By art publisher and marketing expert B. Eric Rhoads
you're an artist blessed with a marketing gene, you may already know
these secrets. Yet as I communicate with over 40,000 artists in my art marketing blog, I find that most have never heard them.
I hear from artists every day. Most tell me they are not selling as much artwork as last year. Some tell me they are prospering. The difference is that those who are successful understand these 10 basic secrets:
1. Attitude Determines Your Success:
I'm not talking about positive-thinking hocus-pocus. But when I interview successful people, they all have one thing in common: "I made up my mind that I'm not going to let this recession impact me." This is a CRITICAL step. Most of us give ourselves an out by telling ourselves that it's OK to fail because everyone else is. To succeed, you cannot think like everyone else. I have a giant sign in my office that reads: "2010 Is Our Best Year Yet." Note the use of the word IS -- not will be. It's important to train your subconscious mind to believe that it is. I have to look at it daily and not let myself off the hook.
2. Develop and Follow a Strategy:
You wouldn't take a road trip without a map, yet most artists don't have a road map for their art business. Most don't like to look at themselves as businesses, but as artists. But if you rely on income from your art sales, you are in business.
critical element is to create a business plan. Put it in writing and
mark the milestones on a calendar. Hold yourself accountable and look
ahead. If you're about to miss a milestone, don't let yourself off the
Your plan needs to include:
• Your financial goal (after taxes)
• Exactly how many pieces you must sell to hit that goal, and at what price point
• In what ways you will sell your art
Develop a list of tactics and build them into your plan.
3. Make Money While You Sleep:
How can you make money while you sleep? The key is to find ways your art can sell without your having to manage the process. You're just one person. How can you get several people viewing it and selling your art? The more sales agents selling your work, the better. Galleries, for example, are sales agents.
4. Stand in a River of Flowing Money:
Where is money already flowing? Go there! If one city is selling a lot of art and another is not, target a gallery or a means of selling in the city where sales are taking place. A big New York City gallery opened a location in Beijing during the Olympics because of the influx of money there, and because so many Chinese were buying art. Art is selling well in some places. Find out where, and find a way to get your art there.
5. Price to the Market Without Dropping Your Value:
I never recommend lowering prices because it's hard to raise them again. But many artists know that when money is tight, it's easier to sell a less expensive painting. Many artists are creating smaller works. One artist I know is creating one small painting a day and selling the paintings on eBay (under an assumed name) for $100 each. He sells almost every one, and is generating an extra $2,000 a month. He is also painting fewer large works, but his galleries are moving the small ones.
6. Increase Visibility:
Seek every opportunity to increase your visibility as an artist. It increases the odds of getting noticed. Bottom line: More bait in the water equals more fish on the hook. Work hard to generate publicity from local, regional, and national publications and websites. Take an active role on Facebook and Twitter. Post new works that have not been seen before. Send e-mails and new-painting notifications to collectors, and expand your build. Place ads in publications. You need to be seen MORE when times are worse because you need to reach more potential buyers.
7. Repetition Works. I Repeat. Repetition Works:
I've been a marketing guy for many years, and the most critical marketing lesson is that ONE impression does not sell. People may see your ad or story, but they won't remember it. They may intend to respond, but they forget. That's why you see the same ads over and over on television. Repetition works. Single impressions do not. Repeat your message over and over.
8. Expand Your Market:
Do you consider yourself local, national, or international? If you only sell in your town or region, you're limiting yourself to local cycles. If you can get into more cities and art centers nationwide and worldwide, the increased exposure will lead to more sales.
9. Get Creative:
Get some friends together and brainstorm. Make a list of 100 ways you can sell paintings. You say there aren't 100 ways, but there are. Force yourself not to stop until you get to 100. Don't judge anything. Write every idea down, then start trying some you've never done. Creative approaches will make you stand out.
10. Build Your Brand:
Every product is a brand. You, the artist, need to be a brand. When people know brands and know what that brand stands for, over time they develop trust. Trust often equals a purchase. You trust McDonald's for consistent food anywhere in the world. Though this goes along with visibility, find ways to reinforce the things you think people need to know or remember about your artwork. "Jill's paintings are...." or "Bob's photographs are...." Advertising and publicity can build your brand, but it's best if you control the way the brand is perceived.
can also do branding with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Be careful to
build the brand in a positive way. For instance, if every Facebook
entry shows you with a bottle of absinthe in your hand, it may send the
wrong signal (or the right one, if you feel the bad-boy, Van Gogh
approach is your image). Start with what you want your image to be, and
find ways to reinforce that focus.
The Harsh Reality of Recession
It's true. Fewer artworks are selling. Yet every day I hear reports of artwork sold at all price levels. Guess who is selling the artwork that is being purchased? The artists who are working to remain visible. Most artists shrink back during tough times, when they should be working harder to be seen.
Yes, it takes guts. Yes, it's hard work. Yes, there is risk. But consider the alternatives. The rewards are worth it.
Make up your mind to make a plan, stick with it, and be accountable to it.
Join 40,000 artists who are reading my art marketing blog. Please sign up today.
PS: My friend Charlie met his financial goals for 2009 because he made up his mind to succeed and he made a plan. He doubled the number of galleries he is in with his ad in Artist Advocate, a magazine I publish that connects artists to 6,500 galleries. We would be honored to help you land more galleries. Watch this two-minute video.
PPS: The next issue of Artist Advocate deadlines November 11. The people listed below can help you find out if this is right for you.
Watch this two-minute video: