Monday, September 24, 2012


Alyson B. Stanfield has compiled a great list for artists.

1. Date everything.
When you file something you have acted on, make a note on what you have done and don’t forget to date it. Ditto for dating your art. Memories fail so easily, and you want to be able to back up any claims with evidence.

2. Plan your day. 
Planning your day makes life go much more smoothly. Take the time either first thing in the morning or, as I prefer, the night before, to plan your day. Go over your entire schedule and visualize how smoothly it will all run. Write down the 3-5 things you must do between your errands and appointments.

3. Keep a journal. 
Capture your fleeting thoughts before they’re lost forever. Always carry a small notebook or recorder with you to record your brilliant moments. Journaling regularly about art, especially YOUR art, is one of the best exercises to prepare you for marketing. You need words to help you sell your art.
The Relatively Pain-Free Artist Statement helps you journal about your art. Read about it:

4. Stop apologizing for the little stuff. 
Constantly apologizing for little things calls attention to your mistakes and weaknesses. Think about your last few apologies. Were they necessary? Could you have recognized a mistake differently and played up your strength? Save your meaningful apologies for when you really need them—and you will.

5. Comment on at least five blogs each week. 
You’ll be amazed at the friends you can make by commenting on blogs. Not just with the owner of the blog, but with that blog’s visitors. Remember that you want to leave your virtual footprint all over the Internet. Leaving your links in those places makes you hot, hot, hot! (Don’t forget to comment on your own blog, too).

6. Back up your computer files. 
There’s nothing sexy about this action, but you’ll kick yourself if you neglect it. Add regular backup reminders to your calendar.

7. Update your mailing list. 
Whom did you meet in the last few weeks that you have failed to add to your mailing list? Take time to do that now. If you don’t have time to put them in your database, at least make a list and place the names in your Mailing List file folder to be added later. Never forget that your mailing list is your #1 asset for promoting your art.
I emphasize creating and building mailing lists in my Cultivate Collectors class:

8. Give thanks. 
Being grateful for what you have is a sign to the universe that you can accept more into your life.

9. Make art.
Artists make art. They dream about art. They read and talk about art. For the professional artist, Art=Life. This is what you’re competing against. Set aside non-negotiable studio time. If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one else will.

10. Stay on top of your finances.
Ignoring your financial health doesn’t make it any better. Stay up to date with your bookkeeping and take responsibility for your future well-being.

11. Clean out your files. 
Try to clean out one paper file and one electronic file each day this week. If you prefer, shoot for five or six files and do them all at once. You have to get rid of old stuff in order to make room for new stuff.

12. Get rid of one toleration. 
A toleration is something you are enduring. It’s on your task list and never seems to get done. You’re procrastinating because you don’t absolutely have to do it, so it remains on your list. Before long, it eats away at you. What are you tolerating? A dirty car? A pair of un-hemmed pants? A stack of papers?
We tackle task lists in my Get Organized class:

13. Set a deadline you can’t back out of. 
In order to finish my book by my self-imposed deadline, I lined up my editor well in advance. She set aside time on her calendar to receive my book by July 25 (she got it on the 24th!). I also told everyone of my deadline and lightened my load so I could meet my goal. Setting a deadline you can’t back out of is a powerful motivator.

14. Stop telling people how busy you are. 
We’re tired of hearing how busy everyone is. We’re all busy! Let’s acknowledge this and move on. When someone asks how you are, vow never to respond with the word “Busy.” Respond with something a little more interesting, such as, “I’m fantastic! I’m making the world a better place.” Attitude, baby!

15. Improve your email habits so they become second nature. 
Building a business means acting professional in every way. Start your email by addressing the person to whom you are writing. "Robin," and "Dear Robin," are much more inviting than no salutation at all. This is especially true when you're writing to someone for the first time or asking the recipient for a favor.
Write in complete sentences with appropriate capital letters.
There’s a lot more about using email properly in my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.

16. Read. 
Read for pleasure, read for information, read to rocket your career forward. Read about art. Read a lot about art.

17. Honor boundaries.
If you’re always giving in, people will figure it out and start treading on your boundaries. Before you know it, your boundaries are invisible. It’s your fault for not clarifying your boundaries. (Ditto for those set by others.)

18. Send two handwritten notes immediately.  
I usually send a handwritten note after I’ve had an initial consultation with someone. But sometimes I forget. I figured out that if I address an envelope as I prepare for the call, I can quickly write the note, seal it, and send it off. This means I don’t even have to add it to my task list. For sample notes, see the Instant Answer Guide How to Follow Up and Say Thank You.

19. Promote other people online.
It’s called social media for a reason. It’s about making friends. Twitter and Facebook aren’t only for you to promote yourself. You won’t get very far if you focus only on broadcasting what you’re up to. In their book Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say to promote others 12 times as much as you promote yourself.  Follow this advice if you want more friends and followers online.

20. Get it in writing.  
Before you enter into any agreement with anyone, get it in writing. If the other person doesn’t have a written contract, make one of your own—or at least a letter of agreement. Even if it’s a good friend (especially if it’s a good friend), having a written document will save you from any misunderstandings by making sure you’re both on the same page. A written agreement might even save a friendship.

21. Stop playing it safe.
Allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes. It’s the only way to move forward. If you stay in your comfort zone all of the time, you won’t grow as an artist or as a businessperson. Get uncomfortable and take some risks.

22. Always give yourself credit.
Don’t you hate it when people use your images and don’t give you credit? It might not be their fault. You might have neglected to give yourself credit. Whenever you post your image online, make sure your name, title, ©date, medium, and size are listed with each artwork.

23. Count your wins. 
We tend to see only the incomplete items remaining on our task lists and become overwhelmed with what we have to do. I challenge you for the next 30 days to write down what you have accomplished each day to move your art career forward. Are you up for the challenge?

Alyson B. Stanfield is an artist advocate, workshop leader, and art-marketing consultant.

Alyson has helped thousands of artists develop their careers through her online classes, publications, workshops, and free weekly Art Marketing Action newsletter— all available at She wrote I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self Promotion for the many talented artists who remain professionally unfulfilled because their work is not seen and not purchased.
Alyson’s mission is to empower artists to say goodbye to excuses and hello to success.

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