How to Price Artwork: Your Billable Rate

When you are self-employed, you set the value of your time. You determine how much you make and how much time you spend working. This is one of the best part of self employment—it it can also be the hardest part to get right. Setting your billable rate will make it vastly easier to know how to price artwork.

So how much should you charge for your time as an artist? Start with the big picture (annual goal), and break it into small sections until you get to your hourly rate. Then you have what you need to set a billable rate for your work.

Determining Your Billable Rate

What’s your lifestyle goal?

Identify what monthly/yearly personal expenses you want to support. (Note: these are not business expenses like studio space, materials, computer for work.) Then set an annual salary goal that would achieve this (don’t forget about taxes). At the beginning, start with what you need to survive. Consider basic financial self-dependence a major success to be proud of. Establish a stable income and sustainable operation and it will be easier to grow. 

How much do you want to work?

Your lifestyle covers your personal expenses, but work-life balance needs to be considered as well. Set an hours-per-week target that includes all work: inspiration, practice, production, marketing, sales and administration.

Determine your hourly rate for pricing.

First, take your annual salary goal, and divide it by 52 weeks in the year. As an example, let’s say your salary goal is $52,000. This means your weekly revenue target is $1000 dollars a week. But there’s a catch…

Not all time is billable. Your customer doesn’t want to pay you directly for your administrative, marketing and sales hours. But they will pay for your production. Therefore, your billable production rate needs to account for non-billable time.Using the example above, let’s say your goal is to make $1000 in a 40 hour work week. Your hourly rate (what the business pays you) is $25/hour. But you estimate 50% of your time (20 hours) is spent on hard to bill or non-billable tasks. So to make $1000 a week in 20 hours you need to charge $50/hour—this is your billable rate.

The full equation described above looks like this:

[Annual Salary Goal/(Weekly Work Hours Goal * 52)]/Proportion of Billable Time = Your Billable Rate

Using numbers from the example it looks like this: [$52000/(40 hour x 52 weeks)]/.5 = $50/hour.

To review: 

  • An hourly rate is what the business pays you. 
  • A billable rate is what the business needs to make to cover expenses (like your salary in this example.) 

For a freelancer or a self-employed person getting started, these simple calculations are a good place to start. This billable rate sets the foundation for how to price artwork. This is the number you need to take home. As the business grows, your pricing needs to cover additional costs and expenses as well.

Higher billable rates require more sales energy.

The audience and customer needs to know why your time is so valuable. The higher your prices, the more convincing required.

Communicate your process. Even though we’ve calculated a billable rate using strict measures, the value artists provide transcends any one hour doing your work. Each hour of your work is the culmination of a lifetime of honing your craft. The real cost of art is immeasurable.

Communicate your uniqueness. Help them feel something special that money can’t buy otherwise. Remind your audience they are involved in an exchange that transcends money

Ultimately, as the business grows, billable rates evolve and account for more expenses than the owner’s salary. A sustainable business needs to cover costs of production and expenses besides your salary. Furthermore, to make a “profit” your price needs to exceed your time, costs and expenses.

To dig deeper, read more about how to price artwork and recover direct and indirect costs. If you’re ready to grow your artistic practice, coaching will help you determine your billable rate, and start building a sustainable creative business.


Banner art credits: Mantel Clock by Ulrich Fischer and Lorenz Rothkranz is watercolor and graphite on cardboard from the Index of American Design. The art in the Index of America Design, including Fischer and Rothkranz, catalogs clean well lit renderings of familiar objects without shadow or context. In a graphical style, they lend themselves to digital re-interpolation. Used in this way, the clarity of depiction gives the object the air of a symbol.

How to Price Artwork: the Subjective Price

Basic business pricing strategies—like calculating costs or determining your billable rate—make pricing artwork more approachable. However, it’s the subjective and perceived value of artwork that makes pricing artwork slippery. Still, there are still concrete methods to help determine how to price artwork despite the “relativity” or “subjectivity” of prices in the art market.

The following guides the research involved in selling a client’s art. After determining the minimum price any artwork needs to pay the bills, these questions help weigh and measure a piece’s price against its audience and market.

What can your audience offer?

Collectors, enthusiasts, company art initiatives—all have objective guidelines for their purchasing decisions:

  • Wealth or budget: what proportion of your income are you willing to spend on a discretionary purchase? Your audience has a budget too. A beginner collector who buys 1-2 pieces a year probably isn’t willing to spend more than 5-10% of their annual income on these purchases. 
  • Awareness of costs to produce: one advantage of corporate clients (companies or businesspersons) is that they better understand how the cost of time adds up quickly.
  • Functional needs: does your piece do something that comparable products could do? For example: shade a room, fill a gap in wall space, custom match a design/brand element, show love to a partner. Your audience will know your art has more value than a purchase from a big box store, but they’ll still compare your price to it. The price increase needs to be proportional to the value added by the uniqueness of a custom artwork.
  • Market price: your audience follows and multiple artists the same way you do. Your vision is uniquely yours, but your pricing will still be compared to the other “competitors” your audience follows.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in how artwork transcends value. (Because it does!) But ultimately, these concrete factors play a major role in your audience’s ability to invest in you.

