The results are in - exploring success in art & photography

 Exploring success in an art and photography business. Photo credit:  Erin Blackwell  2015. I knew the message I wanted to convey during 2015. I sent a sketch to Erin.  When she did my headshots, she produced this photo. She nailed my vision.

Exploring success in an art and photography business. Photo credit: Erin Blackwell 2015. I knew the message I wanted to convey during 2015. I sent a sketch to Erin.  When she did my headshots, she produced this photo. She nailed my vision.

Well, just Holy Cow! 

I'm closing in on the one year anniversary of this website, this blog and exploring success in an art and photography business - it's time to take a look at some results.

The Purpose

The original purpose was noted in the very first blog entry:

My first blog entry! 
This blog is my "self-accountability" tool. My personal goal for the entirety of my life has been to fulfill whatever creative potential that I have been given.  For "a thousand years" that creativity was exhibited in the arenas of education, profession, and motherhood (wifehood, daughterhood - you know the drill.) 
Now, I have committed to delving into the artistic inklings that have always been present, just not nurtured or practiced. So...this blog is my format to think through my artistic plans, challenge myself, critique my work, identify what works and what doesn't, analyze whatever tangential topics are relevant.
I'm not expecting hordes of followers - not my purpose. However, you might find yourself to be just the person who enjoys the direction of this blog, my paintings, my photography.  In that case, welcome!  I am glad you chose to come along for the journey.
And sometime soon, I hope to figure out how to add photos to this blog!  All part of the learning process.

I didn't know HOW to add photos to the blog page. I took the leap - before the need to have everything perfect stopped me.

I learned quickly. Very quickly.

Rereading that first blog entry sounds as if I were a newby in the art world...just starting out with the brush and camera....downplaying my skills and years of experience.

Why did I do that? That is so unlike me. (Insert giant belly laugh here!)

And, "I'm not expecting hordes of followers"??? Yes, I do want followers..hordes and hordes and hordes!

In retrospect, I think the reason was...fear.

Perhaps I was pre-providing a getaway plan...if things didn't work out, well know...

The Business of art and photography

Within two weeks, I admitted my inner goal was to build a successful art and photography business. Sell those paintings and photographs!  All the while, pushing myself to expand the "boundaries" of my creativity.

I started the ubiquitous internet search, looking for to build and sustain a successful art and photography business.

Within another two weeks, I found and joined two online mentoring-business schools.  One worked...the other not so much.  (I'll share lessons learned and critiques in the future.)

So...what was accomplished?

Yes...I have accomplished far more than I ever expected. Here's the list in no particular order.

  1.   blog posts with photos every week. (That's 46 straight weeks of writing - to date)
  2.   more of my art has been purchased than the previous year - at higher prices.
  3.   art & photography selected for four exhibitions and a year-long gallery presence.
  4.   consistently worked to improve my artworks and spur creativity.
  5.   sought out learning experiences in areas of weakness.
  6.   received multiple peer awards for several of my photos.
  7.   started the "100 letters of Rejection" self-project *
  8.   developed a crystal clear vision of where I want this art & photography business to go
  9.   know what this business can give back to local communities and to the arts community*
  10.   accumulated a "boatload" of knowledge/experiences helpful to other creatives who want to start their own businesses.
  11.    learned the foundation of my success in this business is my mindset...this is so much deeper than "think positive thoughts." (Hint: it involves movement of the body away from the computer and out the front door.)

*100 letters of rejection

During one of those "oh god, I just don't know how to solve this problem so the answer must be on the internet mornings", I found this.  While I didn't subscribe to her offerings, I realized this is what "hustle" is all about for a business owner.

You gotta put yourself out there. You gotta meet the people.

Therefore, the number of rejections I receive has become the de facto measure of my "hustleness".  You might think that sounds self-defeating.  Here is what is really happening...the more I put myself out there, approach more potential clients/customers, I get fewer "rejections". 

And if I get rejected, I ask questions to learn what to do differently.

*Give back to the communities

You probably already know sales of my prints support meaningful jobs for adults with disabilities (in two states) and certified elephant reserves.

If you are an artist/photographer, you can be tough to make a living from your art "out there".  There are SO many reasons for the societal/communal mindset of "it's okay to ask an artist to give their work for free" (or attempt to "negotiate" lower prices for your works).

Well, watch for this in January, 2016...a collaborative initiative for artists to work with/in their communities about the value/purposes of art. WE can teach our communities to value art; we can influence our communities to pay the artists.

What I didn't accomplish

Even though I sold more art than the previous year (at higher prices) I did not meet my income goal (yet).  And I am responsible for that "miss".  It took me eight months to really "get" that I needed to be present in my community.  As my presence increases, my sales increase.

That all probably sounds "obvious" and that's where some of that mindset work comes into play. It's all about stretching the boundaries of that comfort zone on a daily basis.

I did not set up my portable art gallery.  Why?  Because I did not write out a step-specific plan to accomplish this goal.  Hence, the idea is still "hanging in the air" over my head.

I did not publish the two books I wanted to publish.  I can report they are both in the writing stages...everyday...more words fall into their proper places. (And if my business mentor reads this, she will say "And when can we expect the books to be published? Give me a date.")

(And I PAY her to say those things to me.)

What else in 2016?

Two-thousand-fifteen was designated as my year of the living laboratory; exploring success in an art/photography business.  From this past year will come...

A guide for starting your own creative business. 

It will be chock full of ideas, actions, evaluations...the honest-to-goodness scoop...from my experience straight to you. It will include things you don't often hear about...

  • when is a DIY project a false economy?
  • how to determine if that high cost on-line course is based on false hope? (a theme here?)
  • detailed steps to ANALYZE information about your ideal client
  • discussion about "reasonable expectations."
  • discussions about the power of mindset,
  • the consequences of "terminal uniqueness" (aka, "I'm different so this doesn't apply to me.")
  • the hallmarks of a professional photographer,
  • and much, much more.

And during all of 2016, I'll be keeping more notes about what worked and what didn't during the second year of being in business. 

*Talking to self,* "Hmmm, how about giving a TED talk? Be interviewed by Diane Rehm, and Krista Tippett?"

Oh, did I say that out loud?

The Wrap Up

In total, I am very pleased with what I have accomplished this year. 

Truth be told, even though I am a"go-getter", I am pretty sure that left to my own devices, I would not have accomplished as much.

And, there you have it....2015.

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.


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