27 Ways How to Create Career Calamity

You Can Undo Career Calamity

You can do a lot of things right, and still end up with art career calamity. A combination of doing too many wrong things and not enough good things is how you get your career stalled and going nowhere fast. The items on this list are not all equal. They range from near outright career killers to just seriously undermining the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Answer and Score for a Quick Career Calamity Review

Review this list and keep track of how many of the points below relate to you and your art career. There’s a very unscientific chart below to score how you fare.

  1. No insight or knowledge about who are your best potential prospects, your buyers and collectors.
  2. No testing to know which of the marketing tools and activities you use are most effective.
  3. Not keeping up on what new tools and techniques are available to help you market efficiently and make more sales.
  4. Mistakenly believing you can make a confusing array of all kinds of different art and that people will somehow love your eclectic style and want buy from you no matter what.
  5. Continuing to use the same marketing techniques even though they’re not getting you the results you want.
  6. Not realizing your communication with potential buyers and collectors is ineffective or poorly done.
  7. Not looking the part or behaving like an artist who is successful.
  8. Wasting time on social media hanging out with people who are not top prospects to buy your work.
  9. Having no set schedule for making art and marketing art, or having one and never abiding by it.
  10. Letting the negativity in your thoughts, or even worse, the downer thoughts from some around you affect how you perceive your potential.
  11. Underestimating the amount of time and effort it takes to create fantastic art and to do exceptional marketing to get it out and into the world.
  12. Spending too much time on trivial things and then wondering or even complaining why you did not have enough time to get important things done.
  13. Failing to improve by avoiding learning about effective ways to present your art to your potential customers.
  14. Having a chip on your shoulder and thinking people who are successful are just lucky.
  15. Using confused thinking that constantly seeking new bright shiny objects and new ways to do things is the same as actually getting things done.
  16. Not using an email marketing service, such as Madmimi or Aweber.
  17. Not having a formal email opt-in program.
  18. Making it difficult for your fans and followers to opt-in to your email list.
  19. Never or rarely sending to your email list.
  20. Sending out email messages without a CTA (call to action), which, for example, asks your prospects to buy, or to join you at some event.
  21. Sending far too little email communication because you are worried you will bother your prospects and customers with too much email.
  22. No auto-responder, aka drip campaign, aka email automation, set up so that you can send an automated series of emails to new prospects and customers when they purchase new work from you, or for other useful marketing reasons.
  23. Lack of opt-in forms placed in multiple places on your website blog and other spots where you could be collecting email addresses from interested parties.
  24. Using Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or another free email service instead of an email address with your domain name.
  25. Underestimating and undervaluing the importance of creating high-quality, compelling content in your emails.
  26. No plan to schedule when you will send your emails and no preconceived purpose for the content in them.
  27. Not coordinating your email messages to support your other marketing activities on a regular basis.

This career calamity counter chart is 100% subjective.

Nonetheless, if you find your numbers range above 10, you should have concerns about how you are approaching getting your work to market. Fortunately, there is nothing on this list that cannot be adjusted, changed or achieved by any person willing to learn a little and take action on their newly acquired knowledge. In general, these are all easy fixes.

Career Calamity Counter


The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.
The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.


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  1. Hello Barney, I have been following you for awhile now and I was curious what your rates were. Could you please message me with your costs on a private consult.
    Doing the same thing and expecting different results

  2. I am a retired art instructor who has taught summer classes in Ludlow, Vermont since 1993 at Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts. I was trained and graduated at Paier Art & Photography School in Conn. by several world know artist, Rudolph Zallinger, to name just one. The courses I teach are Oil Painting, Painting is Acrylics, Pen & Ink Mixed Media.
    In 2009 I ventured on Ebay with my Animal pen & Ink copyrighted drawings. I was surprised when I sold 286 prints and received a 100% approval rating I made copies of their glowing comments. But because I was buying backing material, etc. and did not charge for postage I realized that the 10$ charge was not enough to make much profit. Due to family medical problems my funds where greatly depreciated so I did not continue. I am telling all this to you because I still have a product that I know people love and I can prove it, they still buy them in the pet stores I have them in. What I need is a seller that will complete the showing and shipping process at a price that we both can make a profit with a proven product.

  3. Ouch! Thanks, Barney for the helpful, even if pointed, tips on what not to do. A lot of those points apply to me, but thankfully, not as many as did a year ago. Since listening to you and Jason Horejs, I have developed a blog on and have almost 300 subscribers. I have a steady client from Brooklyn who feeds me weekly portrait commissions, but I’d like to transition to doing more fine art for exhibition. I’m thankful though, because just 2 1/2 years ago, I was working at a recycling center where you can easily chop off a finger (it happened to a fellow employee) and now I am doing art full time!

    1. Matt, Congrats on building your business into a full-time situation. That is a dream that escapes many artists. Keep up the good work and report in once in a while. I love to hear success stories!

  4. In a positive way the test was 27 things to get done. I am in my second year as a full time artist and so I have been doing a lot of painting and experimenting and playing. I decided to paint wildlife and animals and I love developing my style in that area. However, I am continuing to have success selling my large music paintings. I admit I am driven by the money but I love doing the music paintings, the process is so emotionally charged and rewarding. I think I am changing my direction for now. I have not started marketing yet so it’s a good time to get the direction right.

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