Most people set out to market their product without a direction. It might work for you but you can increase your success if you have a road map to success. You need to ask yourself some basic questions in order to determine what your marketing will accomplish:
a) What does success look like?
If I succeed what does it mean? Success for you is different than success for someone else. Start by defining your life. What do you want your life to look like? Where do you want to live? How do you want to live? What needs will you have to live the defined lifestyle? What are you willing to do to accomplish that life style and what are you not willing to do?
b) Quantify success:
Once you know the life you hope to live when you are "successful" than you need to understand exactly what it takes. How much do I need to live on after taxes? What exact steps do I need to take to get to the defined lifestyle? (Do I need to move, sell my home, afford another home, etc.)
Lets say that you defined your lifestyle to include living on a farm in a region where you can paint all year, have a barn as a studio, have a destination location to hold workshops, have a college near by where you can do part time teaching or build a teaching business, etc. It's important to be as specific as possible so you can then determine what the exact cost to accomplish this goal would be.
c) Work in reverse.
Once you're determined exactly what your financial needs are for this lifestyle you need to work in reverse to make a plan. Lets say you need to raise $100,000 more to be able to buy your farm and build your studio and your goal is to be in the farm in 5 years. Divide the $100,000 by 5, which means you need put $20,000 a year toward the plan. That of course does not mean you need to earn $20,000 it means you need to find a way to put that much aside every year above and beyond your other expenses.
So to carry this example further.... you tell yourself your art business needs to generate an additional $20,000 a year for your farm. The first step is to ask yourself what is my pre-tax target so I can take $20,000 out? (Everyone is in a different tax situation, so consult your accountant). Lets say you determine you have to raise an additional $6000 for a total of $26,000 (pretax). Now break it into little chunks. If you feel you can earn consistently for 12 months of the year than you need $26,000 divided by 12 ($2,166) a month. Lets assume you want to sell paintings and your gallery sells them for $2000 and you get 50%. You need to sell a little more than 2 paintings per month. ($1000 each). Seems easy so far. But you need to build in a contingency plan and the law of averages.
Lets say that the gallery only sells 1 out of 10 you send them. You need to provide 20 paintings a month to sell two. And lets say that some months they sell two, some months they sell none, some months they sell more. You need a contingency plan or your gallery will hold up your progress to buy the farm, which might take 8 years instead of five. Not acceptable. So what can you do to sell more paintings to make sure there are always two per month?
Option 1: Find a way to increase your averages with the gallery who has your work. (We will address these techniques in a future blog post).
Option 2: Find other ways to sell paintings on your own or find more galleries. (I think every artist should have at least two galleries in different geographical areas as a hedge in case one of the two fails to sell your work. Artists I know recently are adding as many as five because sales at all of their galleries are down).
The point of all of this is that it should not be loose guess work. You need an exact plan to reach your goal and then you have to figure out exactly how you will get there. Plans should be in place for failed plans so you don't miss your goals. If you have a goal you have something to shoot for every month and you know exactly how you plan to hit that goal in terms of steps you need to execute.
PS: Our next issue of The Artist Advocate is coming up in September. You can present your work to 6,500 galleries selling original artwork to secure an additional (or first time) gallery. To learn more go to http://www.artistadvocatemagazine.com. Also look for the Artist Advocate fan page on Facebook.