After considering these factors, the subjective comes into focus: 

  • Desire: do they want your work and how much? How much more than alternative (cheaper) solutions?
  • Affect: does the work make them feel something that nothing else can? 

A potential buyer should acknowledge the immeasurable worth of your work—but how much more can they realistically afford? Evaluating the financial situation of our audience members (or simply asking them) provides concrete guidelines for how to price artwork. 

What part of the audience’s offer can the producer influence? And how?

You can’t make your audience wealthier so they can afford your work. But other factors above can be influenced:

  • Educate about production costs: even if they expected big box store prices on art, when an audience member really values your work, it’s a good chance to educate your audience about the cost and time required to produce something they appreciate.
  • Educate about process and materials: do they know about the rigor of your practice? The exclusivity of your technique? What about the quality of your materials? These are all major selling points which get glossed over by focusing on subjective responses to the “image” (or form) itself.
  • Distinction from the competition: That competition may be a set of blinds from a big box store or another artist. Regardless, it instills trust in your pricing when it’s clear you’ve researched their alternatives.

It’s not just desire and affect. Don’t expect to inspire all potential buyers to simply want the work more or fall more in love with it to justify prices. By starting with concrete factors, subjective wants or needs give helpful context to the sales process. Therefore, desire and affect don’t need to drive the whole sale. Instead, they help account for marginal differences or justify differences in perceived value.

But can a producer heighten an audience’s desire? (And offer?)

YES. This is the end goal of marketing and sales in art—help the audience see an artwork’s true value, thereby justifying the price. There are a lot of marketing and sales strategies. A simple one we like is Billy Broas’ Five Lightbulbs—identify the audience’s status quo, and give them a vision of how our offer gets them out.

The concrete market research tactics here are a first step in identifying an audience’s status quo and account for it when determining how to price artwork. If you have artwork you’re ready to sell, you need support. Coaching or management are both ways we can help you develop your marketing and sales strategy.


Banner art credits: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, 1925/1928 by an anonymous imitator. It’s unclear whether this piece was a respectable, uncanny study of Van Gogh’s work or a forgery trying to profit posthumously on the artist’s distinctive style.

How to Price Artwork: the Objective Price

Large or small, new or old, all businesses carefully evaluate pricing—and reevaluate them often. To be sustainable, businesses of every size set a minimum price to cover all costs and expenses. This is the objective angle on how to price artwork.

All businesses have direct and indirect costs associated with goods and services. As artists (especially starting out) your time is the most slippery part. Your time is a cost and an expense. Do you know what it is worth? Breaking it down and following the categories below, is the first step toward paying yourself what you deserve for your work.

Direct Costs of Artwork

Direct costs of a good or service are purchases and expenses (including your time) that would not exist if you did not produce a product or deliver services. These are “direct” costs, because they can be directly connected to specific deliverables. Start here to know how to price artwork.

In a restaurant, direct cost includes the price the restaurant paid for the piece of salmon you ate and the approx. twenty minutes of wage labor put directly into getting your piece of salmon from the cooler to the table.

Often, artists and creative businesses sell both products and services.

Products have material costs directly connected to their production.

Services are time based (usually evaluated hourly or daily)

  • If you are on a job site working (billing for this time is a definite)
  • If you are communicating with your client to plan, strategize, design the service
  • If you are running errands for a gig

Usually, an artist’s work typically includes both products and services. The associated costs are unclear at times. To get started, track your direct costs and time. If these costs are not covered, the business is losing money and not sustainable.

Indirect Costs of Being in Business

Next, billing for direct costs is not enough. Regardless of if a product is sold or service rendered, business has an expense to pay. These indirect costs factor heavily into how to price artwork. “Indirect” costs cannot be connected directly to a discrete product or service. Typically, these are the costs of simply existing as a business, regardless of whether you’re selling anything. They include:

  • Space to make, operate, or store. (e.g. a studio or office)
  • Tools/equipment to make (that are not consumables related to specific products or services)
  • Tools/equipment to operate the business (e.g. computers, software, printers)
  • Insurance to protect in a litigious world
  • Marketing services (or your time planning, producing and sharing content)
  • Professional support services (e.g. accountant, lawyer, creative coach)
  • Sales support (e.g. application/grant fees, sample products)

And don’t forget your time (or your staff’s time) to do these operations. 

