I’m a work in progress, and I’m betting you are, too. It’s taken me years to figure some things out career-wise.
Lately, I’ve met some remarkable 20-somethings who so have their sh*t together it’s scary. I look at them and think how in so many ways they have a 40-year head start on me when it comes to making a dent in the universe.
It’s not that I am a total slouch. I have always worked hard at whatever I was doing. My problem was I was working in the immediate future, not the distant future. I lacked vision. I’ve talked before about having an ENFP personality style. When I learned about this, it helped me see things more clearly about myself.
If you don’t think there is anything to such elements as personality styles, that’s okay, I won’t debate you. I just know when I took the test and saw the results, I went, “Holy Moley!” That’s me. Search for “personality test” to find a variety of sites that offer free testing and results.
They may be inspiring teachers, scientists, artists, advertising or salespeople, or almost anything they want to be. – Isabel Briggs-Myers on ENFPs
Checking that list. Teacher, yes. Scientist (only so far as it goes regarding better living through chemistry in my 20s). Artists, yes. Advertising, yes. Salesperson, yes. Briggs-Myers nailed me in one sentence.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog post, which is all about you and a little about me. I’m pulling me into this one because what I’ve done before and what I am doing now is relevant to this post.
Here’s the thing. You and I only have 168-hours each week to do our thing. Whether it is sleep, make art, make love, eat, workout, lounge about or be crazed entrepreneurs. That’s all you get, not a second more. So, to make your dent, you’ve got to get good use of your available 168-hour weekly allotment.
If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I am about helping artists succeed. Over the past nearly 30 years doing this work, I’ve evolved some serious opinions about what artists can and should do to help them find buyers and sell more art. I’ve arrived at what I believe is the best advice artists can get for building long-term success.
I’ve always left the tips on making art that attracts customers to others. There are plenty of art technique gurus out there who can help tune-up your art making skills. Still, it’s up to you and your creativity to bring forth art that makes buyers willing to pay.
That’s where I come in with my teaching art marketing skills. You’re making art folks want to buy, right? Well then, to get it sold you need to find the best, most efficient ways to get your work to market. It’s a simple solution. To sell your art, show it to enough qualified buyers on a steady basis. That’s it.
This perception or feeling that marketing is drudgery or mysterious is an Achilles Heel for many artists. They just don’t want to go there and learn how to become efficient art marketers. For some, it is a career-killer. Sadly, they trade not wanting to master this part of the business for doing some mundane, boring job.
It’s a real problem. You can be making fantastic, world-class art, but if no one, especially the right one, is seeing it, you have inventory and no sales. That’s fine if you are making art as a hobby. However, if you want the validation and financial reward that only come from selling your art, you have to have a plan.
Old sayings like those just above got old for only one reason; they tell the truth!
You cannot just have any plan. You need a plan that not only works but one that matches up with your resources and capabilities. And, that my dear artist buds leads us to the subject of this post.
I get how frustrating it is to try to figure this stuff out. There are a few artists who just have the knack. We secretly admire them and hate on them a little bit too because they do not seem to have struggled the way the rest of us have done.
I mentioned 20-year old whiz kids earlier. I feel that way about them. You know. How come they got to figure this out before they can even grow a beard? How the hell is that fair? And, then as soon as I think it, I get hit with a thud coming like a hot fist on my wet lips to aggressively remind me life is not fair. If it were, I would be taller, more handsome, richer, funnier and driving a Lamborghini for my day car.
You can have it all – well damn near – because there are limitations such as you are never going to play in the NBA, but you just can’t have it all at once. So, where do these revelations leave us? My answer is to figure out what it is you want from your art career because that is what this blog, this post, and my career are all about.
And, since you are reading this, it’s safe to say you care about your art career. You want to do something with it. You want to send your art out into the world and share it with others. You wish to earn a nice income from your artistic endeavors. Kudos to you for having such aspirations. Those are all checks you can write. You just need to develop routines to fill your account and back them up.
What’s cool is nothing is holding you back – well – maybe you to an extent. But, for sure, nothing is holding you back that you cannot overcome – even you. The reason I start off my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop talking about goals and vision is because it’s the only way to make meaningful progress. Proper goals make for informed decision. Without them, you are just splashing about.
In my years leading up to getting clarity on my life’s mission, I made lots of progress, just not in a straight line, or with focus. I had a variety of interesting jobs and entrepreneurial ventures. I did most of them because I could and because the opportunity to do them was presented to me without me thinking about it first.
For instance, I became a firefighter because my landlord was a firefighter and he encouraged me to take the test and see what happened. I became an entrepreneur selling advertising and marketing promotions because a friend needed help and recruited me. I took a job with an insurance magazine that led to another job with a publishing company that had insurance magazines and an art business publication and art expo tradeshow because my roommate worked there.
There never was a plan; I was just leaping up the ladder and increasing my income along the way, but without any significant goals. I had some foggy notions of making enough to retire, but nothing regarding “This is my life’s work.” That went on for decades. I eventually learned all this fed and was fed by my ENFP personality style, so I was semi-content.
What is it you want from your career? If you don’t have a self-convincing answer, one that does not ring hollow or sound like something you made up on the spur of the moment, then you should drop everything you are doing. That’s because there is no point in doing things unless you know why you are doing them.
Even if you are doing productive things, they can be useless stuff if they are not leading you to fulfill your goals and vision. You may have heard the quote about climbing the ladder of success only to learn you leaned against the wrong wall.
Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. – Stephen Covey
Setting goals and achieving them is what separates the winners from losers in life. Your actions are futile unless you are taking them to get you where you want to go. I encourage you to make meaningful goals. Or, if you have set goals, to get them out and review them.
Setting goals is a passive task. What makes it an active task is to evaluate everything you do down to the smallest detail to determine if where you are spending your time is on useless or useful activities.
I wish I were as good in my life about following my advice as I am in giving it. I’d be lying if I told you otherwise. As I said before, I’m a work in progress. What I can say is career-wise is that I am more firmly dialed on what I want to do with deep conviction that it is the right thing to do than I have ever been in more than 60 years. That feels really, really good.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been working hard on the career thing, but slacking on other things like diet, sleep, and exercise. I know they are important, but I’ve lost focus on them. It’s my intent now to stop ignoring those things. If for no other reason than I need them in tip-top shape to help me achieve my ambitious career goals.
I have a shelf full of books on productivity. I’ve even read most of them. Reading books and learning does neither you nor me no any good unless we take “useful” actions based on the suggestions from them. Last night, I watched a video from Brendon Burchard. He’s a smart guy who has made millions and had many bestseller books. For years, I’ve mostly ignored him, but he got to me at the right time with his 5×50 Productivity Formula message. I’m going to give it a try. Will let you know how it goes.