I’m Down to My Last $5 But That’s The Artist’s Lot in Life

Uh huh. Sure.

I just had a conversation with an artist who took exception to what I write. She insisted that she doesn’t have a negative mindset; being short of money is just the lot of the artist.

When quizzed, shockingly it turns out that she doesn’t know her target market, or ideal client, doesn’t have a proper pitch, doesn’t post with calls to action and doesn’t do anything a business would do.

How on earth do you expect to make any money?

There’s this idea, prevalent in many industries but definitely de rigueur in art, that selling is icky. Unethical. To be avoided. No one wants to be THAT person that is slimy and all pushy about buying stuff.

But marketing your work doesn’t mean you’re being icky. It means you’re making it as easy as possible for the people who love your work to actually buy your work.

There’s no strong arming.

No deception.

No pushing of a sale so hard they have buyer’s remorse!

If you’re feeling gross about marketing, you’re not doing it right. And if you hate marketing, you just need to upgrade your skills. Running a business is a learn-able skill.

The first thing you need to do in your art business is decide that you are running a business. It sounds silly but this step is a crucial one. Are you a business or are you fucking around hoping that things will fall into place? Maybe you’re even hoping to be discovered.

Lose that idea that you’re going to be discovered- it’s up to you to make people discover you.

Take a good, hard look at the businesses around you. They don’t need to be creative ones. Just pay attention to how they show up. How they sell. What do you like and not like about them? All of this is useful data.

Decide on your pricing. Don’t be all over the place. Don’t price emotionally. Take your materials costs into consideration. Take your time into consideration. Average them out.

I tell artists to price by size. Your audience will recognize that you’re consistent in your pricing and feel better about buying from you. Safer. This is important. Whatever formula you choose, use it religiously.

Decide on what you want to be known for. I’ve written about this a few times but people don’t respect multi-talented artists, they want the specialists. Be known for one thing for now and then branch out once you’ve established yourself as the go to person for XYZ.

You can still do your other passions on the side but don’t sell them online at this point. Confused people don’t buy. Don’t confuse your followers.

Then clean up your social media business accounts. Remove the garbage like those inspirational posts (JUNK) and the “support artists” posts (a total turn off). Make sure anyone who comes across your work can actually tell what you offer.

Be super clear on who you’re making art for. It isn’t for everyone and the sooner you identify who your ideal client is, the better off you’ll be.

When you know who your ideal client is, being very specific about them, you can then start looking for them. Not all ideal clients are on Facebook. Google the demographics for social media. Go where they are. Connect with them.

Post clearly. Talk about your art. Write stories about it, about the meaning behind it. Show behind the scenes. And in between all that, post with calls to action.

A call to action tells your viewer what to do next. DM me to purchase. Click here to sign up. Follow me on YouTube. Whatever.

(See how you’re not confusing your followers? Go you!)

Get on video. This one is key. I know it can be intimidating but it’s important. Let your followers get to know you. Learn to talk about your work. Be short — 2–3 minutes — but be present.

And do it all again.

Remember that being relentless is key. Being consistent is key. And you have to show a piece on average 9 times to your audience before it will sell.

If you’re struggling with your cash flow and you’re not doing any or all of the things I’ve listed, you can fix it. But it’s definitely on you to do so.

Or you can decide this is your lot in life and continue as you were. It’s entirely up to you.

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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