How do you know whether your time is a direct or indirect cost? Look at the restaurant example again: when the cook prepared your piece of salmon their time was a direct cost. But when the cook sharpened their knife, pre-heated the grill, and cleaned their station before and after—this time is an indirect cost. The food couldn’t be prepared without this labor, but that time did not directly create the final product sold (your piece of salmon).

Start with Simple Math

First, calculate the direct costs of the product or service you provide. Include time and material direct costs. If you’re not tracking your time and expenses, you should start.

Ultimately, calculating indirect cost requires tracking and bookkeeping. However, if you can estimate annual expenses, break it into the amount of pieces you sell and spread it out over each. If you sell 10 works of art a year, add 10% of your annual expenses to each work’s price

Still not sure how to price artwork? Let’s talk about coaching services to get you started, or flexible bookkeeping services to grow your creative business.


Banner art credits: Money Bag c. 1936 by Roberta Spicer and Scales, 1935/1942 by Peter Connin; both are watercolor and graphite on cardboard from the Index of American Design. The art in the Index of America Design, including Spicer and Connin’s, catalogs clean well lit renderings of familiar objects without shadow or context. In a graphical style, they lend themselves to digital re-interpolation. Used in this way, the clarity of depiction gives the object the air of a symbol.

Financial Tools for Artists: Who Checks on Your Health?

Artists face unique financial challenges—from irregular income streams to managing personal and business finances effectively. Choosing the right financial tools for artists to build healthy personal finance practices ensures stability, well-being and growth. 

First, let’s review the most common and important tools for ensuring long-term strategic financial growth. Then, look at how a financial advisor might help you to better use those tools and finally we will consider how you can plan for the future with an advisor.

(Attend our Pro-session with Financial Advisor Christina Snyder to learn whether a financial advisor should be your next step. Join our Coworking with Creatives invite list to not miss out on future Pro-sessions.)

Monitoring Your Financial Health

At the center of your financial health are two critical financial tools for artists: a balance sheet and a cash flow statement. They will look different for everyone, but should provide the same essential information.

Financial Tool for Artists 1: A Balance Sheet

Download our sample balance sheet.

Think of it as your general physical health. A balance sheet provides a snapshot of your financial situation at any given point, detailing your assets (what you own), your liabilities (what you owe) and net worth. This overview helps you understand your net worth, which is a crucial indicator of financial health. The balance sheet is the big picture of your wealth.

How to use it

First, start by entering accurate values in the respective asset fields, including liquid assets (like cash, checking and savings accounts), investments (such as retirement accounts, crypto, stocks), real property (your home or other real estate), and personal property (vehicles, art, etc.).

This will help visualize the distribution of your assets and understand where your wealth is concentrated. Balance is important for well being.

Next, on the liabilities side, input all current debts including mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and other personal loans. A properly setup balance sheet will subtract your total liabilities from your total assets to calculate your net worth. 

Regularly updating this sheet (e.g., quarterly or annually) will help you track your financial progress over time, identify areas for financial redistribution, and make informed decisions about savings and investments. The balance sheet is a very good indicator of long term financial well being.

Financial Tool for Artists 2: A Cash Flow Statement

Download our sample cash flow spreadsheet.

Think of it as your fitness. A cash flow statement is designed to monitor how money flows in and out of your finances monthly, helping you manage your cash effectively to avoid shortfalls and optimize savings and investments. In early stage business CASH is king. If you can’t pay yourself cash to live, buy supplies to make your products, or pay staff to work you will be out of business shortly thereafter.

How to use it

Cash flow is defined by a time period, usually a month, but could be shorter or longer. To begin, enter all sources of income in the income section, including salaries, freelance payments, owner draws and investment returns. Next, detail your expenses, categorized as fixed (rent, mortgage, car payments) and variable (groceries, entertainment, unexpected expenses). A tool like the sample spreadsheet will calculate the total income and expenses over a time frame, providing a clear picture of your net cash flow (total income minus total expenses).

Then, use this report to identify delays in payments, opportunities to grow income streams, trending spending patterns and areas where you can cut costs. For instance, if you notice a lag in payment for certain services you may consider revising your invoicing or if you see a consistently high expenditure in discretionary categories, consider setting stricter spending limits. Additionally, track the ‘Net Cash Flow’ over several months to gauge the consistency of your savings or the frequency of dipping into savings for regular expenses.

