Starting Your Art Business: 4 Tips for Success


With 28.8 million small businesses in the world, it can be tempting to join the crowd. One big barrier to entry is figuring out what you want to build your business around. For this, you can turn to your natural strengths or areas that excite you.

One area that you may turn to is art! Luckily, the art industry is growing rapidly, with a market value of $64 billion as of 2019. So how do you go about getting into this industry? Here are 4 steps to make sure you start on the right foot.

1. Choose your Niche

Before starting out, niching down will make sure that you avoid as many problems as possible into the future. As a beginner, it can be helpful to try out as many areas of art as possible so you can learn what you enjoy doing and what you are best at. However, if you’re someone who is ready to get paid for your art, it’s best to niche down and specialize in a very specific area. Take photography for instance.

As a beginner photographer, you’ll be taking pictures of everything. But if you’re ready to start a business, it’s important to get really good at one area.

Are you best at shooting professional headshots or candid wedding photos? Or if you’re selling prints, are you a specialist in landscape, animal, street, or architecture photography? Asking these questions early on can help you get really good at one thing, centralizing your focus into getting better. This way, your quality of work is a lot higher, clients will be much more willing to hire you if you specialize in what they want, and you’ll have better knowledge of the industry.

2. Create a Plan

As boring as it may sound, creating a business plan is an extremely important part of building your business. This plan will help you make tough decisions and can be an anchor point for you to turn to when times are rough.

On top of this, your business plan can keep you on track during the good times, allowing you to plan out the vision for your business and set goals to stay focused. Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • What is the vision/purpose of your business?
  • What do you want the business look like in one year? 2 years? 5? 10?
  • Who’s your target market? Who are you selling to?
  • What does your cash flow look like?
  • How much art/many clients do you need to stay afloat?
  • What will you do to scale?
  • What is your exit strategy?

While these questions might seem trivial, they can prove to be essential to define. Take defining your target market, for example. If you don’t know exactly who will be buying your art, can you be sure that there are consumers out there?

42% of businesses fail due to a lack of an available market, so there’s a lot weight on this question alone. Creating this plan might seem like a trivial “business” task that won’t make you money, but, it might just save the future of your business

3. Manage your Finances

Finances are one part of your business that may fall by the wayside while focusing on your art. However, this can cause a multitude of problems. Knowing your expenses and income for your business can give you an outlook on your financial situation in general, to know if you’re making enough money or if you should consider producing/selling more or raising your prices.

It’s also important to know about any debt you may have or may want to incur to help your business grow. If you have to pay down any debts, you’ll want to use your business funds to pay these off as fast as possible to ensure that you are saving on interest, yet balance it with investing in your business today.

Speaking of which, if you think that your business can benefit from some sort of loan to invest in your business, you need to know what options are out there. Big banks only approved 26.9% of small business loans, leaving the other 73.1% to other lenders. It’s important to shop around for the best interest rates and features, alongside knowing the reason and proof behind why you should get a loan in the first place.

You’ll also want to make sure the legal side of your finances are in check. If you’re working as a freelancer, you have to know how to report your income and expenses on your personal tax return. However, if you have a legal business structure like an LLC or corporation, the way you file your taxes is going to be extremely different.

4. Grow your Brand

Marketing is essential for people to know that your business exists. There are two main areas that you can invest in to get the word out and help sell people on your business.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth marketing is one of the strongest ways to gain clients. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends over any type of advertising. So how do you use this to your advantage? Here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Provide stellar work and customer service for current clients
  2. Put customer testimonials on your social media and website
  3. Start a referral/finder’s fee program

Use these to build trust with your customers and to encourage them to tell their friends and family about your art.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a vast field, including areas such as SEO, PPC, social media, email, and your website in general. Depending on what industry you’re in, you may see success in different areas.

If you’re someone who is selling prints or doing lower-ticket client work, then working on your social media might be the best bet. This allows the platform to put your content out to possible clients, where they might come across your work at no cost to you.

If your revenue per client is higher, then you might be able to afford to spend more money to get your name out to them. You may find success in PPC campaigns like Google Ads, where you could make upwards of a 200% return on your investment.

Go and Build Your Business

Art and creativity are extremely important in our technology-filled lives. When surveyed, 94% of people say that their workplace is made more welcoming with art, with 61% agreeing that it stimulates creativity.

Building an art business to fill the demand for this is a wonderful idea. There are, however, a few items that you need to keep in mind while starting your business to ensure your success. But most importantly, never lose your passion and love for creating something beautiful. Now it’s time to go and build the business of your dreams.

Madison Crenshaw is a mother of two and a serial entrepreneur originally from the Southern US. In the last decade, she has made the DC area her home. She is a savvy businesswoman who is always looking for the next big opportunity. She is an expert at networking and knows how to make her presence felt. She is a strong believer in the power of education and has been actively involved in her children's education. In her free time, she loves to travel, explore new cultures, and spend time with her family. She is passionate about making a difference in the world and is always looking for ways to help her community.