How to Start an Art Business in 8 Simple Steps in 2024

Jan 24, 2024

Starting an art business may seem daunting, but with the right approach and strategies, you can turn your passion for art into a thriving venture. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through launching your art business in eight simple steps, from crafting a comprehensive business plan to staying informed and adapting to changes in the industry. And at the end of this guide, you’ll discover the number one reason why most art businesses fail.

In this article, we address these three key takeaways…

Key Takeaways

  • Craft a business plan and identify your ideal collectors.

  • Establish a unique artistic identity, price artwork strategically, and navigate legalities and licensing for success.

  • Market and promote effectively to build loyal collectors.

Crafting Your Art Business Plan

A successful art business plan with a list of personal expenses and marketing strategies. Photo by on Unsplash

A successful art business is no different from any other successful business—it starts with a well-crafted business plan that outlines your purpose, vision, goals, target audience (or ideal collectors), and financial projections. A business plan guides your art business’s growth and success. Your plan should include essential aspects such as:

  • Projected income and financial sources

  • Projected expenses

  • Operational channels like gallery shows, commissions, and artistic development

  • Partners and collaborating artists

  • Marketing strategy

  • Action steps such as obtaining a business license

Your business plan should include a strategic marketing blueprint, such as creating an art website and actively building your social media platforms.

Don’t forget to factor in all the expenses of running your business, from supplies and studio space to promoting your artwork online.

Remember that a comprehensive business plan does more than keep you focused on your goals; it serves as your roadmap to success, transforming your passion into a profitable endeavor. So, take the time to develop a detailed plan that reflects your unique art practice and ambitions.

Identify Your Ideal Collectors

A professional artist selling art at art fairs and on social media platforms. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Understanding your target market enables you to connect with potential customers. By researching who buys the type of art you sell, you can uncover valuable insights, such as their location, buying power, and where to engage with them online to build trust.

Even more important than understanding demographics, though, is understanding the psychographics of your target audience. The difference here is understanding the psychology and thoughts of your audience to understand their behaviors better. What you want to do is empathize with your target audience so that you can provide them with more value through your art, storytelling, free content, and everything that you do.

With a clear understanding of your customers, you can adapt your offerings and marketing methods to attract potential buyers. Keen awareness of your customers helps you stand out from the competition and ensures a sustainable and profitable business.

To achieve a wider audience, consider showcasing and selling your art through various channels, such as local art fairs, online social like the Milan Art Community or Instagram, and commercial galleries. Connecting with other professional artists and art enthusiasts can also provide valuable insights into your target market’s preferences and expectations when selling art as a professional artist.

Establish Your Brand and Online Presence

A unique brand identity is vital for any business to establish a robust online presence. Your brand as a professional artist should communicate your distinct style and personality, setting you apart from other artists in the industry. Maintain consistency in your branding—from local art fairs to your website and social media—to ensure a unified and recognizable presence.

A professional website and engaging social media accounts are essential for showcasing your artwork and connecting with potential collectors and buyers. Here are some key elements to include on your website:

  • A memorable and easy-to-spell URL

  • An engaging About section

  • Easy navigation

  • Clear contact information

  • Functioning links

  • Stunning images of your work

  • Engaging product pages that answer all questions about the art/products

  • A simple and intuitive checkout experience

Use a website builder to create your artist website with a polished look and ensure your website is mobile-friendly for a smooth user experience. We recommend using Shopify, Wix or Squarespace to build your website at the time of writing.

In addition to your website, leverage popular social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to reach a larger audience and drive traffic to your online store. Mastering a few marketing techniques on these platforms can help you build a solid online presence and attract customers to your business.

Price Your Artwork for Profit

Original artwork priced with a reasonable profit margin in mind

Establishing an appropriate pricing strategy for your artwork is vital to a sustainable and profitable business.

When pricing your artwork, factor in the following costs to get an accurate price:

  • Time

  • Materials

  • Shipping

  • Framing costs (when applicable)

  • Buying power of your target customers

  • Desired profit margin

Consistency in pricing fosters a stronger relationship with galleries and collectors, ensuring no one feels taken advantage of.

Develop an appropriate pricing strategy to ensure profitability for your business and maintain appeal to your target customers. Remember, a well-thought-out pricing strategy helps you sell your art and contributes to your business’s overall success and sustainability. We recommend pricing your art according to either square inches or linear inches to create consistency.