By maintaining diligent records and checking in regularly, you can fine-tune your budget, confirm your payment structure works for outlays of cost of goods or services, and ensure that your spending aligns with your financial goals. You can adjust as necessary to manage seasonal fluctuations or life changes. Being proactive will greatly improve your financial stability and growth. Cashflow will impact your profit (or loss) and your wealth (or struggle to live).

Getting a Second Opinion

Ultimately, good financial tools for artists should be simple and flexible enough to account for the ebbs and flows of creative business. Producing and analyzing these financial documents can be a first step towards financial health.

If you feel like your financial health is in need of support, why not consider seeing someone who can help? A financial advisor might be the person you need to see. They will be able to help adjust your balance sheet and alter the trajectory of your cash. Ultimately, they can ensure you get the most out of these tools, learn to read them, and identify the changes that will have the biggest impact on your financial health.

Financial Advisors for Artists: Guides to Financial Well Being

A good financial advisor is like a doctor: they can diagnose your money issues, direct you to the cure and help you sustain day to day good financial decisions. Despite the unique challenges of creative business, financial advisors for artists can be the difference between success and burnout. 

A financial advisor is intimately aware of how finances impact us mentally and physically. They are sensitive to your relationship to money and how relationships influence money. They know that building wealth—whether you have it or don’t—impacts our health. As trained professionals, they are adept at reading personal and business financial documents and can align your balance sheet with you, and guide you to a healthier cash position. As guides, they can help you define where you want to go financially and show you the path to get there. A financial advisor is a critical member of a thriving creative business team.

(Attend our Pro-session with Financial Advisor Christina Snyder to learn whether a financial advisor should be your next step. Join our Coworking with Creatives invite list to not miss out on future Pro-sessions.)

What makes a good financial advisor for creative professionals?

Good relationships are built on good communication. 

You will know you have found a potential advisor when they welcome your “simple” questions about money and provide an understandable answer for you. Just as important, your financial advisor should be able to tell you things you don’t want to hear, and make you feel willing to listen.

Most financial advisors are adept at personal finances. 

If you are growing a business it can be equally important for your advisor to have a bit of familiarity with your primary source of revenue. Consider looking for someone who has experience with the arts sector and understands the unique challenges and opportunities of creative work. You might even find a collector willing to barter for services.

You are not the first person to seek out support on the complex topic of finances. Ask your peers who are helping them. Particularly, probe the folks whose circumstances seem similar to yours or whose circumstances are the ones you want to have in the future. 

How can you prepare to meet a financial advisor?

Like most relationships it is important to define where you are at and where you want to go together. A financial advisor will be interested in your current situation and what you want your future to look like. Good financial advisors for artists will also be prepared to help handle the ebb and flow of creative business. 

Share your current situation:

  • What is the general idea of your financial situation? You have a financial narrative of where your money comes from, where it usually goes and what it is doing for you, come aware of your journey.
  • What are the specific circumstances of your money? A balance sheet showing your assets and liability gives a snapshot view of your finances. A cash flow projection shows the opportunities to alter your balance sheet and invest in your future. Current financial statements will also suffice to explore the specifics of where you are at.
  • What is your relationship to money? It is important to share your knowledge as well as your comfort with finance. It is hard to know what you don’t know, but admit when the conversation exceeds your comprehension. Also be aware of how your emotions impact your actions with money.
  • What is your risk tolerance? Your ability to grow may require pain, know your limits and consider how you will react to a loss on paper and if you have time for the ups and downs of the fickle market.
  • What do you want to know from the advisor?

Share where you want to go:

  • What lifestyle do you want to live? To keep your household going and indulge in the experiences you desire you will spend a certain amount of money. Know your plan for regular expenses and what a spending plan might look like.
  • What major life milestones are on the horizon? College, marriage, children, home purchase, studio purchase, new revenue streams and retirement can all impact your financial situation. If you have ambitions, you can prepare to financially support those decisions.
  • What do you want life to be like in the future? You can prepare for anything, the key is to know where you want to go!

Consistency is Key

A good financial advisor will have the experience to see how small, incremental changes can have snowballing effects. They can help you create a plan that aligns with your values and then set rules to make sure you stay on track. This can help bring the big picture into focus for day-to-day decision-making. Ultimately it is up to you to meet your long-term goals with long-term commitments. 

Ideally these practices will help you not just to survive, but to thrive both creatively and financially. If you’re looking for tailored advice or need help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out to a financial advisor—especially one who understands the unique nuances of the art world.

Tax Knowledge is Financial Power

Anyone building a business from the ground up has their hands in more things than they want—at first. New entrepreneurs lean heavily on strengths to disguise other weaknesses. If financial management isn’t one of your strengths, then you’ve probably considered hiring an accountant. But do you know enough to get the best results from their work?

