Letter to a Young Decorative Painter: In-depth

Letter to a Young Decorative Painter: In-Depth

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In my last post, Letter to a Young Decorative Painter, I shared a list of tips and ideas, advice and recommendations that I had sent to a “young” decorative painter…IE, someone new to the field, who is just starting out, and trying to get clients and build business.

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How interesting it is to look back, and see all the things we have  done along the way to learn, develop, grow, sustain and thrive as an artist, entrepreneur, small business person, and member of the “creative class” and service industry.  A more in-depth look at my list seems in order.  Maybe it will open some doors for others, wherever they are in their career.

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  • Get a good Website, absolutely, to share and showcase your work. Absolutely essential. Anyone, anywhere needs to be able to access images of your work, your contact information, bio, and references, referrals, and testimonials.  I use my site as my online portfolio, calling card, tool of communication, and catalog! Start small, and develop your site as your business develops. WordPress sites are lauded as being user-friendly, and offering you the ability to update your own site, which can be a boon! You can choose to depict the kind of work you most wish to be hired for, and steer whoever looks at your site in that direction.

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  • Start a Blog, focusing on the kind of work you would like to do, etc. Many advise that having a blog is also essential in today’s entrepreneurial world. That may be, but only if you post on it  regularly! A blog also can be a tool of communication, a marketing tool, a place to develop ideas and attract audience, followers and colleagues as well as clients, and even create outlines and drafts for other writing projects. I have found that planning specific time each week to post helps get it done. You may want to focus your blog, or a series of posts on specific subjects, or aspects of your business.

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  • Network with Interior Designers and Architects, as well as Painters, Paint Stores, and others in the Building/Built Environment field. Networking is key, and there are many ways of doing this, in person, online, by referral, formally, and informally.  As a decorative painter, muralist and faux finisher, you may find great resources at your local paint store, design center, or design district. You may want to do some demonstrations of your paint store’s product, offer to do signage, or other small project for a designer or architect whom you admire, and would like to work with, or for a favorite charity, non-profit, or organization. Whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of business cards, and other print material handy to post, and pass out to anyone you want to connect with, or to those who may know others who could use your work.

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  • Join a networking group, such as “BNI INTERNATIONAL“, (Business Networking International). (Google it). The “BNI” model is a group that meets weekly, consisting of one person only from any profession, with the purpose of referring clients to each other.  Many skills, and challenges are inherent in the process: defining your business so that you can share about it to the group, presentation, listening and supporting others, volunteerism, and interaction, to name a few!  A tremendous learning and development experience, on both a personal, and professional level.

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  • Take an entrepreneurship or business class, or whole program, and put together a Business Plan. Entrepreneurship classes, programs and studies are becoming much more prevalent in our society, and educational systems. You can learn how to create a business plan, and put money, marketing and management mojo to work, in the company of like-minded individuals. looking at your numbers, putting your goals and objectives down on paper, presenting to a group, learning about others’ business plans can be stimulating, clarifying and sometimes startling, but always educational and growth-inducing!

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  • Have a selection of good-sized Samples, depicting your strengths, and the kind of work you most like to do, most want to do, and from which you think you will get the most business. What is the work you most want to do? Are strongest in?  is most sought after by the potential clients that are most sought after…by you? Create a set of samples, and a way to present them, so you can share with others your abilities, and what you can produce. You are in a visual business, so help potential clients imagine how you could transform their environment through your work.

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  • Create brochure, and a postcard, as well as a business card to go with your Site…they should all work together, as your business Visual Identity. Put your card and brochure in Local Paint Stores, and other appropriate venues! This is another arena where you can have fun, and put your color, design and graphics skills to use. it is not possible to do it all, and especially not well, or to professional standards, so enlist the expertise of  recommended / vetted and true graphics/web designer to work with you to develop a visual identity system that does you and your work proud. Your web and print presence are your visual calling cards, so make sure you present yourself at your best, and in the way you truly want to be seen.  Dianna Jacobsen, of  Jacobsen Design is a superb graphic and web designer who can design for clients based anywhere on the globe, and does.  Once you have your visual identity, put it out there…put it everywhere!

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  • Start an email newsletter (it can be simple) , and start building your Mailing List. Use your postcards! Keep in touch with your clients, potential clients, colleagues, associates and networking partners through digital and analogue means.  Email newsletters, blogs and social media can be a great way to stay in touch, but never underestimate the power of a beautifully designed card or stationary, and the handwritten word!

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  • Selectively, Do Some High Profile Work, at a Reduced,  or no Cost, for 1-3 Clients…to get your name out there, and showcase your skills and abilities. Have a party to celebrate it, at the job site if you can, when completed. If you are not yet known, move to a new locale, change the focus of your work/practice,  or have a great opportunity to support a cause dear to your heart, or for an entity that you want to connect with, consider doing a carefully selected and thought-out project that will gain you some visibility, recognition, and contacts, as well as give back to the community. Do not get into a long, costly, back-breaking job that will require elaborate scaffold or expensive materials. Consider something attainable, affordable, and impactful, and then use your communication systems to draw attention to it , create credibility, and potential referrals.  Ask the recipient of your efforts for a referral, testimonial or reference, and try to build your business from their. Most importantly, pick a project you will enjoy doing, and let the love show through!

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ArtBizCoachWEBArt Biz Coach, Alyson B. Stanfield and Artists

  • Get a Facebook Business Page, a  Twitter feed, and a Linked In and Pinterest  account, and keep up with them…interact and support others in related fields, and post many images. Share, support, educate, inspire and inform. Develop your online presence with care, remembering that as is stated in the wonderful film “The Social Network“, “The internet isn’t written in pencil, it is written in ink.” meaning that, assume that whatever you put on the web is there forever, for any and all to see.  So, present yourself truthfully, and as you wish to be seen…hopefully there is not too much of a disconnect between those two (!), and give to others, while spreading your own word and image.

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  • Follow “Seth Godin for rich, daily doses information and inspiration. You can research his work  through Google/Facebook. Sign up to receive his daily blog posts in your email inbox.  Pithy, rich, down to earth advice on anything and everything related to marketing, entrepreneurship, creative business, and more. Easy to read, yet resonant, such that you can reread his words many times over.  Enough said…read his generous work!

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  • Don’t get discouraged. Do something to grow your business every day, keep on  plugging, and, don’t forget to help others and give back!!I would love to hear how You are doing in the comments section! Thank you for reading, thinking, considering, and creating.  Bestest wishes!

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Debra, this is a really great post and so many useful advice! I am bookmarking this page and there are now so many things on my “to do list”. Will definitely start with joining BNI – sounds like a great idea! once again thank you! Anna

    • Hi Anna!
      It is great to be connected to you through our blogs, and thank you for your lovely, informative posts, and your comment here. If I have been of service, I am happy! Please let me know of your progress! Best,
      dd

  2. Oh, man, Debra. That was a great post! So meaty and full of truth. When I first started by business I was so appreciative of all who had gone before me cause I knew how much work it is. Then I went on to blaze my own trail. It is a lot of work, but its a labor of love. Thanks for YOUR presence!

    • Thank you EB…it is so great to know you online! (And, one day in person…!) It is amazing to look back on our journeys thus far, and see where we have gone…and gratifying to offer info to others that could be helpful. Here’s to many happy trails…
      Best,
      dd

  3. Debra: I’m sorry I am just now seeing this. Thank you for including me on this lovely list. I’m honored.


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