Friday, May 16, 2008

Expert Advice & A Chance to Win a FREE Book!

Wouldn't we all rather be in the studio all the time? It sounds like my idea of heaven, or the perfect vacation. Yet, just like we cannot forgo family, food and forty winks, we cannot forget about the business side of art. A good plan is to dedicate one day of the week to business-related art activity, but what do you do if you have a bazillion business things you need to do and all you really want to do is make art?

It's pretty overwhelming and can leave you doing NOTHING - trust me I know. So I went to the expert - Alyson Stanfield, author of I'd Rather Be in the Studio -The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. Today Alyson is here as part of her blog tour to help promote the book and is also giving away a free copy. She’s invited me to ask a question related to the book, so here goes . . .

Alyson, I've been a successful artist, teacher and author for several years. I am taking this year off to get back in the studio to do some art just for ME. I thought that was my #1 priority, but after years of neglect, I also need to update my website, as well as redesign my blog, design a marketing campaign for my next book and a new product, continue to create art and articles for a magazine I contribute to AND spend time with my grandchildren. My question is - what do I do first? I can't seem to get my priorities straight with so much to do. HELP!

Lesley, I can certainly understand your frustrations. As a solo entrepreneur, you must wear a variety hats. And there are so many different tasks to stay on top of. I can’t tell you what to do first. Only you can set your priorities. I can, however, give you a series of steps that will help you and others set those priorities.

1. Be very clear on what you want and what you need. I mean crystal clear. Is it immediate sales? Is it recognition by someone or some place new? Is it self-discovery time? Only you can answer this. (See pages 9-12 in the book.)

2. Write down everything you need to achieve what you want: time, skills, equipment, etc.

3. Make a list of everything you do that someone else could be doing. List the value or cost of each. I’m not asking if you have the money to pay someone else. Just make the list. What can you let go of? Every time you think you’re saving money doing something yourself, consider what your time is worth. When the stars are aligned you will find the means to turn over those tasks to someone else. I’m also asking that you prepare to release control over every aspect of your art career and accept that things might not be done exactly as you would have done them, but that they’ll get done to your satisfaction. Having someone else on your team will make you a stronger artist and businesswoman. There should be no shame or guilt in asking for help. We don’t get far when we consistently work alone.

By the way, after you make your list of the tasks you can let go of, be sure to keep a running description of the type of person you would like to assist you with each job. Send it out to the universe and I’ll bet you trip over the right people just when you need them.

4. I mentioned this in this week’s Art Marketing Action newsletter and it’s worth repeating. I think it’s critical to keep a list of everything you need to do. Keep it constantly and look at it in the morning before you start to work and in the evening in order to set your priorities for the day. (See Action 3 in the book.)

5. When you set your priorities for the day, keep the list of must-dos to 3-5 items. Tackle those things first. You’ll be tempted to check your inbox, but don’t. Take pride in the fact that you are 100% responsible for your actions (that’s one of the 6 Principles in the book) and that means paying attention to what is most important.

Having said all of this and looking at your list--which I know is much longer than your question reveals--I would ask you to consider getting help with your website and blog. I would also remind you that art should always come first for the artist (above the marketing). But family trumps both.

Thanks, Alyson. My first reaction is that the remedy (listing and prioritizing) will take up my precious time, but I didn't really think you were going to offer me a quick-fix or some well-kept secret to expand time and energy. It's clear to me that family is #1 on my list right now, so it's #2, 3 and 4 and so on that I will have to figure out. I could start by asking what my dear readers are interested in?

So, readers, do you have a similar problem, or need to devote some attention to the business side of your art? I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of the book. Or even about a chance to WIN A FREE BOOK? If you are interested in winning a free copy of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion? Visit this site, read the instructions, and enter. Your odds are good as Alyson's giving away a free copy on most of the blog tour stops. You can increase your odds by visiting the other blog tour stops and entering on those sites as well.


Alma Stoller said...

Super Advice.
Alma Stoller

Michael Lynn Adams said...

I share your dilemma ("pain"?). As a recent grandfather, husband and full-time employed emerging artist. Choosing between family time, marketing art and creating art is agonizing and frustrating.

Alyson's advice is right on target (when is it not?), and your recognition that there is no easy, quick fix is right. It is a process with some tough choices to be made.

Best of luck to us all who have chosen to walk this path.

By the way, Alyson's book is terrific. It has become my art marketing bible.

lizart said...

Thanks for sharing this information with us. No one could possibly have more on her plate than you do, so if you can follow these guidelines, we all should be able to do the same. Good luck to all of us!

California Fiber artist and composer said...

Lesley---You are an amazing woman. I tried the vote and it said that it was not active on this account. So ....I gave up! Susan

Andra Hepler said...

I think sometimes the family part and being an artist is the hardest part! Mostly because we are home and art seems like something only for me. The household chores are right outside the door ...winking at me! I recently had some major surgery and decided to have a cleaning person come once a week for 4 weeks to do what I couldn't. The best thing I ever did and I plan to keep her after this to come twice a month. She does a great job and it frees up so much of my time. I will find time to make up the cost. smiles, andra

tammy vitale said...

Came because I'm following Allyson's book tour (and interveiwing her myself on May 23) and stayed to peruse your website because I am always intrigued by fabric artists. Wow! What process are you using to get the type onto something that will sew into a fragment?! They are lovely!

cynthia said...

I'm also following Alyson's book tour and commented because this is exactly how I feel.

I'm so torn in so many directions. I have her book sitting on my night stand. I should really pick it up and read it cover to cover.

brendamarks said...

Time and lack of enough time is such a big issue! Thanks for asking the question. Now where's my list?

Michelle said...

I also share this dilemma, making enough time for all things in life and being a big do it your selfer.

I was recently stopped in my tracks with a badly broken wrist that forced me to step back and give attention to things in my life that truly needed more attention.

Now to go back to work when i am healed and figure out how to baance it all better

Robin Maria Pedrero said...


Nice to meet you via the tour! I am devouring the #3 answer and making lists for that immediately. Housekeepers gave me a big relief and now I need to apply that to my business as well.

linda said...

Like others, I have the same issue! I'm working full time and am working at building my art career so next year I can go full time as an artist, but I am a grandma too and want to spend tim with grandchildren. I do make a list for the week and have a goal to at least complete 2 from the list each day. I've been amazed at what I can accomplish when look back on what I can accomplish...OH, but I also consider doing things with my family as a priority (with limits). I figure in the end will it be more important to me that I've developed a relationship with my grand childrne and kids or that I made lots of pieces of art? Clearly it's the grandkids....but I still accomplish at least 2 things from that list before I lay my head on that pillow at night.

alex s said...

I love your blog. It is so generous, and rare to find a place that gives us something that is both valuable for the mind and spirit AND practical ponderings.


Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Leslie, isn't it nice to know you're not alone. From all of these comments, it sounds like a world of company.

Kim said...

It looks like a great book... thanks for showing us, and letting us see the response to your question.

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

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