Our Finance Friday Co-working Sessions are an opportunity for us to review the financial essentials for tax prep season and other number-oriented knowledge. Tax literacy—understanding taxable income, expenses, cash flow tracking, hiring accountants—will help you get the most from your business. If you do hire an accountant, your tax literacy helps them do the best work for you. 

Be Tax Literate 

Understanding taxes keeps you free of the IRS, and also puts you in a position to more effectively manage your money.

Revenue and taxable income are different.

Revenue (gross revenue specifically) is the total amount of income generated by your business prior to taxes. Your gross revenue is not all taxable income. Let’s use familiar tax forms to unpack this difference.

Remember that feeling when your first check was smaller than you expected after multiplying your rate and your hours? Payroll services automatically deduct taxes from your paycheck (e.g., federal, state, and local personal income tax, social security, FICA, Medicaid, etc.) and submit these taxes to the government through the year on your behalf. A W-2 is the report you receive at the end of the year breaking this down.

If a US company pays an independent contractor more than $600 in a year, they are required by law to file a 1099 with the IRS. If you’ve received a 1099, your payments have been reported to the IRS, and the IRS expects you to claim this on your tax return. Unlike a W-2, the company that paid you as an independent contractor is not required to submit tax payments on your behalf. It is your responsibility to pay this tax.

As a self-employed person or a business owner, expenses help to offset your tax liability. This is the important difference between revenue and taxable income. Many expenses from your work are not subject to tax. They are, literally, “the cost of doing business.”

Your taxable income is your gross revenue minus any qualified expenses and deductions. 

(Good) Money Management Makes Money 

Identifying and categorizing business expenses is fundamental to good financial management in every business. Every major corporation’s financial management needs are different, as is every self-employed person or small business owner.

The key is choosing the right tools (or professionals) that fit your business. The first step toward effective money management business owners must take is separating business and personal finances. This is important for practical and legal reasons.

When you stop identifying your work as a side hustle or hobby and start identifying it as a business, this mental shift has practical implications. When your work is a business, rather than a hobby, revenue and expenses are easier to compartmentalize and organize. This makes us critically evaluate the sustainability of our creative enterprise and hopefully points to ways we can make it more sustainable.

Separating business from personal finances has important legal and tax implications. A business’s formal, legal structure can affect its tax obligations. Creating a legal entity for your business has the added benefit of making it more practical to further separate business and personal finances. As a legal entity, your business can open checking accounts, directly pay for its expenses, and pay you an income. 

Leverage Technology 

Separating your business and personal finances, and tracking them thoroughly requires diligence. Luckily, there are more accessible accounting solutions for growing a business than ever before. Everyone’s needs will be different, but the goals are the same: track financial activities, categorizing revenues and expenses.

QuickBooks is one well-known software solution. One of its major benefits is its familiarity to most—if not all—financial professionals. If you’re going to do your own bookkeeping, consider shopping around for other solutions that fit your needs. If you’re going to hire a professional to do your taxes, consider what software solutions they prefer and what they’ve had success with. 

Welcome Outside Support 

The value of establishing a relationship with a financial professional is not just about making taxes easier—although it can do that. It also is an investment in your ongoing financial health. An outside perspective can help you see things you couldn’t before in your own creative work. The same is true for your business—a financial professional who has strengths you might not can only strengthen your vision.

If it’s not a professional, then consider leveraging your network of peers to seek guidance. Everyone’s situation is different, but we all seek financial security and sustainable, rewarding livelihoods.

Ideally, our co-working sessions provide these opportunities to extend your network of professionals and successful peers. If you are someone who prides yourself on financial literacy, you can be an important resource for others. Cultivating these skills within our creative industry will help bring art and beauty to the world. A co-working session is a great starting point, but ultimately, sound financial management will need to be a cornerstone of your success.

Cash Flow for an Artists: What Is It and Why You Need to Pay Attention to It

Have you ever opened your banking app to look at your balance, only to find it’s much lower than you thought it would be? Not my favorite feeling either, but if you have encountered this sensation, then you’ve experienced the effects of cash flow!

If there never seems to be enough cash on hand for your creative endeavor, consider signing up for our business of art newsletter.


Just like you need to keep an eye on your personal account balance to make sure you have sufficient funds to live, so too do you need to pay attention to what’s coming in and going out of your business to sustain your practice. That, in a nutshell, is cash flow. 

When mastered, strong cash flow for an artist can make the difference between a business that’s healthy and one that’s no longer in business, or the difference between making more art or waiting for the next check. Let’s take a closer look at what cash flow for an artist  is, how to ensure you have a positive cash flow, and the impact that it can have on your arts business. 


What Is Cash Flow?

