It can be tough to turn your hobby into a career, but artists might have an easier time than most. You can become a self-employed artist by starting a business and selling the art that you produce. 

There are a few steps you’ll need to take before you can start operating as a business, so we’ll guide you through the process in this article. We’ll focus on the most important tasks involved in becoming a self-employed artist, including:

  • Identify your niche
  • Write a business plan
  • Have a portfolio
  • Manage your finances
  • Create a marketing strategy
  • Build a network

How to be a self-employed artist

Identify your niche

Your niche (or market niche) is essential to how your business operates. Basically, your niche refers to what your business does. For an artist, this will be centred around the kind of art you create and how you’re going to sell it.

Consider your art style and the content you produce. Art is a huge spectrum, so there’s any number of things you could offer as a business. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to make identifying your niche easier:

  • Is your art a physical thing, like a painting or sculpture?
  • Is your art something that can be sent out to customers?
  • Could you create art on a gig basis, i.e. painting murals or portraits for clients?
  • Do you already have a community around your art or art style?
  • Is there an art scene in your area that holds events where art can be sold?

Write a business plan

Once you have the basic idea of what purpose your business will serve, you can begin to write a business plan.

While your niche explains what you do, your business plan explains how you do it. A good, thorough business plan will dive into details like who you plan to sell to, who your competitors are (and how you’ll beat them), and how you’ll grow your business.

For example, a self-employed artist’s business plan might explain how they’ll sell their art online, who is most interested in the kind of art they produce, and list similar artists in the industry or local area.

Have a portfolio

A portfolio is one of the most vital resources a self-employed artist can have. A portfolio is a collection of your best work, which you can show to potential customers or employers.

In the modern world, making a digital portfolio is a good idea. By hosting your portfolio online (on a personal website for instance) you can make it easier for people to see what you offer. 

When creating a portfolio, try to pick pieces that you’ve had positive feedback about. It’s tempting to only select your favourite works, but you should stick with content that you know people have liked. 

Manage your finances

As with any business, financial management is essential for self-employed artists. You need to have a solid understanding of your sources of income and potential expenses. It’s also wise to investigate how your finances might change in the coming months.

Good financial management requires easy access to all your financial details, so a good place to start is to open a business account. By opening a business account with a provider like Countingup, you can easily view your incoming and outgoing cash, which helps you plan out future spending. 

It’s also important to keep taxes in mind too, as a self-employed artist will need to file their own tax returns. Luckily, the Countingup app can help with this too.

Create a marketing strategy

You’ll not get far without a steady stream of customers or clients. A strong marketing strategy is the best way to attract people to your business. 

When you write out your marketing strategy, the two most important points to consider are:

  • What marketing methods you will use
  • Who will you market your art towards

It’s likely that the answer to one of these questions will help answer the other. 

Once these two core questions are answered, you can work on more specific details like how often you’ll create marketing content, and what tools or resources you’ll need.

Build a network

Although being a self-employed artist generally means working alone, running your own business is much easier if you have support. That means that creating a network of support should be a priority when you first start out.

Having a network means that you can rely on the experience of others if you have questions about how to run your business. Your network might even be able to provide you with financial support if you begin to struggle.

Here are a few easy ways a self-employed artist can start building a network:

  • Attend art events like gallery sales or exhibitions.
  • Reach out to similar artists (or those you admire) for help and advice.
  • Maintain a social media presence by joining relevant groups or following specific art pages.
  • Remember to follow up on interactions you have with potential contacts, no matter how short the interactions are – you never know who can help!

Make financial management easier with Countingup

Becoming a self-employed artist is a complicated process, as you need to juggle creating your art with starting a business. Complex tasks like bookkeeping can get in the way of starting your career. 

To make bookkeeping easier, consider using Countingup.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates complicated bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

By using Countingup, you can spend less time on financial admin and more time creating. 

Start your three-month free trial today