Don’t Ask For Shares

While telling your audience your future depends on them. Oy.

Don’t ask your audience for shares. Don’t tell them your future depends on them. It is not your audience’s responsibility to share your work.

Yeah, I know this one maybe goes against what you’ve been taught or what you’ve seen, but here’s the thing: when you ask them to do the work you’re supposed to be doing, you remove your responsibility for your own success.

You also look less professional.

See, we know that social media growth happens because your audience shares. But they share when you produce content worth sharing. When you show up frequently enough to inspire and delight them.

But it’s only a tiny part of the equation. You are supposed to be finding people who will like your work and showing up in front of them!

I know: that’s a mind fuck.

Everyone is in the, “if you post it, they will come,” mindset and while there’s some validity in that, it leaves too much to chance.

Look, I know a few artists who have been around for years and produce incredible work. Breathtakingly beautiful work. Work that has literally made me gasp out loud. And I’m pretty fucking cynical at times so that’s significant.

And they have tiny followings.

The reason for their lack of growth is the fact that they are depending on their audience to like and share their posts. And while many people do, in fact, do that, it’s not enough. Maybe those people who are sharing don’t have the right people in their connections who would buy the art. Maybe their reach is really low. Who knows?

When it comes to social selling, size matters. So does quality. And I’m talking about your audience size and quality.

How do we define size? Well, that one is straightforward. You want to be in front of as many people as possible because we’re going to assume that only 1–10% of them will actually buy your work.

Go look at your biggest audience size right now. If you have 500 followers, the math is not in your favour.

But what if you have 10k followers and not enough people are buying? Well, that’s where quality comes in. Quality means, who is predominantly in your audience? Other artists or people who are in your target market?

Artists frequently connect with other artists. It’s a safe connection. You generally get a follow back. Most artists tend to not be jerks when you post. They actually understand what it takes to not only make art, but share it.

The unfortunate flip side of this is, most artists are not your target market! Not unless you make ceramic paint brush holding cups or something that’s both functional and beautiful. Then you want to connect with artists.

This is where your ideal client or collector avatar comes in. Your ICA. Your target market.

Your art does not appeal to everyone. Nor should it. If it did, it means you’re playing it safe and maybe making beige or white light switches and not actual art.

You, yourself, have a preferred type of person you like to work with the most. And maybe you’ve noticed a trend in the type of person who buys your work (likes are false metrics — only count the buyers).

Do they overlap? Odds are they do, otherwise you need to decide if you’re marketing to the right people or making the right art.

Did I lose you with the business stuff? Yes, art should be freed of thinking about saleability but the reality is, if your art is not selling the problem lies either in your art or your marketing. If you want to make any kind of money, saleability has to come into play.

But it’s far easier to look at marketing first. There’s usually a market for everything, the trick is to match your art and your brand with the right market. And you start by defining who is in your target market.

This one requires you to understand the numbers so stick with me for a hot second.

Let’s say that there are 7 billion people in the world right now. Exactly 7 billion for this argument.

Half of those people are online. They have access to an internet connection. They have some kind of technology to be present in some way online. If you’re selling online, that’s a potential of 3.5 billion people. A mind blowing number.

But half of those are kids (let’s assume) so they aren’t buyers. Now you’ve got 1.75 billion potential people.

Let’s say that half of those adults have the means to buy art and the desire to buy art. Gosh, that’s… 875 million people.

What if you only want to sell your work to women? We’re going to assume that half of those are women: 437, 500,000 potential collectors.

What if your work is best appreciated by women over 40? Also your preferred audience. We divide that in half (and yes I’m playing fast and loose with the numbers but seriously not the point): 218, 750, 000 potential collectors.

Now, what if you only want to target 45 year old, left handed, heirloom baby goat collectors?

Well, a quick Google tells me 10% of women are left handed, and probably less are heirloom baby goat collectors.

Let’s just say 8% of that number, which will give you 17 million five hundred thousand people in your ICA.

Of course, there are other factors at play and of course the numbers may shift up and down depending on your niche but my point is: niching down and defining a very specific target market doesn’t leave you with only 5 potential collectors!

What it does is make sure your message is seen by the people who resonate with it, who want what you make, and who realize YOU GET THEM! You understand what makes them tick!

It’s why, if you sell Star Wars art of Princess Leia only, endless portraits of her, you can make a pretty fucking good living because there are so many people in your target market left to buy! And when you become known as the go-to person for amazing Leia portraits, your name is the first to come up any time someone wants that kind of art.

Look, the reality is, you can’t make 17 million pieces of art in a year. Maybe you make 100, give or take. So you only need half that number in collectors.

Oh yeah, did you not know that once someone buys from you and is delighted with your work, the odds are they will buy again?

So take the number of pieces you can make in a year, realistically, and take some of your best inventory, count them up divide by 2 and that’s the number of buyers you actually need.

This means that even if you niche down to left handed, one-eyed, 45 year old female heirloom baby goat collectors who only venture outside during the full moon, odds are there are enough people in that niche who will buy your work.

And people who aren’t in your niche, but resonate with you, will buy from you regardless.

Ok, so, define your target market. Really decide who you want to work with, and who loves your work enough to buy it. Go find them and connect with them. Post your amazing work and behind the scenes stuff. Invite people into your world. Grow your audience every day. And yeah, stop making it not your responsibility to have a thriving business.

This one’s all on you. And you have so got this.

Paula Mould

Paula Mould

Paula Mould is a fine artist, published author and business coach for Leigh & Paula.

She also swears, mostly on purpose.

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