Choosing to turn your artistic talents into a business, rather than just a “hobby”, is probably the best decision you ever made.
Getting your first customer who is happy with your product—that feeling is priceless! You may even go forward to get more customers and even win an adoring fan or two.
But, if you dream bigger, and want to cut through the noise, scale your art business to insane levels, you need to take a few more big steps.
You need to niche down.
Your skills as an artist become more powerful when you narrow down to a niche. Choosing a niche will unlock potential in you and your art business that you never knew existed.
In this post, we’ll share a step-by-step process of how to niche down as an artist and increase your income. You’ll learn the secrets of successful artists, myself included, use to scale their business online. I’ll also be sharing my own experience of how I chose my niche and built a stable 5-figure art business. These are secrets many artists would gladly pay real money to learn, but it won’t cost you a thing — other than a few minutes of your time.
Let’s dive in.
What is a niche?
You might have heard this term a lot of times. What does a niche exactly mean for an artist?
Art and crafts, photography, and design is a huge category. Art can be further divided into niches of watercolour, oil painting, which can be again divided into what kind of art you do — portrait, nature, etc.
Why is niching down good for artists? There are three main benefits:
— You can scale your business
— You’ll be a go-to expert in that niche
— Less scope for competition
A pregnant woman will surely want to consult a gynaecologist instead of a general practitioner. And, the charges for the gynaec’s services will be relatively higher. The pregnant lady still chooses to go to them because she believes in their expertise, wants to get the best treatment, and will gladly pay the fees. Your aim as an artist who wants to increase income should be the same — to specialise in one niche, become an expert, and charge higher.
The lesson is simple: To charge higher, you need to be an expert. And the first step to be an expert is to choose ONE single niche.
The riches are in the niches
Finding a niche is discovering yourself as an artist and your audience. It’s a major step to take when transitioning your art skills from a hobby to a money-making skill. Which is why niching down is not recommended for hobbyists.
Here is an example of niching down as an artist:
Finding a specific set of audience for your services or product can seem overwhelming. You may prefer to serve everyone with your art. This will do more harm than good to your business.
You cannot scale a business that serves everyone.
How to find your niche as an artist in 5 easy steps
Decide on your niche with this cycle chart:
Step 1: Be clear on what industry you belong as an artist. As an artist, your industry can be fine arts, embroidery, calligraphy, etc.
Step 2: Choose a category. In that industry, decide what category does your art work belong to. But, choosing a category can get overwhelming. For example, categories wedding invitations, restaurant menus, greeting cards, etc. Here are a few tips to help you decide:
— What are you most good at doing? Think about the certain skills and talents you have that make your work stand apart from others.
— What medium do you use? Are you an expert in using Procreate or are you a master with physical paint brushes? This will also help define your ideal market.
Remember: Your best skill, the one you can monetise, might not be what you love doing the most.
Step 3: Finalise your sub-category. This is when you pinpoint an exact field of art you want to monetise. For example, if you choose wedding invitation calligraphy, a sub-category will be one particular style.
Step 4: Decide your target audience. The above three steps will help you decide your product or service. Now it’s time to choose your target audience — who will buy from you. Your niche is well defined once you know exactly who your audience is. This is called ideal client avatar.
To find out more about ideal client avatar for your business, watch this video:
Step 5: How do you serve your audience. Do you want to do commissioned works or offer tutorials? Do you prefer selling items in bulk or personalised products? Decide on your service and stick to it.
This is a five step cycle to hep you find your niche as an artist. The reason why I’ve put this into a cycle chart and not in a linear path is because you are entitled to change your niche until you find what works best for you. But, you must start somewhere and figure out what works best for your audience.
Now, let’s look at an example of how an artist niched down following the five-step cycle.
Sanya is an artist who loves creating different kinds of fine art works. So, let’s see how she niched down to make the most out of her skills and grow her art business.
Sanya loves painting and drawing. Initially, she used to paint anything and everything, from oil painting to watercolour. She then chose to do watercolour only because it was more interesting to her. Gradually, she narrowed down to doing only landscapes. In landscapes, she now only paints flowers, not mountains or any other elements. Thus, Sanya is now a watercolour floral artist. Because she is an expert in floral painting, releases her own prints, and also offers tutorials and workshops as services.
My experience in niching down as an art business owner
To give you a solid example, let me tell you about my business Pretty Paper Studio (PPS). At the very beginning, back in 2012, PPS was a scrapbooking and card-making kit club. To my disappointment, the kits hardly had any takers for more than four months of its launch. Around this time, I attended a craft fair for the very first time. This turned out to be a turning point for my crafts supplies business.
At the crafts fair, I was trying my best to sell the scrapbooking kits. But, people who came to my stall kept asking me for the individual pieces in the kit. At first, i was adamant and kept telling them that they could only buy the whole kit.
Finally, my friend managed to convince me in selling the items individually. And, to my surprise, I made lot of sales. By the end of the fair, I made a sale of 3000 dirhams.
This incident made me realise that there is a market potential for craft supplies — people want craft items rather than the kits. So, I started putting craft supply products individually on my website. Gradually, PPS changed from a scrapbooking kit store to a craft supply store. And then, I also started selling art supplies because there was a demand for it at the time.
How long will it take to find out if your niche is working?
There is no specific time, but I would say give yourself 30 days to observe how it’s doing and do the necessary changes based on the results. Observe how your followers interact with you and how your content is impactful.
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