You can teach yourself how to sell art without fear.
As an artist, teaching yourself how to sell art fearlessly is a valuable skill with lifetime benefits. It's a given that attempting to sell your art is intimidating. You are putting a piece of your heart and soul out into the world and hoping someone will appreciate it enough to take it home. You may fear that people won't like what you offer or that no one will be interested in your art.
When you're ready to take the plunge and sell your art, you don't have to do it with fear because you can learn how to sell your art without worrying. The process starts with incorporating a few helpful tips and your positive attitude. When you start selling art without fear, you make all your art marketing efforts worthwhile.
The business of art is unlike any other.
The creative process is personal and intimate, but selling your work requires creating an external persona that speaks to your audience. The world of fine art can be intimidating for artists who are just starting or don't have experience working with clients or galleries. However, there are ways for artists to embrace their creative selves while fostering a strong business side of themselves so they can build a viable career supporting their passion for creating beautiful things.
Selling art is the focal point of any art business.
Although selling art is the reason for an art business, the business side of getting art sold is often overlooked because right-brained artists gravitate away from left-brained art marketing strategies and business practices. Still, learning how to sell art is crucial to your success as an artist. It's a shame when artists don't know how to market themselves and their work or sell art effectively.
If you want to feel more confident and at ease when selling art to the fullest of your ability, you need to know the following:
- Pricing and pricing structures.
- Art marketing strategies with social media.
- Online advertising.
- Traditional and offline marketing.
- How to develop strategies for selling in person at craft fairs and other events.
- Gallery representation, and more.
You'll never use every tool and technique available to sell your art, but you must know enough about each of them to make informed decisions about what tools you will use and why you need them.
Keeping it real is how to succeed in your style and at your pace.
A reality check will find that practically no artists do all the above, and only a few do them all okay—because it's too much and not needed to carve out a rewarding art career.
A better solution is to find the methods you are most comfortable using. That's because you are most likely to stick with them. However, as your marketing prowess improves, it's beneficial for you to add more ways to market your work. Multiple distribution channels lessen reliance on a single way to get your art to market.
Systems and a budget help artists keep on track to sell their art.
Taking a systematic, "slow as you go" approach is an excellent means to avoid overload as you start marketing your art. It's the easiest way to avoid negativity from lack of progress and watching your art marketing efforts fail.
If you want to sell fine art without fear, it's vital that you realize selling art is a business. You need a clear idea about what kind of budgeting will be helpful for your career as an artist—and if you're going into debt for any reason (a new studio space or equipment), make sure it's worth it.
You're an artist. Don't be afraid to act like one.
Artists are creative, daring, and courageous—they know that being themselves is the best way to sell their artworks. That's why I say: go forth and sell your art without fear. If you want to sell your art, you must be yourself (because everyone else is taken) and take risks. It would be best if you allowed yourself to make mistakes, learn and move on from them, and be brave and resilient to ask for help when necessary.
You must be willing to put yourself out there, which means being a little vulnerable.
Only by being willing to take risks can you know your art is worth something. And you'll find what you're doing matters—and that's an incredibly empowering frame of mind to have and use for self-motivation.
Create opportunities for success.
One of the best ways to get your art into the market is to create opportunities for yourself. If you can make something happen, do it without waiting for permission or for others to show you the way.
After all, you've taken the time to learn about the market, so now it's time to act and start making connections. So decide if working with galleries would be a good fit for your work. You could also think about other ways for third parties to spread your work, like publishers, licensors, or any other unique opportunities artists have every day.
Visual artists collaboration opportunities.
There is more collaboration in the arts today than ever. Because visual artists lag behind the trend, that is an opportunity for fresh thinking about creating and distributing art by working with creators of other art forms or business or marketing visionaries, sparking creative ideas about working with visual artists in new ways.
Art, design, science, and math are already coming together and working together in new ways in game design. And those alignments are the natural evolution of how artists met the needs of animators. Another example is how retailers and print publications used illustrators to create visual designs last century. And the rise in prominence of graphic design in the computer age.
