Angela Fehr: Course Creator, Instructor, & Watercolor Expert: The Joy of Watercolor Painting on the Internet
Angela Fehr is a watercolor artist who took her passion online and turned it into a thriving business. She teaches students worldwide through her online courses. By 2021, she’ll soar past $1 million in revenue thanks to the passionate, “heart-led” watercolor instruction she’s offered to thousands of students.
Angela’s Original Story: The Joy of Watercolor Painting on the Internet
I started teaching watercolor online in 2013 with my first course titled “Loose & Fluid Watercolor.” Over the last seven years I’ve been able to teach thousands of students all over the world through my online classes, encouraging them to develop their own “heart-led” watercolor style and become their own favorite artist. I’ll pass $1 million in revenue in 2021.
As a self-taught artist, I love speaking directly into artists’ internal struggles with a word of encouragement designed to let them know that feelings of doubt and self-criticism are not uncommon to artists. Instead, a healthy, creative practice is found in creating mindset strategies so you can trust that growth is happening, even when you can’t see it in your most recent painting.
I was born in a rural northern region of Canada, but when I was twelve, my parents moved to Papua New Guinea to work as missionaries. My years in the jungle (I moved back to Canada at the age of 18) were formative because with little else to do when homeschool work was completed, I was able to devote myself to creating art. I knew becoming an artist was important to me. What I didn’t know at the time was my homeschool background gave me an independent and goal-oriented mindset which would one day serve me well in designing my career as an online art instructor.
I had always dreamed of being an artist but I didn’t know any career artists. Art was always something done as a hobby. I expected a career in fine arts meant gallery shows or seeking representation or grants. In my northern region, that wasn’t something anyone could do full-time. So it was a surprise to me, early in my art career, that I was making a living as an artist, doing a diverse range of things: writing, graphic design, and teaching in addition to selling paintings.
I started teaching online because when I had a “light bulb moment” in watercolour, I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to tell someone, and I started recording these insights on video for YouTube. This was really what motivated my first online course – seeing people resonate with and learn from what I had to share. Now I am so fulfilled in teaching, I’m not really motivated to sell my work. Connecting with students and seeing their own excitement and confidence in what they have to share is hugely rewarding.
I remember receiving my first 3-figure YouTube ad revenue payment. For a stay at home mom, it was exciting to realize something I did during naptime was actually bringing in income, and I thought, “What if I could earn enough to cover our mortgage payment?”
A few months later, I did, and that got me wondering if there was more I could do to be more intentional about reaching students with more structured content. When I told my husband that I wanted to build a course, but was kind of scared to try it, he encouraged me to start and told me I had nothing to lose!
Looking back I realize that my life was equipping me for this career path – my understanding of technology was built in my job as a graphic artist before I had kids, I had my independent streak as a homeschool student, and I’d been working on growing my art skills for years. As a homeschooling mom, I was learning that I love teaching and communicating ideas. It all came together to create a career I love.
Aside from a couple of drawing classes at the regional college, I’m totally self-taught. I would recommend that an artist go to business school rather than art school, as business and marketing skills are hugely valuable in today’s artist economy.
Of course, there are challenges to consider with this pathway, too. Time management is a huge one. Working from home means my job can easily take all of my time, and as my business has grown, my intentionality about time management has become even more important.
Another challenge is the isolation of learning how to run an online business in a region where no one else is doing what you do. For me, that’s been both a positive and a negative. With no one else around to ask for advice, I have been able to shape my career in my own way without relying on whatever “coach” is most trendy right now. However, it’s hard to know how well I’m doing while I’m up to my neck in my business – I have no one to compare with!
One advantage of entrepreneurship is that you can build your business YOUR way. I am so glad my business model gets to reflect my core values: live with generosity, say yes whenever possible, know that every obstacle holds opportunity, avoid urgency and rushed decisions, and trust God’s timing. There is a wonderful sense of peace in operating from my most deeply held priorities and values.
Find more from Angela Fehr at angelafehr.com.