Art Business

How to Pivot and Grow Your Art Business, Even Now

April 1, 2020


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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Today’s post is directed to anyone who is feeling uncertain about working on their art business during the coronavirus pandemic, or any unsettling or chaotic time. 

This pandemic is stressful to say the least, so you may be asking yourself things like: 

• Who is even going to want to spend money on art right now?
• Is it a waste of time to reach out to potential clients? Should I wait? 
• Will I look insensitive trying to sell something right now?
• How and what should I sell during such an uncertain time? 

I could go on and on… because I’ve asked myself the same things!

So let’s break it down, shall we? How can we make sure our businesses don’t come to a complete standstill? What can we pivot or adjust, while staying sensitive to our surroundings? We’re creatives! There is always something we can innovate to solve these problems. 

Adjust Your Current Offerings

This may not be as hard as you think! What would you normally be offering at this time, and how can you adjust it for your audience?

If you usually offer creative classes for example, create a free daily challenge around one of your classes to encourage community and make it fun. This adds some new excitement to even your older classes. If your classes are usually in-person workshops, take them online! People are stuck inside, many with their kids, looking for creative ways to occupy their time. 

If you usually sell physical goods like artwork, prints, etc., create a collection of goods with the supplies available to you. Your usual production partners and suppliers may be closed, but they might not be and could use your business!

Or, you can take those physical goods and make them digital, like a downloadable art print for example. 

Write down a list of all of the products you sell, and then brainstorm how you can still offer those products in a new way. What value can you bring to your customers? Is it fun, beauty, education? Figure that out (even ask them!) and create something around it. 

If you don’t want to or can’t go inside the post office right now, only sell products that can fit in their blue boxes, or schedule pickups with your mail carrier.  

Selling with Awareness 

Now is not the time to continue business as usual without ANY mention of the pandemic and its effects. That doesn’t mean that every single social media post has to discuss it. You can be and seem aware, without constantly mentioning it. You can be sensitive, without being redundant.  

Launching a new collection of artwork? Consider donating some of the proceeds to a local non-profit that really needs it right now. Donate what you can afford, and don’t feel bad if that isn’t a huge chunk. Our art is our livelihood, and people actually do like to support the artists they love and want you to profit! 

Offering online classes? Consider a discount for your students. It’s appreciated during this uncertain time. Keep the discount limited to a certain time, because what you offer is valuable and doesn’t have to be discounted forever. 

Creating coloring sheets, activity books, anything great for families right now? Think about offering a small portion of those for free, and then the rest at a a low-mid price range. Giving at least a little something for free will help those customers get a sense of your amazing work, and if they can afford it right now they will likely come back for even more from you. 

Reaching Out to New Clients

It may seem a little absurd to consider reaching out to new potential clients right now, but depending on your specific niche, I believe this is something we should still be doing. 

For example, things are somewhat up in the air for my licensing clients because they are manufacturing products, and there are many factors that can affect that process. But! That doesn’t mean they are going to shut down forever. Even though that is possible, it’s more likely their work would just be on hold. These clients are still going to need new artwork, especially for the holiday season or next spring. That is going to be a busy, busy season. 

If you’re reaching out to any potential clients, think of it as just letting them know that you are available. Everyone’s situation is different, and they will likely be grateful to hear from you and know that your work is an option. You’re providing a service to them by generally saying, “Your projects may be on hold right now, but I want you to know that I’m here for you when you do need something.”

What Else You Can Do

Say you are just not feeling like selling anything right now. You have so much going on in your home life, or general anxiety is not putting you at your most productive. That’s ok!  

There are other things you can do besides drumming up new business. Create new artwork, even if it’s a simple sketch each day. Work on your website or portfolio. Simply write your about page bio. Basically, any kind of prep work to get you ready for when business or your energy does kick in again. 

And try to remember that, if you are a full-time creative or aspiring to be one, one of the biggest perks is being able to set our own schedule and timelines. Try not to put a ton of pressure on yourself. It’s hard when you are your own boss, but these are stressful times and no one needs any additional stress right now.

How are you pivoting your business right now? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Cecelia Claire says:

    This is so helpful. Thank you so much for this.

  2. Prue says:

    A really positive and thoughtful post at a testing time! Thank you!

  3. Phyllis Chua says:

    Hello Juliet,

    Thank you so much your words sharing. Every weekend I will goto handmade market to sell my products, but today the market announced to stop one month. I feel sad and anxiety whole day, don’t know what can I do and where is the income in this April…
    But, after reading your sharing, I should adjust myself, to create artworks, and make portfolio. Selling products on facebook…creema net.
    And also learn english, haha

    Thank you so much, and wishing you and your family stay safe &healthy.

  4. Alicia Cook says:

    Thank you for these thoughtful tips Juliet. I’ve been struggling with this topic and this puts it into a new light. Very helpful!


  5. Patricia says:

    Loved this! Thank you very much!

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