If you identify a unique trend and land yourself in the middle, you will sell a lot of art fearlessly and, more likely, quickly.
Create art business promotional opportunities at the micro-level.
Creating new opportunities for success is critical at the micro-level of the single-artist entrepreneur. It's an affirmative way for aspiring artists to take control of their art business. After investing the time to research the market, you'll better understand how to best showcase your art. Deciding and acting on your next steps is critical. You can't just think about it; you've got to get out and do it.
Follow these tips when starting to connect with potential buyers and collaborators. Developing relationships with industry professionals, networking with other artists, and reaching out to galleries and publications are all keys to success. Don't be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone. Who knows - you could even find yourself in the spotlight, celebrated for your work. With a little effort and dedication, your creativity can come to life.
How to get into art galleries.
If you still need to learn about gallery owners or curators, reach out. They'll usually be willing to meet with an artist looking to sell their work in person (if not on their website). But that's a generalization, and you'll find all kinds of people and responses to your efforts. It's a learning process, so you need a plan and will improve by sticking with it. You can educate yourself with my four-part How to Get into Art Galleries series. Use what you learn about how to find and present your work to art gallery owners.
Learn about the galleries you're targeting so that you only contact those who are a good fit for your work. That is how to become aware of whether your art fits the gallery's style. For example, save time pitching a wildlife gallery with your abstract art. If you and the gallery are successful, you've found a new venue to sell your art without fear.
The art business is about business, not art.
The first thing to realize is that you are in the business of selling fine art, not making it. As an artist, you need to be business-minded; otherwise, you will spend all your time on your artwork rather than making money.
For an artist, being "business-minded" means understanding the risks associated with selling art and planning accordingly. It means knowing that marketing and selling are critical to your success as an artist. As such, they will require effort because you can't expect sales to happen organically—unless you want to prove the starving artist myth, which is not recommended or supported here.
Learn how to sell art as you go.
If doing these things sounds daunting or overwhelming (or even impossible), don't worry. You don't have to know everything right now—start learning what you need to know so that when opportunity knocks, you'll be ready for it with a plan in hand instead of panicking about how much work needs doing on short notice.
A simple success formula is to find something that works and that you feel good doing and spend time to figure out how to repeat the process.
Let's dig into how to sell art without fear.
You will learn what you need to know to allay your fears and market and sell your art without fear. With the right approach, selling your art can be a rewarding and exciting journey, so let's get started.
Know the value of your work.
Before you start offering your art for sale, you must know and understand the value of the work you are creating. By that, I suggest researching the market, learning about your competition, what art types and materials they use, and determining what others charge for similar pieces. You will use the knowledge to formulate your work's realistic market value. It's not a cliché to say that information is priceless.
Knowing your worth and the value of your art is essential for success as an artist. With this wisdom, you can confidently set a fair market price for your work and not be intimidated by potential buyers. Recognizing the worth of your art will also help you assure your contacts with confidence that you are charging the price. Being transparent and genuine about your pricing builds trust in your client relationships—you can't overstate the value of that type of connection.
Get an accurate feel for the value of your art.
Understanding your work's value can also help you stand out from the competition. Potential buyers will be more likely to take you seriously if you demonstrate that you understand and stand by the value of your fantastic, one-of-a-kind artwork.
Additionally, your market research will help show potential buyers that you understand their needs and can meet them. And when you demonstrate you have competitive insights, it gives you authority to go along with the trust you are building. These things boost your confidence in how you price your art and your ability to explain it to patrons, while your influence increases.
When you communicate on these levels, you're transmitting knowledge in a state where fear of selling is not in your conscious or unconscious mind. You are in service, setting the stage for sales to come shortly and naturally. Not every sale happens spontaneously or easily, but some do and they will be magical.
The best way to create opportunities to sell art without fear is through storytelling.
