We're pulling back the curtain for this episode's on-air profit coaching session. We are joined by artist, teacher, and community leader of Artists Strong, Carrie Brummer. As an artist, you can spend so much time being in your head, getting caught up in non-stop creation. However, profits come from taking calculated action. Sometimes self-doubt can trip us up or maybe we don't know which idea we should tackle first. That's why getting an outside perspective of a coach can be so rewarding.
Heather deeply dives into Carrie Brummer's current offerings, including a virtual art course with online support. Through their conversation, Carrie finds validation on pricing her worth. She also has some ah-ha moments triggered by their off-the-cuff brainstorming. If you're a creative trying to monetize your talents, tune in. Their conversation includes membership, pricing fine art, creating community, and much more.
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On Air Coaching Carrie Brummer
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Carrie Brummer, welcome to Get the Balance Right podcast.”
Carrie Brummer: “Thank you very much. I'm really happy to be here.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “You're a wonderful painter and you've been doing interesting things in the art world. Just to start off, let me know like where you're at with all the things you're doing.”
Carrie Brummer: “You know, I think it's quite normal for artists to have their hands in many pies. I dunno what the phrase is. I always have them wrong, but hopefully, you get the drift. I have found for myself personally that our education is a huge part of my work as an artist. I really like empowering other creatives.
And it typically comes through me trying to encourage skill development, because I feel like that often limits people's willingness to take risks, and their confidence levels. I know that we can build our skills and if that's something I can help people with, then let's do that so that people can really do the things they want to do with their art.
And that's something I do with my community and platform called artists strong. Personally, I have my own artist practice and I have throughout all these years. So I used to teach in schools and then I moved online to Artist Strong. throughout this process, I'd been developing my own voice, trying to figure out what I wanted to say as well as my own skill development and in the past five years, I feel like I've really found where my heart is. It's portraits that help tell stories of women that may be our unsung or we overlook Unique circumstances. I have two bodies of work right now. One that's mostly done. And one that's just started were in both scenarios, women were in predominantly male job roles of the time period.
So one's historical and one's contemporary. I like the conversation that can bring up. I like that I'm spending time physically with these women by painting their portraits or drawing them it's tied to Artist Strong, in terms of that idea of lifting everyone's voice. But obviously, it's my own personal practice.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Oh, wow. Very cool. And I checked out some of those online, we'll have a link in the show notes so that people can check these out because they're very powerful. are those real people that you're painting?”
Carrie Brummer: “Great question. Yes. The first body of work that I was talking about is called anonymous woman, I stumbled upon these photographs of women from the 1940s who were training to be cabbies and photographers while men were off at war in the United States. They were so joyful in the photographs that I found.
I truly just stumbled upon them in the U.S. archives. But it hit me in this kind of weird moment that they were worthy of being documented for the novelty of their job role, but not a single one had their names recorded. I stopped everything that I was doing and said, this is the work I need to be doing.
I call them Anonymous Women, not because they were anonymous to their own family or friends, but anonymous to us in this historical context because of that disinterest or lack of value that was perceived in documenting their names. I wanted to physically give them time. So I do laborious craft activities, sometimes. So I'll hand embroider into the paintings in addition to painting them. And then I named each of those women to try to honor their memory.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Wow. That's so powerful. Wow. That is so amazing. what is your long term goal?”
Carrie Brummer: “Oh, this is part of why I was looking forward to this conversation. When I think about having a career in the arts, I have always chosen teaching because I felt like it was a safe and more secure path. That's part of what society communicated to me. That's what family and friends, but honestly, it's also in terms of health insurance in the United States.
When I started teaching, it was 15 years ago or more, there were no rules on preexisting conditions for health problems, if I started, trying to get my own coverage and was out on my own as an artist and I needed beds or anything like that I didn't want to have that extra expense. I was scared around that. Having had health issues in my early like 18 to 24. I was like, I'm not doing that. And I loved teaching and being in the classroom. So I started with high school students. It was security. It was a stable paycheck. I had time built in that could allow me my own art.
But in the back of my mind, I always wondered what would I do with my art? If I gave myself that time to let it be everything I wanted it to be moving forward. I ended up teaching overseas. I moved to the middle east. I taught in Dubai for six years at an American school there.
Still teaching, working on my voice, exhibiting my art, but still the art's always part of my life, but not necessarily. Something that I'm trying to push in terms of selling a focus on exhibition, but exhibition does not mean sales, which is something a lot of artists don't understand either or think about.
And that's always been a priority. But even today now I teach online I still feel this sense of like teaching is safe. I'm trying to, reenvision kind of this balance of how do I make time for this artist's practice and really give it the time it needs.
