There comes a time in every artist’s journey — usually around the time that our art has taken over our homes — when we ask ourselves, “Should I start selling my art?” On paper, the idea makes sense: you want money to continue your creative hobbies and you have a whole lot of art to sell! But most of us are aware that there is a lot of work behind running a successful creative business and aren’t sure if we want to commit to the entire endeavor. In my time as a creative business coach and mentor, I’ve learned that there is no one-size-fits-all checklist for deciding when to turn your creative hobby into a business. However, I have developed a pretty simple process for deciding whether or not monetizing your art is right for you.
When To Turn Your Creative Hobby Into A Business
Let’s start with a simple question: Do you want to run a creative business? If your gut says, “No way!!!” then now is not the time to turn your creative hobby into a business. There is nothing wrong with being an artist who doesn’t sell their work! I hope you continue to pursue your passion without the pressure of running a business that you don’t actually want to run.
For everyone else who has even an inkling of an interest in starting a business, keep reading for my tips for deciding when to turn your creative hobby into a business. This is the advice that I give to my Creative Connection mentorship group and my coaching clients who think that they are ready to build something beyond the canvas.
From a Creative Hobby Into A Business
Start with Small Goals
The journey of turning your artistic hobby into a business begins with setting attainable goals. Think of these as stepping stones that bridge the gap between your current art and your long-term goals. For example, if your long-term business goal is to open your own art gallery, then a good short-term goal would be to participate in a local art show. If your long-term business goal is to retire early, create a monthly income goal. By creating a step-by-step plan to achieve these small goals, you’ll build momentum and a clear sense of direction toward your big dreams.
Self-Reflection and Check-Ins
This is the most important step when you turn your creative hobby into a business. As your creative journey evolves into a full-fledged business, it’s crucial to frequently check in with yourself. Evaluate your feelings towards business ownership. What do you genuinely enjoy, and which parts might be causing frustration or discomfort? How is running a business impacting your creative process? We need to be able to tell the difference between temporary slumps that lead to breakthroughs and genuine unhappiness.
Embrace Change and Adaptation
I talk a lot about creating plans for your success, but it’s even more important to learn how to embrace change and pivot. When you turn your creative hobby into a business, you’re going to be making a lot of changes very quickly. Successful businesses thrive due to their abilities to pivot. If certain strategies or offers aren’t gaining traction, don’t be afraid to adjust! Watch my video about cultivating a growth mindset for more tips!
Celebrate Small Wins
The early stages of transforming a hobby into a business can often feel like one step forward and two steps back. That’s why it’s sooooo important to celebrate even the smallest milestones along the way. Did you sell your first painting? Did your post go viral online? These wins give us motivation and a sense of accomplishment. By savoring these victories, you’ll find the inspiration to keep working towards your big dreams.
Build Meaningful Connections
You may be alone on the journey of turning your creative hobby into a business, but that doesn’t mean it should feel lonely! Building a network of connections has been the single greatest contributor to my success as an artist and creative business coach. I tell all of my coaching clients to commit to making a new connection every week, whether online with fellow artists or in their local communities. Engaging with others who share your journey can offer insights, support, and a sense of belonging. As the saying goes, “Your network is your net worth!” My Creative Connection membership group is PERFECT for anyone just beginning their creative business journey. It’s packed with meaningful discussion, expert training sessions, painting tutorials, daily challenges, and hundreds of other friendly artists just looking to share inspiration and support. We are always welcoming new members, join today!
Reflect on Your Progress
Reflection and progress are a cyclical process. As you celebrate wins, adapt to challenges, and connect with others, you should turn to self-reflection again and again. Regularly assess your goals, feelings, and experiences. This practice ensures that you stay aligned with your vision.
It’s Okay to Change Your Mind
If you ever get to a point where you think, “I wish I didn’t have to do this anymore,” remember that it is ALWAYS okay to change your mind! There is nothing wrong with walking away from things that aren’t working. Remember, turning your creative hobby into a business isn’t just about entrepreneurship—it’s a transformational journey of self-discovery and fulfillment.
Should You Turn Your Hobby Into A Business?
Whether or not to turn your creative or artistic hobby into a business is up to you. If you find yourself excited by the idea of selling your work, growing a business, and becoming an entrepreneur, then following the steps above will help you build a business that suits your lifestyle. However, if you’re dismayed or overwhelmed by the idea of running a business then it is perfectly fine to explore your art without needing to monetize it.