Storytelling is an enormous lever for artists.
Storytelling for artists is powerful and real. You need to tell your story in your words and make it authentic. Be genuine, honest, and yourself. Don't be afraid to share your story. Instead, be relatable, which is best done by letting your guard down and being yourself without worry or fear because there are more chances in the pipeline.
Practice if you need to, but it's so impactful when you tell people how you feel about what you create—the stories you tell about yourself and your art sell your art for you when you aren't there. That's reason enough to permit yourself—if you need to—to start telling stories without fear of opinion. That happens anyway, but your account gets you on record about your art—and the source always has authority.
What's your story?
Tell it. Make it about you and your artwork. Art buyers want to know who you are and why you do what you do. The more they know about your story and the backstory of your art, the easier it will be for them to connect with your fine art and love it so much they have to own it.
The best way to get started is by writing down your story. You can wait to share it with anyone, but by writing it down, you'll be able to see what's missing and where you can improve. If you are into it, there is power and magic in journaling. If you start and keep at it, you will create some priceless gems of stories you can mine and have available to spin up on the queue. And it's easy because it's your story.
Storytelling is an art form with a palette of options... but which to use?
It's understood that everyone takes poetic license in personal storytelling. But keep the crucial facts straight and stick to the script of what happened. Your honesty and candor are an elixir. Like the proverbial flame to a moth, they pull your people in. The more they vibe to the story, the more likely they will buy now and later.
It's not every day, but when you connect with a high vibe on you and your story—it's a good bet they matter a lot and last a long time!
Understand your target audience.
Knowing your target audience is a critical part of selling art without fear. When you know what your customer is looking for, you can tailor your art to their tastes and interests. And doing that makes marketing easier because you vibe.
A vibe and connection are alike. Both are ethereal, you can't see or hold them, but you can feel and experience them. You almost always recognize the good ones immediately. It's best when this happens because you use your skills to make intentional connections, which is superior to hoping random connections pan out.
What do you need to know?
To better understand your target audience, you should consider their age, gender, where they live, and how much money they earn. And everything else that is relevant. For example, their hobbies, interests, travel plans, and political and religious affiliations as they may apply to your art or not.
Additionally, it's valuable in the process to consider their lifestyle and interests. What kind of art do they enjoy? What kind of messages or stories do they want to see in the artwork? What experiences have they had with art? Understanding your target audience can help you create artwork that resonates with them and makes selling art easier.
It pays to research your target audience.
Researching the market is a critical step you should pay attention to when attempting to understand the needs of your target audience and what artwork they may be interested in purchasing from you.
By knowing the current trends, you can adjust your approach to be sure your art is appealing to the right people and stands out from the competition. Research can also help you spot changes in the market, like shifts in popular styles or tastes, which may mean you need to change your approach to stay relevant. By regularly researching the market, you can stay ahead of the curve and make sure your art appeals to the right people.
Develop your art pricing strategy.
Pricing your art can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. To be fair to yourself and your customers, you must develop a pricing strategy. Start by researching similar art pieces to get an idea of the going rate. Set a base price, then add the cost of materials, labor, and time to get the final selling price.
It would help if you also considered whether you want to offer a discount for multiple purchases or a payment plan. When deciding your pricing strategy, you should start by factoring in the value of your work and the costs of production and marketing. Finally, remember that it is okay to adjust your prices as necessary. With a solid pricing strategy, you can feel confident that you are selling your art without fear.
Promote your art effectively.
To maximize your chances of success when selling art, you'll need to be sure your artwork is getting in front of the right people. One of the best ways to do this is to promote your art effectively, which often requires using new and old marketing methods, like social media, print media, and even word of mouth.
Social media is a great way to get your work in front of potential buyers and is free to use—although appropriate advertising is necessary to leverage it fully. Use the different platforms and be sure your art is easy to find and share. Additionally, use good SEO practices to help your artwork to rank in search engine results.
Traditional direct and local marketing still work.