So that I'm not doing a solo show once every two years, for example, which isn't necessarily financially sustainable. And also give time to the teaching, which I care so much about.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “What is working well right now in what you're doing?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have some paid programs that are really developed and set I'd been launching them periodically they were an evergreen option, but I never really. Talked about it a lot. So that's something I am trying to do a lot more of is talking a lot more openly. I have this course it's called Self Taught to Self Confident.
You can learn drawing foundations whenever you want. You can start right now, go to my website and I'm trying to be more articulate in terms of here's where you can buy for me. Here are my offerings I do feel like my sales. they're not as plentiful as I hope to reach, but they are consistent.
They're showing up and people are interested in getting results. So that feels like it's stabilizing. On some level my artist practice, I am now trying to squeeze in between this puzzle is two years ago. I had a beautiful little baby girl. I am now the full-time caregiver.
In addition to these essentially two different businesses. That's part of what's made me think, okay, how can I integrate them more and make it that they're more reliant on each other in some way, or that I can maybe remove some responsibilities to make space for the others but it's in harmony with my goals and values for both.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Just so that I'm clear on what we're talking about, because you have so many things going on. So you have this course it's an online course do you mind if I ask what the price point is for this?”
Carrie Brummer: “Sure. It is $297.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “This is like a hour long course. Is it like several days? How long is the course?”
Carrie Brummer: “It's a six week program. It's very in depth, kind of art foundations, helping people build their skill. But part of the package, they get to download the program. They have it for the life of the course, which is indefinite at this. At this point. And then I do monthly Q and as to help students.
So they get one Q and a with me for a month for the calendar year in which they sign up to help them get feedback and not feel the pressure of having to commit to those six weeks.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “And they get all that for $297?”
Carrie Brummer: “Yes.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. That sounds way too low.”
Carrie Brummer: “Okay, good. Bring it on. This is one of reason I'm really excited to be here, Heather is not only do I probably need to hear these things. I actually genuinely hope too, that people in my community hear that I am still learning I should not be on any pedestal. We all have things to continue to learn and figure out.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “If you don't mind me asking, how long have you had this course in place? Has it been around for a year?”
Carrie Brummer: “Three, maybe three or four years. It was initially Better Drawing Boot Camp, but then I called 30 students. I got feedback on the program. I improved the curriculum and then I rebranded it. Because so many of my students identified as self taught. I changed the price then, and I rebranded as Self Taught to Self Competent. And this year, actually this next six month window, my focus is actually to review the program and update it again.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. So they get all of this for indefinite time, and then they also have access to you on a, like once a month. Okay, so once a month is it like a zoom situation…”
Carrie Brummer: “Yeah, essentially, I have a software called webinar jam. That's like Zoom and I use it so that I can digitally draw on their art to give them feedback on the work that they're doing inside the program. We also discuss mindset. So it depends on their questions. It's a Q and A office hours kind of session.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “I would have to go and look at what other artists are charging, but just based on what you're telling me and the caliber of artwork that you produce, that. You should be getting far more money for what you're worth I've taken art classes, like at a local university or art school or whatever, and I can spend almost a thousand dollars on an art class.
You know, if you're really passionate about this, this is an area where people are willing to spend money because, even if they're, I'm gonna say, quote, unquote, an amateur, if they're just someone that's wanting to learn, sure they can watch YouTube videos or whatever, which I'm sure. Part of what you're competing with but at the same time, you're also offering this other level of one on one.
I would really think about charging more for not only the course, but also this time with you how many people show up? it like maybe couple people show up for office hours or is it a bunch of people? How does that work?”
Carrie Brummer: “It depends too on has it been a recent big launch and then I might have kind of a batch of students. So the most I've ever really had on is probably like 10 or 15 at a time, but usually it's somewhere between two and six.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Two and six. Okay. And how long do you, did you say that they have access to you? Is that a year?”
Carrie Brummer: “It is a calendar year from so say that they sign up in March of this year. They only get me till December for the Q and A but there's no way for me to track all the individual students and the signups for the Q and A sessions by the year of their purchase, I'd have to…I don't know if I were going to do that. I'd have to think about the tech.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Right. Depending on how many people you have signing up. You could have some sort of spreadsheet that tells you, that date and then an end date or something I'm not familiar with the software that you're using, but I would imagine that there's some way to output the date of purchase.
And then you make a spreadsheet and it has a formula in there that says when their time is up and so you'd have to have something in there where they wouldn't have access anymore to, the Zoom call so that would be the challenge, do you enjoy those types of calls?”
