Money can feel messy, icky, intimidating... I've heard a host of objections to managing finances from different artists. But is it as bad as it sounds?

Dealing with finances can feel as messy as this looks. But is it?

We have a problem of income with artists. It comes in spurts. Say you create twelve paintings. You release them all at once for sale, then they are gone. You have to make more paintings and promote the new ones to earn more money. There is a production piece that can keep us wondering if we can pay our next bills. Today I want to walk through how you can stop worrying about your finances and build in multiple sources of income to help alleviate those feelings of feast or famine.

Step one: Determine what you really need.

Is your art a hobby where you wish to cover your art expenses? Or maybe you want it to just supplement your current income and buy your groceries every month. Knowledge is half the battle. If you don’t reflect on this and list out your costs and actually decide on your expectation you will likely never make it anywhere near your daydreamed goals.

Example: I want to make a full time living from my art.

If you want to make a full time living from your art, you need to know how much it costs to live as you currently do. Don’t embellish or dream. Just outline your monthly expenses. This can include utilities, cable bills, mortgages, medical bills, taxes, you name it. List it all out and figure out your monthly average expenses. This is the number you need to meet to continue to live the life you do. So, now, it’s all about how to get there.

Step Two: Determine how you already make money from your art.

Have people bought original artwork? What are the price points? Do you offer classes as an art teacher? List everything related to your art that has sold in the past and note the price points. These are proven ways to earn money. Focus on them. Develop them further: can you offer tiered experiences, for example?

Money can feel messy, icky, intimidating... I've heard a host of objections to managing finances from different artists. But is it as bad as it sounds?

I know an artist who works en plein air and often sells them right off the easel. It’s a working practice for him, this is something to note in his financial reflections as a strategy that works!

Step Three: How much do you need to sell?

Now, calculate how many artworks at the price points you’ve already sold at (or classes, etc.) you need to sell to reach your monthly expenses. This is very important. You then have a number of artworks to create and sell a year in order to achieve your goal. Remember, it’s likely you have multiple income streams, so note the sales in Step Two for things like your Redbubble store as well. Decide what feels reasonable for you to actually do in sales for each category of income. Does this match up to your expenses? How much more do you need to sell?

This key step will tell you if your aim is realistic for you right now and what you are aiming for in the future. It will also lead to Step Four.

Money can feel messy, icky, intimidating... I've heard a host of objections to managing finances from different artists. But is it as bad as it sounds?

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Step Four: What other sources of income can you create?

The average artist I see today making things work for themselves diversify their income. What does this mean? They don’t just sell art. They sell prints, they sell licensed work on pillows, they teach classes, they crowd fund for projects, they find any and every way to promote their art that feels in line with their values but offers many different ways for people to pay them. If your numbers in Step Three make you nervous or feel untenable, I suggest you spend time here brainstorming other offerings you can have as an artist. Look at artists you admire online and list everything they do. I’d noticed recently Amira Rahim offers a consult to help you build your audience online. What other skills do you have that promote your art you can also offer as a product or service?

Saying you want to make a living from your art, but taking no time to sit down and reflect on your expenses and costs is pretty contradictory behavior. In fact, it means you either don’t really want to make a living from your art, or you are scared to try. Reflect on which resonates with you. If you feel triggered by either comment it’s likely there is truth to that statement for you.

This is another reason I believe in Patreon. Patreon makes this all easier. Once you know that monthly number you can aim for that as a goal. You know you need to hit that monthly number on Patreon to live as you currently do but from your art. And it isn’t a big ask for people who enjoy your art, since the lowest entry point for rewards can be 1 dollar. And for those who don’t patronize your work, investigate the objections people offer and try to refine your profile to answer those objections before they occur to others.

Money can feel messy, icky, intimidating... I've heard a host of objections to managing finances from different artists. But is it as bad as it sounds?

Sometimes it can feel like a gamble they way income can ebb and flow. That’s why Patreon offers a sense of security as a monthly income.

Crowdfunding with a platform like Patreon is a wonderful way to involve all kinds of people with you and your art. And it allows you to do what you do best: make art!

Please contribute to my campaign: for as little as 3 coffees for an entire year you can support my free content, like this article and my webinars, as well as earn the opportunity to win art worth hundreds of dollars. Sound good? Sign up to support my work: click become a patron here.

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