Paying Yourself First

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The stereotype of “starving artist” exists for a reason, but I just came across a talk by a local KC artist and gallery owner that wants to challenge that concept. Vanessa Lacy presented the concept of “Profit First” for artists via a free Facebook Live

I started watching the video and I’m only halfway through, but I can already tell it’s changed the way I’m thinking about money in my art biz. I’m definitely guilty of not paying myself at all from my art sales. Part of this is because I have a full time job with a good income, and so I didn’t have to worry about it. But Lacy is right when she points out that if you don’t pay yourself first, you will struggle to be profitable and your business won’t be sustainable.

I think the talk is a little unclear at times because Lacy presents her system initially as “THE SYSTEM” when it’s really just an example of how you can put the concept of “profit first” into action. Eventually she suggests starting small and simple (maybe even as small as only paying yourself 1% of every sale) and building on it over time. This is where it really started to make sense for me, and I decided to commit to saving 5% of every sale for myself.

American money palette knife watercolor painting

For the past couple years I’ve only focused on covering my expenses, but I need to make that secondary. The idea of setting aside percents of each sale for different “buckets” really resonated with me, especially about proactively saving for supplies & expenses. I have enough supplies that I can keep creating art without spending more; in fact it would do me good to use up some of the huge stash I already accumulated! I liked the idea of not spending money unless I’ve already saved it because I am guilty of impulse buying more supplies in the hopes it will magically make my art better.

While this talk has some issues with clarity, it's got my mental gears spinning about how I can implement this in my business, and I'm excited about the changes to come!

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