How I Keep My Art Business Costs Low
Keeping costs low helps keep my small business viable, especially during seasons when I'm not selling.
I buy in bulk when I can. Printer toner, shipping materials, rolled canvas and tubs of gesso are just a few of the items I purchase in bulk to save money in the long run. Space can be tight in the studio, but I stay organized and make it work in order to save a little bit of money on these costs.
I print my own stickers. This seems like a small thing, but printing your own branded material whenever possible can help save you money. I watch for Avery printable stickers to come on sale and then buy several packages at once. I then use free Canva software online to create designs and the free Avery software online to save sticker templates so I can print sheets of stickers whenever I need them.
I don't splurge on gadgets I don't need. One example is a postal scale. I use an old kitchen scale instead! Also, instead of buying fancy labels, I print my postage labels on regular printer paper and affix them neatly to packages with packing tape. It's possible to make your shipments look nice without breaking the bank.
I don't purchase sets of art supplies. It seems like a deal, but if you're anything like me, there are several colours in those sets that you will rarely use. Instead of purchasing sets of art supplies, I choose individual colours that I truly love and know I will make good use of - usually, I end up spending less this way.
I have shopped around and found my favourite local supply stores and print shops. I recommend finding the best prices as local as you can get. Local shops get to know and value you as a customer. Periodically, they will offer you specials and discounts. The best thing about my local supply store is that I can email them a list of items I'm looking for, and they'll gather the supplies for me ahead of time, special ordering anything that is out of stock. It always pays off to shop locally.
I don't pay for services until I absolutely need them.
I regularly reassess and drop subscriptions that I'm not using. When I found that my network subscription was no longer paying off, I cancelled it. Your business is constantly evolving, and how you invest your hard-earned money should evolve along with it.
I do my own website design. Now this one is debatable. Many people feel very intimidated by computer work and would be much happier outsourcing this task. Let me assure you, though, that modern 'click and drag' website design templates are very easy to use for just about anyone. Not only that, but these days if you have a hard time figuring something out, all you need to do is type it into Google, and inevitably, someone out there will have made a YouTube instructional video for you to take advantage of!
I very rarely pay for marketing. This is a personal decision. I have found that so far in my business journey, I am satisfied with the organic growth of my social media following and subscribers list. I don't feel the need to take out a paid ad in Vouge magazine or paid advertising on Instagram, but I can see how this would be valuable if I were launching a new product like an online course.
I take pre-orders on specially printed products. I learned this the hard way! There is no guarantee that you can sell all 200 wall calendars, so sometimes the safest way to offer them to your collectors is to take pre-orders and ensure you're not wasting your money on a pile of calendars that might end up in the recycling bin.
I use drop shipping for prints. Stocking my prints in-studio would require me to either invest in a large printer (which I don't have the time or space for) or order prints in bulk to keep on hand to sell and ship to collectors (not to mention the additional shipping supplies). Try as I might, I can never predict what collectors want to order from my print selection. Drop shipping print companies allow me to upload my print files and then remain hands-off for the rest of the process of selling, printing and shipping print products. I don't make as much money as I would if I printed them myself, but I also don't have the extra overhead costs, I save space in my studio, and I have more time for my creative process.
I stretch and prep my canvases. I don't mind these chores, and I actually feel proud that I have complete control of the quality and condition of all my surfaces before I begin painting. Sometimes this type of work feels like "productive procrastination" and can even help me get over the hump of occasional creative block. Busy-work helps with creative flow in the studio!
I photograph and scan my paintings myself. A few years ago, I invested in a small desktop scanner and learned how to use it along with Photoshop to scan artwork in parts and digitally "stitch" them together to create large image scans. I use my iPhone to take social media photographs and have found many tips online for how to do this. Occasionally, I hire a local print company to photograph any really large paintings I want as quality print image files. Since I don't have a fancy DSLR camera or a proper space for photography, I find the cost of occasionally hiring a photographer to be worth it.
What kinds of things do you do to keep your art business costs low? Share in the comments!
B says, "Stay Thrifty!" Until next time,
Jen & B
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