Today I offer up a few tips for other portrait artists ... please leave a comment and share your own insights if you have time.
#1 Build those relationships!
I am working on this one myself. We have all heard this before and it is true... "word of mouth" advertising is the best kind. I have tried to maintain lists and do mailings and I find this is not my strong suit, however I am working on it.
#2 Keep your sanity ... do artwork for yourself too!
I love doing commissions and yet I find that being able to play with my own "non-directed" artwork keeps me very happy and more than willing to jump through creative hoops for my clients as needed. When you have a lot of freedom in your personal work you tend to be more open to advice and direction in your commercial endeavors.
#3 Go to an art museum or gallery at least once a month
When we were younger it was easy to find ourselves at gallery openings several times a month, after all if the art was bad you still had the free wine and cheese. As we get busier and older we often forget about all the great art that is just down the block. Artists need visual stimulation, and while the web is amazing, there is something special about seeing art in the real world.
Try something new every week. Work in media that you are not good at, paint a subject you have never painted, take a class. Do something to push yourself out of your comfort zone, because the "comfort zone" in our commercial work is our biggest enemy.
#5 Teach, share, and lead.
If you have been doing your own thing for awhile, you must have some of your own special techniques, and ideas for success. You can regard every little thing you do as "secret sauce" and guard your knowledge carefully or you can share and earn the rewards that come from being a leader. In business it is often hard to feel safe sharing, but when you can connect with other artists that also have a lot to give you find that it gets easier and easier to take off the armor.