June 5, 2023  • Newsletter

This Month’s Money Message: Forecast

Last month I tried a new exercise with a group of folks in an entrepreneurship course, and I absolutely loved it. (So did they.) Their goal was to complete a one-year sales forecast for their businesses, and the template (as you might expect) looked like something out of a business textbook. 

That’s not how art sales work. So we trashed the template. 

What did we do instead? We found some words. We layered them onto a calendar. And we did some math.

First, find some words.

First, find some words. They had each prepared a paragraph describing their businesses, and these leaned closer to artist statements than business plans, but they all described (more or less) where they sold work and what services they provided. Here’s an example: 

I am an artist who produces bold, vibrant works of art using a traditional media and new technology. My work finds homes with buyers at art fairs and through gallery shows. I also offer fabrication and design services to other artists and organizations in my area, such as laser cutting, vinyl graphics, and file optimization.

The words we found essentially answered the question, “What do people pay you for?” It is a crude way of transforming lofty artistic statements into revenue models, but it works. This person’s revenue words were: 

  • Art Fair Sales 
  • Gallery Sales 
  • Design services
  • Fabrication Services

Then, layer on the Calendar. Then we looked forward a few months. What art fairs did this person have scheduled? What shows were on her horizon? And on average, how many design/fabrication projects could she do each month? 

When we took this approach – without overthinking things – it became easier to map out her revenue. It’s hard to not overthink things, though. It might rain during one of the art fairs; the group show scheduled for September might be a bust because she doesn’t love the curator; and there is no guarantee that she’ll have fabrication service income each month.

That’s okay. Perfection isn’t the goal. Forecasting is. 

Finally, do the math. The last step is probably the hardest, but since we had already worked through words and a calendar, most of the work was already done. Here’s how her math evolved:

That’s a forecast. It’s quite a bit like the income side of a budget (a well-designed one anyway), but it looks nothing like a traditional forecasting template that multiplies sales by the selling price. Your business is more nuanced than that, and your forecast should be as well. 

So with that in mind, I invite you to focus on your own forecast this month as we approach the second half of 2023:  

Know: Your revenue words and what revenue events are on your calendar for the next couple of months.

Use whatever timeline you feel comfortable with – You know your plans best. 

Do: Estimate your earnings in revenue categories.

Do the math. I promise it will be helpful.

Believe: You know more than you think you do about your income forecast.

Perfection is not the goal of a forecast. A 10-day weather forecast is only right about 50% of the time. And it’s still good to have.

What We’re Doing

If the June weather forecast is right, it is going to be a fantastic month. We have a few workshops scheduled, and more importantly, some deep one-on-one work with emerging arts fellows in Tamarack’s program.

What We’re Talking About

Lately our conversations have been all over the place. We’ve talked taxes, strategy, budgeting, and more. Summer, after all, is often a time to catch up on all those things we put off during busier times. (Unless, of course, you are a muralist or festival artist. You are in your busiest time!)


If you’d like to chat with me to answer your own questions, feel free to find a time that works with your schedule. Full disclosure: I’m still scheduling about 12 weeks into the future right now. It’s a busy time!


Find some words. Layer them on a calendar. And do the math. Those are the three steps to build your forecast for the next couple of months. I can’t wait to see how they go.



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Arts & Numbers

You don’t have to do this alone. Arts & Numbers is a comprehensive financial guide for creative individuals… and anyone else with a passion for something other than accounting and finance. This book aims to provide basic information on finance and financial matters for creative entrepreneurs to take ownership of their financial situations, thus ensuring their long-term success, creative and otherwise.

Written in short story form with fictional anecdotes supporting the financial advice, Arts & Numbers promises to be an easy and useful read for creative entrepreneurs at any stage.

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