What separates amateur artists from professional artists?
Skill? They have acquired the necessary skills to create professional-quality works. Or, attitude? They have committed to creating their art full time.
It’s not skills. A set of highly developed skills is nice to have, but that’s not what distinguishes amateurs from pros. It’s the commitment to work at art full-time that sets a pro apart from an amateur. Pros don’t wait for the muse to whisper in their ears, nor are they weekend warriors. They get up every day and do their work just like a farmer or bricklayer or teacher does.
Most artists who work full-time want to avoid the “starving artist” lifestyle. I want to earn enough so I can pay for other things I want to do, and believe it or no having a business plan is one of the best ways to ensure that will happen.
Why should you have a business plan? Because it will outline your goals and explain how you’ll achieve them. It’ll show you what resources you’ll need, and it’ll demonstrate to the IRS that you take your career seriously. It’ll help determine the feasibility of your idea. And it’ll help you succeed.
Writing a business plan to guide your decision-making is not as difficult as you may think it is. I’m working on mine and plan to have it finished by the end of February. If you’re ready to go pro and you want to plan for success, start on your business plan now if you don’t already have one.
Getting Started: Step One
- Identify your product or services (make a list).
- Identify who you think your audience is. Who wants what you can provide?
- Write a short description, in a sentence or two, of the goods or services you intend to provide and who your audience is. Here’s mine:
I paint plein air landscapes and do studio paintings for people who enjoy the outdoors in all its seasons and who like to be reminded of places they’ve been to. I teach classes to give people guided experiences that will increase their enjoyment of painting, and I do demonstrations to inspire and motivate people to try painting.
Hint: This is like an elevator speech and you need to be able to say what you do in 30 seconds or less. If you can’t write what you do in a couple sentences, you may be trying to do or put too many things under one umbrella. You may need to get more focused. Or you may be starting with the end in mind, which is not where you need to be at this time. Just write what you intend to do and who you’re doing it for—the audience.
Throughout the month, I’ll post the next steps you need to do to make your business plan. If you’re busy and need a reminder to check back, sign up to get an email notification whenever something new is posted on this Creativity Playbook blog.