Kicking Imposter Syndrome To The Curb: Knowing When To Sell Your Art

I remember I had a friend in my late twenties who was starting a business.  We aren’t in touch now, but I think of her often.  Every time she spoke about her business or her work she spoke with such confidence.  She radiated proficiency and cool.  Honestly her life wasn’t in great shape at the time but somehow when she talked about it, she made it seem like an asset. Like, yeah -- isn’t it great that I’m living with my parents? No rent so I can save all my money to go toward the business. 


I’ve been thinking a lot about imposter syndrome recently as I approach the one year mark of our business--how paralyzing it can feel and how much it holds us back.  I’m sure we’ve all had moments when we felt like we weren’t good enough, smart enough, whatever enough to do the thing we really wanted to do.  If you haven’t felt that way, holy heck go you! Find a way to bottle that confidence up and sell it for a bazillion dollars! 


But for the rest of us, imposter syndrome can be a huge barrier to our success and happiness.  In my former life as teacher and librarian, I honestly didn’t feel too much imposter syndrome.  I worked hard and I knew my stuff.  It wasn’t until I started pursuing a career in art that I started to really have a lot of doubts.  I have no formal training, I only started watercolor painting in 2018, I certainly have never had my own business before, and definitely didn’t consider myself to have any business acumen at all.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but having postpartum depression while deciding to start my business didn’t help me feel any better about myself or my ability to succeed as an artist.  

 


On paper, that doesn’t look very convincing, does it? So how did I get from there to where I am now (proud owner and artist of Kate Talcott Artistry, LLC with a successful website, having to turn away clients for custom work, and handling the business stuff like a boss!)? That sure sounds fancy, doesn’t it?!?! Well here are a few things that helped me work through the imposter syndrome: 


  1. I enjoy the work.  While owning a watercolor business is more than just painting all the time, knowing that the main part of my work is something that makes me happy is huge.
  2. I put myself out there, even when it is scary.  I started an instagram account and began to share the artwork I was creating.  While it’s important to not get caught up in those vanity metrics and likes, it is helpful to gauge if you’ve got the chops.  If it’s just your mom liking it, maybe you need a little more time, but if people are starting to share your work or ask if you do commissions, that is a great indicator that there is a market for what you do.
  3. I trust myself.  This is a hard one, but a key one.  I know I am a hard worker and I have always plunged myself into whatever I do.  I have to trust that I will do the same in my business too.
  4. Fake it til you make it. Did I know what I was doing when I got started? Heck no! Am I still learning things EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?!?! You bet your tushy I am.  But with each passing day, the list of the things I know grows longer and longer and I’ve gained more confidence in my ability to figure it out.  Of course this doesn’t mean you should lie, more like faking the confidence until it catches up with you!
  5. Remember, you’re human.  Now this might feel like an obvious one, but it’s one we often forget.  We are human, we make mistakes.  Mistakes are okay! Mistakes can be good! What is the worst thing that could happen if you make a mistake in your business?  In most businesses, nobody is going to die.  What’s going to happen is you’re going to find a way to make it right, pick up the pieces, and move forward.  Now that you know that, perhaps the big scary weight can be lifted. 



Kate looking at different pieces of artwork

 

So now the big question: when do you start selling your art?!?! 


Here is the simplest answer...whenever you want to! 


You can start by making stuff and sharing it and waiting for someone to ask.  You can start by making stuff and letting people know it’s for sale.  You can get all your ducks in a line, have your business license, business name, and all that jazz and then start selling.  You could wait and see how it goes for a little bit and then take the plunge into the official business stuff.  There isn’t really one right answer.  If it feels right, go for it! You can always try it and then decide you don’t like it! 



Do make sure you keep a record of your sales though.  There is a certain threshold where you will need to file taxes, so even if you don’t set up your business right away, if it really takes off, you’ll want to have a record of income for when tax time does roll around. 



If you are interested in starting a business, I have a ton of resources available for folks who are new to the game.  I have supply lists, vendor lists, checklists for starting your e-commerce site, styled shoot guides and so much more.  Be sure to sign up with the link below to join my Biz Buds email list and get access to these awesome freebies.

May 19, 2021 — KATE TALCOTT