How Betty Krause grew her Art Business
' I am happiest when I know my art goes to someone and it makes them happy.
It’s one of the reasons why I paint.' - Betty Krause
This is a transcript from an IG Live interview
Betty is an influential artist from California with almost 100 thousand followers on Instagram. You can also find her on YouTube, her website, and Facebook.
Betty’s inspiration comes from nature, flowers, meadows, and mountains which reflects the joyful and positive outlook she has on life.
I would recommend her YouTube program ABSTRACTLY YOURS – with Betty Krause. Where she shares her process so that others can create your own unique abstract.
Natasha: Welcome, thank you for joining us today.
Betty: Great to be talking with you.
N: A successful business, including an art business, needs to follow a routine. I have heard you mention you attend your business side of art in the morning. Does a schedule like this help you in your routine?
B: It’s probably because I hate to get out of my pyjamas (pajamas) in the morning, that I prefer to get up, get my coffee or tea and get right down to business. For many years I worked at a desk job, so part of that never left me. I like getting my office work done in the morning. That frees me up for the afternoon to create art. Very rarely do I do creative work in the morning.
N: We need to make money to survive … keeping the right motives between being driven by the love of art and making money. How do you keep the balance?
B: That’s a very good question. Making money is important as I do have to pay my bills. I’m always looking at how to make sales either in art or teaching. I’m looking for opportunities to keep that going.
There are some days when I just don’t want to deal with the money side, and I decide that I just want to be creative that day.
I feel that because of my background in marketing and sales, running the business side comes easily to me. I’m fortunate in that regard that I can really balance the two. To be honest with you, I really love doing desk work. Sometimes it's hard for me to step away because I love running numbers, putting spreadsheets together, updating my website, and tracking information.
Yesterday, I put out an email to my mailing list for my art scarves and I offered a special discount. First thing this morning I was getting my orders ready, printing labels, stacking them up so that they’re ready to go out. I love doing that part. I know a lot of artists struggle with this side of it. Spending twenty-five-plus years in an office makes the business side a comfortable place for me.
N: I understand you use a spreadsheet to help you price your work. I find it fascinating as it removes emotion out of pricing. Tell us about your spreadsheet.
B: I learned this early on from Cory Huff in his book How to Sell Your Art Online. I bought his book years ago when I was starting my business. It was focused on selling your art online and I incorporated a lot of what he said in the book. I love that book; I have read through it a few times. One of his suggestions was a spreadsheet. I have a column for my size, formulas that multiply it out for me, a column for my pricing, then it gives me the total price. I go further and I have a commission price which is 25% on top of my standard price. Having the spreadsheet makes it easy. If someone asks for a price, I just look it up. It takes the emotion out of it.
I truly believe that my work is not for me to keep. It is meant to be out there in the world to make someone else happy. I am happiest when I know my art goes to someone and it makes them happy. It’s one of the reasons why I paint. I like to make others happy and I want people to not just see my art with their eyes, but I want them to feel it. I want it to go completely through their heart and soul and make them happy.
N: I know that you are a self-taught artist but what kind of processes did you use to find who you are?
I didn’t get formal training, but I still learned from others. Five to six years ago I was on YouTube, watching great artists showing ‘how to’. That was a great place for me to go and see what others were doing and it was where I picked up a lot of tips and tricks. I also enjoy doing workshops with artists whose art I really enjoy. Attending workshops and learning from others is very important to me. Even now, every year I still attend at least one workshop. I am continuing to learn from someone else and I’m challenging my own ability to create at a certain level. I’m still trying to grow as an artist.
Today, I prefer to attend a workshop, as I do better in person. I’m more focused. I tend to enjoy in-person workshops more. You need to continue to invest in yourself. It’s time and money well spent as it allows you to continue to grow.
N: Some artists are not good at ‘self-promotion’ … how to you aim for the best visibility? What advice would you give to those who struggle with this?
B: I know it’s hard for many folks. Even I struggled with it at first. I really had a hard time. During my corporate life, back in my 20’s, I joined Toastmasters International because I felt extremely uncomfortable speaking in front of others. Toastmasters International is a club that helped me develop my public speaking. It took many years and much practice for me to improve. Being a manager, I had to get up and speak with my team or make presentations at a higher level. It doesn’t come easy to most people, but if you work at it, you’ll improve. Toastmasters gave me skills that I use today to promote my art and my courses.
The great thing about today as opposed to 20 years ago is that we are more relaxed and can be ourselves. If you make a mistake on social media it’s ok, no one minds. It’s because people want to know who we truly are. They are after the real rather than the polished. If you make a mistake, it’s no big deal. You just say ‘oops I didn’t mean to say that. What I meant to say was….’
I recommend starting out on Instagram. Start by posting photos of your art. Then build up to a picture of you and your artwork. It could be a photo of your hand and your art. Or the back of you and your art. I know that Instagram Live is taking a giant step forward. You can do a Live where the camera is just on your artwork and you are talking. It doesn’t have to be polished, just be genuine. These are ideas where you can dip your toes in slowly.
The more you get out there the easier it is to do it. Just like improving your art skills, you can improve your marketing skills.
I have discovered when I’m in the photo that those posts do better. We are humans and we want to connect with other people. If you just put images of your art out there, then people are only seeing a small part of you. People want to know your quirks, where are you from, struggles, triumphs, what you are currently working on. All these things are important if you are selling a piece of your soul on paper or canvas. People want to connect to you. Your sales will go up if you connect more with your audience and if you’re putting yourself more out there and talking about yourself. I’m not saying tell me your deepest secrets. Pick and choose what you want to share. People don’t know everything about me but they do know that I live in California, every year I travel to Croatia to visit my parents, that I love the heat, and that I have a studio in downtown San Jose. There are things that I am sharing that are connecting my audience to me. Instagram Stories is a great place to share personal things about yourself, or behind the scenes. This is a great place to understand more about you and to connect to you.
N: What forums do you use to get your work out?
In terms of business, it’s important not to have all your eggs in one basket. For example, if you only sell on Instagram your ability to get your work out there is just too narrow. I use Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest as well as my website. I belong to a local gallery where I regularly exhibit and I have done many art festivals in the past, as well as teaching. I am spreading out, so I am not just focused on one area.
In terms of products, I don’t just sell original artworks and prints on demand. I also have scarves, which are reprints of my original artwork. I love having scarves available because some collectors already have walls full of art, so now we can wear art. Again diversifying. I know some artists do much more merchandising. The reason I don’t is i,t is too much work to set up. It’s important to see if it’s worth my time to invest. I believe we all need to be wise and true to our own way of running our business.
N: Wow this is wonderful advice Betty. Do you have any final words to new art businesses?
B: Always be improving your craft as artists as well as improving your business strategies. Look for opportunities to get your work out there. As well as look at ways to improve in all those areas so that you can stretch yourselves more and more.
N: Thank you, Betty, for candidly sharing some insights into the way you run your art business and giving us tips which have worked well for you. I know that this will be an encouragement for others.
B: You’re most welcome. It has been a pleasure sharing with you and I hope you and the listener's successful art careers.
· The business side is as important to put time into it.
· Create a formula to price your work
· Tap into previous skills and training to further your career
· Join Toastmasters International to help you speak about your art.
· Get your art out there through Instagram
· Share a little about yourself on IG so your audience can connect with you
· Diversify and get your work out on several different platforms.
You can find Betty Krause on:
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