Every artist I know wants to sell more art. It is a natural thing. Besides the necessary financial gain, it is a prime method of validating one's art career. Sure, even though Van Gogh was a failure in his lifetime, things turned out pretty good for him in the long run. However, most of us want and need the income now. Here are seven ways to help you sell more art now.
1. Target your buyers.
It is difficult to be successful if you do not know who your best prospective buyers are and where to find them. If you are in a niche, for instance equine art, it is easier than if you paint landscapes. But, either way, you need to have an appreciation of who is most likely to buy your art.
You need to understand:
• Core demographics about your buyers. Are they men or women, or both? What are their ages? What is their income range?
• Do they shop locally, or are they spread out geographically?
• What are their buying habits? Do you get a lot of repeat buyers?
• Are they price-sensitive? Do they buy giclees, originals or open editions?
If your art is such that it appeals to a broad demographic, you will find 20% of your potential buyers generate 80% of your revenue. When you are able to discover who those 20% are, you can tailor your marketing efforts to them.
2. Be where your buyers are.
Duh! If you are trying to find buyers buy advertising in pricey art magazines like Art News when your buyers are reading Country Woman, you have a problem. This point follows up the one above. Know who your buyer is, where they go and then be there with them.
3. Understand your competition.
The more you know about your competition, the smarter a marketer you will be. I do not advocate directly copying what someone else is doing, but I do condone “creative borrowing.” It is something we all do. Look at any art movement and you will find a bunch of work by various artists all taking influence from each other.
You can learn from your competitors and use the information to be more insightful about the marketplace overall. When you include these insights into your own marketing, you strengthen your plan. Moreover, when you understand what your competitors are doing, you can use the knowledge to position yourself uniquely against them.
4. Create stand out marketing – utilize your swipe file.
You cannot bore someone into buying your art. Before you can get them to consider it, you have to get their attention. The best way to do that is be creative and inventive when it comes to preparing your marketing materials. This is where watching what marketers in other industries are doing can be a huge help to you.
You should have both a paper and digital swipe file. A swipe file is a place to put file away anything you see that is remarkable to you. If you find an ad in a magazine, or an article that moves or inspires you, tear it out and put it in swipe file folder. If you find a website that does likewise, use Internet Explorer to “Save As” under the File menu link to make a .mht complete Web archive file.
5. Make irresistible offers.
I am not in favor of cut prices to get sales. That is a long term way to kill your business. You can, however, find unique ways to make value-added offers:
• Bundle prices for a group of images.
• Free shipping for a sale over a certain price.
• Satisfaction Guaranteed offer. Live with it 30 days and return it for full-price.
• Free hanging service for local buyers.
• Free art consultation – if a business doesn’t have a corporate art buyer working with them, offer your services.
The ways you can add value to a sale without sacrificing your price are endless. It just depends on how creative you want to be. Your swipe file should help you here as well.
6. Diversify your marketing.
It is more important today than ever for artists to be in charge of their own marketing. In the end, the only person who will care if you make sales is you. If you realize you have to trust and rely on yourself and accept that responsibility, you are better for it.
Spread around what you are doing.
• Keep looking for more galleries.
• Start a blog and post frequently.
• Get into the licensing market.
• Look for design centers to place your art.
• Get your own website running.
• Start a Facebook page.
• Join groups on LinkedIn.
• Get involved in local Meetup Groups in your area.
7. Offer big and more than once.
Offer big. No one has ever been hurt because they assumed a sale and made an offer for a very large sale. On the other hand, many a blind pig has found an acorn because they kept looking. In other words, there are buyers out there who are open-to-buy and who have budgets well beyond the meager funds in your savings account.
If you sell based on your personal perception of how much money is in your wallet at the moment of the sale, you are losing money nearly every time. You cannot presume to know what a buyer’s ability or budget is. You can presume they are fully capable of telling you no if they cannot or do not want to accept your offer.
How big is too big? Beyond being ridiculous, there is no offer too big. What is wrong with saying, “I can make you three groupings of three pieces each.” Go on to explain the design virtues of groupings of three, or how great the Feng Shui value in such groupings can improve a home or office, or whatever makes sense for you and that buyer at the moment.
Spend some time to think about constructing at least two separate offers such as the above example and work on them so you are comfortable with the notion and equally comfortable with presenting them. Then practice so when you make such an offer that they come out naturally and comfortably.
I promise you these two things.
• If you regularly make big offers you will find buyers who accept them and you will be so tickled pink it happened the hardest part will be for you to remain calm while you process the sale. (Send me a note when it happens because I guarantee it will.)
• If you never make big offers, you will never enjoy the benefits and income that come from doing so. Or, as the now famous Wayne Gretzky saying goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”
Remember, no does not always mean no. It often means, I need more information, or I am not yet convinced. Keep the conversation going and ask again, or probe for more details on the decision, or what the buyer is looking for. At the least, get both an email and a snail mail address, note which works were of interest and communicate with them regularly. It is not uncommon in many galleries for buyers to take a year or longer before they make a purchase.
Put these ideas into action and it is certain you will make more money and sell more art.
Be humbled and thankful for your blessings. Regardless of your current position, it never hurts to be grateful for the blessings you have. You are blessed with talent and creativity to make art. You are blessed to afford to be able to make art. You are blessed to have time to read blog posts like this one.
Despite a world around us that much of is plunged in darkness, we find ourselves living in the greatest abundance ever known to mankind. We should not take this abundance for granted. Nor should we allow ourselves to fall under that spell of those who spread divisiveness, lies and hatred.