Who’s your biggest art advocate?
Michelle Andres is an award-winning painter and writer who believes
Who champions your career, has your back, ferrets out opportunities that will benefit you?
I hope your answer is, "me!"
It's ok if that wasn't your first thought, however. You might not be comfortable advocating for yourself yet. Few of us are, but the truth is, you must be your own advocate, whether you’re an artist, a corporate person, a small business owner, or a solo-preneur.
No matter who you are, you owe it to yourself to be your own best advocate. It’s not a bloated ego thing. It’s the smart thing.
I’ve spent considerable time working with job seekers and new business owners. Most of them get the heebie-jeebies from tooting their own horn and ringing their own bell.
But, who will do it if you won’t?
Do not wait for the good charity of others, too much is at stake. So, where to begin?
1. Articulate your strengths
Avoid saying “anyone could do that,” when talking about your artwork. Because, if anyone could, everyone would.
Ask yourself, "What do I do well and how do I do it"? Figure out your core business strengths. Learn to articulate it well to those who inquire as well as those who don’t, but should know what you have to offer. Write it down, wordsmith it, practice it. This will be your verbal business card.
2. Jealously guard your time
As I’ve said before, if you don’t spend your time delivering your own package, someone else will use your time to deliver their package. Your business is important. Your time is the currency for your business. Do more than just claim your time. Jealously guard it!
3. Calendar time to do research that will help your business grow
Looking for calls for artists?
Researching galleries to partner with?
Allow time on a regular basis to research growth prospects. Put it on your calendar. Also, calendar time to follow through and follow up. Create opportunities for yourself.
4. Document your accomplishments
I once worked with a VP who's jaw dropped when I entered his office with a list of all the value I’d added to the company through my own efforts the previous year.
People can forget what you bring to the table. Gently remind them.
Yes, I did this right before performance evaluations were due. It helped my boss remember my contributions, helped me keep my resume current, and gave a bump to my annual bonus. Keep a list and update it regularly.
5. Be organized or hire someone to do it for you
Things slip through the cracks. Don’t let opportunities slip away because they got lost in a paper pile or weren’t properly calendared. The more organized you are, the better you can keep your eye on multiple balls in the air. Not your strong suit? Enlist someone else to help you.
Tip: Artwork Archive's online tools help you get and stay organized, be more productive, and document your artworks. It's like your own personal studio assistant for a fraction of the cost.
6. Make good connections
There are many opportunities to meet new people and make beneficial connections. Get out there and tell people about what you do (remember #1?). Ask how you can help them. Don’t work solely through social media … stay connected through your newsletter, and when we’re free to do it again—meet people in person! Stay current with your contacts and be sure to ask if they need a hand. It goes both ways. I love to help people and find, in turn, they are happy to assist when I need a hand. It’s a relationship.
7. Charge what you’re truly worth
It’s easy to devalue yourself, and so many people do it. When you first start your business you want the work.
What message does giving it away send? Charge what you’re truly worth.
Research your competition’s pricing. Don’t be the low price leader—you’ll set yourself up for failure, and it just doesn’t feel good. You want prices to be fair, but that means fair to the client and fair to you!
There's no greater advocate for your artwork and art career than yourself.
You’re probably happy to tell other people how great your partner, friend, brother, or sister is at (fill in the blank). Extend that same value and courtesy to yourself. The most successful people advocate for themselves and others … no difference.
Being an artist isn't a solo act, however. Here are the five people you need on your team.