Cash flow is the movement of money through your business. Typically speaking, money coming into your business is revenue, while money going out of your business is expenses. Cash flow for an artist takes into account both revenues and expenses to date, as well as future revenues and expenses. In this sense, it’s also a forecast of what you can expect financially.  

Cash flow is calculated over a duration of time. Frequently it is analyzed over the course of a month, but you might also calculate the flow for a day, week, quarter, or year. A month tends to be most helpful as “bills” or invoices from vendors are usually calculated on a monthly basis. 

What Is Positive Cash Flow?

Cash ebbs and flows; sometimes we have more cash on hand, sometimes we have less. Having a positive cash flow for an artist means that more money is coming into your business than going out. It’s a sign that your business is healthy. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re profitable, as things can change over time. 

The dynamic nature of your cash position makes it important to look at your cash flow monthly. Consistent check ups allow you to a) ensure you’re not spending more than you’re taking in and b) adjust your forecast of revenue and expenditures of future cash flow to keep sufficient funds on hand to stay operational. And yes, when you are in business for yourself you can control the expenses and revenue. You can put more energy into marketing and sales to increase revenue, and you can reduce costs by changing vendors for products and services.

Additionally, a cash flow report for a certain period is often required by banks and lenders in cases where you need to take a business loan. 


How to Calculate Cash Flow

There are a number of ways to calculate cash flow for an artist, some more complex than others. If you’ve invested in an accounting tool, they frequently offer a cash flow report, but it’s good to still understand how it’s measured. 

A basic cash flow formula looks like this:

Income – Expenses

So, for example, let’s say last month you sold $5,000 worth of art. But you also spent $3,000 in expenses such as supplies and materials, studio rent, utilities, etc. during the same time period. You therefore have a $2,000 positive cash flow for the month; i.e. $5,000 revenue – $3,000 expenses = $2,000 cash flow) .

You can certainly project the same numbers out over a time period, but it’s important to take into consideration that both revenue and expenses are likely to fluctuate over time. That is, you’re not going to necessarily bring in $5,000 every single month, and your expenses may shift based on your business activities. 

But, let’s say you want to project your cash flow for the next four months. That’s a little trickier, particularly for an artist with revenues and expenses that fluctuate. A cash flow report might look like this:

January February March April
Cash at beginning of period $5,000 $7,000 $5,000 $9,000
Estimated Revenue  $5,000 $2,000 $6,000 $3,000
Estimated expenses $3,000 $4,000 $2,000 $3,000
Final Cash on Hand (change in cash + cash at beginning) $7,000 $5,000 $9,000 $9,000


Of course, your cash flow report should be more detailed, with itemized expenses and potentially income (particularly if you have multiple income sources). 

Ultimately, putting together a cash flow report and reviewing it on a monthly basis will help ensure you’re staying on top of expenses, operating within the bounds of your income, and whether or not your business is on a positive track. 

Your cash flow report can also help you prioritize your activities. If you need more revenue, you may want to work on your sales or marketing. If you have ample cash on hand, it may be time to invest in new equipment or more materials. Understanding cash flow for an artist, can give you more time in the studio with better gear to make the things you want to make!


Want help putting together a cash flow statement? I’m happy to help! Set up a time to chat with me or check out one of our Coworking with Creatives sessions

How to Make Money Online as an Artist

A common question artists ask me is how to sell their work online. For some artists, such as those who work in digital mediums, the answer is usually straightforward how to make money online. But for others whose work is more visceral, the answer isn’t always as clear. There are a number of ways artists can use the web to make money online, but there are tradeoffs for the convenience of selling work while you sleep. 

Let’s take a closer look at three common online sales channels open to artists and see how they might help you make money online as an artist.


Your Website

Every artist should have a website to share their portfolio and artist statement. But some artists may want to take their site a step further by turning it into a place to actually sell artwork online. Setting this up can be done fairly easily, even if you don’t know how to code. Sites like Shopify and Wix make setting up a personal website marketplace fairly easy, or if you use WordPress, there’s the Woocommerce plugin, which is free but can be a bit more challenging to figure out.


  • You 100% own the site and can control the content and presentation
  • You can set the price of your artwork
  • General low financial overhead


  • You have to pay for the domain name and website hosting 
  • Potential additional costs for shop/market platform or plugin (e.g. Shopify costs a minimum of $29/month)
  • Setting up and maintaining an ecommerce site takes time and energy
  • You have to manage your own purchase fulfillment: packaging, cost of shipping, and logistics of shipping


Online Fine Art Gallery

There are many art galleries who have digitized over the years, as well as several galleries that are only present online. Ugallery is one of my favorites. Similar to a real-world art gallery, an online gallery curates and sells artist works, often across a variety of media. Some galleries will specialize in a specific medium, a specific geography, etc. Some might be local to you, while others might be more global. 


