Do You Want to Succeed as an Artist? Start Acting Like a Creative Entrepreneur.


Starting a business became easier than ever. The ubiquity of tools gives us all endless opportunities to step into new business territories and start dream careers. The barriers of entry are low or non-existent. Our childhood hobbies and lifelong passions are becoming income generating professions. There's abundance of ideas but only those who execute them fully, will thrive. Being creative is just one ingredient of the recipe for success. We also need to be business savvy and ready for some serious hustle.

Many artists have innovative ideas and create original products. Some of them stop after making something thinking that success is just going to happen to them. Those who thrive go through the whole process of making it - from idea and testing to creation, marketing and distribution. They're aware that spreading the word about their art and selling it is as important as making it. Many writers aspire to have their book published by a major publishing house expecting that marketing will be done for them. I've heard many creatives say that promotion is "not their thing" and that they're not "business savvy." These answers won't work anymore. 

If you want to be a successful artist, you have to start acting like a creative entrepreneur. Even before you create a product, start or continue building your list. If you don't know what list you should build, begin by determining that. Instead of blindly following what others do, focus on you, your business and your career - find out where your potential customers are, where they are engaged, what they read and where they listen. If your newsletter gets a lot of traction, continue building your email list by sharing a lot of great content for free, having your signup forms at events and simply by asking people to join. Do check out social media channels but don't try to be everywhere, be only where it matters, where you can be heard. Share helpful content providing value without expecting anything in return. If you know where your readers are and choose to contribute to an outlet, be consistent. Consistency transforms readers into fans who follow and buy. 

Many creatives talk about following their passion which is the reason why a lot of us became entrepreneurs. However, making it as an artist doesn't stop here no matter how passionate we are. We have to keep testing what we make to be sure that we create something that people want. It's not enough to make things that we and our friends like unless we don't want to start a business but write a journal or make crafty gifts for our loved ones. 

To start a creative career and make money, we need to make products that people want and are willing to pay for - products that have commercial value. Value is often measured by how our products make the customers feel. Most artists don't get it, they focus on how they fulfill their passion talking about their own inspirations and dreams. Successful creators understand that it's not about them, they give the spotlight to their clients making sure they provide what they need. Customers will gladly hear the story of how an artist started the business, they'll like knowing that their purchase contributes to a great cause but ultimately they'll buy the product because they look good in it, they need it for their advancement or they find it useful or entertaining. The bottom line is that they'll get the product if it provides value to them.

Some creatives give up too soon. Patience and understanding that there may be a lot of no's before the yes is crucial. Sensitive artists who get hurt by critiques and can't shrug them off for days will be replaced by their often less talented counterparts who know how to deal with rejections. Actually they don't deal with rejections, they move on and are busy creating the next thing. Those entrepreneurs know that the more they create, the more chances they have to "make it." We all hear the stories about authors who got rejected by twenty publishing houses and then their book became a best seller. We know that successful painters didn't just create the work we know - there had been thousands of sketches and other work that we never heard about. There are great books that we'll never read, designers whose work we'll never know and talented actors who we'll not see because they all gave up too soon. Tough, thick skinned creatives who study what sells, who know their customers and who patiently wait for their turn to make it, will be rewarded. And when they get a yes, they'll know that that yes marks the beginning of a creative hustle.

Anna Sabino is a co-active certified business growth and life coach. She is writing a book on growing your creative business mindfully. You can find out more at