Maria Brophy


  • and make good money doing it!

    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
business of art / More Money

Planning for Cash Flow and Profit; Necessary Components for a Successful Art Business

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“Without Profit, your business will die.” 

There is a reason that some artists are successful in business, and some are not.   The successful ones put effort into learning, and applying, business sense when running their business.

Sadly, the quality of art you produce only plays a small part of your success.  More important than the art is your business skills.

What is often missed by creative entrepreneurs is the importance of treating their art business like a business.

“Oh, but I only paint part-time” you say.  Or “I’m just getting started.”  Or “I love what I do too much to call it a business.”

YOU are your business; you are the brand; you are the “company” selling your art to the world.

Even if it’s part-time, or you’re just out of school, or you aren’t feeling like a professional, to get to any level of success, you must TREAT YOUR ART BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS.

All businesses, even yours, must have the following three components to be successful:

1 – Cash Flow (money coming in)

2 – Profit (your money from sales minus your expenses = profit)

Without Profit, your business will die.  Or, in other words, if you aren’t making a profit, then what you have is a hobby.  (Not a bad thing, but be aware of the difference)

3 – Vision for the future (know what you want, and write it down, set goals)

When you make the decision to treat your business like a business, your mental thoughts will change to stay in line with that decision.

Every project, commission or job that you accept from a client, you will create the intention of generating cash flow and a profit.

And when you think that way, you WILL create cash flow and profit.

I’ll give you an example: Today someone asked my artist husband, Drew, and I to give a painting lesson to kids at a surfing/skating event.  It would be a volunteer thing on our end.

In our early days, we saw these things as “promotional” and a way to “give back” and be generous.  Back then, we would say “YES” enthusiastically and cover our costs, do the work, and hope that we got business from it later.

But, that was before we knew how to properly grow a healthy business!

Now, we are very experienced with doing live events; and we know that TO DO IT RIGHT, just showing up will cost us about $500 in materials, expenses and travel.  The work and preparation required for a memorable two hour event takes about 3 hours (if you do it right), and then after the event, it’s another 2 hours to clean up, pack up and go home.

Now, I don’t know about you, but, my own family wants me with them on a Saturday!   If I’m going to work on the weekend, I want to be paid for it.

If we run this event, we will be leaving our own kids for the day (they have their own life and don’t like working with us!)  We will be working hard, and then to get a day off, we would have to postpone other projects that paying clients have hired us to do.

So, what does a person who runs their business like a business do with such an “opportunity”?

They would look for a solution to getting paid, or they would choose to take a pass on it.  Immediately, my mind went to these questions:

How do I generate cash flow and profit if I do this event? 

My mind found a solution:  Get sponsors to pay us for our time.  The sponsors could be skateboard or surfboard companies, or art supply companies.  If we can get two sponsors to split our fee, then we can do it and feel great about it.  And if we can’t find sponsors to pay us for it, then we take a pass on it.

If we do get paid to do it, we are able to give generously to the local kids, our own children benefit (when we get paid, it benefits our family), and we make the sponsors look good.

It’s a win-win for everyone.  No-one loses, not even the artists!

If you get in the habit of always asking the question “where is the cash flow, where is the profit” your mind will find solutions to get you paid properly for every product, event, project or commission.

This is just one little adjustment you can make to transform your art business today.

Sometimes, making a tiny, mental mind shift can take you from a “starving” artist to a “savvy, successful” artist!

(Read this article for more tips on generating profit and cash flow:   Should you go into Debt to sell your Art? )

Please, share in the comments, how have you created extra cash flow and profit for your own business?



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13 Comments Planning for Cash Flow and Profit; Necessary Components for a Successful Art Business

  1. Steve Witt

    I love this article and will share it! We are in business to sell art, deliver workshops and to make a good profit. Thanks for the reminder that freebies aren’t always so free.

  2. Brando

    Maria ,
    It is so true to have cash flow .
    It’s the most important aspect of any business , unfortunately most artists spend their time painting or drawing etc . They are so wrapped up in the art that it is overlooked at what the art needs for fuel . I think that’s why most fail in the field as doing it for an actuall living including myself .
    I have tried before and I am trying again . But your point should be well observed by all artists .. It is the only way to survive .. Cash flow !! Thanks Maria ‘

  3. classicatholic

    In the summer, I put on Art Camps, charge a price per camper and donate one large artwork I create with the kids. Win, win, and I love working with the kids. no overhead. Now to figure out how to sell my originals during the winter. Thanks, Maria, for the reminder!

  4. Kelly

    I am in a small community and constantly offered “opportunities” to work for free to benefit our community. My heart always wants to say YES but thankfully I have a business-minded husband who reminds me that it is OK to say NO when it’s not a good fit for me. You are exactly right – we need to find ways to make it worthwhile to us to do these types of “opportunity” events! Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Cash Flow for Artists! | Wolf Portraits

  6. April and Mark

    This was very helpful and yes I agree with your view point. We are asked frequently to give “free” art lessons and it is hard to justify taking a half day an not make money doing it.

  7. Ox Wheeler

    I love your page. I’ve done several murals in the past and have always been unsure how to go about pricing them. Your info has come in very handy for improving my business. Thanks so much.

  8. Eduard Rijborz

    I like this article, and you’ve created a healthy and nourishing solution to an all time dellemma. “How do we share what we love to do… And make money doing it. ( And it doesn’t make us look like we have $$$$$ on our minds all the time.) Very good advice… Wish we used it 20 years ago.

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