Business Plans for Artists

11/24/2022, 3:54 PM
Business Plans for Artists
How to create business plans for artists? The business plan is a strategy and step-by-step roadmap about how to sell artwork and be successful with promotion in the art market.  The business plan for artists is a detailed description of the project with calculations and perspectives for the next few years. An artist needs a business plan not only to successfully sell their work but also to be of interest to potential investors and sponsors. Today, the artist meets conditions where he or she must have not only art hard skills (for creating art) but also art soft skills (for communication). 

Modernity – an era of the fight against stereotypes. We manage with varying degrees of success to overcome stereotypes about gender, social roles and age. However, some things remain the same: like the well-known stereotype of the “poor artist”. There is another problem: discussions about the “necessity” of art. After all, painting “doesn't butter your bread”, and you can’t use it as a credit card in a store. However, this is a stereotype. Today the artist is not only a master but also a businessman. And there is nothing wrong with that. And art is more than just wall decoration. Next, we will discuss an important topic: how an artist can make money from his/her work and draw a creative business plan.

Creative business plans for artists: what is a business plan for an artist

Many artists are so immersed in their work that they simply do not have enough time for business. It's true: being an independent artist and a businessman is difficult at the same time. However, more and more authors today want to invest in their art and make money from it. What is an art business plan template? Let's remark right away: in our communication, we talk about complex things in simple words. Therefore, we will give a simple definition of an artist business plan example: this is the answer to 6 questions.

1. Who is your buyer?
2. What do you offer to your audience (what is your product)?
3. When do you do it? And how much time do you need for your work?
4. Where do you manufacture your product?
5. Why are you doing this business?
6. How do you produce your product?

Nothing complicated, right? 

By the way, creative business plans are not only about commerce. There is a place for sublime things. For example, many free business plan templates ask the artists to think about their mission. You probably remember that all large companies have a mission. It's not about making money. Rather, it is about purpose: to make people's lives easier or bring beauty into the world. Let's practice doing this.

✔️ Start: what is your mission? To answer this question and formulate your mission, use these tips:

1. Why did I choose the path of an artist?
2. What themes does my art cover?
3. What helps me create my work?
4. How do I feel when I work?
5. What emotions do I want to convey to my audience?

Well, this is a good start for the business plan template – the artist's mission and vocation.

Art of business: why create a business plan

So, how to start an art business? Let's remark right away: making a business in the field of art is a field of activity not only for an artist but also for galleries, art dealers, collectors, etc. And for each player in the art market, the steps in the business plan will be different. Today we will focus on the masters themselves – the creators of works of art. As a rule, the author has a very poor understanding of how to make a business plan for an artist. So we'll start from... the beginning. And let's find out why an art business plan is needed at all.

Reasons to create a business plan for artists

1. Concentration. No matter how cynical it may sound, a work of art – from the point of view of the art market – is a marketing product that also needs to define the classic 4Ps or marketing mix: product (actually, a work of art), price, place (distribution), promotion. We can add also “people” and “process”. A novice artist-businessman should be able to answer the question, what is the uniqueness, and feature of his product, and what distinguishes him/her from other artists? This focus makes the offer interesting and attractive to potential customers.

📌 Pay attention. Here you can see the full Marketing Mix for your business plan: 

✔️ Product: what are you going to sell?
✔️ Price: what is your product's average rate?
✔️ People: who are your clients?
✔️ Promotion: what are the main ways to show and promote your product (do you need an advert, sales promotion etc.)?
✔️ Place: how do you plan to distribute your product (galleries, website, direct sales etc.)?
✔️ Process: what skills and experience for business do you need?

2. Self-confidence. There is another important term in marketing: SWOT analysis. This means that you, as a novice businessman, must clearly understand your strengths (S = Strengths) and weaknesses (W = Weaknesses), risks (T = Threats) and prospects (O = Opportunities). You must focus on your strengths (advantages) and work with weaknesses (disadvantages), as well as be able to assess the balance of risks and opportunities to understand how profitable a particular project or transaction is for you.

📌 Pay attention. Complete your SWOT analysis using these tips:

✔️ Strengths: What are my perks?
✔️ Weaknesses: What are my drawbacks?
✔️ Opportunities: What opportunities do I have?
✔️ Threats: What are my main threats?

3. Setting goals. If you don't have a goal, how can you know where to go? And why do it? There are several types of goals: short-term and long-term. On the way to achieving a long-term goal, you will have many steps – short-term goals. For example, if you want to turn your name into a brand, then this will require building a reputation (reputation PR), interacting with the audience, finding your audience and clients, and building relationships with galleries, dealers and curators. This is just a small part of what needs to be done. Thus, such a “goal tree” allows you to get a visual business plan template.

