Since you are reading this post, I’m certain you are interested in learning how to sell more art and start making more money now. Good for you! The notion of starving to make high art is hogwash. So is dissing artists who make art with the intention to sell it.
If you are not doing that, you have got yourself a pleasant pastime. Every artist I know wants to sell more art. It is a natural thing. Besides the necessary financial gain, it is a prime method of validating one’s art career – to those who matter, which leaves out art snobs. I have yet to see one pay a mortgage or auto loan for an artist.
Let’s get down to some useful ideas on how to get your work to market.
It’s hard to be successful if you do not know who your best prospective buyers are and where to find them. If you are in a niche, for instance, equine art, it is easier than if you paint landscapes. But, either way, you need to have an appreciation of who is most likely to buy your art.
You need to understand:
The above are just the first cut of developing a broad profile of your prospective buyer. The more you can refine who buys your art, the more successful you will be. What kind of cars might they drive? Where do they work? What are their career aspirations? How often do they shop for art? Are they interested in keeping abreast of changing trends in the arts?
What are their hopes and fears? What drives them to want to be successful? Why are they interested in the arts? What do they do in their lives that makes them different from others who only buy art a few times, if ever, in their lifetime?
It may sound complicated and sophisticated to do this. I would agree, it is. Nonetheless, I encourage you to do all you can to get familiar with your prospective buyers. It’s going beyond demographics, which are helpful. It takes you into psychographics. The time you spend doing this work will pay you back in sales you would never get over and over.
You will find 20% of your potential buyers generate 80% of your revenue. When you can discover who those 20% are, you can tailor your marketing efforts to them. Your buyer profile is the key to unlocking those sales.
Inside of every 20% is another 80/20 set of customers. As long as your list is large enough, it is predictable that each additional 20% will buy more expensive pieces and more pieces. When you gain this level of understanding about your buyers, you can maximize your sales with lower marketing costs. It’s potent, powerful and worth doing.
Duh! If you are trying to find buyers buy advertising in pricey art magazines when your buyers are reading Country Woman, you have a problem. This point follows up the one above. Know who your buyer is, where they go and then be there with them. Network with them in person when possible, and online wherever they hang out.
You don’t just into a forum or in-person conversation and ask, “I’m an artist, how do you like me so far?” You take the time to take the measure of the situation, and then carefully and conscientiously inject yourself into the situation.
If it’s ripe with prospects, you may want to join a committee or get involved in ways that make it obvious you care about the same things the other members of the group or association care about. Doing that builds your platform and will lead you to sales opportunities without having to ask, in many cases.
The more you know about your competition, the smarter a marketer you will be. I do not advocate directly copying what someone else is doing, but I do condone “creative borrowing.” It is something we all do. Look at any art movement and you will find a bunch of work by various artists all taking influence from each other.
You can learn from your competitors and use the information to be more insightful about the marketplace overall. When you include these insights into your marketing, you strengthen your plan. Moreover, when you understand what your competitors are doing, you can use the knowledge to position yourself uniquely against them.
Take it a step further and find out what you competitors are doing to be successful. Deconstruct their marketing, Figure out what you can do to take things to the next level beyond what they are doing.
Draft the leaders until you are ready to pass them. – Barney Davey
Race car drivers draft the cars in front of them because:
You cannot bore someone into buying your art. – Barney Davey
Before you can get them to consider it, you have to get their attention. The best way to do that is be creative and inventive when it comes to preparing your marketing materials. Watching what marketers in other industries are doing can be a huge help to you.
You should have both a paper and digital swipe file. A swipe file is a place to file away anything you see that is remarkable to you. If you find an ad in a magazine, or an article that moves or inspires you, tear it out and put it in swipe file folder. If you find a website that does likewise, use Internet Explorer to “Save As” under the File menu link to make a .mht complete Web archive file.
I recommend Evernote. It is an online web clipping service that allow you to clip full pages, articles, or anything you select on a web page. It has a powerful search to help you find what you need.
I am not in favor of cut prices to get sales. That is a long-term way to kill your business. Price cutting puts you on a slippery slope to doom and failure. You can, however, find unique ways to make value-added offers:
The ways you can add value to a sale without sacrificing your price are endless. It just depends on how creative you want to be. Your swipe file should help you here as well.
It is more important today than ever for artists to be in charge of their marketing. In the end, the only person who will care if you make sales is you. If you realize you have to trust and rely on yourself and accept that responsibility, you are better for it.
Spread around what you are doing.
Offer big. No one has ever been hurt because they assumed a sale and made an offer for a colossal sale. On the other hand, many a blind pig has found an acorn because they kept looking. In other words, there are buyers out there who are open-to-buy and who have budgets well beyond the meager funds in your savings account.
If you sell based on your personal perception of how much money is in your wallet at the moment of the sale, you are losing money nearly every time. You cannot presume to know what a buyer’s ability or budget is. You can assume they are fully capable of telling you no if they cannot or do not want to accept your offer.
How big is too big? Beyond being ridiculous, there is no offer too big. What is wrong with saying, “I can make you three groupings of three pieces each.” Go on to explain the design virtues of clusters of three. You can tell how great the Feng Shui value in such groupings can improve a home or office, or whatever makes sense for you and that buyer at the moment.
Spend some time to think about constructing at least two separate offers such as the above example and work on them so you are comfortable with the notion and equally comfortable with presenting them. Then practice so when you make such an offer that they come out naturally and comfortably.
Remember, no does not always mean no. Many times it just means “I need more information”, or “I am not yet convinced.” Keep the conversation going and ask again, or probe for more details on the decision, or what the buyer is seeking. At the least, get both an email and a snail mail address, note those works that were of interest and communicate with them regularly. It is not uncommon in many galleries for buyers to take a year or longer before they make a purchase.
Put these ideas into action and it is certain you will make more money and sell more art.
Be humbled and thankful for your blessings. Regardless of your current position, it never hurts to be grateful for the blessings you have. You are blessed with talent and creativity to make art. You are blessed to afford to be able to make art. You are blessed to have time to read blog posts like this one.
Despite the world around us that much of is plunged in darkness and hatred, we find ourselves living in the greatest abundance ever known to mankind. We should not take this abundance for granted. Nor should we allow ourselves to fall under that spell of those who spread divisiveness, lies, and hatred. Peace out.