Carrie Brummer: “I do. And truly part of my values as an educator a key ingredient to skill development is feedback. You can grow to a certain point. That's one reason. Coaching is so valuable even outside of the arts, right? Like you can grow to a certain point, but when you have eyes that either have already done it before, or who are even on the same page as you, but it's not your work to have that regular feedback speeds your development and really helps you get to where you wanna go. And because so many of my students, they don't necessarily wanna learn how to draw because they like drawing. They feel like something's lacking in their art because they don't have it. So I'm trying to help them get back to their studio practice. And see this as a study period. In fact, a lot of times they end up going to their medium of choice. Oil or acrylic in the course and start getting feedback on their actual work and context of the lessons. And I don't feel like that's something I can put into the course. I don't know how I'd inject that into the course without that live real time opportunity for feedback.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “When you are having these office hours, are they bringing in actual paintings and showing them to you?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have a procedure where they post digital images. I teach them how to take photographs of their art so that I actually have a JPEG that I can then open up on Photoshop, for example. And then I have a tablet that I used to draw on it.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Have you offered any of these students? Like a one-on-one? So when you have the calls where it's several people could be four to 15 people, how many of them actually get to have a critique? Is it mostly they come to watch, or do they have to sign up ahead of time? Or how does that work?”
Carrie Brummer: “That's a good question. So far the numbers have been enough that I give an hour I have almost always been able to get to everyone's questions in that hour. I have in the past, tried to have a higher tier price point for the program where they get six months of one-on-one time with me in some way, you know, like a Voxer chat or I don't know, WhatsApp or whatever it is, but I, think I only ever had one taker. I do think that's partly because it was right when the program was new. And again, with these numbers, one-on-one if people are getting their feedback, they're not gonna necessarily wanna upgrade. For the one-on-one, when they're essentially getting that in the group calls at this.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Exactly. Yeah. You're cannibalizing your offer. I would encourage you to think about increasing the price of the course…that seems way too low. I would increase that and play around with it, you could let people know that the price is going up and see if a whole bunch of people buy it. Just keep, inching it up you don't have to go to a thousand dollars, but, I would inch it up a little bit, and then as you go up, maybe add some other bonuses. There's gonna be the people that are grandfathered in. Maybe give them one month or two months for free. So they get a feel for what it's like, but after that I would start charging for it. I really don't think that people are gonna not buy your course because of that. Have you had any feedback about that?”
Carrie Brummer: “People have signed up for the course and not taken advantage of the calls. They can post under the lessons, images of their art within the website. I use teachable as my platform, people can, receive comments there and get. general feedback on their art via text. it's not the same as the hand drawing and the kind of personalized conversation. And people have done that.
Something you have me thinking about too is…I used to have a Facebook group for it. But I am really working hard to separate from that platform. There's one group left. They have it till the end of this calendar year. And I have got a new platform from Circle, which actually integrates with Teachable.
I just opened that up as a community platform and I wanna have as. Space specifically for all of my Self Taught to Self Competent students. So I've started to showcase that as a benefit, but I do think, I'm not gonna rebrand, but I'm gonna be reviewing and improving the program this next six months.
And then they have that. And then the Q and As, I think this is an opportunity to address price point. Even if it's not, to the ultimate price that I'm thinking of. So I definitely think I could. That it's something that came up too. I don't know if you've heard of Akimbo.
I just finished the marketing seminar with them it was amazing. And it made me think I have been positioning that course with a different kind of course, in terms of competition. My colleagues, a lot of them have one-off Paint Like Me programs, but this is a foundational art class.
This isn't a You Can Paint Like Me by the end of this class, you're gonna have a painting a landscape that looks like my style. I was starting to look and think about what other programs out there are like that? And as you've said, most of those programs are a much higher price point, even for virtual online learning.
That's been in the back of my mind, but I've been scared to do.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Yeah. I completely understand that but, if you can start to inch things up how do people find out about your course to begin with? You said you have a Facebook page, but besides that, how are people discovering you?”
Carrie Brummer: “I've been blogging. Artists strong was formed in 2014, but I'd been blogging three to four years. Even before that. So I've been blogging for a really long time. My SEO is good and Pinterest has been a really good place for me. So a lot of people find me organically on Pinterest they find my blog posts there and sign up for my email list.
Generally, it's directly from my email list that I'll announce that I have a free workshop. Generally, when I do a launch, I'll have a free webinar workshop where I teach something of value then say, if you wanna dig deeper than join Self Taught to Self Competent. So that's my main primary way of doing it.
