He started from his dorm room at the University of Oregon in 1996; he sold his company, Rumblefish.com, for $27 million in 2015.
Eventually, you settle in on how you hope to make money.
But “artist” can mean a broad range of related things, from fine art and (ugh, so crass) commercial art, to design, writing, acting, stand-up comedy, and even live art.
I’m in favor of whatever works for you and in awe of people who actually manage to combine talent, passion, and hard word to make that work for them as a way of life. So how do you make a business plan and use it to optimize the business side of your art? The first big hurdle for the artist business plan is what they call the business model, or, if you don’t like the trendy buzzword, how you make money.
Maybe you’re okay with being the starving artist, but if not, it’s “show me the money.” Don’t discount the obvious—take a look at the results of a quick web search, in the illustration here, for “where to sell my paintings.” Don’t completely discount the related businesses.
Writers teach literature, painters teach fine arts. There are websites buying, selling, and collecting art.A simple sales forecast can be extremely helpful for your business later, as you track actual results, compare them to the forecast, and analyze the difference. It’s hard on the self-image, but it’s good for the bank balance. Consider this previous post: Do a spending budget linked to the sales forecast.A lot of your spending—marketing activities, for example—ought to have a direct connection with the projected sales that will result.If you’re a performer, I assume it’s about gigs, managers, and that stuff.Or, it’s about selling your paintings, sculptures, or photographs.One of my personal favorite artist-with-a-plan stories is the story of Paul Anthony and Rumblefish.He was a talented musician—a drummer who built a business around selling music rights for films and ads.Or it might be what kind of performance, and how you reach the gatekeepers.Think about what makes you different, who will buy from you, and what you sell to them. Tactics are decisions you make about pricing, channels, websites, social media, managers, agents, stores, overhead, allies, and so forth. For more on strategy and tactics, check out Strategy Is Useless without Execution and Strategic Plan for Your Business, also here on Bplans.He had a delightful way of challenging assumptions, occasionally on the basis that art, by its very nature, was above—or perhaps immune—to cash flow. “You don’t plan to pay your rent and other expenses? ” He agreed, somewhat begrudgingly, that maybe an artist wanted to survive in the world like anybody else.As a student, he was engaged, intelligent, and eager to learn; so yes, he was one of my favorites. On reflection, he decided that he liked the idea of making a living without abandoning his art.