Print media can also be a great way to promote your art. For example, consider doing a postcard or flyer mailing campaign or putting up posters in coffee shops and other local businesses. Make sure to include a website or social media link on any promotional material so customers can easily find your work online.
Something to know deeply and to practice regularly is using the power of word of mouth. For example, invite your friends, family, and peers to check out your artwork. Ask them to spread the word to their networks, and you will be surprised at how quickly your artwork can gain exposure. It's the first step toward building a robust local marketing campaign, a bedrock art business tactic.
Build relationships with customers.
Building relationships with customers is a key part of selling art without fear. It's imperative to build relationships with customers so they know they can trust you and feel confident that you'll go the extra mile to please them with their purchase.
You can start by introducing yourself and engaging in conversations with customers to get to know them better. Ask questions about their interests, goals, and taste in art to understand better what they're seeking to own. For example, show them your portfolio to get an idea of your work and discuss any customizations they would like.
Enable your evangelists.
As the relationship grows, so does their trust in you and your art. Offer them exclusive discounts or promotions to show your appreciation for their loyalty. Give them incentives and encouragement to make referrals.
Help the process by telling them what you want to happen exactly. And then give them the best words to explain it to others. Finally, provide print material or easy-to-remember links to pass along to their contact. Essentially, you are fortifying and enabling them to help you make quality connections—and that's marketing in a nutshell.
Take the fear out of selling art.
Selling art without fear is a challenge. But with the proper preparation, research, and marketing techniques, you can build confidence and feel confident the right people will see your artwork.
Whether you're selling art online or in person, it's crucial to know your target audience, create an effective pricing strategy, and use the right platforms to reach potential buyers. With the right approach, you can successfully sell your artwork and build a successful art career.
Share your work with everyone.
Buyers, benefactors, and art collectors don't know you exist if you don't tell them.
Don't be afraid to share your work with everyone. The only way for potential collectors to discover your art is because you took steps to let them know about you.
It's a best practice to put in enough effort and time to sell your art, but it's equally essential to find people who understand and appreciate fine art and can afford to purchase it. That's the start for you to build a community around you and your art. I call it a PoP (Pocket of People). Doing these things takes time and patience—but once you establish your practice, it will keep growing as long as you keep sharing your work with people who want what you offer.
Effective use of social media is a must.
Pay attention to the power of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to sell artwork and connect with people who might love what you do.
Social media is a great way to market yourself and your art. It's helpful to have an active presence on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other platforms. Use hashtags to get more followers interested in your work. You want to post high-quality photos of your exciting and creative work—but not too much so. You don't want people getting bored with seeing the same thing repeatedly (or they'll unfollow you).
Pick your social media spot.
As with art marketing techniques, you can only use some available social media platforms. I suggest that you start with the one you like the most and make it work. You can build on your success on other platforms once you have your first one spinning well.
Post photos of your work in progress and what you learn from it—and take new pictures of completed pieces as often as possible. If someone likes one artwork but doesn't want it for themselves, they might buy something else from you after seeing how versatile your processes are.
Pay it forward.
Don't wait to become a social media butterfly to be generous. Instead, start with being altruistic with your postings. Use your influence—no matter your audience size—to help others and worthy causes because it's good karma, goodwill, and intelligent marketing. That's how you do marketing with heart and humanity.
Learn to make the most of selling art at shows.
Set a goal for each art fair or show to measure your success and progress.
You should set a goal for each show to measure your success and progress. For example, benchmark how much money you want to make or what percentage of sales you'd like to have at any event. Keeping a written track of past shows is a growing info asset.
A rhyme to remember about art shows.
It's an excellent suggestion when planning your booth at an art fair to prioritize having fun and enjoying yourself while meeting new people interested in your work. If you are brand new, you want to stay focused on numbers. Set your goals to guide your interactions with others by ensuring all parties walk away with something positive from their experience.