I just redid my homepage so that people can literally click on offerings and just go click on any of the courses I have so that if they wanna buy right now, they can, and they don't have to wait for that video sequence to be able to jump in.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “It's an evergreen course there's not like a launch time? Okay, good. What is your ideal vision? If I could wave a magic wand, what is your ideal vision for all of this?”
Carrie Brummer: “I want to replace my teaching salary, which I haven't yet. And I'd like it to be through a combination of sales of my art and my art courses. And I feel like if I can get some of these systems in place for my programs which I'm, I feel like I'm on my way finally. Like I'm being a little more realistic about the time I have That I can make more time as part of my artist practice.
What I was thinking is I've been essentially running them almost as two separate companies. that's added this additional aspect of labor mentally, in addition to just the physical, like I don't blog regularly on my art email list. I am not as good about my emails with my art community that's about my original art.
I am trying to empower more people in my Artist Strong community to show up, because one of the goals there. I realized it's not just a community it's a movement of people who believe the arts are important. And they're trying to show up both by example and say, my time is worthy of art time.
So many people feel permission to watch streaming service, but they don't feel permission to buy art supplies. It makes me so mad. That is a driving force for why I'm doing that work. And I'm noticing that those are the people that are drawn to it too. And they want to be part of that change.
They don't just want the art education for me. They wanna take a stand in that way too. So I'm starting to reframe it as a movement of people. Step one, in that is, I've just opened up an artist residency option. That's a digital residency for artists in the community to spend four weeks blogging on the Artist Strong platform about their own art and their own journey.
That way, again, it's not just me and my voice and it also allows me maybe some space to step back and tied to that. I was thinking I could then periodically be one of those guest artists blogging about my work, which allows me and makes it kind of part of the experience to be showing that I am a practicing creative myself.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “So the people that are the guest bloggers, are they paying a fee to do this?”
Carrie Brummer: “It's an application fee. So I'm treating it like an artist residency. So typically speaking, an artist residency, someone gets to apply. Sometimes there's an application fee often there is, and then they will travel somewhere. They may or may not get a stipend to work on a project over a certain period of time.
I'm bringing that to a digital space right now. There's no application feed though. I've told people that may change and it's application process and they get four weeks. So they're gonna commit to a project. They have to propose a project that they're going to work on or talk about over the four weeks and then they can choose.
However, they decide to communicate it on Instagram Lives that embed to my, to the blogs each week, whatever. So that's the idea behind it is to help them start showing up for themselves, take that risk to share their voice have accountability. Because if you're saying you're gonna do it for this, then you know, you better do it, especially if it's something you wanna proudly put on your CV to help future opportunities. So right now that's where it's at, but this has literally just been launched maybe two weeks ago. So it's very new.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “And the application…how lengthy is it? Does it take you a long time to go through and read these applications?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have not because I just released it two weeks ago. I have not actually had to do it yet. I'm waiting. I wanted to give people a couple weeks time, to deal with the announcement and have an application. So I'm going to see some of that now. So thank you. I will definitely make a note of that for my time.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Yeah, I would definitely think about that because, I don't want you trading time for money, but at the same time, we have to think about how long, because that's taking time away from you doing all your other work. we wanna make sure that you're compensated for that because who knows, there's probably gonna be some ones that are not so great, but you've now I'm air quoting wasted time reading through these you wanna make sure that people are serious and if they are serious then they'll pay more. Because they know it's a better opportunity, otherwise you're gonna get like those tire kickers.”
Carrie Brummer: “Yeah. Making work for myself. Yes.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Exactly. Let's talk about…so you have the course now, you've got this application, which is gonna be another revenue stream… hopefully, you get paid enough so that it is an actual revenue stream and it's not sucking up your time. And then the other part is selling your art. You talked about, having gallery shows that doesn't necessarily mean that you're gonna sell things.
As far as selling your art, how are you doing that? Are you actually selling the actual pieces? Are you selling prints of the pieces? What are you selling?”
Carrie Brummer: “Like for the Anonymous Woman series I did have an exhibition and I sold the work at the event, and after some works are still available. I also did a limited edition release of one of the works as a print, to test a fine art print option. I feel that the labor behind that and the investment in getting the prints to make sure you can mail them out and all that I've done presales too, to test it and stuff. But I have not found that to be worth the labor right now. Essentially, what I've done is had a launch release. I release a body of work at one time and that's first dibs for people and that did incentivize some decent sales. But then I moved from Canada to the U.S. I had a baby. I haven't had, like the making of the artwork is key to have another launch to release new work. So since then I've been doing periodic promotions, just highlighting different works. Maybe trying to throw in a limited edition print with the sale of an original. I don't want to discount my artwork.
