I've always been a list-maker. Let's just get that out of the way from the beginning. My ADHD-addled brain LOVES the concrete activity of writing lists and checking things off. I'm not, however, always so good at staying on top of things, despite my many lists. In my art business, I find it essential to keep 6 lists in particular, to keep me on track toward my goals!
1. Wall Calendar:
Ok, so it's not a checklist, per se, but man is it essential to my well-being! I like a plain old GIGANTIC wall calendar personally; the kind that I can rip the pages out of and tape to my wall. I need to be able to see about 4-6 months worth so I can get a feel for what's happening now and in the future. On this "list" goes: gallery openings, show dates, submission deadlines, appointments, set-up dates, and literally everything else!
2. E-mail List:
I make this one easy for myself and just use a mail service you likely know about: MailChimp. Whenever someone signs up for my list, I add them to the subscribers list immediately! Whenever I teach workshops or do shows, I always bring a paper list along, inviting people to sign up for my emails.
3. Available Work and Locations:
This one can be a doozy if you don't stay on top of it, especially if you're prolific! List every piece you create: the dimensions, the title, the price, maybe even the colors, date or theme. Then, I highly suggest writing down where the piece currently resides. Is it at home? In a gallery? Has it sold? Make a note! The worst thing you could do is forget where a piece of yours has gone, and potentially lose the piece! I have heard of galleries not returning work. It happens, guys. Excel spreadsheets work fine for me.
4. Gallery and Show Submissions:
I learned this one the hard way! Keep a record of which shows, publications, and galleries you submit to. Story time: I once submitted my art to a gallery via a form on their website. When they emailed me saying I'd gained entry into the show and asked me to mail the pieces, I had to admit that I had no clue which pieces I'd entered! It was SO embarrasing! Please don't make this mistake. Galleries really don't like it. This will also keep you from submitting the same art to multiple galleries and getting yourself into the pickle of having to choose between shows!
5. Income and Expenses:
It's not sexy. It's certainly not fun. But it IS vital. Keep a record of everything, and I mean everything that you spend on your business, and everything that you earn. This includes supplies, shipping, submission fees, advertising, studio rent, etc. This will really help you when tax season rolls around! It's also essential to know what bringing in vs. what's going out, so that you can keep on top of your budget. I use Excel spreadsheets for this, though a program like Quickbooks would be even better.
6. Customer Details:
This one is really helpful for getting repeat customers. It will help you build and maintain relationships with them so that they feel that they will want to purchase art from you again! First I suggest making a note of every sale, the date, and the client's name. Next to that, add where they found out about you. Was it on facebook or Instagram? Did they see you at a gallery? If you have their mailing address or social media handle, write it down. You want to be able to find them in the future.
Why? Maybe you created a piece you know they would love and you want to let them know. Or perhaps you want to ask them if the piece arrived ok and if they need any help with framing ideas. And obviously, if they order from you a second time, you'll want to have their address handy, so you don't have to ask them to repeat it! They won't soon forget that you made an effort to be kind and helpful.
The cherry on top of all this is to keep record of birthdays and anniversaries, or other special dates. Sending a good collector a small gift: a handmade card, or a print for example, keeps you on their mind and lets them know that they are important to you! This is all about making customers feel valued. Another nice idea is to send them a thank you card, maybe on the anniversary of the day they bought their first big piece from you!
Well, those are my lists! I hope that THIS little list was helpful to you and that it saves you some grief in your own art business. If it was helpful, please let me know!