How do they do it?
How is it that some people have managed to make the break from being:
a part-time artist who doesn’t sell their work and has a day job they hate
someone with a website that people actually visit and who makes some income from their art?
I’m not about to tell you that there’s one sure-fire method that all these people used to get there.
Because they’re isn’t. Even the really well-known online painters (you probably know who I have in mind) have got there by slightly different means.
What I am going to tell you is that there is a method which represents your best chance of being able to join these people.
The missing ingredient
There’s one thing you definitely do need to make this thing work. You need an audience.
You need people to give you permission to contact them when you have something to offer, and that starts with visitors to your website.
I know that the reality for a lot of you out there is that you have a website set up on Wix, Weebly or some other free hosting, or maybe a FASO site – but no one is visiting.
Why? Well, you’re probably not actually doing anything to bring people to your site, you’re just hoping they’ll turn up.
And if you do get anyone to visit, you’re probably having a one way conversation with them.
Here’s how you can fix that
Start a blog.
Seriously, become an artist-blogger.
You may not think of blogging as a professional activity, but that would be a mistake.
Blogging is actually one of the best ways to go about making a living (or a side income) online because it allows you to connect with other people in a way that an ordinary website will never do.
Now you may think that blogging isn’t for you, but bear with me and I’ll tell you why I think it might be.
Five reasons Why blogging is perfect for artists
1. Artists are fascinated by what they do.
What most people don’t realise about blogging when they start out is that being a professional blogger means writing about something a lot.
Yes, I know there are painters who blog doing very well thank you, writing very little (if at all) and just sharing their work.
Maybe you have a chance of being one of them, by all mean give it a go. But if you ask me that ship has sailed.
Unless your work is really stand out, or you have something else intrinsically interesting about who you are or what you do, just doing little paintings often isn’t that remarkable any more.
A much more reliable way to make contact with people and build an audience is by writing.
So if you’re going to have to be writing so much stuff (I have over 500 posts on this blog now, an average of about one a week over ten years) it’s going to help – really help – if you’re interested in what you’re writing about.
Luckily for us, we live and breathe what we do. We’re not interested in art because it might be profitable. We’re interested in it because it gives our lives meaning.
2. Artists are naturally independent.
Seriously, have you ever had a corporate job? In fact, any office job, pretty much.
It sucks the soul out of you. You’re like a flower starved of sunlight and water. You wilt.
You might even get seriously sick (I did).
It could actually kill you (it nearly did me).
The life of someone who makes their living primarily from blogging is one of complete independence. I think we’re naturally suited to it.
Yes, you have to be continually thinking about what you have to offer people. It’s not like you can write about any random thing that interests you.
But for me, it comes down to being able to order my days how I like.
Being able to work only on things that are meaningful to me.
No office politics. Absolutely no busy-work.
Being able to work in my own space, uninterrupted by the outside world.
Which brings me rather neatly to the next point.
3. Artists are fine with their own company.
This may not be true of all artists of course. And we all need company sometimes.
But I’ve found that a lot of the artists I talk to are quite happy with their own company. In fact, if they don’t get enough it…well, see the point above about office jobs.
There are people who need to have others around them constantly, because that’s where they get their energy from. Those people are probably not very well suited to being a professional blogger.
And probably not very well suited to being an artist either.
4. Artists are persistent.
Oh, you doubt this? I disagree. I think you’re a lot more focused than most people.
How many hours have you put into developing your skills at drawing or painting? How many do you expect to put in before you feel satisfied?
Chances are, you expect to be learning your entire life, and you’re ok with that. It’s part of being an artist. In fact, it’s part of what makes it meaningful.
It’s the same for building up blog. It takes focus and persistence.
You need accept that it’s not going to happen in 6 weeks, and probably not in 6 months. You’ll need to focus on it over a period of time to see results.
That’s the reason a lot of people who try to get blogs off the ground don’t last. They realise they’ll have to work at it and they give up.
But it shouldn’t be scary for us. In fact, that’s our home turf.
5. The market for art and art teaching is huge and proven
That means there’s space for you, too.
One of the main reasons aspiring professional bloggers fail is they choose a market that won’t support their goals.
Not enough people are interested in their topic, or their prospective audience don’t network with each other online, or they don’t read blogs, or they’re just not motivated enough to pay for anything related to their interest.
None of those things are true for art – particularly realist art. Or did you miss the massive popular revival in realist art that’s going on at the moment?
Our topic is already chosen for us. We’re artists, we know what we want to do.
And thankfully for us, it’s a proven (and a very large) market.
I’m not going to lie to you, there are new skills to learn.
Firstly, there’s the tech. But that’s not all that complicated, really. It does take a certain amount of persistence to master, but probably not as much as you think and nowhere near as much as learning to paint!
The skill you’ll need to develop most is to write well. And the best way to do that is by doing it.
That’s why I think you should start today.
Even if you don’t have a site set up, you can start writing. Then you’ll have something ready for when you do.
A bright future
I believe that the future for most artists who want to make a living from their work or from teaching is online. The opportunity is just too great to miss out on.
The best way to start working towards that future is by blogging.
Blogs are like trees. They have to be nurtured and fed. They have to grow. The old adage about trees is also relevant for blogs.
The best times to start a blog was 10 years ago.
The second best time is now.
Best wishes and thanks for reading
P.S. I’ve just opened up a program designed to help artists make the most of the opportunity to make an independent living online by developing an audience through running an artist’s blog.
It’s call the Threads Artists Network and you can find out more about it here.