80/20 rule

The 80/20 Rule: How Successful Artists Allocate Their Time

Defining the 80/20 rule and how successful artists are using it to maximize their time working on their craft while still running a profitable business.

The 80/20 rule.

Otherwise known as the “Pareto Principle”.

If you’ve ever dabbled in business you’ve probably heard of it, it’s a rule marketers live by:

80% of results come from 20% of the invested input.

artist schedule

Thinking with the 80/20 rule in mind is a huge game-changer because it applies brilliantly to so many things in life. It will likely change the way you approach every business decision.

Common examples of the 80/20 rule in practice include:

  • 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your products.
  • 80% of complaints come from 20% of your customers.

Why bring this information to you?

It was a revelation we had while interviewing successful artists on our platform – those folks selling over six figures annually.

As we talked to more and more of them, we found the 80/20 rule to be something a majority of them followed when strategizing how to best invest their time into their art career.

A major trend emerged from those conversations, a trend we’re calling “The 80/20 Rule of Time Allocation by Successful Artists”.

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Your Work Time

artist time budgeting

Here’s what we found out:

If you are willing to allocate 80% of your time towards your craft, and 20% of your time towards the marketing & business, you will be doing what the most successful artists and photographers do.

Shockingly, in our research, we have discovered that it is far more common to find artists and photographers spending only 0-5% of their overall time on marketing.

This can be for several reasons:

  • They just flat out don’t want to put the work in.
    being more productive as an artist

  • They think that all they need to do is get “discovered”, and the rest will be history. The fish will start jumping into their boat, the cash will roll in, and they won’t have to do anything but sit back and enjoy life.
  • They aren’t aware, and have never been made aware, that marketing is something you must do consistently on a regular basis.
  • When the idea of even a little marketing work here and there comes up, they immediately dismiss it like some evil force that is going to “take over their life, leaving no time to spend on their craft”.
  • They get excited about one thing, like Facebook marketing, but they try it and fail. This discourages them about doing any marketing in general. Every time they try something, it seems to be a waste of time.
  • They are waiting for someone to sell their work for them. For example, believing that simply posting their images on crowded marketplace websites will be the answer to everything
  • They have the wrong idea in their mind about how successful artists became successful. They think it came easy, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If any of those options sound like you, it’s okay. Many successful artists started out with the same thoughts, and only started making real money with their art after learning from their mistakes.

Here’s a few of the things the six-figure artists had to say to us, looking back on their journey from failure to success:

  • “I put a consistent effort into building my business over many years…success did not come easy.”
  • “The day I stopped relying on other people to sell my art for me, and made a decision to build my own business, was the day everything changed.”
  • time management for artists

  • “There were no shortcuts. I just put the hard work in.”
  • “Marketing is a regular part of what I do, every month.”

This is a perfect time to mention a famous quote by John C. Maxwell:

“If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want do when you want to do them.” – John C. Maxwell

Proper implementation of the 80/20 rule should be treated like a marathon, not a sprint.

In other words, don’t go all-in right now, overwhelming yourself with a bunch of new tasks. Don’t sprint to the finish line over the next 30 days and then do nothing for the following 6 months because you’re burned out on marketing.

ROI on your time

The best analogy is like growing a plant, whereby the plant represents your art business, and water represents your marketing efforts.

If you overwhelm the plant with a year’s worth of water right in the next 2 weeks, you will drown the plant and it will die. It’s the wrong strategy. The right strategy is to water the plant, little by little, on a consistent schedule.

If you consider a work week to be 5 business days, then 20% of that time would be 1 day per week to dedicate to marketing and business. That’s it.

The other 4 days can be spent doing what you love.

If you spend just one day per week on a consistent schedule performing the right marketing tasks, you will be in a good position for success.

But what are the “right” tasks?

How and Where to Spend Your Time

80/20 rule for artists

The goal of most artists is to spend as much time as possible creating art while still running a successful business. There is only one way to do this:

You must completely optimize the time you spend doing the “other things”.

A businessman would express this as maximizing the ROI (return-on-investment) of your time spent not creating art. In other words, you need to make the most money from the least amount of time spent.

Think about it. Any inefficiency in this area, any time wasted while you’re working on marketing and business, is ultimately time you’re taking away from working on your craft.

If the things you are doing are not creating success, then you are earning a low ROI on your total time invested. You are spending a lot of time doing things that aren’t making money. When this is the case, you will eventually find yourself spending more and more time on the “other things” in order to get some money rolling in.

If you’ve talked to artists stuck in this cycle as we have, you’ll agree – they are never happy.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

how to spend time as an artist

If you are only focusing on tasks that generate success, then you are going to be earning a high ROI on your time invested. When this is the case, you’ll be able to spend less overall time on the “other things” because the time you DO spend is properly optimized and invested.

You’re not spinning your wheels on tasks that are not adding anything to your bottom line, and you’re subsequently able to spend the most time possible on your craft. This is the life of the happy artist.

Maximizing the ROI of your time spent doing the “others things” is precisely why Art Storefronts created our customer-exclusive Success Plan.

guide to sell art online

Here’s how it accomplishes that:

  • It saves you dozens, if not hundreds of hours of your time every single year
  • You don’t have to waste time researching topics like SEO or Facebook Marketing, because we’ve done it for you and will continue to do so
  • We not only conduct all the research, but we run case studies and scientific tests and we are able to do so at scale. This is powerful. This puts you in a position to spend the precious time you have executing only on proven strategies that are actually working for other artists and photographers right now.
  • All of these resources and implementation instructions are updated regularly to include the very latest technologies and strategies. You’re not getting a guide to what worked a year ago, or six months ago, but what’s working TODAY.

Helping you max out your ROI is also why we launched a private members only Forum. To illustrate the value in this, let me ask you a simple question:

Do you think your chances of achieving success would be greater if you could join a vibrant community of people who are all executing on the same Success Plan, and all have the exact same goal of selling more art?

You betcha.


You can either plant your seed in a desert, where you’ll have to fend for yourself under harsh conditions, or, you can plant your seed in fertile soil where there are thousands of others who have already grown vibrant plants following the same plan that you are.

We discovered in Our Journey that it is much more difficult for artists to achieve success when they are, essentially, operating their business as if they were alone in a desert. On the other hand, when they are able to share and collaborate with other artists that have the same goal that they do, it maximizes efficiency, maximizes the ROI on time spent, and maximizes success rates.

The Success Plan and the private members Forum are therefore two major contributors to ROI maximization.

If you are already an Art Storefronts customer, this means that your time should be spent executing on our Success Plan, the step-by-step guide to selling art online. There are one-off tasks, such as SEO, that you can chip away at. Then there are recurring tasks like sending romance emails that you can start doing regularly.

80/20 art marketing

Overall, once you have completed the one-off tasks, the vast majority of your 20% time each month should be spent on audience building. We recently covered how audience building is the key to consistent sales. If you are doing the right things each month, your audience should be growing larger.

If you have questions that are particular to you and your niche, hop into the private members’ Forum and ask a question. Try to leverage the expertise of those who have come before you.

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Marketing Playbook for Artists – 3 Essential Weekly Tasks for Artists says

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Pivoting to Find Your Art Niche | Art Marketing Podcast says

[…] The 80/20 Rule: How Successful Artists Allocate Their Time […]

Hat says

I take pleasure in, cause I found just what I used to be looking for.
You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.


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