We’ve all been there. Staring down the barrel of some crazy, ambitious goal, some dream, wondering how the heck we’re ever going to pull it off.
A trend I notice in my own life is a lot of amazing artists and creatives doing awesome work dreaming of someday making a living from it. We want to get started, but we’re missing a lot of important pieces. We look at everyone that’s making it and think we need what they have just to get a foot in the door.
That’s not actually true.
There are all kinds of things we could have before we start selling our art, but the reality is that we don’t actually need most of them. They’re just barriers that we put up to keep from taking a risk and doing what’s really important – actually selling our work.
Here are the top 5 things that you absolutely, positively do not need in order to sell your art (and the top 5 things you actually do need).
Image by *eddie
1. Business Cards
What I really mean when I say “business cards” is any of those standard office items that act as a barrier to getting out there and starting. This could be a printer, a fax machine, an assistant, anything besides your art, really.
Sure, eventually you’re going to need a few things, but they should come as an answer to an actual problem rather than a prerequisite for doing business. Heck, in most cases, you don’t even need a business license to get things going.
You don’t need business cards or any of that other junk, but here’s what you do need: intense focus on your art and simplicity. When you’re trying to get off the ground, you don’t need the self-inflicted resistance that comes with all the business gadgets.
Focus on creating your art and finding people who like it. That’s all that matters right now. Besides, the less you need to run your art business, the less you have to sell to keep running your art business.
2. An Art Degree
Here’s something really important that we should get out of the way. Education comes in so many different forms, and even though a classroom is a valid one, a degree is completely unnecessary if you want to start your own business and sell your art.
There are very few people outside of the corporate world who care if you have a degree and, dare I say, those people are a waste of your time and energy anyway.
Here’s what you need instead: A burning desire to learn and change.
No one who buys your art cares if you have a degree, but they do care that you have an education and an opinion about what you create and sell.
Luckily, those two things are easily attained for a lot less than the cost of tuition. If you have a hunger to learn, you’ll find all the education you need for free.
3. An Agent
Someday you may get to the point where you need someone to look out for you and help make good business deals so that you can focus on creating, napping, and taking exotic vacations.
Today is not that day. In fact, that day just might never come.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to keep your best interest in mind, but always remember that no one cares as much about your art or your business as you do. Learn how to take care of your art business yourself before you outsource it.
You don’t need an agent, but you do need basic business aptitude.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got it now. There are all kinds of ways to pick it up.
The fastest is to just get out there and start doing business everywhere you can. You’ll screw up, lose money, get burned, and learn a lot of hard lessons. But if you keep at it, you’ll fail forward.
The safest way is to read every art and business blog you can, take business classes and start as small as possible.
The best way is probably somewhere in the middle. You’ve already got a great start reading Lateral Action (you smarty).
4. A Masterpiece
If there’s one thing that aspiring artists continually destroy their businesses with, it’s their own self doubt. This is a topic for a whole other discussion, but the thing to take away is that you do not need to create the world’s greatest masterpieces in order to make it as a professional artist.
There’s a market for every type of art and you don’t have to be the very best in the world to sell yours. You just have to be the best in your customer’s world. That means being the best thing available to them in their own sphere of influence.
Think of the last piece of art you paid for. Did you buy it because it was the most technically amazing piece of work you’ve seen or did you buy it because it told a story you liked?
People like art that looks good, but they buy it because it makes them feel good.
Better technique comes with more practice. Practice telling better stories and the technique (and money) will follow.
Here’s another secret the pros don’t tell you. No one paid attention to them when they started either.
People pay attention to things that their friends tell them about. When you’re starting out, your job is to be persistent and tell stories that people want to share.
No one can give the permission you need to sell your art. I totally understand the need for approval – I’ve been there many times myself – but it’s a dangerous rabbit hole to go down.
You see, asking for permission and waiting for approval is a carrot on a stick. Once you decide to chase it, you’re forever grasping. Every step you take is on the back of someone else’s approval and the further you go, the more of it you need.
Not a good place to be.
You don’t need permission or approval to be you and do what you do.
Without doubt, it’s the hardest thing to overcome, but the rewards for doing it are endless. You’re not good enough the day someone tells you that you are. You’re good enough when you’re tired of waiting for that day.
At this stage, skill and aptitude have nothing to do with it. Hard to believe, I know. Truth is, everyone starts out “not good enough.” Only the people that actually start end up becoming good enough.
Here’s a little confession: I’m pretty new to the writing world, myself. I’ve got no credentials beyond my award winning book report on Oliver Twist in 10th grade and if we cross paths tomorrow, I’ll have no business card to give you.
Do I write the most beautiful prose you’ve ever read? Heck no. But every day I try to tell stories that connect with people that are like me and it seems to be working.
That’s why I’m writing this post for you. You’re not going to come find me just because I’m here, so I’m out finding you.
The most important thing you can do when you start selling your art is anything. Sure, you’ll get a lot of things wrong, but then you’ll get a lot of them right.
Think of everything you wish you could have before you get started and then imagine how you’d begin if you could never have it.
Over to You
Can you think of anything else you don’t need to start selling your creative work?
About the Author: Tyler Tervooren helps extraordinary people improve their lives by doing really scary things at his site, Advanced Riskology. He’s currently on his own quest to join the top 1% of the world.