That's important to me. I feel like it's a point of respect for people who already invested in the work as well. That's where I feel a bit stuck is. I've applied for grants before, and that has been a helpful way to, get some money, to help create the work. But I'd love to envision a way to create some kind of product or slash service that lets people support me like a Patreon, but not that. I have a Patreon. I use it mostly for Artists Strong; at one point tried to do it with my art, but I felt like the management of that became make work for my art.
Keeping track of who needed prints or whatever benefit or bonus they were getting. And I'd like to simplify that somehow, but have something like that. I think of like too, like when local communities go in and invest in a local farmer and choose to buy only their produce from that farmer for a season.
And you have that output of investment you have a yearly fee or something, but then you get something back. I'd really like to, reenvision kind of a financial model for artists that somehow is supporting them as they make the work, but somehow brings value to the people who are investing in them. I don't know what that looks like yet.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “For your artwork, let's just go back to that. Putting a price on art is difficult. did you sell through a gallery and did they take 50%, or how are you selling these pieces?”
Carrie Brummer: “I was working with a city gallery, so it was a public gallery space and usually nonprofit and in public, they took 20%... so they didn't take very much at all. And I sold six or seven pieces. The highest price point for one was $3,500. The smallest price point was like $115, I think. So it was a range of work and it wasn't, again, it wasn't like a salary, but if that was a quarterly income, that wouldn't be too bad. It was somewhere in between with the art education stuff. It would be lovely to do a quarterly launch of original work, but that would mean I can't teach anymore. In terms of the time it takes to make the work.
I feel like I'm all over the place with you, but I hope it shows too, just how many ideas I have and how I really am actively trying to figure out how to integrate them so that I'm giving myself the space for the work.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: I completely understand because I, too, suffer from idea syndrome where I have so many ideas. That's what happens with creative people. We have all these ideas and then it just takes so much time to implement each thing. Then it's like, what do I work on next? And then it's like this analysis paralysis We don't want you getting stuck in that. Is your priority getting more money at this point or is your priority producing more artwork?”
Carrie Brummer: “I want more time to make my art. I think that is probably the greatest priority. More than money, just for personal kind of soul food, I guess. You could say making is a very important part of my identity and how I manage stresses of life. So I do think that's a priority, but there's also part of me. That's like, how could I possibly make more money right now if I'm not making new work, like that's in my head as well.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “You have a course people can buy… it's not taking your time. If we can increase the price on that… because there's no labor time. On the flip side, if you could get money also from that one hour that you've committed each.”
Carrie Brummer: “Mm-hmm.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Increase things as well. And if you could possibly sell some other packages where, again, it's using up your time, but if you were able to… I don't know how much you would charge per hour for private sessions, but you could do like a group of them or something like that.”
Carrie Brummer: “So I do have one service package that I've recently come up with this past year that I like, and is not a huge time suck. And it's really wonderful way to connect with people. It's still tied to Artist Strong stuff, for sure. It's called Happy Ever Artist. And I have an automated email that goes out once a week to clients on a Friday.
It asks them, what did you do this week? What's a big problem you had, what do you plan to do next? They reply to it. I personally reply to that email on usually a Monday I try to time myself to keep it under five to 10 minutes an email. I figured out the price point tied to the number of minutes I spend on them. The package is only $200. So it's again, not a huge price point and it's a six month automated email. It means I spend a couple hours on a Monday replying to clients who are getting personalized feedback, but it's not real time. And it's accountability, like a lot of artists want someone to help them follow through on things.
And they also still want someone to have an eye on the work that they're making. And so it gives them both of those pieces. And I am finding, I just did a launch of that and had four more people sign up for it. So I felt pretty good about that.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Yeah. And you might be able to increase the price on that as well. Have you ever had a group program that you offered as well?”
Carrie Brummer: “Historically, I had a program called The Circle. I think it was a six month membership and we had a twice-monthly call. I think it was. And then there were an assortment of one-off courses that kind of helped them establish themselves. There were two levels; it was like one for someone really focusing on voice. And then there was another level for people who were starting to think, do I want to sell my work or exhibit? And what would that look like? So there were one-off, little courses inside, attached to this call to help people support them wherever they were. And that went really well. I'm not sure being a full-time caregiver, how to do those live calls anymore. So it's there in the back and people have asked for it. They miss it. So yes… that's kinda where that is.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “What if you were to do something that was a little bit shorter timeframe, and then that way you could have it released maybe less of a time commitment? The thing with your course and them having access to you, at such a low price point, it really is making it difficult for people to think why would I pay extra money to have access to her?
