate online. Are potential customers reaching out to you, then backing out once they learn about your prices? This might be a sign that you need to restructure your pricing model. Are people not reaching out at all? This might be a sign that although you post engaging content, your value or the service you offer isn’t clear enough. Or maybe customers don’t know how they should contact you if they’re interested. You might need to revisit how you’ve written or worded your messages to understand if your value is clear.

Scenario 3

Maybe you’ve developed a solid business plan and have created a cool brand, but you’re getting no interest at all. This could be a sign of a few issues:

1) The market doesn’t exist. Maybe the need that you believe you’re filling just isn’t really there, or maybe it doesn’t exist on a large enough premise to sustain a sustainable creative business. Consider conducting more research to understand if this might be the case.

2) You’re way off target in regards to who your target customer is. You might be sharing your awesome value with all the wrong people.

3) The way you’re sharing your value isn’t resinating with people. Your branding might be fogging up the true value you provide, leaving people disinterested or unsure about what you’re offering.

4) You’re missing the strategic partners you need to make your business model complete. Maybe you’ve created a product and have been trying to sell it online through your own website, but what you really need is a retail partner to help sell your product at the rates you want. Or maybe you don’t have enough credibility to secure the customers you want, so you need a strategic partner who will back you.


There are all kinds of potential factors that might be contributing to the slow growth of your creative business. It’s your job to take some time to reflect about all you’ve done so that you can identify these factors and make adjustments to fix them.

Whatever you do, don’t give up... UNLESS:
If you find that there might not be a big enough market for you to serve, or that you’re value is already being provided in the same way somewhere else, or that you don’t have the passion to push past your slow beginning… it might be the right decision for you to throw in the towel and start pursuing something else. In today’s world, people are chastised for “quitting.” But sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do to find success elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to move along in your artrepreneurial journey by dropping an unsuccessful business model and picking up a successful one. Your artrepreneurial journey is not limited by a single business idea, but by how you evaluate that business idea and ultimately find a successful way to share your art with the world.

Now is the time to take a step back and evaluate. If you run into questions during your reflection, please leave a comment below so that I and other artrepreneurs can help you work through it! Good luck!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more straight-up information that can help make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

How to Become the Most Successful Artrepreneur You Can Be (Hint: Integrity)

Want to change the world with your creative business? Here’s one thing you’ll need.

Every person who sets out to start their own art-based business has the intention of becoming successful. No one wants to become an artrepreneur just to fail. But when preparing to become a creative entrepreneur, our research is usually limited to how to build a solid business and how to market and how to sell our product. What’s not so popular is discussing the personal strengths that are needed to become a happy, successful entrepreneur.

In my time of learning through University education and real-life business mentorship, one commonality has remained: Integrity is a critical component to becoming a successful business owner who leads change in their business and in the world.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Integrity can be defined in many ways, but three ways have stuck out to me most:

Integrity is doing what you say you’ll do.

Integrity is about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Integrity is present when you act in accordance with the beliefs and values you say you hold.

Most of us like to think that we are good people who have integrity. And that’s usually true. But let’s talk about some situations where good artrepreneurs are faced with challenges to maintaining their integrity:

Reporting income

As an entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with much autonomy when it comes to reporting your own income, especially if you’re taking payments in cash. It can be easy to write everything off, or report less income than you’ve actually received. I’m not here to tell you what is right and wrong, but I am here to encourage you to think about what choice is right for you. A mentor once told me to make decisions under the assumption that every decision would end up on the front page of the New York Times. Silly, considering that the NYT isn’t exactly following my every move. But helpful, because it got me thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Think about what kind of person you want to be when making these types of decisions.

Plagiarizing

This one’s tough, because sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But, there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. If you make a mistake and realize you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, just be honest and give them the credit they deserve. This can happen when an artrepreneur brings assistants and other partners in to help with executing projects. Make sure to credit them with the work they’ve done, and be clear about the team that helps make your creative business successful.

How you treat your customers & employees or partners

You’ve probably heard the popular saying that the customer is always right. Obviously, that’s not always true–but customers love when business owners accommodate them anyway. This might look like NOT placing blame on a customer, even when the blame is theirs to take. This might look like being completely honest when you make a mistake, and providing a way to “make it right.” When mistakes happen, entrepreneurs are presented an opportunity to build relationships that will last by showing their customers that they have integrity. Emotions are a huge part of customer loyalty. Appeal to your customers’ emotions by being honest, helpful and genuine.

Another issue that entrepreneurs face is evading the truth or inferring things that aren’t true when they’re in a bind. Sometimes its easier to say nothing than to tell the truth, but this can often hurt your relationship with customers and partners. Again, transparency and honesty are critical for developing and maintaining relationships that are going to help make you a successful artrepreneur.


