21. Don't be a specialist. In this matter, artists are much like doctors. The small-town artist should be a G.P.--a general practitioner. Medical specialists have to congregate around large hospitals in big cities to succeed. Art specialist have to be near the very narrow market for their work that they carve out for themselves in their specialty and that calls for a LARGE market from which to draw--hence, big cities.
22. Learn to mat and frame. It can be tremendous source of income and one that is often independent of your art sales. I'm not talking about buying a chopper, stocking umpteen different moldings, or even mastering a mitre saw. Become a dealer for a nearby frame outlet or wholesaler...or go the mail order route. Invest in a mat cutter no more expensive or elaborate than you can manage to use expertly. I've had a Dexter for years. It's not an idiot mat cutter (any idiot can NOT use it right off the bat). I think it sells for around $25 and from there you can go up to several hundred for the more or less foolproof (idiot) mat cutters.
23. Avoid inventories. Boondockers expect to have to wait for merchandise to arrive. But don't let a lack of supplies rob you of your productivity. Try to have only as much as you need and have it WHEN you need it.
24. Don't get involved in print reproductions of your work. The sale of prints is a long-term effort in the first place, and secondly requires a mass marketing strategy with numerous outlets to succeed, something you're NOT likely to have access to in a rural community.
25. Don't quit your day job. The pressures may be rough at times, but relish these times when you're busy, because unfortunately, they usually don't last all that long. Let's face it, like any other retail business, you're going to be lots busier the latter half of the year than during the first half. Learn to enjoy your slack times to create your "serious" work while the rest of the year you're (hopefully) swamped with commissions.
26. Consider your art income as "bonus" money. Save it. Spend it on vacations. Buy big ticket items for cash that you'd otherwise have to buy on credit. Invest prudently in your business only if you can visualize an increase in income as a direct result. Try NOT to get in the habit of using your art income for daily household expenses. And don't go off on an ego trip with a wild advertising campaign just to achieve name recognition that you probably already have coming from a small town.
27. Get and use a credit card for the purchase of supplies and items for resale, but make SURE you pay it off in FULL on a monthly basis. They are great for smoothing monthly or even quarterly cash-flow problems and ordering items over the phone, but deadly if used for OTHER purposes.
28. Enlist your spouse and/or children in your art marketing efforts. They can help with everything from building display racks to cleaning the cobwebs from around the lights. And, they work cheap. They are great to take to art shows to help unload, load, or run errands while you do what you do best.
29. Think twice about opening a storefront...then think two or three MORE times. In a small community, it builds in overhead, ties you down to "hours", and offers little in the way of exposure to, or convenience for, your customers that your own home doesn't also offer. Work by appointment only. It simplifies everything and lets you work when you feel like it and rest when you don't.
30. Never turn down a speaking request. You owe it to your community and to yourself to be THE art resource/expert to which they turn when they need advice. If you're shy in front of groups, just remember, you know a hell of a lot more about art than they do and that makes you superior to every last one of them, so use the opportunity to show off a little. Oh, and...bring slides.