If I have this free time, I might as well use this free time. And we know art is an expensive hobby. If it's a hobby, it's an expensive one. But I do think though that people will pay more because they're in it., But if they see like, oh, I get access to her for free, they're less likely to shell out the money, but we wanna give value.
I understand that, but because you're doing it at such a long timeframe, they have access to you for a whole year. And it's only $297. You could be making way more money with this.”
Carrie Brummer: “Thank you, Heather. It's good for me to hear things like this and have a fresh perspective cuz as I was saying feedback is so valuable for everyone, wherever they are and not just for their art for all parts of our lives.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Now with your art. Are you working in oil?”
Carrie Brummer: “Historically, I did. I now do predominantly work in acrylic and I recently rediscovered my love of colored pencil actually. So I've been doing some kind of realistic drawings and colored pencil and . Craft materials. I bought a bunch of sequins. I'm hoping to put in some of my drawings or paintings somehow. So we'll see.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Wow. Okay. So we mentioned that art supplies are very expensive and I hate the idea of saying okay, a painting has this much in art supplies. It takes this much time because…trying to put that kind of a value on art is so difficult. But at the same time, we are selling a product in some ways.
So we do have to realistically think of it that way. I see artists that spend so many hours on something and then they're like selling it for like $250. It's what did you get paid? Like a dollar an hour to do this? Granted, it is a passion. I understand that. But at the end of the day, if you wanna make money at it, we also have to think about it that way.
How do you figure out the price of your art currently?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have never liked the like, there are some formulas for like price per square inch. I don't do any of that. Some people like that. It, or at least it's a starting point while they calculate I looked at. Two contemporary artists that I'm colleagues. I think of as friends. And I looked at kind of their price lists.
And then I looked at the work I was doing and considered my time, especially with the hand embroidery that goes into not all the pieces, but some of them. It's not a flat price per size of work, because if it's a drawing or if it's an acrylic that doesn't have the embellishment, that can be a lower price point.
But if it has like hand beading at some point or hand embroidery things like that, I am. Thinking about my labor and trying to keep track of some of the hours that I put into the work when I'm pricing them. And then that of course then has to relate to the same size for all the works. So if I have four 16 by 20 pieces, they all have hand embroidery and one was a lot longer to stitch than others. I try to find like an average and then all four of those are the same price.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “I don't wanna say anything that would like offend an artist or anything like that. I'm just coming from an accountant’s perspective. When you're thinking of that if you're gonna sell at a gallery, and galleries traditionally take 50%...are you doubling that price then?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have added on. So when I did that Anonymous Woman series, I knew that they would take 20%. So I don't know that I added a full 20%. I played with the numbers though, and it's been a while for that series. So I don't remember, but when I do a release, if I know that there's gonna be a gallery where I'm showing and they're taking a percentage, I absolutely try to consider that.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. Perfect.”
Carrie Brummer: “And then that's just the flat fee too, then on my personal site… so for example, that exhibition's been done in Ottawa for years now, but I have some work left over, so I have them up and you can just hit a button to purchase them on my website and that price has not dropped either.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. When you do that, how does the shipping… how does that come into play?”
Carrie Brummer: “I have also been trying to price higher because I find that a huge objection people have to buying work online is then dealing with the drama of shipping costs. How much is it gonna cost? What's that gonna look like? So my price includes shipping.
And so again, I like in terms of pricing, I actually feel more confident with the pricing of my art, than I do with my courses and programs.
I am more willing to jack up the price of my work because…I don't know… it's maybe cuz of there's a little more blood, sweat and tears physically in the like needles jabbing into my finger when I'm embroidering… yeah…right now, I have some pieces that are almost 16 by 20, and I think they're all 15 to $1,700 a piece and a lot of people, it depends again on the kind of work you're looking at but there are people selling works that size for two to $400.
I am not doing that. people have purchased these works at these price ranges. They're not all selling out immediately. But I do have interested collectors.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay, good. I know that you've shown at museums before, right?”
Carrie Brummer: “Yeah. I was very fortunate in my early twenties that I created this painting out of this random health circumstance. I really let go. It helped me like really access my intuition and I made this painting without any planning in four hours just really came out. And then there was this competition that came up and I was like, this painting is perfect for it.
And it was selected as a final. The two pieces that I did actually in that time period. And they traveled the us in a two year tour of different galleries. And they stopped at the Smithsonian in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Wow. That's is so awesome. That is really cool. Yeah. I wanted to ask you about that, cuz I saw that in your notes. I'm also wondering with your course, one way to increase the price would be to offer something, some kind of bonus in there that would appeal to them. I'm just thinking out loud. So I really, I don't know what would be an attractive bonus for them, but you talking about you making the art. To me, it's like seeing an artist create art is, seems like that would be fascinating to watch, especially if I was trying to produce art. Have you ever filmed yourself doing the art or is that something you just put up on social media or would that be something that people would be willing to pay extra for?”
