Artist Miriam Schulman lives in the New York area. After 9/11, she re-evaluated her life and decided she wanted to leave the world of finance. Not knowing what she wanted to do, she happened to make a watercolor portrait of her son in his Batman costume. As friends saw that painting hanging in her home, they started asking her to make portraits for their own family. Eventually, she realized she had a business as a painter. Miriam has expanded her business to include online art classes, an Artist Incubator Coaching Program, and a podcast called The Inspiration Place.
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Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:
- Miriam pointed out that with the shutdown of our economy last year and the uncertainty in our jobs, now is a perfect time to work for yourself and start your own business. Many artists have had their best year because they are making their own decisions on their jobs and their destiny.
- Surround yourself with a community from whichever site you are using to sell your art. If you sell on Etsy, read their tips and talk with other Etsy sellers. The same is true if you use Instagram or Facebook to sell, and if you use a certain commerce site, like Woocommerce or Shopify. Join the groups where other sellers are meeting and learning from one another.
- Miriam had a great suggestion: She figures out who some top sellers are, and then she purchases items from them. That will show her how they package their things, and how they communicate to the buyers.
- If you’d like to develop online classes, it’s a good idea to start with in person classes. That’s a great way to find out what students want in a class.
- There are many ways you can offer online classes. Some can be live, like a Zoom class or Facebook Live class. Miriam offers classes that are prerecorded videos. This is good to offer if you think you will get students from all over the world.
- You can also offer classes where all the students take the class together, or where each student can take it on their own time. Evaluate the advantages of each to determine which type of class you’d like to offer.
- When deciding what kind of products you’d like to sell, evaluate how long they take to make vs. the profit you would receive on each one. It may not be worth your time to offer very low cost items like stickers, for example. You also need to remember that the low cost items will require the same amount of customer service as your higher priced items.
- It you are looking to teach online classes, it’s a good idea to create free videos of you making art so people can see what you do. It can be as simple as a short Instagram reel. Those videos will give potential students an idea of your personality and teaching style.