Integrity is something that’s always growing, with every choice we make. I don’t say these things to assume that you need this advice, or to pretend like I’ve got integrity all figured out. But I’m working on it–I’m committed to choosing integrity. I say these things to give you food for thought that will hopefully help you become an even better artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, it’s all about giving you straight-up, honest, helpful information about the artrepreneurial journey. Follow below for more honest conversations about finding success in your own artrepreneurial journey!

Finding Inspiration in the Ordinary

As artrepreneurs, inspiration is crucial for our success. But where do we find it in times like these?

Impacts of the Coronavirus have taken much of the spontaneity and unknown out of our lives. We’re stuck inside with the people we know best, searching for something new in our TV screens and thoroughly read books. As artrepreneurs, inspiration is crucial for our success. But where do we find it in times like these?

I’d like to encourage all of us to take this time to find inspiration in the ordinary. As a filmmaker, there is beauty in the dynamic of a family dinner. As a painter, there is newness in seeing your home in this rare, quarantined form. As a writer, there is wonder in the many lives taking place around us behind walls of concrete. Sometimes it just takes a shift in perspective to find inspiration in this time of “ordinary” living.

Where art and entrepreneurship meet. Finding inspiration in the ordinary during the time of the Coronavirus
Photo by Elaine McClure

If you’ve never seen it, you’ve most certainly heard of the TV show that’s captivated millions–The Office. This mock-umentary style TV show has gained unimaginable praise across the internet for over a decade now. Why? The show is based in the office of a small town paper supplier, with characters who are certainly no Hollywood superstars. So why is the show so popular? It’s concept is built around the idea that there is beauty in the ordinary. Its relatability and familiarity breaks barriers between viewers and characters, creating a bond between the two that has proven to be stronger than one might expect. The Office has thrived on inspiration of the ordinary.

Right now is a perfect time to do the same in your work. Where does relatability exist in your life right now? This presents an opportunity for you to connect with your potential customers in a way that’s genuine and trustworthy. How can you bring the beauty of the ordinary into your own work?

This is also a great opportunity to evaluate how you can create a scalable portion of your business offering. For example: dinnerware. Dinnerware is a part of (almost) everyone’s life. It’s beauty lives both in its functionality and its design. As a painter, maybe you’ve only thought about selling canvas work. But what about dinnerware that’s designed with art-lovers in mind? This idea might be spurred from having to eat home-made meals for the last two weeks. Dinnerware is ordinary, but with the right perspective, it might inspire a whole new component of your artrepreneurial journey.

I’m wishing you well in this time of quiet chaos, and hope that you’ll find inspiration in the ordinary that surrounds you!

Peace, Kayla

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Growth company vs. Lifestyle company: Which is right for your art-based business?

Understanding the differences between a growth company and a lifestyle company is critical in building your art-based business, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

So you want to start a creative business in order to start making money by doing what you love. You want to become an artrepreneur! But what kind of company do you want to create? The topic of growth and lifestyle companies has been critical in this blog, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Growth companies vs. Lifestyle companies?

Think: Disney vs. Your favorite local business

Think about how a company like Disney differs from a locally-based, small company. Their target market is bigger, operations are geographically spread, and costs to run the company are huge. The more people who watch their movies and go to their theme parks, the more money they make. However, a common misperception about these types of growth companies is that they are always super profitable, which isn’t the case. As a smaller company, your favorite local business has less costs to cover and more direct access to the local market. Which one is more profitable depends on how much revenue each business brings in, in comparison to the amount of money they spend.

For example: A growth company might make $100 million dollars in 2019, but perhaps they spent $150 million in the same year. This growth company is not profitable. On the other hand, a lifestyle company might make $500k dollars in 2019, and only spend $50k in the same year. This lifestyle company is wildly profitable.

In deciding if you should pursue a growth company or a lifestyle company, scalability is the most important consideration. Scalability refers to how big and widespread your company can potentially grow. If you’re a painter who provides super-large, high end murals to wealthy customers, you might only have 10 clients a year. And since you are your product, meaning that its your skillful art that is being paid for, you can’t hire just anyone to complete the client’s request. Your goal here isn’t scalability, its to make more money with every client as time progresses. Maybe you start with charging $10k for a mural, then $20k, then 40k, and so on until one day you are making $500k per mural. That’s the ideal kind of growth for a lifestyle company.

A growth company, on the other hand, often includes a product of some sort that can be duplicated and reproduced as many times as the number of customers wanting it. Think about Disney again. The more times people watch one of their movies, the more money they make. Or think about authors. The more copies that are sold of one book, the more money they and their partners make. These are examples of businesses that become ultra-successful based on scalability.

For example: If you’re starting a comic book company, your growth is going to come from numbers: how many copies or subscriptions can you sell? Unless you create custom comic books as gifts for hundreds of dollars… In that case, you want to scale up your paycheck, like the muralist we just discussed–you want to pursue a lifestyle company. Not surprisingly, this creative business is meant to support you, and your lifestyle.