Carrie Brummer: “Good question. I don't know. I do photograph, so I try to take a picture at the beginning and end of every studio session so that I can make a video slide show of the progress of the piece. I don't always record it live while I'm painting. But I have done that and I made a bunch of these video slides to help release.
Like when I launched that series, I released a video of kind of each of the women, every, for the two weeks prior to the show, things like that as to. Motivation and excitement and people really did respond. Something that it made me think of was it might be nice to have a bonus studio hour, so then it's not more work for me, but we all show up and get on the video and say hello.
But then we all are working in our studios on. they could be working on their coursework and it makes them have to show up and there's a sense of community that everyone's there. And I could actually use that hour for my work as well. And then show them let them participate in that in some way.
I'm gonna, I have to write this down, but it got me excited.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “That is a really great idea because it's also holds them accountable as artists, as well to keep producing and then there could be a feedback time where everyone shows what they're working on or I've done similar things where it's like everybody works on doing sales calls at the same time. We work on social media at the same time or something like that, but this is great because the way those kind of calls go is everyone describes what they're gonna work on and then they go do it. And then at the end we come back and we're like, this is what I did! It motivates you to do these things.
Yeah, you could utilize this time to work yourself. What do you think that, could be a bonus or that, in itself could be what they get and then if you wanna have that one-on-one time or the group time with you, that could be an extra.”
Carrie Brummer: “Okay. Yeah. I need to… I'll have to lay out things cuz I have a bunch of bonuses that I use when I launch I have a course called color with confidence. That's a very introduction to color theory. And then I started something called the Beginners Bundle. That's like, how do you hold your pencil? What kind of a resource should you use? It's like the beginning of drawing basics, and those are paired when they purchased during the launch cycle. So there's like some added benefits then, but it would be nice too…if I… if I'm talking about revisioning pricing, having an offer like that could be nice and a way to do it.
I feel resistance to letting go of the monthly Q and A. I need to think about why more, there's someone that I'm thinking of in my head. That's not an artist or an art teacher, but she's an entrepreneur. Her, name's Denise Duffield-Thomas. She's a money mindset coach, I guess you could call her.
And she's been in the back of my, little like entrepreneurial world, for a long time now. And she does a monthly Q and A for her program, but her program is over a thousand dollars or more now. And they get it for… I don't know if it's for the whole year for life. And so I need… yeah, I think I need to digest and sit with this more and go then what would the price point be? And maybe it is an upper tier. Yeah, I don't know.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “I like to give one-on-ones and freebies to my people as well. And, giving value is so important, but we also wanna make sure that you're getting paid enough money. Those other things that you were talking about, you could have like a bundle price where they pay a little bit extra and then, have a tier, it could be like a three-tiered price where it's they just get this or they get this in this and that. Or they get all of these things and you probably be surprised that people will go for that higher bundle because you just, the way that you price it is such that it makes sense for them to just add on. Well, for 150 bucks more, I get all of this! Maybe think about how you can price that so that it makes sense, you feel comfortable with it, and you're making more money! Before we wrap up, what are some…and yeah, I'm not trying to tell you what to do…”
Carrie Brummer: “I don't feel that way!”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay, good. We're just, yeah, we're just brainstorming here. So, and I get really excited. I'm like, yeah, what about this? Because we're like an idea syndrome, people here! What are you thinking that you're going to do? What is your takeaway today? What do you think that you're gonna try to either implement or noodle on and try to work on?”
Carrie Brummer: “I wanna list out all of the benefits that come with investing in self-taught to self-confident and and then any additional offerings or bonus things that I've had and map it all out on a piece of paper where, you know, like how much do they get in this scenario versus this scenario.
And then if I'm looking at those monthly Q and A, and or this maybe studio hour time, what would that look like? Then put prices down that feel good and see what it looks like, and what it compares to. I do feel some fear of like, how I don't wanna like double my price overnight either. I don't know what, I don't know how I'm gonna…”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “I would inch it up!”
Carrie Brummer: “Yeah. Okay.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “But if you add bonuses to it, then it's not gonna seem a such a jump.”
