We’re all about the quest for more followers, more likes, more shares, more views, and more comments these days. It feels good when more people respond to your art because art is a form of communication. It’s the means you use to share your ideas and your soul with the world. But that self-expression isn’t meaningful until other people respond. Until they comment, share, and start a dialogue with you about it. And when you put the work out there and don’t get the appropriate number of expected likes or comments, you are unfulfilled.
It’s not fair that the social media algorithms have so much control over who sees your art. But are we really so subject to social media giants? I believe we are taking huge risks by relying on mass communication to complete the circle of communication. We know for a fact that art must be experienced in person in order to be fully appreciated. So why do we insist on online validation?
In this solo episode of The Art Biz I want to talk about what really works for moving the needle with your art. It’s a secret shared by my highest level clients, only it’s not really such a secret. But I can guarantee that it will help you stand out in an over-saturated digital space.
The not-so-secret secret that moved the needle with your art. (2:18)
The most important information you can share is whispered one-on-one. (3:12)
Examining the anatomy of a whisper. (5:14)
4 ways to effectively connect on a more personal level. (6:19)
Where should you begin when your time is so limited? (9:58)
What you can expect to gain from one-on-one interactions. (10:55)
“We are taking huge risks by relying on mass communication to complete the circle of communication.” — Alyson Stanfield
“The most important information you can share is whispered one-on-one.” — Steve Cranford
“Personalizing the relationship you have with buyers, students, and collectors will make you feel better because it feels more authentic.” — Alyson Stanfield
“Stop relying on broadcasting for all of your marketing.” — Alyson Stanfield
“You’ll feel better about your marketing when you value individual relationships.” — Alyson Stanfield
In this episode of The Art Biz, I talk with Ali Manning about the responsibilities she feels as the person in charge of her business, including the responsibilities she has to team members. We discuss her membership-based business model, the dynamics between team members, how she hires, when and why she hires employees instead of contractors, and how she keeps team members happy. We also get into the hiring mistakes that both of us have made in the past—freely admitting that it was our fault, not the employees.
The ah-ha moment in Ali’s art journey. (2:45)
How does Ali make money in her art business? (6:25)
Running a business with 1,500 members requires the help of several assistants. (10:15)
The key difference between employees and contracted help. (12:27)
Bringing your team together regularly starts with a weekly meeting and the right technology. (15:09)
You might be surprised at where you can find the right help. (19:07)
Hiring mistakes and how to correct them quickly. (24:15)
Tests and onboarding processes that can smooth out the new hire process. (28:56)
Clearly defined business processes and procedures will help your team members succeed. (31:35)
Your assistant can’t actually read your mind, but taking these steps can help them out. (34:06)
Keeping your employees—and keeping them happy. (38:46)
A peek at Ali’s upcoming launch. (42:41)
“From a business standpoint, I want to be able to offer my help a secure job. It’s important to me that they’re invested.” — Ali Manning
“With as many moving parts as I keep in my brain, it’s no wonder that I needed some help with this stuff.” — Ali Manning
“It’s important to slow down, take a step back and really think about what you want and how you would like your assistant to do it.” — Ali Manning
Ali Manning creates bindings that showcase the stitching and the handcrafted nature of books. Her mixed media books are inspired by the forests of New England and the gardens of her home country England.
Working from her studio in a converted textile mill in Massachusetts, Ali has taught thousands of students via her blog, Vintage Page Designs, in person and with her latest online adventure, The Handmade Book Club. Teaching others to express their creativity through handmade books is her greatest joy. She believes that anyone can create a handmade book and it shouldn’t require expensive tools or equipment. Ali's work has been featured in Somerset Studio, Take Ten, Paper Crafts Magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors.
The point at which Trudy realized she needed help in her art business. (2:20)
Why hiring her sister was a perfect fit for Trudy. (6:17)
Writing a job description for a relative—or any employee—is an essential first step. (9:00)
Establishing an appropriate pay rate to compensate for the skills your new hire brings to your business. (11:48)
Structuring a typical week when you’re scheduling more than just yourself. (15:20)
Maintaining your voice when someone else is writing your social media posts. (21:24)
Communicating effectively in between weekly meetings. (24:01)
What Trudy wishes she had known before hiring her sister as her assistant. (28:25)
Identifying the areas that would allow you to accomplish more if you turned them over to someone else. (32:24)
Trudy’s advice to anyone that is considering hiring help. (34:54)
A look at what is coming up next in Trudy’s studio. (37:18)
Show notes, images, and listener comments
Artist and entrepreneur Trudy Rice has been a professional artist for more than 10 years. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Trudy has a diverse business consisting of original artworks on paper, paintings, commissions, large projects, wallpaper, and linen homewares. Her artworks are inspired by our natural world, particularly flora and fauna. Her works on paper and paintings are created with mindful observation, the initial drawings are etched in the very sun and water from which the original specimens are found.
Enter Robin—Angela’s student as well as a member of my former Inner Circle program for artists. In our conversation you'll hear how Angela has handled building a team and how Robin has been able to support her in this process. We talk about the technology they use, how they communicate with one another, and how they work with other team members who have since come on board.
Angela and Robin both focus on watercolor and Angela’s teaching offers regular lightbulb moments. (1:43)
How has Angela’s approach to watercolor grown her art teaching business? (4:45)
Building a thriving business while raising families and connecting in the artist community. (9:09)
At what point do you know it’s time to get help? (11:15)
Finding the best fit—from both Robin and Angela’s perspective. (13:25)
Learning how to hire correctly while trusting and protecting your values. (16:22)
Finding assistants that have the skill set you might be lacking. (19:35)
Building a support staff as your art business needs expand. (24:13)
A typical week in this thriving art business. (29:32)
The first step of a journey might be a boring one, but it can lead to a great adventure. (32:18)
Email support, tech support, and everything you might want to hire an assistant to do for you. (34:54)
The policies and procedures that keep a sustainable business running smoothly. (39:18)
What are the rewards and challenges of supporting another artist? (43:32)
Angela Fehr first picked up a watercolor brush as a shy teenager newly returned to Canada. During her teen years she’d lived in a remote village in Papua New Guinea, and the solitude had cemented a passion for art that she was excited to pursue. She quickly realized that watercolor was a perfect fit, and along the way, realized that she wanted something more for her paintings than simply to copy what she could see with her eyes. Angela aims to show her heart in her paintings, to pair the beauty of the world with a loose, intuitive, heart-led style.
She launched her first online course in November of 2013, with the goal of teaching technique and empowerment to help painters become their own favorite artist. Angela shares her home in northern British Columbia with her husband and three teens. The beauty of the Peace River and northern Rocky Mountain region serves as the main source of inspiration for her paintings.
Robin Edmundson paints everyday rural things in new ways with bold and unusual colors, using simplified shapes and lines to emphasize the patterns and rhythms of rural life. Robin grew up in northern Indiana in an old farmhouse on a property full of old farm buildings. Her early goal was to learn as many languages as she could. In college, she quickly found Linguistics and earned a Ph.D. in that field. She taught in various capacities at Indiana University for twenty-seven years. Always looking for creative outlets to balance her academic life, she learned to dye and weave and became an award winning fiber artist.
In 2011 she began blogging about rural life in southern Indiana. It took her a while to realize that she was still searching for a language that could express some things she wanted to say about life in rural southern Indiana. Imagine her surprise when she finally figured out that the language she was looking for was one of paint, color and line instead of words. Nothing makes her happier than to communicate through her paintings her deep love and respect for the unruly places and people of rural Indiana.