Starting an art business can be an exciting and rewarding venture, but it can also be overwhelming without proper planning and organization. As an artist, you may have the creative skills to produce amazing works of art, but to turn your passion into a successful business, you need to have a solid foundation and a clear roadmap.
That's where an art business startup checklist comes in handy. A checklist can help you identify the key tasks and steps you need to take to start and grow your art business. It can also serve as a guide to ensure you don't miss any critical steps along the way.
Whether you're a new artist looking to turn your hobby into a business or an established artist seeking to take your career to the next level, a startup checklist can help you stay organized and focused on your goals.
In this article, we'll explore some of the essential items you should include in your art business startup checklist to help you build a successful and sustainable art business.
Market research is a crucial step in starting any business, including an art business. It involves gathering information about your potential customers and the market as a whole to determine the viability of your product or service.
By conducting market research, you can identify your target audience, understand their needs and preferences, and develop effective marketing strategies to reach them.
There are several methods to conduct market research, including:
- Surveys: You can create surveys to gather information about your target audience's preferences, buying habits, and opinions about your product or service.
- Interviews: You can conduct one-on-one interviews with potential customers to gather more in-depth information about their needs and preferences.
- Industry data analysis: You can use industry reports and data to understand market trends, competition, and potential opportunities.
- Facebook groups: Join Facebook groups where your target audience hangs out. For example, if you draw pets, find groups of pet lovers. Take note of the comments inside the group... what do they love about their pets? What are their deepest desires when it comes to owning and taking care of their fur baby?
- Forums: Look at the conversations happening inside of forums that revolve around topics that are in line with your artwork.
When conducting market research for your art business, it's important to focus on your niche market.
You should try to identify the following about your target audience:
- What types of art they are interested in
- What motivates them to buy art
- What price points they are willing to pay
- Any other relevant information
Use this information to create a marketing strategy that speaks directly to your target audience and meets their needs.
Starting an art business requires some legal considerations that you need to keep in mind. Here are some legal aspects you should consider:
- Business registration: If you are selling artwork yourself, you need to register your business with your state or local government. This step is crucial because it allows you to file for a DBA (Doing Business As) so that you can legally conduct business under your chosen name.
- Tax ID: As a business owner, you will be responsible for paying taxes on your income. You will need to obtain a Tax ID number and file taxes with the IRS.
- Licenses & selling permits: Depending on your location and the type of art you sell, you may need to obtain certain licenses or selling permits to operate your business legally. Check with your local government to see what permits and licenses you need.
- Business insurance: It is also a good idea to obtain business insurance to protect yourself and your artwork in case of damage or theft.
Make sure you consult with a lawyer or legal professional to ensure that you are meeting all legal requirements when starting your art business. It is better to be safe than sorry, and taking the time to address legal considerations can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Branding is an essential part of any business, including an art business. Your brand represents your identity, values, and the unique qualities that set you apart from other artists. It's important to create a consistent brand image across all your marketing materials, including your website, business cards, social media profiles, and promotional materials.
When developing your brand, consider your target audience and the message you want to convey. Based on the previous, choose:
- Imagery that reflect your style and personality
Use your brand consistently across all your marketing channels to build recognition and trust with your audience.
Create a Website or Selling Platform
If you are going to be selling your art, you need a selling platform. You can create a website or simply sell directly from Facebook or other social media platforms.
I highly recommend that you create a website so your business looks more professional and so it's easier for your fans to purchase your artwork.
To get your website setup, you'll need to do the following:
- Create an account with a website host (I use and recommend Shopify)
- Choose and buy a domain name, and connect your website to it (also done inside Shopify)
- Build out your website by creating the following pages:
- About Me
- Shipping & Returns Policy
- Connect Your Social Media Accounts to Your Website
Create Social Media Accounts
Even if initially you don't plan to post on every single platform, it's important that you set them up so that you can snag the same name/handle across all social media platforms.
Being consistent with your social media names will help your fans discover you more easily on other platforms.
So I encourage you to create accounts on the following social platforms:
- Facebook Business Page
- Facebook Group
Optimize Your Profiles
Once you create your social media accounts, you'll want to do the following on each platform:
- Write a Bio
- Include a link to your website
- Include a link to some of your artwork
- Include the same profile picture across all platforms
- Add graphics to headers
- Optimize your backend settings for better discovery
- On your website, add links to all of your social media accounts
It's important to connect to your website all the places where your loyal customers can find you so can start gaining some authority in Google's eyes and start ranking.
Build an Email List
You definitely need to create an email list of raving fans and customers if you want to sell more art.
Having an email list will allow you to reach your audience much easier without having to compete for attention inside the social media platforms. You don't want to be at the mercy of Facebook's, Youtube's, or Instagram's algorithm.
Once you start building an email list, reach out to your fans through an email to let them know of your specials, new releases, or recent creations.
To build an email list, you'll need the following:
- Create an account with an email marketing software (I recommend AWeber).
- Create a form inside AWeber that will allow your fans to become part of your VIP email list and embed it on your website to capture new leads.
- Actively build your list by posting about your exclusive VIP list sign up form on social media and by doing giveaways.
Creating content will drive traffic to your website and artwork. Here's a few things you can do:
- Create a monthly or yearly content strategy for your social media posts and plan it in a content calendar.