Decades of art tradeshow experience taught me that for newbies, "what you learn is more valuable than what you earn." A rhyme to remember to keep the sanity when the inevitable happens and the going gets tough at an art show.
You create a vibe that flows from your booth.
Hiding in the corner is bad juju. You want to create the opposite, which is good karma. Make booth access easy; use a welcome gesture with arm and body movement, eye contact, and a smile. A pleasant greeting works wonders. These things set the stage for your booth. Grueling hours and conditions push back on your attitude but don't give in and allow yourself to feel worse about things you can't change.
Make it a goal that everyone who encounters your booth has fun and comes out from the experience feeling good about themselves and the art they buy. That's how to create a win-win for all parties and is a critical step in creating virtuous circles around you, your art, the shows, and the new and old buyers you find at them.
Create virtuous circles around you and your art.
A virtuous circle emanating from a show example is you find a new collector who delights in owning your art so much that they enthusiastically promote your art to their circles of influence. And as a result, the new buyers you gain repeat the process by introducing your art to more new people. It's word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
What unique experience can you give? The only way to know is to give your best idea a shot.
Be all that you are; it's all we want and expect.
There is a fine line between being an artist and a businessperson. The truth is, if you want to succeed in this world, you must be both. Creativity is limitless, but success comes when you have the proper business tools to market yourself as a creative professional. There is no denying you're a creative person... don't act like anything less than that.
But there's another side to this story. You can't just throw your hands up and say, "I'm an artist." and expect people to understand what you do. Some artists need to learn how to market their artwork; consequently, they need to know why they aren't getting anywhere with their careers.
The truth is, you must be both a creative and a businessperson if you want to succeed. You need to know how to market yourself as an artist and understand how marketing generally works.
Find and use the best art marketing tools.
Creativity is limitless, but success comes when you have the proper business tools to market yourself as a creative professional. It takes time to identify the right tools that will work for you. It's a bit bewildering because there are too many options to use them all at once, so you must choose the right tools.
Essentially, it's helpful to genuinely believe you'll stick with what you start because if you fool yourself, you'll fail. When you don't like doing something, it's easy to stop using the tool before it can generate results. For example, blogging is highly effective—but only if you do it regularly and with purpose. Otherwise, you waste your time, which can lead to depression and negativity, creating energy going reverse for your vibe and marketing plans. Choose wisely. Be patient. Stick with it.
There are obvious reasons why you might be afraid to sell your art:
- You think your work needs to be better.
- You're worried the market will be competitive and you won't get any sales or commissions.
- You're worried that making a mistake with pricing or marketing might cost you money, time, and effort when finding buyers again in the future.
- You're introverted or never sold anything before, so you let your fears get the best of you.
The truth is, if you don't try, nothing will happen. Fear of failure has been holding people back from pursuing their passions for years. The good news is that we live in an era where anyone can make art and sell it online because of sites like Etsy and Artspan (not to mention eBay), which allow everyone accesses to a global audience for their artwork and products at affordable prices.
If you still need convincing, here are some things to consider: How do you know that the market is only competitive if you try? If no one else is selling your art style, there's a reason for that. Your work may be so unique that buyers can't find anything similar.
How do you know that making a mistake with pricing or marketing will cost you money, time, and effort when finding future art buyers? You don't. The only way to find out is by testing different strategies and seeing which ones work best for your unique situation. Testing is the next step after research. Let data inform and confirm your instincts.
It's weird, but you should shoot for the right kind of regrets.
If you have any fear about selling your art that is holding you back, the reason is probably you and not the situation. And you overcome fear using your unique human endowment: free will. The best option is to regret your bravery rather than your fear.
Regrets over fear double because it didn't work because you didn't try. Regrets over bravery are that it didn't work when you tried—it's impossible to be anything but the best choice. Right?
Please use these how to sell art and market yourself and your work tips will help motivate you to get started. The most important thing is to be fearless when selling your artwork and do what it takes to make that happen. If you can do this, then success will surely follow.