  • You do not have to run your own digital market place or shop
  • Gallery will market your work for you
  • Professional representation and presentation of your artwork
  • Can potentially be passive income 


  • Limited control of the online experience for your audience
  • Galleries take commissions or charge fees for services
  • You may still have to handle shipping to customer or gallery
  • You may not be excited about the marketing or lack of marketing by the galley
  • Can’t control your own prices


Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces might be the best of both worlds in terms of selling work online. Marketplaces offer the opportunity to control how your work is presented without the financial or time commitment needed to manage your own website. In some ways, they’re similar to online galleries, but they tend to have larger audiences. Etsy is likely the most well-known online marketplace for creative businesses, but there are others. 


  • Control over pricing and presentation
  • Established marketplace brand name
  • Community of other sellers


  • Fees for each sale
  • Algorithm often drives visibility and you do not control the algorithm
  • You have to do your own marketing
  • You have to do your purchase fulfillment

Of course, these aren’t your only options for selling artwork online. There are also social media ecommerce channels like Facebook, as well as online merchandising sites. We’ll cover those in a separate post.


Feeling a little lost? I’m happy to help you figure out which of these channels is right for you. Contact me to set up a chat or check out one of our upcoming Coworking with Creatives sessions. 

Accounting Tools for Artists

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Let’s face it: Doing accounting for your business probably isn’t at the top of the list of things you enjoy doing. After all, you probably became an artist to express yourself, and spreadsheets and tracking income and expenses is probably not your preferred medium. Yet, as someone who wants to earn a living doing what you love most, you need to do at least a little bit of accounting.  

“Why?” you may ask yourself. 

For one, it is important to know your financial health. Just as taking care of your physical health allows you to create more art, a healthy perspective on your money will serve both your business and your creativity. Of course, you want to make sure you report the right amount of income and pay your taxes correctly in order to avoid major penalties and life-wrecking finances later down the road. And you might be surprised by how exciting it can be when you can see how your business is doing financially—especially when you’re profitable. Good accounting will also improve your pricing! Ultimately good accounting can give you more time in the studio and less time worrying.

Luckily, technology is here to help! There are a number of great financial tools for artists out there to help with accounting. Here are three that I like to use and that I’ve seen work well for some of my clients. 

Before we get to the financial tools for artists, it is important to note that the best tools for your business are the ones you will use. A powerful and great looking app may not be as helpful as a paper and pen sometimes. Choose the tool you want to learn and are willing to embrace!


I know, you’re probably thinking there’s nothing less interesting than a spreadsheet. I feel your pain. But hear me out:  The spreadsheet is a powerful tool that, when set up correctly, can make accounting a breeze while also giving you all the information you need to properly run your business. 

The best thing about spreadsheets:  You can set spreadsheets up anyway you like. They’re incredibly flexible to serve multiple purposes, and they are low cost or even free!

The worst thing about spreadsheets:  You have to have a basic understanding of how they work and how to manipulate them to get the most use out of them. They are also pretty boring to look at.

The good news is that there are plenty of templates out there that might be perfect for you, so you don’t have to start from scratch. There are also plenty of resources on how to utilize spreadsheets and even set them up for financial purposes. Finally, there are a number of free platforms out there that offer spreadsheets, such as Google Sheets or Apache Open Office. So, it’s often just a matter of finding the platform you prefer and choosing an appropriate template. 

Spreadsheets are a great financial tool for artists that are just getting started in business. The price is right, they are pretty easy to learn how to use and understand, and there are many individuals who utilize spreadsheets and can possibly help.



Sometimes, it’s good to just pick a well known entity. And in the world of accounting tools, that winner is Quickbooks.

Quickbooks is the industry go-to for accounting software for small business owners. Unlike spreadsheets, you  have to pay for Quickbooks, but they offer a few different packages to fit different budgets. The cool thing about Quickbooks is its many functions.  You can track income and expenses, use it to send invoices to customers, send reminder invoices to customers, manage and pay bills, track inventory, and prepare for your taxes.Quickbooks offers a lot of automation and can connect to your bank account too. Quickbooks might be worth the investment as it will save you a ton of time and headaches.  It also generates reports that can help you make better business decisions that give you more resources (money) and enables more time to create.

Quickbooks is a great  financial tool for artists who have figured out their business to some degree. They likely have gone through a tax season or two and know what their sources of revenue are and what expenses to track. There are excellent resources and lots of professionals to help set it up as well as possibly do the financial work. It is a great financial tool for an artist who wants to automate some of their finance work and is interested in how finances can influence operational decisions.

