5 Steps to Take Charge of Your Art Marketing (and Why You Must)

Stop waiting for the famous gallery dealer to call you up.
Stop waiting for the artist agent-fairy to wave her wand.
Stop waiting to win the lottery.

©2014 Claire Browne, Stem. Mixed media, 7 x 3 feet. Used with permission.
©2014 Claire Browne, Stem. Mixed media, 7 x 3 feet. Used with permission.

Start taking charge.
You have to plan for business growth. It doesn’t happen on its own. Nobody cares about your success more than you do, and nobody can do a better job marketing your art than you can.
Here are five steps for taking charge of your art marketing, which will send you well on your way to getting what you want from your art career.

1. Write down what you want.

Many people don't get the life they really want because they haven't taken the time to define it. They haven't asked for it!
It’s a bold move to commit to an idea, whether it’s to a higher power, the people who read your social media updates, or just to yourself. BOLD is good.
What would you like your life to be like in 5 years? 10 years? Upon retirement?
Writing down your vision demonstrates a certain level of commitment that doesn't exist when you’re just thinking that it might be a nice idea. Writing it gives form to your desires. It makes it seem more real.
Be BOLD. Write it down.

2. Understand why you want it.

I’ve written plenty about creating annual income plans, but plans alone will only get you so far. They must support a higher goal because money is never the best motivator. The why is your biggest motivator.
Why is this your vision?
What will it mean to you upon achieving it? How will your life be better as a result?
This exercise is an important part of the planning module in Art Biz Bootcamp.

3. Figure out what it takes to get what you want.

We might know that we want and need $50,000 a year to survive, but – short of winning the lottery – how is that going to happen?
If you want to make $50,000 a year from art sales and you're selling your work on your own for an average of $1,000 each, you'd need 50 works to reach your goal. If you sell through a gallery, you’d need to make and sell 100 works each year.
Do you have 50-100 works in you? Is it realistic based on where you are now? Have you ever sold near that number of pieces in one year?
How does $50,000 (or whatever your magic number is) break down for you?

©Carolyn Cole, Untitled (31406). Mixed media on canvas, 49 x 61 inches. Used with permission.
©Carolyn Cole, Untitled (31406). Mixed media on canvas, 49 x 61 inches. Used with permission.

4. Identify obstacles.

Even the best plans encounter roadblocks that get in the way of a smooth execution. These are difficult to prepare for, but there are always known limitations.
Where will you find the time?
Who can you get to help? Do you need to hire someone?
What projects are higher priorities?
How do you overcome the technology learning curve?
Making yourself aware of these obstacles will help you tweak your plan.

5. Take measured action.

With limited time and resources, you must prioritize. This means keeping your vision in mind when making decisions.
For example, the question might arise: Should I take a group class or invest in private coaching?
Your answer depends on your individual goals.
System for Art Career SuccessI take a class when I want to gain knowledge – I am interested in learning facts. I invest in a coach when I want to put those facts to work on a strategic plan for my individual situation and resources.
Another example: Should I join this artist organization or that artist organization? The answer is the one that better supports your vision.
Even the biggest names in the art world are fully engaged in their destiny. They have assistants and gallerists, but they don’t turn over control to someone else. They understand that they alone are ultimately responsible for their success.
Figure out what you want and then . . . Go for it!

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5 thoughts on “5 Steps to Take Charge of Your Art Marketing (and Why You Must)”

  1. I am so guilty of waiting for the gallery dealer to call. I just keep submitting, hoping against hope that perhaps my work isn’t just for public consumption after all. *sigh*

  2. Way back before I quit my job, our career development professor had us do kinda the same thing you are suggesting. The project was to write down my goal, but then also come up with five steps that will get me closer to that goal. When I wrote it, the steps were ridiculously ambitious. I found the paper a few years later and was shocked to see that I had accomplished every flipping one of the steps. One of the things I wanted was to have a work environment where I could take my dog to work every day. As a mailman, I had no idea how that would happen. I said I wanted to do it in Celia’s lifetime. She is now almost 16 and still comes in my studio every day.
    The professor told us that every decision can easily be made by holding it up to that main goal. What will get me closer? The goal will never be met because I tweak the goal constantly as I grow and learn more about what I like and want. After reading your post, I will take time to review my goals AND WRITE THEM DOWN.

  3. Choose yourself! Don’t wait for somebody to tell you your work is amazing to start selling it. You don’t really need a gallery to get distribution. There are more tools available now than ever on the internet, as well as so many distribution methods. Start reaching out to sites to feature your work! I think you may be surprised at the response you get.

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