NOTE: It’s important to understand that lifestyle companies can become growth companies in the future. In fact, you should always be thinking about opportunities to create a scalable aspect of your business. By doing this, your business can make money that’s not directly related to your amount of working hours. Now, your company can work even while you don’t, and can potentially transform into growth company.

For example: Imagine if, in addition to high-end custom murals, the muralist decided to create mural duplicates that could be applied to walls via adhesive by the customers themselves. The muralist could create 5 designs and then try to sell as many as possible via an online store or offline retailer. The more duplicates the muralist sells, the more money they make. This would be an interesting way to add scalability to their creative business.

So why is this so important? Because it’s going to set your expectations and help you understand how to create the appropriate business model for your future creative business.

Start thinking about lifestyle and growth companies, and try to decide which would be best for you and your artrepreneurial vision!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

Resources To Help You Understand Your Ideal Customer

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.”

Photo by Zane Aveton

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.” Your customer is the heart of your business and the one who will recognize and pay for your value. So, it’s time to learn about thy customers!

Before starting your research, jot down some ideas or hypotheses you might have about who your ideal customer is. Include demographics (age, gender, location, family size, etc.) and psychographics (interests, hobbies, buying preferences, etc.). These hypotheses will help guide your research.

So where can you go to research your potential customers?

Census data

The United States Census Bureau has tons of demographic information that can be crucial for your research. Want to market to individuals who make over a certain amount of money? This data source can tell you which zip codes have the most of this type of consumers. Want to market to families? This data source can tell you about households that report having kids. There’s a lot of information here, so just take some time to browse around and make sure to copy and paste information helpful information into your own research document.

Free services from America’s SBDC

I might be a bit biased here, considering that I work for the organization, but the nationwide Small Business Development Center is such an amazing, free resource. Not only can you work with counselors on every aspects of your business, but some centers also help with research work. For example, in my office at the Nevada SBDC in Reno, we have access to databases that provide us specialized, in-depth information that could be crucial for developing your business model. We receive access to reports from hundreds of databases that provide information that would normally costs a pretty penny to obtain. There are SBDCs all around the country, so visit this page to find one near you!

Free market reports

Mintel is a highly respected data source that provides research on all kinds of markets and people. Single reports can cost up to $5,000, but Mintel offers some reports for free. Check out this page to see if they have free information that might be helpful for you. For example, Mintel is currently featuring two free reports titled GLOBAL BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE TRENDS and THE AUSTRALIAN CONSCIOUS CONSUMER. These titles might seem quite specific, but if you’re targeting these particular industries or markets, these reports could be a huge win for you. There are more reports and resources, so go check it out for yourself!

You can also use sites like Quora to get a better idea of trending topics and opinions of those who you think are your target market. This kind of research is less structured and takes a bit more digging, but can be helpful nonetheless.

Surveys

If you have an idea about who your target market is and want to learn more about their preferences, surveys are a good way to collect that information. Of course, you have to actually get your survey to your potential customers, so think about how you are able to reach them. SurveyMonkey is a popular service that can be used to deliver surveys, along with Google Forms (which is free!).

If your survey is going out to people you do not know the age, gender, location, etc. of, it can be helpful to collect this information as part of the survey. You want to make sure you understand the demographics of your potential target market. Other important questions to ask might be: “How do you access ____?” or “How much would you pay for ____? or even “When do you think about/buy ____?” Try using scales and multiple choice options to get more clear and concise answers. The goal of this survey should be to understand the habits and preferences of your customers. From this exercise, you want to learn how and when to reach them.

Google’s Consumer Barometer

Google provides some free resources that can help you understand your ideal customer, such as the Consumer Barometer. This tool helps you learn about how your potential target market behaves online. Understanding how your potential customers use the internet is critical for tailoring your marketing strategies and business model around their habits and preferences.


Once you feel like you have a good grasp on who your potential target markets might be, consider creating a customer profile for each type of person you want to market/sell to. An example might look like this:

Tonya: Tonya is a stay at home mom who is apart of a household that makes over $100K per year. Her average age is 38 years old. She loves fashion and is drawn to exclusive purchases. She likes to show off her purchases to friends and family. She loves her kids and even spoils them. She exercises often and engages in repeated purchases. Once she finds a brand she likes, she sticks with it. She is very active on Pinterest and Facebook, but doesn’t seem to bother with other social media platforms. She acts as the decision maker in her house when it comes to travel decisions, household products, and purchases for the kids. She likes to online shop, but often engages in weekend shopping trips with friends.

As a mural creator, Tonya might be a great target customer for you. Knowing as much as you can about her helps you to understand where to reach her and how to express your value to her in a way that will convince her to buy.


Do some research of your own and then try creating a customer profile for your potential customer type(s)!

NOTE: Some businesses might have multiple target markets. For example, as a mural creator, you might offer high-end home murals to well-off families and fun, funky murals to small businesses. Learn about each and understand how your value and marketing shifts between them.

Research might not be your favorite, but try challenging yourself to find new ways to understand your potential customers. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to communicate and work with them. You’ve got this!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!