I often encourage artists to study the business aspects of other successful artists. You already know it is worthwhile to take your time to learn the unique and notable techniques talented artists use to make art. It follows you should take your time to learn how top selling artists get their work seen and sold.
Below you’ll find a list in no particular order of things I observe in artists who are not making the most of their potential. The bad news is some of you may recognize these sins as something you do or don’t do. The good news is there is nothing here that you can’t change if you are ready to try.
Little or no knowledge about your buyers. NnoNow, I realize you cannot be blind as to who buys your art. The sin here is when you do not know as much as possible about your buyers. Who are they? Where do they live? What is the income level are they in? Do you sell primarily to women or men? What is the average age of your buyers? Do they have preferences for sizes, colors, and subject matter? Do they buy at shows, from your website, or online galleries?
When you complete a picture of your buyers, you see a road map of how to hunt for more just like them. The more you can do to find niches and groups where your best prospects are, the more focused and fruitful you can make your art marketing. If you only have a vague idea of how new buyers, or repeat buyers for that matter, find you and make buying decisions, you are at a distinct disadvantage. You are operating a dysfunctional marketing plan.
Not knowing which art marketing activities work best for you. There are too many art marketing tools for any artist to use them all. The sin here is not doing the research to know which ones will get you the best results. I believe email marketing should be part of every artist’s arsenal. Aside from email marketing, you need to identify and work with tools that you can master and that give you the best return on your time and investment.
Believing you can make all kinds of different art and find buyers for them. Your collectors, galleries, and dealers have expectations about your work. If you confuse or disappoint them, you put yourself in the position of starting over. It’s hard work, and no fun building a following for your new work should your existing buyer base lose interest due to radical changes in your art. It’s a gamble with your art career I do not recommend. Although you may have urges to create work that is entirely different from what is bringing you success, I encourage you to resist them. As the saying goes, “Dance with the one that brung ya.”
Clinging to the old way of doing things with your marketing. There is value in consistency in how you market your work. You may be enjoying great success with your current marketing, but there is no guarantee it will last. Make it a habit to be curious about and act on potentially profitable new ways of getting your art seen and sold. If you resist learning about new ways to market your work, you might eventually find yourself with fewer and fewer sales. That’s what happened to many artists who depended solely on the gallery system in the last few years. Things change. You do not have to jump on every new fad or the latest social media sensation, but you need to keep an open mind to the possibilities of new ways of finding buyers and selling art.
If you resist learning about new ways to market your work, you might eventually find yourself with fewer and fewer sales. That’s what happened to many artists who depended solely on the gallery system in the last few years. Things change. You do not have to jump on every new fad or the latest social media sensation, but you need to keep an open mind to the possibilities of new ways of finding buyers and selling art.
Ineffective communication. Too many artists are poor communicators. They don’t work at building their email list or regularly schedule and complete email marketing plans. Often their websites and social media networks go unattended. They don’t blog or blog infrequently. As a result, their fans and followers don’t know if they are still making new art or not.
Out of sight is out of mind. Successful artists understand the importance of constant communication. By keeping your fans informed and engaged, you improve your closing ratio when your art marketing puts an offer in front of them. Effective communication increases how much money your collectors will spend with you.
Lack of professionalism. Artists who do not pay attention to the business of art pay a hefty price. You must have systems in place to keep records of your business, sales, and inventory. If you do not respect your business, you may fail to pay your taxes on time, allocate sufficient funds to your marketing to keep it current or get behind in payments to suppliers. Good business practices are essential to your long-term success.
Dismissing the importance of image. Looking like an amateur is a career killer. Your image is part of your personal brand. How you look, and how your website looks how your art marketing materials look all send subtle clues to your collectors and prospective buyers. When you sound like you are either clueless or don’t care about your image and the image of your business, you make it easy for your art to be dismissed.
When buyers and art professionals are faced with choices about you, such as whether to buy or not, to hire you for an important job, for a gallery to invest in promoting your work or for journalists to decide to write about you, your profile with them becomes the deciding factor. Vow today to take pride in your work, your art marketing, your appearance and you. When you do, you give yourself the best chances of making the most of your art career.