Finding Resources to Help Your Art Business: Books!

As you might have guessed from my last Resources post, one of the reasons I work in a library is because I LOVE books. Like, enough that I have a dedicated “library” in my house, a room full of nothing but books and writing/reading space. Enough that I keep buying books even though I have access to pretty much anything I could want through my public library. While I haven’t read every book in my personal library, let alone the public one, I have found a few books along the way that have made an impression on me or divulged some useful advice for this journey I’m on. Here’s four titles of particular note:

  1. Business Boutique, by Christy Wright (2017) — I found this at work and liked it enough that I bought my own copy. It’s billed as “A woman’s guide for making money doing what she loves” (in fact, that’s the subtitle), but I think it’s playing to the notion that women more than men tend to lack the self-confidence to put themselves out there (whether or not that’s true). Or maybe it’s just because it was written by a woman. Anyway, this is a general “start your own business” book that covers everything from finding your purpose and motivation and overcoming fear to practical advice like writing a business plan and marketing/scaling up. (Also, several men have review quotes on the back, and the forward was written by Dave Ramsey, so I don’t see any reason why a guy couldn’t use this as a guide too.)
  2. How to Sell Your Art Online, by Cory Huff (2016) — it’s been a couple years since I read this one, but it’s pretty much THE REASON this website (Fairy Tree Studios) exists. The book also talks about how to build email lists, keep a blog, and do some social media marketing (though that last part might be a little outdated by now, with how much social media is changing). It is geared more toward fine art than what I do (which I’ve come to think of as “commercial art”) but there’s still plenty that applies. Maybe the best thing about the book, though, is that it’s the tip of the iceberg that is a huge online resource library called The Abundant Artist, which was founded by Huff and appears to be kept pretty up-to-date.
  3. Secrets of Six-Figure Women, by Barbara Stanney (2004) — this one was more for my mindset than for practical application, though she does give a series of steps for becoming a six-figure earner. The moral of the story for me was, don’t undervalue yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t underestimate your worth. (How many more ways can I say the same thing?) It’s an important lesson to internalize, though. Why purposely limit yourself (consciously or unconsciously) when you could try to knock it out of the park? Or, as the saying that kept coming to mind goes, “Shoot for the moon; if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Stanney interviewed dozens of high-earning women (from numerous career fields, including at least one artist) to find out how they got to where they are, and distilled the information down into actionable (though broad) steps like “letting go of good to get to better” (I’m paraphrasing). She also talks about managing your money once you have it, and a few general strategies for getting out of debt and planning for retirement.
  4. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon (2012) — if you don’t want to read the whole book (which isn’t terribly long), check out the Wikipedia page for the list of 10 “basic principles to boost your creativity” — they’re all shared there with a brief explanation of each. Basically it’s a good resource for if you’re feeling burnt out by the business side of the art business and need a little help getting back into the art part.

That’s the short list for now, as I don’t want to overwhelm anybody, myself included. I have a few other books in my “to read” pile (or in the queue on my Kindle) which I’ll mention later on if they turn out to be beneficial, but here are the titles for some of them:

  1. Business for Bohemians, by Tom Hodgkinson
  2. How to Write a Business Plan, by Brian Finch
  3. Billion Dollar Brand Club, by Lawrence Ingrassia
  4. Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, by Brainard Carey
  5. The Handmade Entrepreneur, by Dani Marie

What are some of your recommended books for advice on starting an art business (however tangentially related they may be to that specific subject)? Any titles you’ve seen that you want to read but haven’t yet?

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