In this blog post we’ll go through why you need multiple income streams as an artist. A lot of artists think that there is only one way to earn a living from art, but that’s really not the case. Having multiple streams of income is essential if you want to grow a successful art business.
Imagine you create some original work. You have to go to an art show or exhibition, sell the original work and go back to the studio to create more original work. The problem with this approach is that it’s a direct exchange for time and money. There’s only so many hours in the day and so many paintings you can create or work you can create without burning out.
I used to have a business where I learned a lesson like that, and that was me teaching by the hour. When more and more people want more and more time from you, there’s only so far you can spread yourself. There’s a very definite ceiling to a business that is built on a business model like that. It’s a direct exchange of your time in order to sell something and receive an income for it. If you want to earn more money, you have to create another thing and sell it again. Different products are seasonal in business, as we all know, so you might have high and low points in your business where things sell really well naturally. There will be other times when it’s about the dry spots – people will be thinking about other things because of the season and you won’t be making as many sales.
If you have a business with multiple income streams, particularly some more passive income streams, the quieter periods are balanced out. When demand for one product slows down, you still have other products ticking away in the background that may take over and sell really well at that time of year. It goes in cycles, and allows each product its own time to shine.
In terms of passive income, I think a lot of people are confused by what this actually is, and think it’s just a case of sitting about doing nothing while the money rolls in. It’s totally not like that! It’s about creating something once that you can sell again and again without having to go back and recreate it each time An example of that is if you teach workshops or courses. You have to get a venue. You have to organise your materials, you have to show up in person, you have to deliver the hour or two hours, you have to clean up afterwards, get yourself home etc – it’s really labour intensive. There’s a finite amount you can earn depending on the space in the room (which may only hold 10 or 12 people).
If you create an online version of that same workshop and ran it, you can reach hundreds or thousands of people at any one time without any extra time from you in any extra delivery. This will be a passive income stream for you. Perhaps you have a workshop you deliver in person for £7 per person – you could record it, and sell it online for £27 per person. If you put systems in place to support this, it will keep ticking over in the background and will be a great source of passive income for you. It also doesn’t have to be an either/or situation – you can do both in person workshops and online workshops.
It’s also a wise move to have multiple income streams at different price points. If you sell original art at £2,000 or £3,000, somebody new who comes into your world and doesn’t know you that well isn’t likely to invest that kind of money initially. A lot of buyers discover you and will want to test products first of all, maybe by buying lower priced items such as prints. They may then go on to become collectors of your work and buy higher priced items, once they have gotten to know you.
So having different offerings in terms of price point like that, and also different types of offering, is critical to having a business that can survive the highs and lows of retail sales and seasonality.
If all of the pressure is on one product, like an original collection, and it’s not selling, it can be really stressful to meet your financial obligations that month. If you have a couple of other products or projects ticking away in the background, like workshops, prints or limited edition runs, you know you have got lots of things going on and lots of income streams to rely on. The important thing is that they are all aligned, and you don’t spread yourself too thinly. It’s not all about creating five different income streams that pull us in five different directions. Choose products that are related to each other and don’t require a lot of duplicated work.
Some artists hear the words “Sales Funnel” and roll their eyes because they think sales funnels are icky and yes, they can be if they’re done badly but effectively a good sales funnel is a system that is fully automated to bring completely cold potential customers from our social media, website – wherever they first discover you – into your world to help them discover more about what you create or more about you, and then make a purchase. It’s a whole customer journey, basically. That whole step by step linear process, which in the past would have been done by a salesperson or sales department, can be automated in your business. It can be very comfortable for both parties when it’s done well – customers feel like they’ve been invited into your family rather than being sold to.
Basically, a business that doesn’t have these systems in place is going to be chasing ad hoc customers, which is really time consuming and can lead to burnout and exhaustion.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to get thinking about creating multiple streams of income for your business. To learn about setting up sales funnels and systems in more depth, why not check out Passion to Profit or join the free masterclass where I go through 4 simple steps to help you make more art sales.