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What’s a New Year without a few New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry—we won’t ask you to give up your favorite food...what we will do is offer four tips on things that you can do today that will have a positive impact on your art business this year.

-->Say Thank You
Set aside some time today to think of the people who’ve helped you over the past few months. Then get out a piece of custom-branded letterhead (or better yet, a postcard with one of your images on it) and write those people a quick thank you note, letting them know how much you appreciate their support. At a loss as to who would make a good ‘thank you’ note candidate? How about:

    --The owner and staff in the gallery that exhibits your work. Make sure to make everyone at the gallery feel special—send the part-time worker a thank you note just as you would the owner. When that part-time worker is assisting buyers on a lazy Sunday afternoon, chances are he/she’ll remember the effort you made in including them, and might make more effort to include your work in their sale.

    --Buyers and potential buyers. Keep a running list of people who are interested in your work. For buyers, drop a note thanking them for their continued support— for potential buyers, thank them for their interest. Either way, use the note as a way to remind these buyers of any upcoming shows where they might be able to see your work again.

    --Reporters and journalists. A nice note to a newspaper reporter who did a feature story, a weekly editor who’s consistently put your shows on the community calendar, or a TV reporter who covered your work at a local art fair is not only polite—it’s also very good business, and good PR karma. Reporters remember which stories were fun and easy to do, and which people were the most pleasant to work with. And guess what? The next time that reporter is working on deadline, trying to figure out an artist to feature in an upcoming article, you’re top of mind.

-->Expand Your Circle
After you’ve written those thank you notes, it’s time to pick up the telephone and make a quick call.

Showing works in progress to friends and family members is one thing...showing those same works to professional artists can be scary, but will ultimately be rewarding. Invite fellow artists to your studio to see what you’re working on. They’ll bring with them their own insights and experiences, and also a different perspective on the art scene as a whole. Their constructive criticism will help you grow professionally, and will be more instructive than the feedback Aunt Phyllis could give.

-->Keep Your Receipts
You’ve invited a fellow professional artist to come over and critique your work. Wouldn’t it be a nice touch to offer her some finger food while she’s at your studio? Head over to the grocery store and grab a loaf of French bread, some brie, a handful of grapes and a bottle of sparkling water. But instead of crumpling your receipt while putting it in your pocket, or tossing it in the nearest trashcan, take it home. Why? Because you’ve just incurred a business-related expense! From the money you just spent, you’ll be able to deduct a percentage on your taxes at the end of the year.

Of course, you’ll want to consult a CPA or other tax professional for specific limitations, deductions and advice—but keeping your receipts for the entire year will give your tax pro more to work with...and may just give you a bit of a tax break.

-->Do It Yourself...When It Makes Sense
It makes sense for you to write ‘business receipts’ on the manila folder you’ll be using to hold all of your receipts. In fact, hiring someone to write it for you, or finding and buying a folder pre-labeled ‘business receipts’ would both be more time consuming and costly. This is an extreme, but illustrative example of something that is a perfect task.

But let’s move to something more involved—like cutting your own mats. Sure, you can do it. You can purchase the raw materials and the tools. You can spend time online reading tips about getting the perfect cut or perfecting your cutting angle. You can practice on scrap pieces of mat board before taking on the real thing. But does it make sense to cut your own mats? Maybe...maybe not, but it’s certainly not as crystal clear as our example above.

>If you’re confused as to when to do it yourself and when to buy it (or hire someone else to do it) consider this: The IRS lets you deduct business expenses (the manila folder, the pen you write with, a pre-cut mat board you use in an artwork you’re selling, or a mat board that you will cut yourself.) but they don’t allow you to deduct the cost of your time. In other words, if you spend an hour of your time cutting a mat board, you can deduct the cost of the mat board but you can’t deduct what you would have made had you been working that hour. And, if you have your mats cut for you, the complete project can be used as a business expense deduction--just remember to keep the receipts. Do the math, and determine whether a particular task justifies your time or your money...or both.

-->Price the originals high enough to support the LE prints:
If you offer limited edition prints in addition to original artwork, make sure to set the pricing ‘tone’ for LE prints appropriately. People who want to own an original are more willing to pay a premium for a one-of-a-kind piece. And people who prefer to own a print will often judge the value of the print based on how much the original costs. For example, if you want to sell prints at $150 each, pricing your original at $500 doesn’t make the prints seem a very good value. Pricing the original higher (in the case of the example we mentioned, perhaps $1500) makes limited edition prints available to a wider range of art buyers, which we’ll discuss more in depth below.


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