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!

Delivering Value in the Time of Coronavirus

In the time of the Coronavirus, how can you ensure that you are still delivering your value in a way that works for both you and your customers?

As an artrepreneur, delivering value to your customers is one of the most important aspects of your art-based business. Once you’ve taken the time to understand what that value is, you don’t want to self-sabotage by not understanding how you can deliver your value, or how your customers want your value to be delivered. After all, it’s this value which the customers are paying you for.

So in the time of a pandemic, how can you ensure that you are still delivering your value in a way that works for both you and your customers? It depends on what your business is, of course, but here are some tips that will help you evaluate your situation.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What online options do you have?

At CREATIONS, the creative business that my husband and I founded together, we often like to deliver final videos to clients in person so that we can discuss the project and end off communication on a positive note. However, we do have the option to deliver the final video via the cloud, and have had to take advantage of this tech-based delivery option during the Coronavirus. We also use FaceTime and Zoom to conduct a closing meeting with the client to ensure that communication is positive and complete. Using online resources works well if your final product is digital. Think about how you can take advantage of technology when delivering your value.

If your product needs to be delivered in person, what precautions can you take to avoid close contact?

For many of you, digital transfer won’t work for delivering your product. So how can you deliver your product in person without putting anyone at risk? Consider using mail services to send out finished products. If you’re product is too fragile to mail, consider front door drop off for local customers. Either way, you’ll want to include a note of some sort that thanks the customer for their service and expresses your regret for not being present at the time of delivery. Let your customers know that you are really trying during this time of separation and that you are there for them should they have any concerns or questions.

If you cannot deliver your value now, how can you maintain communication with the customer until you can?

What if neither of the two previous options works for delivering your value? If this is the case, you’ll need to be upfront and honest with your customers right away. Make sure you have some kind of contact information for every customer so that you can stay in communication with them. Don’t bother them, but keep communication consistent and ensure them that you’ll be able to deliver your value once bans are lifted.

How can you adjust the way you communicate with customers in order to maintain the relationship?

In each of these three scenarios, communication with your customers is key. Maintain a tone of urgency, but make sure that your communication and interest is genuine. Ensure that your customers feel like their needs come first, and do your best to bend over backward for them. During this time of silent chaos, customers will remember the companies who did their best to serve them. Think about what additional, helpful value you can bring to them during this time. Maybe you include an extra feature or product, or maybe you give a small discount so that they can continue purchasing from you and other small business. At the end of the day, delivering your value is all about making sure that the customer is happy, so think about what you can do to make their day a little better.

Stay persistent and strong-willed during the time of the Coronavirus. Be honest and genuine with your customers. Creative businesses that keep their customers first and continue delivering a strong value will come out of this pandemic with loyal clients and new insights that might change how their value is delivered forever.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to access helpful information as you continue developing your creative business during the time of the Coronavirus!

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!

Building a Brand Around Your Art

Building a brand around your art is a crucial step in developing your very own art-based business!

Whether you want to be a popular freelancer or the CEO of your dream creative company, building a brand around your art is a crucial step in developing your business. We brushed the surface on how to build a brand in this article, but maybe you need some more time developing a brand that’s truly what you envision. Good. Building a brand is one of the most important things you can do to ensure long-term success in your artrepreneurship endeavor.

As a refresher, there are two questions you must answer that will act as the core of your brand: What is your value? and What is your messaging?

Your Value = Your customer’s problem + Your solution

Your value revolves around the problem you’re helping to solve for your customers. Are you providing them a way to reach more customers? A way to share their feelings or overcome obstacles? A way to build or share their own brand? Get specific. What problem is your customer facing, and how do you help them solve it?

Your Message = Your value + Your customers’ personality

Cool. You have a good understanding of what value you provide. Now, you need to think about how you’re going to communicate that value with your potential customers. The key here is: your potential customers. To understand what kind of messaging will appeal to them, you must UNDERSTAND THEM. Who are they? What do they like? Where do they frequent? Who are their friends? Who do they ask for advice? What kind of image do they try to portray? Who do they want to be? Try to understand what motivates and interests your potential customers, so that you can communicate with them accordingly.

Once you understand your customers better, you’ll know more about how to approach them. For example, should your brand be casual or super professional? Artsy, modern, or classy? Fun, relaxed, or serious? The easiest way to answer this question is to look at your potential customers and think about their image. Are they casual or super professional? Artsy, modern, or classy? Fun, relaxed, or serious? People have a tendency to be drawn to what is like them, so you should try your best to make your brand reflect them and everything they want to be.

Your Brand = Your value + Your messaging (in action!)

Now that you have an idea of what your value is and how you’re going to share that value in a way that is familiar and interesting to your potential customers, create a document that captures the core of your brand. Make a list of keywords that relate to your customers’ key problem. Write out some words that reflect the “vibe” of your brand. Jot down some sentences that feature the popular language of your target customer. This document is SUPER important and will serve as the core of your efforts from here on out. If something doesn’t fit in or match your brand document, don’t say it or do it. This document will help guide you as you continue to build and share your brand and business.

Lastly, you should also develop a brand or mood board that features the visual elements your brand. What kinds of fonts, colors, and other visual elements capture the brand you’ve described in your brand document? Here’s an example of the branding board I created for CREATIONS Film, the creative company my husband and I founded together:

Branding Board Example for CREATIONS Film created by Kayla Banda

Remember: Building a brand is a commitment, not just a one-and-done brainstorming session. Visualizing your brand is one thing (that’s what we’ve done here). But actually creating that brand takes time as you market, work with customers, and build an online and offline community. Use this brainstorming session as a guide to help you make decisions and continue building your art-based business!

Create your own branding document and branding board, and share about your experience below!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get fresh, new content as you work on building your very own creative company!