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2018 was an absolute whirlwind. I learned so many things, but I still have so much left to learn. Here are some important things I’ve learned and figured out during my first year in business. 

1.Do you not let fear or anything hold you back. 

Post that picture, enter that contest/fair/exhibition, take that trip, do something new. Go out there and crush it, even if you feel so small and want to stay home and hide. Do it and SHINE! 

2. It’s OK to ask for help sometimes even if you are self-reliant.

This is a hard one for me because I think I can do everything myself, but sometimes (even though you REALLY don’t want to) you have to ask for help. Whether it be outsourcing your accounting, your web design, or help with packaging and shipping. This is something that I need to work on; outsourcing and especially asking for help when I’m overwhelmed. And not just working all through the night for weeks on end. 

3.  It’s OK to take a break. 

I worked every single day for almost 6 months straight, from the beginning of July to the end of December. I was burning myself out. After I finished all my commissions and all my work for the holiday season, I finally took a break. It was pretty relaxing, I read some business books and planned out some ideas for 2019 and watched a whole lot of Netflix. YES, I know it’s still sort of working, but I wasn’t painting and creating, so it’s still a win to me. I learned that I need to take breaks more often so I can refresh and recharge, and come back to create amazing new things. 

4. Make artwork that you want to make and that makes your soul happy, not what others want you to make. 

Make artwork that makes you happy. People will think your work is better when you’re making art that makes you happy. Your art will be better, there’s no doubt that you put your heart and soul into pieces you care about. People can see that you care, and your art will turn out better.  Commissions are great and making pieces for your audience is okay sometimes, but make sure you make pieces that make you happy. If you stick with what your audience wants you to create, you might not want to create anymore, and that would be a shame for your soul and for the world. 

5. Take notes of your process and anything else you may need down the road. 

Take notes on every piece: your mixing instructions, your color mixing formulas, techniques, process, etc. I had a piece that I wish I had taken notes on when I started out, from the beginning of 2018. I had a commission at the end of 2018 that was inspired by this previous piece and I wish I had notes on the exact colors that I worked with. I ended up mixing colors that were very close but it would have saved me so much time if I had just taken notes from the beginning.  

6. Start an email list.

Yes, I know… We’ve all heard the advice about keeping an email list, but seriously… it’s actually important. You don’t have to send an email to your subscribers every week. Shoot for once a month, we all know life can get crazy and that may not even happen, but try your best to start one and keep up with it! Your subscribers can help shape and keep your business thriving. I've seen so many artists sell out collections and releases from just their subscribers before it goes live to the public! 

7. Have multiple income streams.

Having multiple income streams can be a game changer. There are many different ways to make money through your art. You don’t need to only sell original artworks. Different ways to sell your art: originals, prints, commissions, workshops, print on demand, online classes, ebooks, and so much more! Be creative, there are so many different ways to share and sell your art!

8. Do your research.

I listened to so many podcasts and read a lot of articles and books about business, analytics, insights, social media, different art techniques, and many other things. I really think this helped me throughout the year. I vigorously took notes and tried to absorb everything like a sponge. Some great podcasts I like to listen to The Gold Digger Podcast, Artist Helping Artists, and Don’t Keep Your Day Job. One book you HAVE to purchase is Art, Money, Success by Maria Brophy. This book can revolutionize your business and your mindset if you let it. I HIGHLY recommend it. The things that you can learn from researching and talking to other artists, can help make your life, and running your business, so much easier. 


Everyone is on the Internet these days. Trust me, it takes one post on social media to completely change your career and your life. I think that social media today can play a crucial role in promoting your business. It can be intimidating and even discouraging in the beginning if your page isn’t doing as well as you would hope, with likes and followers. Stay positive and keep posting. It takes one post to be shared by a bigger account to get the ball rolling and to change everything. Be consistent and post good content.

10. Let me say it again… DO NOT let fear hold you back, you CAN do this. 

You will doubt yourself at times, you will be scared, but do not let it control you. Say yes to things that scare you. You may not think you are ready for some experiences, but sometimes you just need to say YES and figure it out later. Do not doubt what you can do. Dream big,  go get it, shine on and create!

Thank you for reading! To see what I'm currently working on check out my Instagram @elizabethkarlsonart .  If you want to be first to know about any updates, blog posts, sales etc. please subscribe to my Insider's list.  If you have any questions, inquiries etc. please email me at


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