Being a professional artist involves more than being skilled with paints or clay—you actually become a small business owner.

So, where do you begin? By creating a business plan, of course. That’s why we’ve come up with an outline for artists to follow, so you can better understand your art business and develop a step-by-step strategy for success.

So when you are ready to carve out a half hour or so, follow along this guide (or bookmark it for when you  are ready) and start writing  down a plan  to take your art career to the  next  level:


A. Mission Statement

Figure out what your mission is by asking yourself the question, “why do you want to be a professional artist?” We doubt that it’s all about the money, but be honest with yourself about what it is about. Let this answer, and the passion you feel when you write it down, drive every other aspect of developing your art business.

B. Vision Statement

Your vision statement should describe where you want to take your art business in the future. But, success means something different to each and every artist.  Do you want to be famous? Leave a legacy? Change the way people interact with art? Get rich?  Do you want gallery representation? The answer is up to you.

C. Goals

Now, depending on your definition of success, develop short-term and long-term goals that will keep you on track. Try to set goals for each of the following: the next three months, six months, one year, three years, and five years. (Visualizing your art career like this will help you see the natural progression of steps to take, erasing the pressure to become an overnight success!)

Take this goal-setting advice from Catherine Orer, business and PR strategist for artists:  “‘Quitting my day job to do art full time’ or ‘sell my art’ are not clear career goals.”   Instead, Catherine asks you to dig deeper: “What type of career do you want? How much do you want to earn?” Spelling out exactly what you want to do will help you take the actual steps.


The  next  step is to identify who  your  ideal  client is so  you  can  market your  artwork in the  most effective way  possible. Start by answering these questions:

•What age group or income level can afford your pieces?

•What are your client’s goals and how does your art help the client achieve them?

•Where do your customers buy art?

•Where do these buyers live, travel, or hang out?

•What are their hobbies? Attitudes?  Style?


•What type of buyers understand your work?

•Why do your clients buy art?

•What connection can you find between you,your art, and your buyers?

•What kind of marketing would reach them best (word of mouth, email, social media)?

With these answers, you can set up a well thought out plan of attack for your art marketing strategy. You can go where your buyers go, form important relationships, and know exactly how to talk with them confidently about buying your artwork.


Much  like understanding  your  target customer, you can’t  dive into the  art business world without understanding the  rest of the  art market and that  means who you are competing with.

Take the time to research other artists that are similar to you.  Do they have great connections in the art world? Do they need better photos of their artwork? What are their prices like? Figuring out both their strengths and weaknesses can help you develop a plan for your own art business and gain a competitive advantage.


A. Expenses

Like any business, you are going to have expenses. But, they don’t have to eat up your hard earned profits if you plan for them ahead of time!  In this section of the art business plan, write down the costs of everything you can think of, from supplies to renting studio space.

B. Funding

Once you’ve created your itemized list, you will need to formulate a plan on how you are going to pay for everything at the start of your art business. Do you have savings built up?  Do you need to apply for an artist grant? How many pieces do you need to sell to cover all of your costs? Is crowdfunding a good option for you?

C. Pricing

The   answers  to   those  previous questions  about funding will get you  thinking about how  much you need to  charge for  each piece to  actually make a living as an artist. Check out “How to Price Consistently for Art Sales Success” to learn more about different pricing methods.


A. Marketing Platforms

Based on the profile of your ideal buyer, settle on the exact marketing strategy that complements your art business. Think about which of these art marketing outlets you should use:  social media, email newsletters, art fairs, galleries, blogging, etc.

B. Where to Sell

Whether you target physical galleries, sell online, network within artist associations, or rely on a mixture of opportunities, determine where your potential customers will have the most eyes on your art.

C. Your Story

The next step is to write down your story as an artist. This is one of the most important steps because it’s how you can form a worthwhile connection with your possible collectors. Write your artist statement.


List out every single step of your art business workflow, from creation to sale. This will help you truly understand how long the process takes and how you should plan your schedule.

Plus, it’s a handy document to refer back to it in case you get stuck on what to do next! Here’s an example of what your process could look like:

Buy supplies

Begin piece

Share work-in-progress pictures on social media

Finish piece

Take photos of finished artwork

List piece and details on ArtExpress Artists

Put piece up on personal website

Share on social media

Email collectors

Submit artwork to upcoming show or events

Print invoice for sale

Record sale in ArtExpress Records