- Find high-quality content to share online.
- Schedule your planned posts in advance.
- Start a blog on your website and use low competition keywords (which you can find using KW Finder) when writing your blog posts so you can rank on Google.
Marketing is another critical aspect of growing your art business. Effective marketing helps you reach a wider audience, build your brand, and increase sales.
So create a marketing plan for your art business. Decide which social media platform(s) or marketing strategies you will use.
Here are a few marketing strategies that you can implement when getting started and continue using as you grow your brand:
- Social media marketing: Use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to showcase your art and engage with your audience.
- Email marketing: Build an email list of interested buyers and send regular updates about your latest work, events, and promotions.
- Networking: Attend art events, join local art groups, and connect with other artists and industry professionals to build relationships and gain exposure.
- Advertising: Consider paid advertising options, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, to reach a wider audience.
Remember, marketing is an ongoing process, and it's essential to track your results and adjust your strategy as needed. By creating a strong brand and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can attract more buyers, build a loyal following, and grow your art business.
If you need help turning your hobby into a profitable business, then check out this amazing Artist Marketing course.
Of watch this free masterclass to learn how you can sell your artwork without having to haul everything to art fairs.
Managing finances is a crucial aspect of running any business, including an art business. It is important to keep track of your income and expenses to ensure that your business is profitable and sustainable. Here are some steps you can take to manage your finances:
- Create a budget: Start by creating a budget that includes all of your expected income and expenses. This will help you plan for the future and make informed decisions about your business.
- Track your expenses: Keep track of all of your expenses, including supplies, rent, and marketing costs. This will help you identify areas where you can cut costs and increase your profits.
- Separate your personal and business finances: It is important to keep your personal and business finances separate to avoid confusion and ensure that you are accurately tracking your income and expenses.
- Consider hiring an accountant: If you are not comfortable managing your finances on your own, consider hiring an accountant to help you with bookkeeping, taxes, and other financial tasks.
Additionally, it is important to stay up to date with tax laws and regulations to avoid any legal issues down the line. Make sure you are keeping accurate records and filing your taxes on time to avoid penalties and fines.
By taking these steps to manage your finances, you can ensure that your art business is profitable and sustainable in the long run.
Getting all your documents, files, and inventory organized will make your life so much easier. So consider doing the following:
- Create a business email using your website domain
- Setup your Google Drive or Dropbox and create folders where you can organize all the files for your art business
- Create an inventory stock list, finance spreadsheets, and other useful documents to record your artwork sales.
Other Great Ideas
Even though the following ideas are not essential items to get you started in your art business, they are great ideas to implement once you have the basics set in place.
Setting Up Your Workspace
When starting your art business, it is important to have a dedicated workspace that is conducive to creativity and productivity. Here are some tips for setting up your workspace:
- Choose a quiet and well-lit space: Select a location that is away from distractions and has ample natural light. This will help you stay focused and energized while you work.
- Invest in quality equipment: Purchase high-quality materials and equipment that will help you produce your best work. This includes things like paint brushes, canvases, easels, and lighting.
- Organize your supplies: Keep your workspace clean and organized by storing your supplies in a way that makes them easily accessible. This will save you time and frustration when you need to find a specific item.
- Create a comfortable environment: Make sure your workspace is comfortable by adding a comfortable chair, a rug, and any other items that will help you feel relaxed and inspired.
By setting up your workspace in a way that promotes productivity and creativity, you will be able to produce your best work and grow your art business with confidence.
Networking and Collaboration
Networking and collaboration are essential components of building a successful art business. By connecting with other artists, art collectors, and industry professionals, you can expand your reach, gain valuable insights, and open up new opportunities for growth.
One effective way to network is by attending art events and exhibitions. This allows you to meet other artists, curators, and collectors in person and build relationships. You can also join art organizations and associations, such as the International Association of Art Dealers or the National Association of Women Artists, to connect with like-minded individuals and participate in industry events.
Collaboration is another important aspect of building a successful art business. By working with other artists or businesses, you can combine your skills and resources to create something new and unique. For example, you could collaborate with a graphic designer to create promotional materials for your art business, or team up with another artist to create a joint exhibition.
When collaborating, it's important to establish clear expectations and communication from the outset. This includes defining roles and responsibilities, setting deadlines, and discussing compensation. You may also want to create a written agreement outlining the terms of the collaboration.
Overall, networking and collaboration are essential components of building a successful art business. By connecting with others in the industry and working together, you can expand your reach, gain valuable insights, and open up new opportunities for growth.
Starting an art business can be a daunting task, but having a checklist can help you stay organized and focused on what needs to be done. By following the art business startup checklist, you can ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to set yourself up for success.
Remember, building an art business takes time, effort, and dedication. It's important to have a clear vision and set both long and short-term goals to keep yourself motivated and on track. Don't be afraid to seek out resources and advice from other artists and professionals in the industry.
Some key takeaways from the checklist include:
- Developing a business plan that outlines your goals, target audience, and marketing strategies
- Creating a brand identity that reflects your unique style and message
- Establishing a strong online presence through a website and social media platforms
- Building a network of contacts and collaborating with other artists and professionals
- Staying organized and keeping track of finances and expenses
By following these steps and staying committed to your vision, you can turn your passion for art into a successful and thriving business.