Ten Steps To Sell More Art In 2011

An Art Marketing Message from B. Eric Rhoads

  (Plus a product review, below…) 


Are you a right-brained artist who lives to create? Unless you're fortunate enough to have a little bit of left brain in the mix, you may not be earning as much as you could.


What if I could show you a very easy system to increase your overall art sales?


I'm very right-brained, yet I manage to run a business that includes several magazines, websites, conferences, and other products. It's not easy for me because I lean to my creative side, but I've managed to train myself to be disciplined in some left-brained activities. If you've learned to balance your checkbook, you can learn to follow this simple process.


Great marketing begins with great planning. If you're looking to sell more artwork in 2011, begin to develop the process now, before the new year begins. Once you realize that you're not selling enough art and are trying to do something about it, months of opportunity will have been lost.


Before you read any further, make a personal commitment that selling art is important enough to your survival that you will follow a new discipline. It's pretty basic -- so hold your breath and jump into planning mode. In the long run, you'll be happier for having developed a plan.


1. Find The Gap Between Where You Are And Where You Need To Be.


Begin by determining where you will be financially at the end of 2010, then and ask yourself where you WANTED or NEEDED to be. For instance, if you made $40,000 income and you absolutely need $55,000 to live on, then your gap is $15,000. Try to determine the gap for 2011 based on how many paintings you plan to sell. It is impossible to determine how to reach your goals without knowing what that shortfall is.


2. Divide The Gap Into Little Pieces.


The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That $15,000 gap looks overwhelming, and you'll soon find yourself giving up because increasing your sales by that much seems impossible. But if you divide the $15,000 into smaller bites, it's easier to digest.


Most people divide their gap into monthly bites ($15,000 divided by 12), but I recommend dividing it weekly. Let's assume you leave a few weeks per year for vacation and holidays, and calculate using 48 weeks. So if you divide $15,000 by 48 weeks, that means you need to generate $312.50 extra per week in order to meet your goal. That seems a lot more attainable than $1,250 a month or $15,000 a year.


3.Invent New Forms Of Gap Income.


Assume for a moment that you can't grow your current artwork income by doing the same things you've been doing. Instead, think of one new strategy that you have never attempted that can increase your revenue by $312.50 per week (or $62.50 per weekday).


A few years ago my accountants told me the gap I needed to fill to reach my projected goals. Business was way off, and I couldn't assume that I could grow the business based only on the areas we were using to generate income at the time. So we brainstormed as a staff and came up with about six ideas that would generate the additional income we needed every week. We invented one new conference and one new magazine, both of which individually filled the gap and ended up growing our business.


As an artist, you may not want to view yourself as a businessperson, but perhaps you can invent some gap solutions that work in your world. What if you could sell $312.50 a week in gift cards of your paintings? Or $312.50 a week in books? Or $312.50 a week selling your reject paintings on eBay under an assumed name? Something completely different to generate that extra weekly income. Got the idea?


4. Create A Gap Action Plan.


Now that you've determined what you'll do to fill the gap, it's time to develop an action plan for achieving it. It's easy to assume you can sell $312.50 per week in gift cards (or whatever), but what specific actions will you take to make it happen? Play with some tactical ideas, such as a website that displays your cards, a way to drive traffic every day or week, or a direct-mail campaign with a new set of card designs every week. Try to anticipate every detail of every action you'll take to hit your goal of $312.50 per week.


5. Test Your Gap Plan.


Great ideas are of no value if they don't work, so test your plan and make adjustments until you are generating the needed income. Again, using the idea of selling cards, go ahead and create several designs and try to market them as planned. Did your strategy work in the short term?


6. Implement Your Gap Plan.


Once you've tested your ideas and proven them successful, you need to begin the process of on-going implementation. You must expand your strategy to find a way to generate that $312.50 every single week. Doing so will require the discipline to adjust your habits and schedule, or perhaps find others to help implement your plan. This process will take several months of planning, so starting way before the new year is important.


7. Monitor Your Success And Make Adjustments.


Monitoring your sales weekly will help you track your progress. I like weekly plans because they allow you three weeks to make up a shortfall if a given week is slow, and not miss your monthly goal. If you miss a goal for week one, you need to make up the missing income the next week, plus the income you were supposed to generate for week two. Following this discipline helps you to achieve your monthly goals because you can spot a problem before you get to the end of the month.


8. Find A Way To Double Your Success.


Billionaire insurance executive W. Clement Stone once told me that any goal you can achieve in a year can be doubled or tripled that same year. All it takes is creative thinking, discipline, and determination. Your belief systems have everything to do with your ability to exceed the income in your gap plan. So if selling gift cards was your gap idea, how could you sell two or three times as many? Think in creative ways to get the answer, or look for unique ways to generate income and set up several gap plans.


I usually solve this problem by asking, "How can I leverage other relationships to achieve my goal?" For instance, do you know someone who would be able to put your gift cards in their store, or in many stores or websites? That alone could sell a lot more cards.


9. Commit Your Plan To Writing.


Once you develop a gap plan, put your goals and action plan in writing. It doesn't need to be complicated. I place my specific goals on my calendar and on my daily to-do list. Commit it to writing, keep it in your face, and remind yourself that you absolutely cannot violate your plan. Never let yourself off the hook. If you put $312.50 on your calendar every Friday and then check the sales of your gap plan, you can check the box as complete. If you missed your goal in week one, then work like crazy to ensure you achieve it for week two.


10. Do It Now.


Don't think about it. Don't say, "Hmmm, good idea. I'll do that some day.” Build a plan right now before you lose this e-mail amid other distractions and forget all about it.


