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6 Ways to Sabotage Your Art Business


Do any of these business killers seem familiar? Many artists experience frustration from lack of sales without realizing they have sabotaged themselves.

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1. Remain in the dark. It makes sense that anyone in business should keep up with their industry, right? But many artists don't have a true understanding and are unaware of the many ways they can market and sell their work.

The good news is that you don't need to reinvent the wheel to sell your art. There are plenty of really useful resources out there, from blogs about art marketing, to books and magazines, online courses, workshops and more that will teach you best practices. In fact, there is so much information that it's hard to miss. Start educating yourself by reading regularly about the business of art, and consider how you can put that information into action and start moving forward.

2. Fail to plan. Do you have specific and measurable plan for your business? Anyone who is vague about what they want to accomplish can't make a game plan to reach their goals. Create a written business plan. Write down the vision that you have for your business and the way you want to live. Set goals so that you can identify steps to reach them, and make note of your progress. The old maxim "Failing to plan is planning to fail" is very true.

3. Isolate yourself. Artists who work alone and don't have a network of support are more likely to feel frustrated and unsure of whether they are taking the right steps in their business. A community is essential to getting feedback, finding more resources and sharing opportunities. Whether your outreach is joining a guild, attending an artist salon, or becoming active on social media, it will help keep those feelings of isolation at bay, and help you grow as an entrepreneur.

4. Take on too much. Perhaps you'd like to sell your photography, but you also want to start wholesaling pottery and by the way, you plan to write a book, too. Pursuing three different directions at once is a form of self-sabotage, and yet it's very common.

Everything extra that you add to your plate slows down your progress. Choose your direction, and commit to it. Indecision (which causes inaction) is a huge business killer that leaves artists wondering why they aren't more successful in sales.

5. Take it personally. Presenting your art for sale is a public step. Many artists have very deep feelings about what they create, and tend to take comments, or lack of sales, very personally. Your work isn't for everybody. Focus on your targeted market and find ways to reach them.

Selling your work to customers is actually more about them, not you. If someone says no, or gives you negative feedback, make note of anything there that is valuable to you, and then move on. Taking criticism or rejection personally can paralyze you and your business efforts.

6. Don't follow up. In business, it's all about the follow up. When you hear of an opportunity and don't pursue it, you lose out. When you made one attempt to reach a prospect and never contact them again, you lose out. When you half-heartedly begin an email newsletter or blog or social media campaign and then fizzle, you lose out.

Business is built on a sustained effort of persistent, consistent contact and follow up to gain traction and market share.

How many more can you add to this list?

Have you overcome self-sabotage to grow your art business successfully?

Carolyn EdlundThis article is courtesy of
Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, is a business writer, speaker and consultant for artists. She is the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, presenting at art business workshops throughout the United States. Carolyn works with artists every day in strategy sessions designed to help them structure their businesses, set and reach their goals. Find out more about scheduling your own business consultation with Carolyn here: window