The challenging thing about Quickbooks is that it requires at least a basic understanding of accounting terminology and principles. It also requires a bit of time and effort to set it up properly. You can certainly do this yourself, but there are plenty of accountants out there who are more than happy to help you with this.


Want something that’s easy to learn, easy to use, and kinda pretty? If so, you might want to consider HoneyBook.

HoneyBook calls itself a platform to get everything done that you need to. In addition to accounting features, it can help you manage projects, clients, proposals, and more. It helps you manage essential documents (contracts, invoices, etc.), and  allows you to streamline client communications into a single platform. You can  manage bookings (such as if you’re scheduling photoshoots) and payments. Honeybook can be a great place to manage your customer contacts, particularly for relationships points like quotes/estimates, invoices, and tax reporting.  For the full price ($390/year at the time of this writing) you get all the platform’s features, but they do have more affordable plans if you don’t want to make that level of financial commitment. 

Honeybook is a great financial tool for artists who want to integrate their finances, customer information, and production calendar, while creating a high-touch experience for customers. It doesn’t quite have the support system of spreadsheets and Quickbooks, but there are resources and individuals who can help get things set up properly.


Want to learn more about financial tools for artists? You’ve come to the right place. Check out my upcoming Finance Friday coworking session where we’ll discuss all things financial for your artist business. Or if you have a burning question now, don’t hesitate to contact me


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Pricing Artwork doesn’t have to be magic: How do I Price My Artwork?

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“How much should I sell my art for?” 

Too often, I find that artists asking that question don’t have a good sense of what their work is worth and are vastly undervaluing their art. 

Case in point: I have a client who was recently offered a commission for $2,000. It sounded great on the surface, but when we dug into the details, we realized the project would run six weeks and prevent the client from doing any other work. Projecting out based on that one project, this artist would make less than $18,000/year. Basically minimum wage. 

Your work is worth more than that, isn’t it? I certainly hope you believe it is. 

So how should you price your art? 


Subjective vs. Objective Pricing

Artists frequently price their work subjectively, meaning they give it a price based on what they think its value is. But price and value are two different things. 

Value is what an artwork is worth to somebody. It’s subjective because many factors go into the value of an artwork, such as the owner’s sentiment towards it, rarity, age, etc. When we say something has a “market value,” that’s basically what a piece could get in a market. But that doesn’t always mean it’s what someone is willing to pay. 

Price, on the other hand, is objective. Or at least it’s based on some objective measures. Price is a function of supply and demand (I know…economics terms always make me groan, too). As an artist, you control the supply of your artwork and you can influence the demand (see blog post: art marketing plan). 


How to Price Your Art

Luckily, there’s a relatively simple way to price your art (the objective part), though it does require a little bit of math.

(Good accounting can help you with this part)

First, you need to consider what the cost of your supplies are. That includes all the items you need to make your art (tools, materials, etc.) but it also includes things like your rent for your studio, electricity and heating costs, etc. Basically, anything that you need to create your work should be included. This is where tracking your finances comes in handy. 

Secondly, you need to figure out your hourly rate. Even though we don’t like to think of ourselves as hourly workers, this is an essential step to coming up with a fair market price for your work. To calculate this, consider what you would like to make annually before taxes. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say $52,000/year. 

To calculate your hourly rate, you need to divide the annual salary by the number of hours you work each week. First, divide your annual salary by 52 (there are 52 weeks in the year), and then divide that number by the number of hours you work. For argument’s sake, let’s say 40, since that’s the standard for full-time work. Here’s what that looks like:

$52,000/52 weeks = $1,000 per week

$1000 per week/40 hours = $25/hour

That’s your hourly rate. Now, consider how long it takes you to complete a single piece of art. Let’s say something took you five hours to finish. 

5 x $25/hour = $125

But that doesn’t account for things like supplies. Let’s say it costs you $50 in supplies to make a particular piece. Thus, your total cost would be $175 (your labor and supplies). It’s important to note that this should be considered the base price. Don’t forget you have to add in other factors like a portion of your studio rent, insurance, marketing costs and other overhead items. The price needs to be closer to $300 (labor + supplies + overhead)

Ultimately, how you price your work should be a combination of objective (the real costs like labor, supplies and overhead)  and subjective (the desirability, rarity and non-measurable things) approaches. It should meet your bare minimum of what you need to make to sustain yourself as an artist, of course, AND you can also take into consideration how others feel about your art.  The good news is, that could be a whole lot more than you think!

If pricing still feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. It takes time to figure out your numbers. It can also be helpful to have someone to talk to about it. Feel free to reach out for a chat if you want more space to think out loud with someone. 

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