Where did the time go?

Are the days turning into weeks and then months and you still don’t feel like you are making progress? Did your New Year Plans & Resolutions dissolve somewhere along the line?

Did you promise yourself you would fix that page on your website (or start a website), or finally get your email marketing started and somehow you just lost track of time? Did you look at the calendar recently and realize that the first quarter is basically over and you have almost nothing accomplished within your business goals?

To borrow a phrase from last week’s E’s of Selling Art Article: Snap Out of It!

You are not alone

Not that it will make you feel that much better, but in my professional consultations and friendly conversations with artists from England to Australia, I can confirm that we all feel like we have SO MUCH to do! It seems like there is so much to learn and so much to improve on with our marketing and sales. It can be overwhelming at times.

Therefore, I command you to take a deep breath. And another for good measure.

Now, read this out loud: Today is as good a time as any to declare it is a “New Year”. Today is a good day to begin again. I am ready to progress!

The key to successfully embracing progressing in your art business is to Be Here Now. Click To Tweet

Forget about yesterday and the hours spent gorging on kitty videos, liking and commenting on Facebook, “window shopping” on Amazon, or playing spider solitaire. Those days will happen, right? But not nearly as often when you have a real plan in place.

And forget about your fear of failure. You can’t predict the future, so why fear failure? If you want to predict anything – predict your success!

So starting now, with this newly hatched “New Year’s Resolution”, you are getting this second chance to get it right. First, let’s consider how to begin your forward motion. What is really holding you back?

For some, it will be time. For others, it will be money. For some, it will be time AND money. Some of you have full-time “day jobs” and families and finding time to do your art is hard enough. Adding the burden of trying to market and sell your art seems impossible. (Some of you have never sold your art and don’t even know if you can. Know this: You can! Don’t worry about that for now.)

But – and you knew there as a but coming, right? – what you are most likely lacking, aside from time and money, is the skill of prioritizing. That coupled with a recurring bout of procrastination will get you in trouble every time. And then you add a dose of self-doubt and fear of failure and it can be crippling. It’s just easier to get lost watching YouTube videos than putting up another new piece on Instagram and getting no response.

Is there a cure?

The good news is there is a cure. The bad news is that it depends on you rethinking your options. It’s a cost vs benefits argument. It’s different for each person.

It’s also dependent on your skill levels and aptitude to tackle the business side of things. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that not everyone is cut out to be a “business” person, any more than everyone is cut out to be an artist. But no one can sit back and expect things to just work out.

Marketing is a verb. Your ongoing efforts are needed. There is no one else but you. Even if you have a business partner or have your work being represented at a gallery, you need to be actively marketing and constantly moving things forward in your business.

Wherever you are in your journey you need to assess your skills. The sooner you tally up your strengths in one column and weaknesses in the other, the quicker you can delegate what you need to improve on to move forward.

Get out a piece of paper. Create two columns with one being something like, “I Can Do This” and the other stating “Not Very Likely To Do This”. Then get real with yourself. Which side do you put the following?:

Marketing on your Website, Marketing on Social Media, Marketing via Emails, Writing Marketing and Sales Copy, Writing Advertising Copy, Writing Email Marketing Copy, Creating Marketing Campaigns using Social Media, Creating Campaigns using Snail Mail, Creating a Effective Website, Writing Blog Posts, Maintaining a Schedule for Blogging or other outreach to clients, Maintaining Client Lists, Following up on Inquiries, Writing Descriptions for Your Shopping Cart Items, Updating your Shopping Cart Items, Updating your Website, Creating New Designs, or Creating Press Releases.

This list can go on and on. Feel free to add to the list in the comments, please. I am not trying to scare you. I want to nudge you to take inventory of your business skills and weaknesses.

Meanwhile…here’s part of the cure

First: Accept that these two columns might not change anytime soon. In fact, there may be areas that you are not capable of conquering. Very few artists are good at follow-up for example. Many simply can’t write good sales or marketing copy. Some would never consider creating a website themselves. For others, email marketing is a complete enigma.

The goal is to keep moving forward, not look at either side of the list and feel overwhelmed of inadequate. The goal is to make sure you know what you “need” to do and prioritize the “will need to tackle this eventually” from either side of the list. Make sure you are doing the things you know you can do.

A big relief that many of my clients experience with this exercise is feeling like they are identifying their “job descriptions.” They feel more in control of their businesses. And they can finally identify those areas that they simply can’t or don’t want to manage. When you let go of the fantasy that you “must” – or should be able – to do it all, you will be free to do only those things that you can aspire to be really great at doing. You can’t be good at everything.

I will be the first to write Facebook on the “Not Very Likely To Do This” column. The goal of facing that weakness is to know what I am not good at and determine – and this is key – whether that lack of ability to use Facebook is hurting my business overall. If it’s really causing me to lose income opportunities, I will hire someone to help me. Just in the same way others hire me to help them with their emails or websites.

Now it’s your turn

Spend some time and get real with yourself. What skill set do you lack that you know you should hire out to a professional? Yes – I am offering my help, of course. But before you spend a dime, think hard: Can you learn this skill? Is this something that you can really benefit from by learning how it works and folding into your business skills.

If you don’t have the aptitude for a specific skill and you know it’s affecting your income potential, then you must hire help. If your website is not even mobile friendly and you don’t even have contact info for the original web person who put your site together, it’s time to get off that ledge and face facts. You are costing yourself income potential. Don’t have a shopping cart? That is costing you sales, too! (Read the Golden Triangle of Sales Success to understand your lost potential.)

Often, I use simple criteria for determining the usefulness of a skill: If this is a one-time or very rarely used skill, I will hire it out. For example, if I am trying to figure out how to create a certain look or specific element on my website that requires CSS coding skills, then I will hire someone else to do that or just not include it. But when I needed to learn how to resize a photograph – something I do several times a month – that was something I figured out.

Again, this is a time and money issue. If you have more time than money, you might try to DYI as much as possible. (I highly recommend WIX for websites btw.) However, some things involve “artful” skills, like graphic design or wordsmith skills.

I would add a special caution that words used on your website and the design of your website matters. It’s your calling card! It’s your salesperson! Not having strong marketing influences in the words used by you or in the design of your website might be costing you sales. And then you see a lack of sales and then the whole thing just implodes on your spirit and self-confidence.

Nip this in the bud. Do this two-column exercise and take stock of yourself and your current level of business acumen. If you get really stuck, just reach out to me. Unless it’s about FaceBook! LOL!

Stay Alert!

Carolyn Edlund (of Artsy Shark) and I have a special announcement – it will blow your mind. Keep an eye on your inboxes. This Saturday, the 25th, at 8 am EDT, we will have breaking news! Join my list right now. You can thank me later!