10 Things to Do When Your Art Business is Slow

Slow periods happen in just about every business, and they will happen to you, too.

Rather than panicking, slashing prices, or wondering why you ever thought you could be an entrepreneur in the first place, stay focused on constructive things that you can afford to do while you have available time.

If you’re just starting out, you might be experiencing the first evidence of the sale cycles in your business. There is a busy season for buying, both at wholesale and at retail, and sometimes you can go into a temporary slump during a usually busy time.

New businesses can experience fits and starts, as they start in the marketplace and need to become more well-known and established before sales are more regular. It can take a few years for any business to become profitable.

How can you make the best use of slow periods in your art business? Here are 10 ways to get value from the downtime: 


1. Get back on the horse. Your business may have dropped off a cliff because you forgot to continue marketing on a regular basis when you got busy working on orders in the studio. In that case, you need to make a Marketing Calendar for your business to continue to drive traffic to your website, get your images into publications and connect with prospects.

2. Get creative. Use your newfound freedom to work in the studio on fun and experimental work, or one-of-a-kind art that you normally don’t have time to make. You may find some new ideas and directions for your body of work. Even if it doesn’t result in anything you can sell, it will give free rein to your creative spirit.

3. Learn. Take a course or workshop to sharpen your skills. No one who wants to build a business can ever stop learning. Take an art workshop, or a business class, or an online class in a topic that will help you develop professionally.

4. Follow up. Revisit your list of prospective accounts and check off any follow up that needs to be done. Remember all those business cards of buyers whom you never reached, or even reached out to? Connect with them, either by a phone call or email. Find them on social media, and get reacquainted – which is a good way to stay in touch on an ongoing basis.

5. Review. Do you have systems in place to keep your small business efficient and profitable?  Are you keeping the books on a regular basis, managing your marketing, and scheduling shows and events so that you take advantage of opportunities?  Take this time to make improvements to your business model.

6. Work on your website – especially if you know it’s lacking. Your website is your 24/7 connection with the world and represents you and your business. It should be current, and user-friendly, or it isn’t serving you. Get professional help if you need it. Investment in a good website is an essential business expense.

7. Update your social media accounts. Add photos of your work to your Facebook profile, create new Pinterest boards to share, get started on that Google+ account that you meant to create. Then, start promoting your updated website!

8. Get organized. It’s cathartic to clean out the studio, take inventory, order new supplies and prepare for being busy again. Because you will be.

9. Reach out to your community. Schedule dates to be out of your studio, attending networking events, an artist’s salon or a guild meeting. Trade ideas and resources. Being part of an arts community is a huge determinant in an artist’s success.

10. Take a break. You may be in need of a mental health day, or even a vacation. Many artists know their slow months, when business is almost non-existent, and plan getaways to relax and recharge their batteries. Avoid burnout by making the most of days when you can get out of the studio for a change.

What activities have been effective for your business when things slow down? Please share.


Do you need Marketing help? Our newly launched guide “Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople” is a comprehensive resource to taking your business to a higher and more profitable level. Check it out and get started today!

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