Do you think like a small business owner? Whether it’s sourcing the best supplies at low prices or stretching your own canvases, considering ways to cut costs is a must. Keeping tabs on your expenses can be just as important as knowing your sales numbers. Lisa McShane, the artist and mind behind the popular 1,000 Paintings art blog, has a wealth of small business advice. Lisa avidly researches the best materials and do-it-yourself methods to share with her fellow artists. Here are a few of Lisa’s fantastic business of art tips to save and make money.
Save Money: Frame Your Own Artwork
I frame my paintings myself. Online framing resources are so much more affordable. When you have 20 paintings to frame, it can be a big chunk of change to pay someone else to do it. It’s very difficult to make it as an artist if you’re supporting local frame shops. When I’m framing my work for a show, I’m buying my frames online. (Read Lisa’s fantastic blog post on DIY framing here!)
Make Money: Cherish Your Contacts Within and Outside the Art World
Your contact list is really important. I’ve gathered the contact information of people from all my past walks of life. I regularly send out emails to my list with a new painting. It reminds people you're there and shows the growth you're making. I have sold many paintings through my emails.
Save Money: Photograph Your Own Artwork
Artists are often told they need their artwork professionally photographed. All you really need is a good camera and a tripod. I recommend photographing your art early in the morning, in your studio, and on a cloudy day. You get the best light that way. Align your work with the camera as best you can and watch out for glare. I like to process my photos on a basic photo editor in front of the paintings. That way the edited version still looks like the original work.
Make Money: Create an Online Portfolio Specific to Your Buyers
You need to have a clean place to show your art online. Some artists’ websites are cluttered and have black walls. You don’t commonly walk into a gallery with a black wall. Be clear about who your buyers are. A gift shop aesthetic and a gallery aesthetic are both valid ways to approach buyers. You just need to be clear about where your work sits. And keep your biography, resume, and all your artwork up to date. People like seeing current information and pieces.
Lisa McShane's Road to Yakima.
CREATE A PORTFOLIO WITH ARTWORK ARCHIVE: You can create a professional online portfolio linked directly to your inventory with ArtworkArchive.com. Learn more here.
Want to Learn More from Lisa McShane?
Read about her art career and business of art advice on 1,000 Paintings. She even wrote a wonderful post about the benefits of Artwork Archive here!
Want to Organize Your Art Business and Receive More Art Career Tips? Sign Up for Free Here.
Being a student is an expensive business - £11,000 a year on average, according to the government. Fees and rent will use up a lot of it, but with some planning you can have some left over for a social life. So how do you draw up a budget that's realistic and workable?
1. Put pen to paper
Start with a sheet divided into two sections headed Income and Expenses and write down all of your sources of money and all the things you expect to have to shell out for. Don't forget costs like laundry or library charges, alongside rent, food and books. Being aware of how you spend your money can also show you where you could be saving, such as cutting down on coffees or making your own sandwiches.
2. Organise your income
While expenses will crop up on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, your income may come in a lump sum. If you get a maintenance loan, for example, it will arrive in chunks at the start of each term. If you have been working in the summer holidays before you start college, you will have a lump sum at the start of the year.
It can be a good idea to put the money to cover your rent or hall fees into a separate account that you don't touch on a day-to-day basis. That way you know how much you have left to spend for the rest of the term. Divide up any money you have left so you know how much you have to spend each week. Whether income is in the form of a loan, parental contribution, bursary or wages know where it's coming from before it arrives. Work out how it breaks down week-by-week or term-by-term.
3. Maximise your income
Four out of 10 students - 750,000 undergraduates - have a job while they study. But you shouldn't work too hard, say the experts. Try to keep it to less than 15 hours a week in term time. Full-time work in the holidays can be tax-free and good for your CV as well as your bank balance. If you don't yet have a part-time job but want to budget for one, expect to earn between £70 and £100 a week.
4. Get help
Your university or college bank branch will most likely have a student adviser. Take advantage of them - the advice will be free and they can help you manage your money better. Ask about free student banking, overdraft interest rates and charges, and any student loans they offer. Your student welfare office will also have seen it all before, and might be able to help with access college hardship funds.
5. Get a discount
Look out for deals, such as special offer haircuts and take advantage of money off vouchers, bogofs – buy one get one free offers - and student deals in restaurants, bars or at the cinema. Use the NUS Extra card to get money off at your favourite retailers. National and regional offers are listed on student-focused discount websites like studentbeans.com and snapfax.co.uk.
6. Learn to cook
Even the college canteen will charge a couple of pounds for something you can make yourself in a matter of minutes. Make your own sandwiches, refill your water or juice bottle, nick your granny's flask and make your own coffee for lectures. Use markets to buy cheap vegetables and fruit, buy own-brand labels in the big stores, buy a decent cookbook in the sale, or at a secondhand shop, and get staples like rice in bulk and you can eat well for £25 a week. See our student recipes if you need inspiration.
7. Turn unneeded things into cash
Amazon is a great place to buy and sell used textbooks. Worth knowing when faced with a £150 reading list. Auction sites like eBay are also good for getting rid of unwanted Christmas presents or misplaced purchases. If not online, use campus noticeboards and bookshops.
8. Manage your debt
You will be offered student overdrafts, student credit cards and student storecards but think carefully before you accept any of them. A low-interest overdraft can be a useful tool to help stretch the term's money, but watch the fees and the interest rate. A 0% credit card can also be useful for paying off big-ticket items or short-term borrowing, but don't keep money on it for longer than the 0% offer lasts – you will be hammered with interest. If you don't have a 0% card, remember to include the repayments in your monthly budget.
9. Keep tabs on your spending
Bank online, read your statements, look at receipts, save your coppers in a jar, compare prices in the supermarket and don't take out more than you need from the cash machine. It all helps you keep control of what you've got.
10. Avoid unnecessary expenses
Don't smoke, obviously. It's bad for your health and is very expensive. A 10-a-day habit will cost you £80 a month - £1,000 a year. If you are living in private accommodation make sure you don't pay council tax and sort out your TV licence with your housemates - you only need one for the household, not one each. And avoid laundrettes if you can - they chew through money: either share a load with a flatmate, rent a washing machine for the flat (from £3 a week) or do what generations have done before you and take it home to mum.