Carrie Brummer: “So that's one thing I will consider, is if I'm gonna add something more, that's still my time, like a studio hour. Then obviously that will also be reflected in the price. So I do think outlining, all that and literally having it on a piece of paper or a poster in front of me with everything listed will help me see how much value I'm already giving and help me reflect on pricing separately. I think I'd like to look at how to simplify the offerings a bit to make it easier for people to know that it's there and that they can sign up at any time, like how can I integrate that better into like welcome sequences or how, when people show up on my website, will they know that this course is my signature program and get them there? I think that's probably the next step.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Is that something that you think you could implement pretty quickly? Or do you have someone that helps you with that? Or is that something you do or…”
Carrie Brummer: “It is all me. I will start first with the outline of the program, especially since it's a good timing, since I've already announced to the community, I'm going to be reviewing the program and looking to update it. So that's a great time for that piece of the puzzle. And I do think naturally as I'm updating that program, then it's a good time, as I'm doing the updates to review that will be next, is review like how do I onboard people and tell them about this program? How can I make sure more people are hearing about it and know that's actually something I'm selling instead of them always coming to my website and being like how do you make money again? Make sure they really know that. So I do think that's a step down the line while I'm starting to actively review the course content.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “And how do you get people into your world? I know you said the blog, but, and you said mentioned like free workshops and stuff. So do you offer free workshops every once in a while to get people into your world?”
Carrie Brummer: “Yes. So, before I even offered it once a month, but now I do it more like quarterly. I try to have a calendar laid out so that I have a quarterly launch and separate, but new, I am starting to build relationships with different art organizations. So a lot of towns have a local art organization where people meet up and do critiques and take little local classes, things like that.
And so, I have two different communities I'm working with right now. Where we're looking at affiliate partnerships. So, I offer that same workshop, but to their community online, and then their community tied to this idea of us being a movement. Then their organization earns the 50% from the sale of my program. While I earn 50% from the community, I would not otherwise have access to. So that's very new, but it's something that I have in the works.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. And so that would be…so you would be giving them 50% of the course sale?
Carrie Brummer: “Of the course.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. So that's great that they're coming into your community, but if you're only selling it for a few hundred dollars then you're not making as much. So there should be something where maybe they get 50% of the course, but then if you, so if you bring them on to do other things like other types of coaching or other programs, you wouldn't be paying them the 50% of all of that.”
Carrie Brummer: “No. So this organization, for example, that I'm thinking of, I have a specific free workshop that I offer to promote Self-Taught to Self-Confident, and so we would potentially arrange that they pick a date and I just offer the workshop to their course, their community. So it's not anyone on my community.
I'm not drowning my email list and like weekly, buy my stuff. And then the organization will earn 50 from that workshop. And then we've also discussed. Maybe some kind of sponsorship link where if they have a link in their email every month that says art as strong as a sponsor. If people click from that link, their organization can earn 50%, but just from whatever course they purchase through that link, it's the first course. It's not all of courses.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Okay. what tools or resources do you need to get all the stuff that in place that we talked about, do you need? Are you saying that you're gonna do all of it yourself? How costly, how many hours is this gonna take do you think?”
Carrie Brummer: “I am a very A-type artist, which a lot of people don't think exist, but I am. I don't know if you've heard of the four tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. But it's something I use to help with like my teaching as well. Basically, her idea is that we have internal and external motivators that help us follow through on things we're doing. And when I tested, I'm this like weird unicorn of whatever someone tells me to do or whatever I choose to do, I will follow through on. So I'm very fortunate in that way that like, if I'm going to do something, I will do it. And I don't have to worry about that accountability element. I feel like I'm really good with my time.
I think I need, again, I just, I really need some big pieces of blank paper and some white space mentally so that I can kinda lay it all out on the floor in my studio and list everything out and organize it and then map it out on my calendar so that I can plan when I'm gonna do this, cuz this isn't gonna be an overnight thing.
This is gonna be, three months, I think for me to do it with the time that I have right now, I think I can maybe, not act on all of it, but I can have the reflection and strategies in place to begin following through on the things we're talking about.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Awesome. Three months is wonderful. Wow. Great. Awesome. Carrie, thank you so much for doing this with me and hopefully, you got a lot of benefit from it. What is your biggest takeaway do you think from today?
Carrie Brummer: “Valuing my time, I think has been really good and affirming to hear. I think pricing, as much as we can all talk about pricing or art or our programs and services, we can really get in our own heads about it. And it was very validating to hear what you had to say about that. So thank you very much.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Good. Thank you so much, Carrie. This has been really great and I look forward to see what you're gonna do, and I would love to see it!”
Carrie Brummer: “Thank you, Heather, so much for your time. I can't wait to introduce you to my community. I know they're going to love every bit that you offer on your podcast.”
Heather Zeitzwolfe: “Thank you.”