I recently posted on the American Express Open Forum blog on the trends that are creating new opportunities for entrepreneurial artists. I used illustrator Claudine Hellmuth as an example of an artist taking advantage of these trends to build a successful small business.
1. Leverage technology: Hellmuth uses a mix of social media and online technologies to market her work. In addition to her website, she has a blog, an Etsy site, YouTube videos and a Yahoo group. She also actively participates in arts and crafts community forums and chats. Her use of technology allows her to greatly broaden her potential market and she sells her work across the US and internationally.
2. Have multiple revenue streams: In addition to her illustration work and collage art, Hellmuth has written two books, gives workshops, sell DVDs on collage art and has several licensed products. Having multiple revenue streams is common among successful artist entrepreneurs who often use digital technology to re-purpose their work and expand their market.
3. Make use of outsource services: Hellmuth uses Etsy for online commerce, Paypal for payments, Amazon for book sales, and licensing arrangements to create products. All of these services amplify her ability to run a successful small business.
4. Understand the importance of the business side of their work: While first and foremost an artist, Hellmuth spends over half her time on business issues and realizes business and marketing skills are key to her success.
With consumers increasingly looking for unique, one-of-a-kind and handcrafted products the market for artisans continues to grow. Business-oriented artists, craftspeople and makers of all kinds have new opportunities to turn their artistic talents into commercial success.