📌 Pay attention. Think about your Marketing objectives:

✔️ Objective 1: What is your main year objective? What do you want to achieve at the end of the current year?
✔️ Objective 2: What do you need to do this month?
✔️ Objective 3: What do you need to do this week?

4. Analysis of competitors. This is a very important stage since you cannot become a full-fledged player in the art market if you do not study popular trends, as well as what your colleagues are doing – your competitors at the same time. Why is this author popular and that one – not? Analyze, think. This will help you avoid mistakes in your promotion strategy, as well as open up a lot of useful life hacks. 

📌 Pay attention. Use these questions to answer for complete your Competitor analysis:
  • Who are my three biggest competitors?
  • What products do my competitors offer?
  • What makes my competitors' products unique?
  • What are the strengths of my competitors?
  • What strategies can I get from my competitors?
  • What are the ways my competitors use to sell the product?
  • What risks do my competitors pose to me?
📌 In addition: don't forget about your own product. Continue these statements to clarify why your product is unique:

✔️ My product is special because...
✔️ My product is different from competitors because...
✔️ My product can be successful because...

💡 Practice 1
So now you know why to create business ideas for artists. By the way, here are some practical tasks for you, if you still decide to take a serious and thorough approach to enter the art market. Here you will find the first part of the Artist development plan template, namely:

1. Marketing mix + SWOT analysis for the artist;
2. Goal setting for business plan artist + Competitor analysis.

This part of the business plan for an artist is called the Business Statement. This is one of several steps to a business plan. The part that deals with the analysis of your competitors, in turn, is called the Marketing Plan.

📌 In addition: a Business Statement is not only about your goals (short-term and long-term). This is also about any income you expect to receive from the sale of art. Therefore, it makes sense to prescribe for yourself what can bring you money in the long run. So, think about your product and why it is unique. 

Business ideas art: how to write a business plan for an artist

At first, it may seem that the business plan for the artist is a boring task that is mired in economic and marketing issues. Is there room for creativity here? Of course! Art business ideas are an important part of planning. Just a few tips: save ideas. As you know, the best assistant in this matter is paper. And even better – cloud data storage. For example, get yourself to Trello, where you can record all the positions of your artist's business plan. This is a great way for a recording artist's business plan. In addition, at this stage, you should consider the following points:

1. Analyze the ways you already use to promote and sell your art. Compare your options with what your colleagues use. Get inquiries. Conduct content analysis - collecting information from the Internet. Make a list of paths you haven't considered yet.

2. Think about the resources you already have and need:

● What experience do you already have? What experience do you need?
● What skills do you have? What skills do you need?
● How much money do you need to implement your marketing ideas? How much do you already have? How much is missing?
● Who do you already know in the wilds of the art market? What useful contacts do you have? What contacts do you need to get?

📌 Pay attention. Here you can find some useful Business Ideas for you: 

✔️ Corporate art marketing: offer your product to corporate clients (corporations, large companies); use cold calls, and email; get ready for this to take some time.
✔️ Repurposing existing talents & material: try to expand your product range: prints on mugs, t-shirts, souvenirs, etc.; think about other ways you can use your art; write a list of utilitarian purposes for your art.
✔️ Commissions: Have you already had successful sales? Ask for recommendations and reviews from your customers; use warm calls to sell your product to existing customers.
✔️ Grants: Have you taken part in grants? Participate in grant programs, competitions, and scholarship programs for artists.
✔️ Public performance or speaking: grow your blog; use social media to popularize your product; give an interview.
✔️ Writing: post about your product; publish articles in specialized media about your art.
✔️ Competition: participate in special competitions for artists; make a list of competitions for your potential entry.

💡 Practice 2
If you have been thinking about how to start an art business from home for a long time, do not waste your time. Use this artist business plan template to put all your ideas together. Remember that even small art business ideas can be helpful. Sometimes big and successful projects are born from small ideas. Sometimes it's the idea that you gave the fewest chances that become the most commercially successful.

✔️ Do you already have a unique idea for selling your art? Write it down. Think about your resources (experience, skills, finances, people, etc.). Divide them into two categories: "I have now" & "I need". 

📌 In addition: keep in mind that there are many examples of business plans for artists. But all of them are united by one idea: you must take into account not only the creative aspect but also the marketing and financial aspects.

Complex finance issues: artist management business plan

Let's talk a little more about finances. This is perhaps one of the most important and at the same time painful points of business plans for artists. Especially when it comes to independent artist business plans. What finance do we need? How can we get them? For what? Our third Practical task will help you understand this.

