- by Barney Davey
You must learn how to market your career.
Today, artists have no option when it comes learning how to market themselves well — it is a necessary part of the job of being an artist. Knowing how to make money also is an inescapable component of the job
There are three ways to make money:
- Work either self-employed or for another to earn money for your labor.
- Hire others to make money for you.
- Invest your money to earn more money for you.
Most artists only have #1 going for them – at least at first. It should be a high priority for you to start selling enough work that you can hire out every menial detail of running your art business.
Abundance Thinking in Action.
Just the act of thinking about doing this will set your brain into a higher gear to get more productive and profitable. It’s amazing what happens in your cranium once you start kicking out the cobwebs and change your line of thinking. It’s not enough to have desire – you need a workable plan to go with it.
Visualize the day you are putting #3 to work for you. Imagine how it would feel to use art sales income to invest in some fantastic money-making opportunity… a gallery, a studio, a coop, or a humanitarian effort.
There is no reason success won’t happen unless you don’t believe and don’t act. ~ Barney Davey
Two Things Every Artist Must Do to Create Success.
Here is the magic formula:
- Make appealing art people want to buy.
- Make sure enough qualified buyers see it.
That’s it. Don’t complicate things.
Unless you are running a hobby, you need to market your work to get it sold. As an artist who I advise told me the other day, (Actually, she was quoting her husband.), “It won’t get sold sitting in the closet.”
I won’t pretend that I can help you make appealing art. If you don’t have that part down, quit reading this and figure that out first.
Here’s a Clue for How to Make Appealing Art.
Make a lot of art. It’s not rocket science. Trial and error works. Not everything you make is going to be first class. Bob Dylan has recorded more than 400 songs. He’s probably written four times that many. If you don’t have some duds, you are not trying very hard to improve.
How to Sell More Art.
As you know from reading above, you need to make sure enough qualified buyers see your artwork. Selling art is a numbers game. You are never going to get a 50% closing rate. Even 10% is wildly optimistic. Build your business around a 2 -4% closing rate and seek to improve it every way you can.
That means if 100 qualified buyers see your work, you can expect four at most will buy – until you sharpen your product mix and marketing methods. A qualified buyer is not someone who liked your page on Facebook. A qualified buyer is someone who has money and is open to the idea of buying art… from you.
You Lucky Artist…You.
Don’t be discouraged. Compared to any of the arts, you need fewer prospects to build a great career than authors, musicians, playwrights, and filmmakers. They all need thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands to fulfill their career.
A few hundred, even 100 collectors can buy a big portion of all the originals an artist can make. To find 100 collectors, you might need to build out an email list of 600 prospects. Many factors come into play, so these numbers are approximations only.
With a smart, aggressive plan, you can build out a list of 600- 1,000 prospects in a relatively short period. Prospects don’t fall like bread on the water; you have to work to get them. Never doubt that they are not there. There are more than enough buyers to buy your art. Finding them is an important part of your job.
How Do You Find Qualified Buyers?
This a $64,000 question. Some are easier to identify and locate than others. If you are in a niche, it’s simpler than if you do landscapes or abstracts. If you specialize in orchids, wine, beer, horses, fish, poker, or any other the thousands of other possibilities, you can find your tribe online and offline. Then you need to sort out which ones have money and who are also interested in owning art. Start making relationships, and the sales will follow.
If you don’t have a niche, all is not lost. You just have to refine what you are doing. Either way, niche or no niche, you need to develop a customer avatar. The more you can define in every way the demographics, tendencies, habits, likes, and dislikes of your avatar, the closer you can get to where they live and what motivates them.
The Importance of Knowing Who Is Your Avatar (aka Ideal Buyer)
This bit of wisdom is a cornerstone of all your marketing efforts. When you don’t have a clue who buys your art, you thrash about wasting precious time and money on prospects who will never buy your work. Not only is this inefficient and wasteful, it is the best way to get demoralized about your ability to get your work to market. And, worse it leads to unnecessary failure when a talented artist gives up and goes back to making art as a hobby.
This is so crucial I made the first lesson you learn in the How to Find and Connect with Art Buyers Workshop. The training is a logical progression of knowledge and steps that leads to artists creating valuable relationships with their most ideal buyer prospects. They would never get there without lesson one.
Two Things Happen When You Dial In Your Avatar.
- You can start to modify what you make, (without selling your soul), to make your work more appealing to your best prospects. (Give ’em what they want. What a great concept!) It might be size, format, palette, subject matter or other things that tilt a sale in your favor. Tweaks you can make without severely altering the art you are already making.
- You get to know where they hang out offline and online. With that knowledge, you can start to network with them. Imagine injecting yourself in the same circles as your buyers. It might sound uncomfortable to some to do; I get that. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and do it anyway.
People don’t die of embarrassment. The dread is worse than do. Results will alter your thinking beyond your wildest imagination. Steel your courage and do it to get through it.
There are many worse jobs than trying to force yourself to hang around with people who are your best prospects to buy your art. Try selling insurance. I did. People run from you. It sucks. Get the right perspective, get the job done. Case closed.
Here’s a Clue for How to Make Sure Qualified Buyers Get to See Your Work.
Bust your butt. There is nothing within reason – and beyond some – that one turned on person can’t accomplish. When you want something enough, you can get it. You can make it happen.
You have to figure out who is your target audience and where they hang out online and offline. You have to learn efficient ways to get to know them, get them on your email list, and how to get your messages to them on a steady basis.
Prioritize Your Work.
Decide to find buyers and to get your message to them is a top priority. Then work backward on the necessary details to make it happen.
Remember, it is a numbers game. You just need to be smart about how you allocate your resources. You have finite time and finances. You need to maximize what both can do for you. You need to hone your message, too.
Amazon and the internet are laden with books and blogs aimed at helping artists become successful. This blog is one of them. (Actually, one of the best. It’s ranked the #1 art business blog by Art Business News magazine.)
Search this blog, and you will discover many posts on finding buyers and collectors and selling art. It’s a treasure trove for artists.
There’s a Problem… There’s Always a Problem.
The problem is the amount of available information causes overload… paralysis by analysis sets in. Artists learn, but they do not act. Their career wheels spin, they don’t get traction.
There Are Solutions.
Hire someone right now, no matter if you can afford it or not. Better yet, make such a convincing, creative business plan that you get someone to join you for a piece of the action – commission or equity – no salary to start.
If that’s not possible, then you need the best plan of action you can get for yourself.
Here’s What You Need to Do:
- Have a vision for why you are doing this – making art – and what you want to happen as a result.
- Get organized – it’s the only way you can accomplish great things.
- Identify and use the marketing tools best for you.
- Chunk down your big goals into smaller ones.
- Continue chunking smaller goals down into actionable items until you have a daily plan of action with doable, easy steps to follow.
- Know how to pull all these things together with a project management system.
There may be more to do. If you can accomplish the above, you will all but certify a super successful art career.
What you have read above is a synopsis of my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book. Read it and do what you learn and you are well on your way to the success you want.
The problem is, as I pointed out above, artists read, but they do not act. That’s why I created the How to Find & Connect with Art Buyers Workshop.
Taking a clue from my advice, I’m chunking down the webinars into 20 learning modules with easy-to-follow lessons. In essence, I’ve simplified getting your head wrapped around how to market your art for you.
There is still a problem because transferring useful information, even from modules and lessons, into action is still sometimes difficult.