Completed our third round of business planning for artists last night at the office of the Small Business Development Center in Pittsfield with the MSBDC Regional Director Keith Girouard.
Exchanged a lot of good ideas on taking the businesses of individual artists to the next level. Much of the focus is on motivation and confidence-building — and encouraging the participants to take a leap of imagination and really think of themselves as artistic enterprises as well as creators.
We discussed the importance of having a real marketing strategy, even one supported by the smallest of marketing budgets, to prioritize your time and develop a coherent message when using social media and trying to drive traffic to events, exhibits, and web-based sales opportunities. Keith stressed the value of having a distinct social media presence and identity for your artistic enterprise to which you can direct your personal network at appropriate times but also develop a network of interest that may not want to follow your personal life but will be engaged by your art-related announcements and observations.
The business aspirations of many of the participants include teaching their area of expertise on a freelance basis, either in a school-based visiting artist model or with adult learners coming to the artist’s studio. We discussed how aggressive pursuit of small grants for teaching workshops can often provide meaningful income but requires a commitment to chasing the money. Developing a base of individual students requires its own kind of commitment to marketing and networking.
Many of the artists seem to have a pretty broad notion of their target market and are struggling to identify concrete actions that will allow them to reach specific segments of that target market. There are no silver bullets, but the only way to make progress (other than pure good luck) is to take a deliberate approach to testing different low-budget marketing strategies and attempting to track their success.
I’m looking forward to seeing the full business plans that emerge from this group.