Navigate Legalities and Licensing

When starting your business, addressing legal and licensing requirements is essential. The steps you need to take to start your business will vary depending on your location. For example, you may need to register your business or obtain a vendor’s license.

Many artists find a sole proprietorship an advantageous business structure, enabling them to operate under their name while still enjoying the benefits of running their own business as a separate entity.

Setting up a separate bank account can help you stay organized and make it easier to track your business’s earnings and expenses apart from your personal finances.

Compliance with legal and licensing requirements safeguards your assets, enhances credibility, and builds customer trust. Stay informed about any changes in regulations and requirements to ensure your business remains compliant and successful.

Market and Promote Your Art Business

An artist (Elli Milan) painting on a canvas, representing the first step in how to start an art business

Implementing effective marketing and promotion strategies is vital to expanding your audience reach and driving sales for your art business. Participate in local art fairs, exhibitions, and competitions to showcase your artwork and connect with potential buyers. Leverage social media platforms and other online channels to promote your artwork and engage with potential collectors.

Collaborating with other artists and engaging with your audience on social media can help you build a loyal community and cultivate a solid customer base for your art business. By sharing content, responding to feedback, and interacting with your followers, you can create a loyal fan base that supports your art business’s growth and success.

Remember, the key to successful marketing and promotion is to focus on the channels and strategies that resonate with your target customer and showcase your unique art offerings. By implementing effective marketing and promotion strategies, you can attract new customers, sell more of your work, and ensure the long-term success of your art business.

Build a Loyal Customer Base

A successful art business with a target audience and ideal collectors. Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

For the long-term success of your art business, cultivating a loyal customer base is crucial. Here are some strategies to help you achieve this:

  1. Provide exceptional customer service

  2. Nurture relationships with your customers

  3. Offer exclusive perks and referral benefits to loyal customers

  4. Engage with your customers on social media

  5. Share content related to your art business regularly

  6. Respond to customer feedback promptly

By implementing these strategies, you can foster a sense of loyalty and trust in your art business, encouraging repeat business and referrals.

Building a loyal customer base ensures ongoing sales and fosters a supportive community that will promote your art to others. This community helps you grow your art business but also contributes to your overall success and reputation in the art world.

Remember, a loyal customer base is the lifeblood of any successful art business. You can secure a sustainable and profitable future for your art venture by prioritizing customer satisfaction and nurturing relationships.

Stay Informed and Adapt to Change

Maintaining a competitive edge in the art marketplace requires staying updated on industry trends, emerging artists, and shifts in consumer behavior. Empowered by the knowledge of what's happening in the art world—including the type of art collectors and consumers are buying, and the artists and styles rising to the top—you can stay ahead of the curve and ensure lasting success.

Embrace changes in the industry by adapting your business strategies as needed. For example, consider creating a digital art component, exploring new social media platforms, or adjusting your pricing and marketing strategies to meet evolving consumer preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to start my own art business?

To start your own art business, create a business plan, seek advice from others, understand your target audience, determine pricing and marketing strategies, and familiarize yourself with taxes and legalities. Having a clear goal of what you want to achieve with your art business is the first step to success.

How do I start making money with art?

Start by selling your art online or in-person, earning royalties through publishing your work, applying for art grants, selling merchandise, teaching classes, blogging, or competing in art competitions. There are countless ways to start making money with art!

Is an art business profitable?

Yes, an artist can develop a business and make it a successful career. A profitable art career is possible for any artist with determination and the willpower to work hard.

Elli Milan, founder of Milan Art Institute, tells the story of her journey to becoming a successful artist in her debut novel, Unemployable. It’s a story of failing your way to success through perseverance and determination. Unemployable will make you laugh and cry, but best of all, it will inspire you to achieve your own dreams. Listen to Unemployable on Audible.

How can I determine the right pricing strategy for my artwork?

To determine the right pricing strategy for your artwork, consider production costs, target market, and desired profit margins. Also, explore pricing models such as value-based, hourly, cost-plus, and fixed.

What marketing channels can I use to promote my art business?

Maximize your reach with art fairs, galleries, exhibitions, competitions, and social media to promote your art business.

The #1 Reason Why Most Art Businesses Fail

Starting an art business begins with careful planning, dedication, and adaptability. Each of the eight steps in this guide is crucial for long-term success as a flourishing, profitable artist. But even artists who follow these steps can fail without the single most important factor—art that sells. Artists who try to build a business without a good product (their art) will struggle every step of the way, and likely fail to fulfill their business goals. Avoid this critical mistake and learn How to Create Art That Sells.

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