11. Bonus Point: Manage All Your Sales With A Weekly Monitoring System.


Having the discipline to monitor your income weekly is one of the best-kept secrets of success. If you know you have to sell 48 paintings a year  -- which means four per month -- and you place one painting per week on your Friday calendar, you will know instantly if you met or exceeded your goal.


If you did not, you still have time to take the necessary actions to sell that one painting the next week (along with the other one you need to sell). But if you wait till the end of the month to learn that you're four paintings behind, it's a lot tougher to make it up.


Take Control. Don't Lay Blame On Others.


Most artists assume that their art sales are in the control of other people -- like their art dealers -- and that's true to some extent. Now that you have a system to follow religiously, you can take action to fill gaps in sales if you know about them early enough. If your galleries are falling behind, at least you'll know in time to explore other ways to sell artwork or to add more galleries.


One artist I know who monitors his artwork sales weekly saw that two of his galleries had suddenly dropped off by 50 percent. Rather than waiting to see if things would get better, he decided to find two more galleries to make up the drop in sales. He worked vigorously to add two more (more on that in a moment), and because he took action, he eventually caught up to his goals.


The two galleries that dropped by 50 percent have not yet improved, and if he had let things ride without action, his sales for the year would be off by half. Because he monitored his plan and took action the moment he saw his sales fall, he actually exceeded his 2010 sales goal and is enjoying his best year ever.


Is it complicated? Not really. But 99 percent of the 40,000 people who read my messages will do nothing. One percent of you will follow this advice and have a great year in 2011, no matter what the economy is doing. Though we all like to think our artwork sells itself, efforts toward selling actually make a huge difference.


Weekly monitoring is one of the many disciplines an artist must take to further his or her career. Unless you have the luxury of an agent you should always be paying attention to things like public relations, and crafting and marketing your story to new outlets to sell your artwork.


Here's to 2011 being your best year of sales yet.


Eric Rhoads






If you need to increase sales in 2011, then you probably need more people to help you sell your art. We estimate that there are about 6,500 galleries in America selling ORIGINAL artworks.


I Love Galleries


I happen to love art galleries, and I don't really mind giving up a commission if they are doing their job of promoting my work, building their customer database, and advertising their gallery to potential collectors. But I don't recommend putting all your eggs in one basket because even the best galleries can fall on hard times. Sometimes a gallery can lose the "eye of the tiger" and stop using the techniques that made them successful. It's important to be open to having more than one representative if you can create a large enough body of quality work.


No Time For Artists


Finding a gallery is difficult because most galleries have no time to pay attention to solicitations from hundreds of artists monthly. That's why I created Artist Advocate magazine. A printed magazine with a digital edition, Artist Advocate is mailed to 6,500 art galleries and e-mailed to another 8,000 worldwide as a means of exposing galleries to artists in all media (painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, photographers, fine craftspeople). Artists seeking additional representation can highlight their artwork for galleries to see.


Whether you're looking to be picked up for the first time, or an experienced pro seeking more galleries, Artist Advocate offers a proven track record of success. Success stories of artists who have used the magazine to find additional galleries are highlighted on our website. Some choose to run profiles of their work in every issue because they understand that building awareness is a process, not a single event.


The next issue will reach galleries in November while they are planning their 2011 year. Some may be seeking new artists. To learn more, go to www.ArtistAdvocateMagazine.com or call Charlie Bogusz at 970-227-4878 or charlie@artistadvocatemagazine.com.






The Killer Brush That Seduced Richard Schmid


Each time I send out a marketing e-mail, I try to highlight a product I like as an artist.


In September I conducted a marketing seminar at American Artist's Weekend with the Masters, where I learned that a new star had emerged. In his onstage demo, Richard Schmid announced that he had stopped using the brush he has loved for so many years and had switched to brushes by England's Rosemary and Company. He was not the only one. I heard Alexey Steele, Jeremy Lipking, Scott Christensen, and others singing the praises of these brushes. And Rosemary and Company's "Ivory" brush is used exclusively by the Florence Academy, which I confirmed when I painted with Daniel Graves.


Word spread quickly about Rosemary's brushes, and her table was mobbed. I suspect that every brush she brought with her was gone by the end of the event. I managed to snatch up a couple after hearing all the buzz. I painted with them that weekend and went back for more. These are no ordinary brushes. Handmade, with amazing ability to carry paint and incredible spring, they live up to the accolades. I was so impressed that I ordered a big shipment to replace the stock of Russian brushes that had been my favorites.


A rumor circulated that the magic of Rosemary's brushes was that each contained a strand of Rosemary's long, flowing hair. Of course, she disputed the claim, with a gleam in her eye. In fact, I was amazed by the synthetic bristle brush called Ivory. I'm not a big fan of synthetic brushes, but these are incredible, and they're not expensive.


Her mongoose brushes are also magical. (Most of the artists mentioned are using the synthetics and the mongoose.) I don't know how she does it even though I watched Rosemary making the brushes on location, by hand. I do know the hairs go deeply into the metal thingy on the end of the brush (the ferrule), which is not the case with many of the brushes now made in China. The hair falls out, even with some of the "better" brands.



Rosemary has a lot of interesting brush designs on her website, and I'm looking forward to them when my order arrives. (Ordering from England takes no more effort than ordering in the States and the shipping isn't costly because brushes don't weigh much.)


Curiously, I found out that about four years ago, Morgan Weistling nudged Rosemary to develop a series of special mongoose brushes. Word is that Morgan told Tony Pro, who told Richard Schmid. The rest is history. When Richard says this is a great brush, everybody follows.


It's nice to see a true craftswoman handmaking brushes and selling them for reasonable prices. And Rosemary is wonderful to deal with.


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