Artists, Is Your Income Feast or Famine?

By Carolyn Edlund

Courtesy Deana Diefenbach

Is your income sporadic? Are you lurching from having cash flow to being dead broke? For a while you are busy in the studio filling orders, finishing commissions and preparing for shows, and then suddenly – everything drops off. You have nothing going on.

There’s a reason this happens, and it can sneak up on you. In the back of your mind, you may know the truth – its because you haven’t continued to prospect for new opportunities on an ongoing basis. It isn’t fun to be constantly searching for new ways to sell your work. However, unless you do so, you end up with a feast-or-famine income, which doesn’t work overall.

Perhaps you find that at certain times of the year you are very busy. It may be retail show season in the summer and fall, which finishes just before Christmas. In January and February, are you scrounging for money until you get something else to bring in some income? Or do you put methods into place to continue cash flow during that period?

Plan ahead and work on creating new opportunities for sales, even though you may have plenty right now. When looking for buyers, think in terms of how you can create multiple streams of income, and continue to prospect for potential business in all of those areas.

Make a list of ways that you can market yourself and solicit new business – through your website, postcards, networking, newsletters to your existing customer base to get referral business and contacts, or any other proven way you know will produce opportunities. Schedule these activities on an ongoing basis, and continue to do them regardless of how great your business seems right now.  It won’t last – every salesperson, regardless of industry, has had this experience when they ease up on prospecting while enjoying a flush period of good business.

Yes, it’s hard work. It’s easy to get busy and put it off. Life is exciting when you are in demand, and its only human nature to believe things will continue. However, to ensure a consistent income, you have to be realistic and put in the hard work of prospecting on a continuous basis to get ongoing results. Cast your net even when you’re busy, and enjoy the fruits of your labor all year.

See more of Deana Diefenbach's art by visiting her website.




  1. Thanks for the feature. The article does ring true. Good reminder.

  2. This is an excellent article with some great ideas Denna, and thank you for sharing this with us. Another way I’ve found that helps to bring in new opportunities is to use social media tools like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc. and if you have a professional looking blog that showcases your work really well this can also create interest and bring in new people and new enquiries.

    My main tip with social media is not to use it for selling your work because you can come across as a “spammer”, but use Social Media to engage in conversations with people and build up relationships. Think of it like face-to-face networking – the only difference is it’s from the comfort of your home and at a time that suits you!

    • Thanks Ian, I totally agree with your take on social media. You must stay consistent to be effective. Your blog or portfolio can be your most effective tool for promotion – you might want to take a look at this great article by John R. Math on the subject “What’s Wrong with Your Art Website?” He has some useful suggestions.

  3. Just read that info on a Art Website. I want a website soon, that was great info to keep in mind when making it. Thanks

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