Selling more art is a learned skill, not a magic trick.
You are not alone if you’ve felt at times like some artists have discovered magical ways for selling more art. Just like magic, when you look behind what’s going on with the trick, or how art sales get made, you find there is a logical explanation of how it’s done.
I will always assume you are making art that has an interest for buyers. Art that sells well does not always equate to the highest quality art. That is a separate issue, one which we will not debate the merits of in this post. Nevertheless, it is crucial to dial this in before moving on to market your work.
Successful selling is a numbers game.
I believe the reason most artists are not getting the sales they expect and deserve is due to lack of eyeballs and of not asking for the order. The way to make sales of anything is to offer your goods to enough qualified prospects on a regular basis. If you show your art and ask for the sale, or make the option to buy using your shopping cart easy, with enough frequency, you will succeed. This post is also not about how to sell art. There is much useful advice on the subject of how to sell art here.
How many ways do people buy art?
- Directly from you in-person.
- Directly from your website or shopping cart.
- From a physical gallery.
- From an online gallery.
- From an alternative source, such as furniture store, antique mall, boutique, and so forth
While there are other distribution channels, these are the primary ones artists use to sell their work. Ask yourself—and give an honest answer—how many of these venues are you in? And, how good is your market penetration in each of them?
Back in the day, many artists could enjoy profitable careers by having all their sales made through galleries. That is a difficult, and not recommended, path to take today.
You don’t have to be in all the channels to have great success. You should be strong in direct sales to collectors and one or two more to improve and diversify your art sales.
Mastering sales through many distribution channels smooths out the bumps when one falters. This is especially so when your primary channel is selling direct to collectors.
The gallery system remains viable.
One of my best friends in the art business is Jason Horejs. You may know him from our free monthly Art 2 Market Session broadcasts. Jason has owned Xanadu Gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale for 12 years. It is one of the most competitive retail art markets in the country.
Jason would love to support his artists with sales so they do not need other distribution channels, but he knows it is not realistic. He believes, as I do, that artists should have a balance of distribution. The less you rely on one channel, the less precarious your career is.
Take control of your career.
I believe many artists do not think about how they could take control of their careers from a distribution perspective. That is because until recently, there were no easy, inexpensive ways for artists to market their own artwork.
Consumers are ready for you now.
How artists sell their work today is different. Art buyers are willing, even eager, to buy from artists. We buy anything and everything online these days. You can thank the Internet for that.
Consumers buy in ways that only a few years ago didn’t exist, or just seemed foreign or for early adopting hipsters. Costco sells $100,000 diamonds online. That would have been an absurdity not that long ago.
Nothing stays the same.
Okay, things have changed. How does that affect artists? Glad you asked. You have the power to take control of the distribution of your work like never before. You can use all the channels listed above and spread your work through them.
The best thing artists can do to strengthen their careers is to build a loyal following of direct buying collectors. I make the distinction between a collector and an art buyer this way. Most art buyers have an immediate need, usually design related. They want to fill a space in their decorating scheme, which is a fine reason to buy art.
Collectors seek relationships with artists.
Collectors are looking to meet artists. They want to get to know them. They have the thought they will buy several pieces from those artists in whom they have an interest. There is room for selling art to collectors and buyers. I encourage marketing to reach both segments. It is the collector base that will make the difference in the lifetime sales and quality of an art career.
As an artist, you only need a few hundred collectors and you will sell them most of the original work you make. Collectors may not all account for buying all your work, but they can make sales from other channels icing on your cake.
The more collectors you have, the more you will insulate your career from the adverse changes you cannot control. Galleries can go out of business, or decline to represent you. Facebook can change its Terms of Service or fall from favor. These things are inevitable. A direct buying collector base is your way to cut the effect on your career when they happen.
Challenges artists face today.
The biggest problem for artists selling art today is they don’t know what to do, or if they do, they don’t know the best way to get things done. Finding customers is a primary ongoing concern and activity for all businesses, large and small.
Most artists are solo entrepreneurs. As such, they have many challenges in balancing work and life, not to mention, productivity and marketing. You want a happy life that without constant stress. You want to make great work and have an excellent career and earn sales that make your career financially rewarding.
You wish to find that sweet spot where the work you like to make is the work your buyers like to buy. It doesn’t always happen and it takes effort to get those things aligned. When it does, it makes your career more fun. Making money also makes your career more fun.
If there is any magic in any of this, it is in the making of art.
That process comes from a pool of creative inspiration fueled by talent and skill. You can make the rest of a successful career by sorting out what is most valuable to you in the long run, and then use research and apply common sense to take the right steps. It takes motivation, drive and commitment to turn theory into reality, but it is in your grasp.
If you have unfulfilled dreams and frustrations they will never come true, you are part of a large group of other artists. You face many unique challenges. For instance, other professionals do not need approval of committee members or gallery owners for their work to get seen and sold through their venues. No one can blame you if sometimes the whole system feels like it is rigged.
I’ve been advising artists for decades.
I began counseling artists in 1988. For the last ten years, my work with artists has focused on developing useful systems to build successful art careers. It’s my goal to help artists take their careers out of the hands of others who often don’t have their best interest at heart.
My Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book came out of that work. It offers artists a road map they can use to build a successful career. It centers on the idea of finding and developing direct buying collectors.
Artists whose sales grow are those who work on building relationships. Growing one-to-one relationships with collectors is the best way to enjoy a lasting career. For many artists, my books contain everything you need to know to get start taking control of your career and selling more art.
You can buy Guerrilla Marketing for Artists for as little as $9.99 on Kindle from Amazon. You don’t need a Kindle to read the book. Download the free Kindle Reader to read the book on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
A realization turns into action.
Once my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book was in the market for a couple of years, it became clear I could do more to help artists succeed. From personal experience, I know how difficult it is to put ideas and written words into action. That realization is why I created the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop.
Can I help you?
Would you find my help me and that of other artists, in a private Facebook Mastermind group, who are seeking to build a collector base as a primary career goal beneficial? Then you should join this workshop. You will get a fresh perspective on what you can do to start and keep selling more art.
You can watch a free 99-minute presentation where I lay out in detail my plans for helping you put in place those necessary eight steps. Register Here to watch the recorded webinar. If you are eager to learn the details, you can use this link: Learn about the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery.