In case you missed the live broadcast with Jason Horejs and me where we discussed the merits and how-tos of marketing art on Facebook, you can view by clicking this link: Art 2 Market Sessions.
Many of you know I have been conducting a multi-session art marketing mastery workshop with artists. It is designed to help them take control of their careers and sell more art. In a progressive series of lessons, we covered:
With 5 recorded webinars totalling 8.5 hours of instruction, dozens of links and resources in private online folder, hundreds of posts on a private Facebook group, and more, the workshop participants received a vast amount of information. Here is a letter I sent to them to recap what we covered.
As a visual artist seeking useful information to help grow your business, I believe you will gain value by reading this letter, as well.
Dear Art Marketing Masters,
In a matter of a few short weeks, you have come a long way and covered a ton of topics and information. Without question, you have more ideas and actions than you can chew at one time. I know that, and so do you, instinctively.
My goal with the workshop is to give you the tools to help you succeed in your career for a lifetime. The plan was to start at the beginning with goals and layer in everything else that can help you achieve them. I freely admit to using the template of the first three habits in Stephen Covey’s seminal self-help book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. When you have a good model, you use it.
Artists don’t waste time trying to learn a new way to draw with perspective because what they already have works. The same goes for me with building a course for artists to learn how they can harness available tools and resources and use them efficiently to grow a successful art career. There are no quick fixes; there are just smart actions that help you achieve your goals in the fastest way possible.
Covey’s first three habits are:
Be proactive – By being proactive, you take responsibility for your actions and attitudes. You were proactive when you decided to take this course. To keep on track, you need to find those things you learned that resonate, that you know will work. Then commit to your success until you achieve them. Being an artist is mostly a solitary occupation. As such, you can’t expect someone to come along and make things happen for you. It’s up to you. Choose to have a positive, can-do attitude and to taking your career to new, higher levels.
The truth is, nearly everything worth having is up to you to shepherd the idea and make it happen. I have gently suggested finding an accountability partner to help you get things done, and to help you keep your commitments to yourself.
You say you don’t have a clue how to find an accountability partner? No problem, as always, Google is the “Oracle.” I found this useful article by querying “How to find an accountability partner.” Do your own searches, and you will find the right article or post that will clue you in on what to do to find one. A good accountability partner will help you stay proactive. Spouses and life partners are not good accountability partners. You are already accountable too much to them.
Begin with the end in mind – The reason I emphasize goals so much throughout the course is they are foundational. They give you a touchstone to help you make the correct and often fast decisions about what to do with your career. Whether you realize it or not, daily you make many career decisions.
When you have written, clear, concise goals, you can refer to them to help you decide to take action, take a pass or schedule for a later date. By quickly making decisions and getting them off your brain and your agenda, you free up time and brain power for more productive activities.
Here’s the deal. If you are aware of goals and believe they are important, but still haven’t set them, then you need to go back and ask yourself why. What is stopping you? Is it fear you will fail? The real answer is you if you haven’t fully grasped the power of having goals, and how acting on and completing them is the key to your art marketing success.
Nearly everything we covered in this course is something that will allow you to start small and grow into what you are doing. The only rush is coming from your anxiety or expectations. I have previously mentioned that making art is mostly a solitary activity. Well, that means you most likely you are the only one responsible for getting things done.
You don’t have to start on overwhelm, even with goals. Try setting one big goal you will achieve in the next year. As you become more comfortable with all these new tasks you have learned, it will be easier to add more into the equation.
As I was studying to become an Engineer – the guy who drives the truck – I was initially overwhelmed. For example, there was a mass of confusing dials and meters I needed to set correctly once I parked the firetruck, and the lines were laid out to the fire.
As the Engineer, you have to calculate the how much hose is laid out and any elevation. It is critical because you have to adjust the pressure manually.
Provide too much, and you may throw someone off a ladder, or cause a 50-pound nozzle on a 3-inch hose to start thrashing around in a deadly fashion. Not enough pressure and you endanger the firefighters using it by not giving enough protection. You have to learn to do all this, and be aware of a lot more, in what is often a chaotic environment.
The engineer teaching me how to read the dials, and compute the pressure and everything else assured me. He told me by the time I was doing the job; I would be able to relax, focus on what was most important, get it done and the process through to the next task.
He calmly told me is was going to happen, and I would learn to cope without panicking. I believed him, but at the time I just did not see how it was possible. Eventually, I got the job and realized he was 100% correct. I even trained a few rookies myself before wanderlust and California lured me away from my Midwest roots.
I relate this story to you because I want you to know whatever you are feeling today, like having too much to do and not enough time to do it, that I have been there, too. If you focus on what is important, rather than what is urgent (More Coveyisms), eventually you will master all the things you have learned from me over the past few weeks. It’s a process, not a race, not even a marathon.
Put first things first – If you prioritize your goals, then you always know what to do next. It’s just that simple. Knowing what to do next relieves you of wasting time worrying and thinking about what to do next. During the workshop, I mentioned the book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. He believes in committing to goals and breaking them down into their smallest components. Then get them on a reminder system, like Todoist.com. Knowing you have it ready to address when you need to address it is what takes away worry about your future and whether you are being as productive as you want and need to be. I completely agree.
We have gone through a whole lot of material. I have given you many resources on the G Drive folder , in the Facebook group and bonus e-books on selling and pricing art. Some of you have kindly shared even more resources in the Facebook group. I thank all who have offered help, resources, links or ideas to the group.
To give you an idea how full your brain is now, here are the main topics from all the webinars:
I added up the total number of minutes of all the webinars. It came out to 510, which works out to 8.5 hours of training. Well beyond the six hours, I originally had planned. That’s a lot of talking, and brain dumping from me and a lot of intensive listening and absorbing and note taking from you.
When you look at this information in a macro fashion, you must come to realize getting through it is like the proverbial eating of an elephant, which said to be done one bite at a time, (I have never eaten an elephant, but it sounds right to me.)
You can get everything you have learned done, just not all at once. So, relax and work on getting something done every day. Soon, you will whittle down your list until you are just working on maintaining and improving rather than continuously implementing more things into your marketing schedule.
I am sure no one else is teaching artists to find art collectors the way I showed you in the week five webinar. You can begin with an avatar or ideal customer, and then go about finding where they hang out. You can do this equally well in your local and warm market, and you can do it online. It is the same process.
As you know, people are most likely to buy from people they know and like. Therefore, if all your marketing is to strangers and hopes they will magically want to get to know you, you are wasting your time and money. In the golden days when there were almost enough galleries to support most excellent artists, the gallery did the job of finding collectors and nourishing relationships with them. You cannot rely on that model anymore.
The gallery system is still relevant, but it is not a distribution channel to build on, solely. For that matter, there are no other distribution channels where you should entrust all your marketing. That’s a bad gamble with your future.
In our last webinar, I showed you how to use social media, and other information freely available to learn the names of potential collectors. Using that information, you can incorporate the other ideas I gave you in that webinar, and the one in week two on networking, to find ways to get known by potential buyers. This will take some work, but you can do it a little at a time. Just remember, it’s worth doing. So, start small.
As you get proficient, it will become just as natural for you to accomplish as it was for me to read those dials, set correct pump pressure, and keep the firetruck’s engine running smoothly all at the same time.
I likened project planning to putting your marketing on steroids. Instead of doing a little of this and little of that and taking occasional shots at one-off marketing opportunities, you learned that tightly focusing your marketing is the way to go. You discovered how brand recognition comes into play. You realized you don’t want just to send a single message. You want to send a whole bunch of similar messages to highly targeted audience with a unique goal in mind.
I showed you it was possible to use the right tools to get organized to push out more than 40 messages in a few weeks’ time to help you engage your audience. Since you understand your messages never reach 100% of your audience, you now know the importance of layering in multiple opportunities so your prospects have many chances to receive your communications.
When it comes down to selling artwork the only way to be successful is to show your art to enough qualified buyers on a consistent basis. It will never sell itself. It will sell if you give best potential prospects enough chances to buy it. If you want to set yourself up to make steady sales, you have to have enough potential buyers to purchase it. Moreover, you have to keep marketing to them.
You have to be persistent. That is, far more persistent than you are now. Why is it you can recognize and know the lines of the funny Hump Day commercials from Geico? (Mike, Mike, Mike) Because Geico has paid millions of dollars to give you repeat exposure to its message. On a smaller scale, you have to keep pounding in your message. The dynamic and reason behind it is exactly the same.
You are not Following up Enough with Your Clients – this is the subject line of a recent blog post by Jason Horejs, my monthly Art 2 Market Sessions broadcasting partner. He is the owner of Xanadu Gallery and has sold millions in art in his 20+ years working in the art gallery business. Now, you don’t keep pounding with “Buy my art” to prospects on your mailing lists. You keep sending those folks a steady stream of useful, informative messages until they step up and show interest in a particular piece of art.
Once you have interest in a particular piece, then you go to work with a series of emails, and possibly phone calls to the prospect. The point is to keep that prospect pleasantly informed about that work and other works that are similar. Read Jason’s article. He will tell you he keeps in touch until he has a sale or is asked to stop contacting the party about the work. He will also tell you that if you do this in a persistent, pleasant and professional manner that you rarely get any negative pushback from prospects.
Your prospects get it. Just like they get it that McDonald’s, Coke and Geico need to send them the exact same messages regularly. Let this be a lesson to you. You worked too hard to make your art, and you worked too hard to market your art so a potential buyer would show interest in it for you to let someone off the hook with a one-time effort. If you step back and think about it, that is a prescription for failure of marketing anything, not just art.
Learning how to get out of your head and out of your way is hugely critical to your success. Keep doing enough of the right things and good things will come your way.
What you have learned over the last few weeks are things that can last you a lifetime. Sure, you are going to modify what you learned. Nevertheless, the basics are there. You now have a complete system that you can put into place bit-by-bit until you have gone from a single locomotive to one that is carrying a huge load with many, many cars behind it.
The cool thing about building up steam and adding more cars behind your locomotive is that momentum comes into play. The darn thing nearly runs on its own with very little push from the engine. You will find as your marketing improves that instead of getting harder and more complicated to make more sales, it becomes easier. You also will find you are working less and stressing hardly at all about your marketing because it is producing for you steadily.
Even with momentum, you have to keep your eye on the ball. Commit to yourself that you will stay up with what’s happening in the art business. Be inquisitive. Don’t stop learning. There will always be new opportunities just as you find some old reliable ones are now just old. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It will energize you and your business when you find there are new things you can use to help you get connected with collectors.
If there were only two words I could give you that I believe would be most important about how to build an insanely successful art career, it would be GET CONNECTED! Work on making getting connected with collectors, galleries and distribution channels a daily priority and you will be successful.
Thanks for taking this art-marketing journey with me. I can’t wait to hear back from you about the success I know you are capable of creating for yourself.