💡 Practice 3
Every project requires investment. In the case of art, there is always a lot of investment – simply because oil, watercolor, acrylic and canvas (for example) are quite expensive. To gain money selling art, you first need to make sure that the price of your product (in marketing terms) covers your costs. In jargon, it's called “breaking out”. Therefore, when you think about how to make a successful artist business plan, you need to take into account your resources and finances, namely: 

1. Think about what resources you need. Let's say you work from home. Even a small business plan artist will require you to take into account the material component. You need a room – your studio, an office for work. Do you have it? Let's assume there is. Next, you need a laptop and internet (because you need to maintain your website, and blog, update your portfolio, and communicate with clients). What more do you need? How much does it cost?

📌 Pay attention. Fill in the data:
  • Resources: What do I need?
  • Finance: How much do I need?
✔️ Think about: 
  • What have I already had? 
  • What do I need? 
✔️ For example
  • I have: a computer, internet connection, a desk and a chair, occasionally rented space, etc. 
  • I need: Photoshop, better ideas for the competition, a copy of Protools software, and your own space either in your home or close to it; rehearsal/painting/carving space, etc. 
2. The artist's business plan also includes such a concept as the cost of the product. Roughly speaking: how much money do you need to buy paints and canvas? How much do you want to earn by selling the artwork? This must also be taken into account to form the final price of the product.

✔️ Calculate the cost of what you need. 

So, we have just sketched the part of an artist's business plan, which is called the Financial Plan. To get started, try filling out the art business plan example, which deals with the financial and resource parts. Use all tips we have provided you here. 

📌 Pay attention. If the amount is too big, consider: 
  • What can I work without?
  • Can I find a sponsor?
  • Can I use crowdfunding?
  • Can I get a scholarship or grant?
  • Is it reasonable to use my own funds?  

Artist business: makeup artist business plan

Above, we talked about such a concept as a product. A typical artist business plan assumes that you are not only creative but also rational in your work. Even the most artistic business ideas sometimes require us to be rigorously analytical and rational, logical, and even a bit utilitarian. This “How to write a business plan” example will help you clarify the features of your product.

In addition, it is important to understand what you need to produce this product, and what potential costs you may incur. Also, remember to take into account the time you spend on your work.

This part is called the Production Plan.

💡 Practice 4
Here are some tasks that can help you, for example:

1. Think about what you can produce (painting, sculpture, prints, postcards, etc.);
2. Make a list of products you can sell.

📌 Pay attention. Use these questions to complete this part of your business plan:
  • What does my audience buy?
  • Who are my potential clients?
  • What do my clients need?
  • What is in demand? 
💡 Production is always about these simple three questions: 

✔️ What will I produce?
✔️ How much will it take?
✔️ What do I need for this?

📌 In addition: don't forget about important things. For example: office equipment, supplies and business services, such as legal and accounting fees etc.

Business plan for an art gallery: be part of a large community

If you are not confident in your business talents, this is not a problem. There is another way to develop not only as a successful artist but also as a commercially successful author. Let's talk about it.

You can always get an art gallery business plan. A gallery is not just a place where you can come and look at paintings. After all, this is how most people see the gallery. For authors, this is a place to showcase their creativity. For collectors – a way to find a piece of art to buy. In the beginning, we talked about popular stereotypes in the art world. There is another stereotype: galleries are only interested in famous artists. This is not true. Yes, many galleries are willing to expose already “promoted” authors. But as a community, the gallery may support an aspiring artist by providing a creative business plan template. 

What does it take to get interested in a gallery?

1. Compliance of your works (style, genre, type) with the specialization of the gallery. However, in light of the modern online art business, this provision is gradually losing its relevance.
2. Be part of the community. What comes to the fore is what is fashionable to call Networking. An artist is never alone – he/she is always surrounded by colleagues, galleries, collectors, dealers, etc. Sometimes the connections that entangle us are deeper and more extensive than one might think. So, you have a favorite art store, you buy the necessary things there. And also, this store has an Instagram profile, and you are subscribed to it. And besides you, your colleagues are subscribed to it, who, perhaps, also visit this place. The store can share a photo with you if you are a frequent customer, or tag you in a post. And then you are noticed by other users, among whom there may be customers. This is a rough example of how a “network” works. Therefore, being socially active for an artist is very important.
3. Recommendations. For the fine art business, recommendations are often as important a factor as the author's recognition. Getting recommendations and positive feedback is also part of most simple business plans for artists. This point is related to the previous one: if you have proven yourself well, then you have a higher chance of getting more orders and customers.

💡 Bonus: visual business plan
Quite a lot of words came out, huh? To put it all together, let's make an artist business plan visual map. This will show you that business and creativity are very compatible things. And, of course, there is nothing complicated here.