I've been doing some research on how to create and run a visual art business. Here's a summary of what I've learned.
1. Spend 50% of your time in business activities other than painting.
2. Write a business plan.
3. Set goals and timelines.
4. Network, network, network with the right people.
5. Have business cards.
6. Have a website that includes: artist bio/statement, credentials, images of work, calendar of events, list of collectors, contact info.
7. Have a consistent price (price per square inch) and start with a moderate rate. Increase the price annually, and be willing to negotiate (20 to 25% discount is common).
8. Exhibit in galleries, juried shows, art markets, restaurants, bars, clubs, collector's homes, etc.)
9. Organize group exhibits.
10. Donate a piece of your best art to auctions and fund raising events.
11. Gift art to key collectors.
12. Study with other artists.
13. Attend workshops.
14. Study with other artists.
15. Have a clear vision and definite plans (business plan).
16. Practice. Practice. Practice. In other words, paint daily.
All the online tasks and tools (DPW, Instagram, FB, websites, blogs, etc) are useful and maybe even necessary, but many of the above activities need to be done on a local level, which is a conclusion I came to prior to finding the above information. DPW is a good way to gain wider exposure, and the tools we have can help manage lists, collectors, etc., but few of us can or should depend on it as the primary means of selling our art.
How the various activities are done will look different, depending on where we live. I'm in a city, so lots of options. But I've lived in rural areas, and I know there is a lot of support for artists in those areas as well.