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  • Writer's pictureTom

Artists Need a Strategy to Sell

Updated: Jul 25, 2022



Does creating art take discipline? Of course it does. It requires developing your craft in your chosen medium and tapping into what you want to say through your work.


Success in marketing and selling your work also requires following a creative discipline, it's just in a different medium.


Create Your Plan


As the old saying goes, make your plan, then work your plan. (I'll bet my fellow artists just hate cliches like this...but it will have to do for now :)


Most emerging artists need to spend consistent time marketing your work, probably about 2 - 3 hours per day. That's a lot of time!


If visual artists need to put a minimum o two hours per day into growing your business, it only makes sense that your time is spent on tasks that will help you achieve your goals and objectives.


There's only so much time in a day, so it's vital to start with a plan/strategy and do the daily marketing tasks required to hit your goals.


There are always trade-offs and alternative approaches to consider.


For example, you could spend an hour or more per day posting Stories, Reels, and carousel posts on Instagram every day. If these tasks are approached strategically, you can grow your followers and increase engagement with your current followers. Of course, for most, the hope is that you will start attracting buyers as your followers increase.


If you spend this much time on Instagram, what about time promoting on other social media? The good thing today is how integrated Instagram and Facebook are, which means you can easily promote on both platforms with very little extra effort.


This is just one social media channel. What about your website, online galleries, and of course the real world of exhibitions and gallery representation.


The point is, there are many ways you can spend your time AND your money to market your art. It is wise to evaluate what avenues will work for you and build a plan based on your choices.


Defining objectives and tracking results are keys to implementing your strategy


This is very basic, but too often artists don't stop to think through what's really important in building their business. Finding commercial success as an artist is no different than any other small business; you need to establish your goals and objectives and have a method to track your performance.


Is your objective to earn more money? Is your objective to gain validation for the art you create and money is not a driving factor? We pursue our art, and strive for some commercial success for any number of reasons. If we gain clarity on what we want to achieve commercially, we are much more likely to achieve the success we desire.


If your goal is to earn more money; how will you earn more money? There is more than one way this goal can be achieved. You can earn more by selling more pieces of art or, you can earn more by selling your art at a higher price? Of course, these two strategies are not necessarily exclusive. But, if one of your goals is to sell your work at higher prices this may require greater emphasis on strengthening your brand.


I know, stop with all the questions and start giving you some answers.


Regardless of your objectives, you will need a plan of action to put the wheels in motion. The best plans start with either a quarterly or annual target and a breakdown of what needs to be done each month, each week, and each day to achieve your goal.


Let's say your goal is to increase your income from art sales by 20% over last year. Now, look at what specific actions to achieve this goal. Some of these might be:

  • Creating "X" more pieces of art

  • How many works of art must you sell to hit your income goal

  • Selling in more galleries and more social media channels

  • Selling in more online galleries

With the first bullet point, you would set a specific objective to sell and create a specific number of pieces by the number per day, per week, and per month. Then you break down this objective further by how many hours you'll work per day.


Sorry, this comes from the analytical and process side of my brain. The thing is, once we understand the time required each day, we can hopefully start putting the time into our daily schedule.

The same logic will follow for each of your other objectives. Keep breaking down the actions required so you have a very clear view of what it will take in personal time to achieve your goal to increase your income by 20%.


KPIs and Metrics


In business, we work on KPIs; Key Performance Indicators. These are the actions that if done consistently every day, week, and month, are indicators of future success. Some artists need to articulate their KPIs and some artists just have an inner feel for how what they do every day determines their future sales success.

What's important with goals and objectives is that you have trackable metrics.

If you simply need to produce more work to hit this quarter's income goal, then how much time do you need to devote to creating work every day is needed. Now comes the discipline part of building an art business...making a personal commitment to work X hours per day creating.

But, let's not forget about your marketing KPIs. How many Instagram and Facebook posts do you need to make every week to grow your followers and increase engagement with your current followers. However, it is not just about the number, but it is also about the content of your posts.

The beautiful thing about posting on Social Media is you get ongoing feedback. If you're posing lots of selfies of yourself with your dog do you see your number of quality followers and engagement growing? Or, do you find that when you do a demo Reel of how you created your most recent work has a noticeably better impact on gaining followers and engagement in terms of likes and comments from your current followers?

Buyers Need to Know You Exist

The bottom line is you need to create work and share your work consistently if you want to gain the attention of buyers. That comes from your daily commitment to creating and promoting your work with social media posts and more.

Another very important aspect is necessary to achieve commercial success selling your art. That is that there are enough people who see your work as valuable. This is the much less tangible part of success as an artist. What are you doing to tap into your inner emotions and by extension the emotions of others? Are you creating portraits of people that are technically well done, but do they lack that one brush stroke or line that emotes a more alluring or powerful emotion.

You can do everything else right, but if you don't continue to strive for that magic touch, whatever that may be, I think your success will always be limited.



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