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5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Making Money as an Artist

When you make the decision to pursue you passions, it can start to feel like you have finally arrived. People who you knew in your former life may congratulate you by admiring you decision to leave your 9-5 job and start working for yourself. It can be a great confidence boost, but that “high” may not be as long lasting as you would like it to be. For many people, the $$$ that you pull in as an artist are what make the difference in the long run. If you aren’t making money as an artist, you might feel like you can’t measure your success against other people- or even against the life you just left behind.

Although I personally like to examine other metrics to measure success (stress levels, autonomy etc.), you may want to consider these…

5 Reasons why you aren’t making money as an artist.

  1. You aren’t creating enough new work. If you aren’t creating enough new work, it may be difficult for a strong collection to emerge- especially in terms of abstract art. Some of your critics may ask you to describe your signature style of the moment. If you can’t point to 15-20 solid examples of what your artwork looks like (including the tone and message of your work); your collection may lack consistency. Consistency is a huge part of making money as an artist. Paint more, create solid examples of your work. Be consistent.

  2. You aren’t well known for your style You might be surprised to know that the signature that appears on my work, took years to arrive at. It was a matter of trying some variation of my name on each painting for a while, before arriving at what it looks like now. Even still, it could still change as my work evolves. Signatures on your work speak to a larger concept of “branding”. Branding is a 21st century approach to the “synergy” that I like to believe Oprah and Martha Stewart perfected in the early 2000s, because no matter what the context was, the consumer knew what they would experience with these brand names. The goal is to for a potential client to only glimpse at your work and have a pretty good idea that it belongs to you.

  3. You need more ads. If you don’t invest in advertising your artwork, very few people may discover it. It can seem daunting to put oneself “out there” and potentially be exposed to negative criticism. Unfortunately, no one wants to buy art from an unknown- so GET KNOWN! Use money from your budget to advertise your work and you will reach a wider audience of people who may just click that “buy now” button.

  4. You aren’t studying how to sell You need to sell your work in order to make money. You need to learn sales tactics to close the deal with potential customers. Use techniques that highlight the benefits of your art. Think about your target customer- and if you aren’t sure, examine the types of people who have already purchased your work, or who have given positive feedback to you in the past. Part of selling successfully is to identify this ideal person, and structure your sales copy in a way that would be attractive to that person. Consider what a potential customer will get out of buying your artwork, and pitch it to them like a love letter.

  5. You aren’t putting enough time in You might be doing all of the right things. You may have the right attitude to take on every challenge that comes your way. All of this, however, means less when you haven’t put in a prolonged and consistent effort toward your goal of making money as an artist. How long should it take? I couldn’t say exactly, because it really depends on too many factors. The time spent will be different for every artist, and influenced by economic circumstances.

What do you think about my 5 reasons? There are a world of reasons why you might not make money in your first months or years- but as long as your effort is concentrated in the direction of SMART goals, you will find success.

Needing inspiration, or encouragement? Leave a comment below, and reach out!

Thanks for reading.


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