Do you have a marketing plan for next week, next month, and next year?
You can have the best mousetrap in the world, but if you can’t get it to market, it doesn’t count. If you don’t take on the “work” of marketing along with the creation of your art, you are doing yourself and your art a disservice.
Creating a marketing plan is essential. It starts with the Golden Triangle of Success. It’s the trio of tools that mean “business”. I say this all the time, but it bears repeating: Marketing is a Verb!
Take a day to give deep thought and create a long list of ideas for your marketing. Do you need better photographs? Do you need to create a video? What kind of stories need sharing in a blog post? What are you doing with social media?
Many feel overwhelmed by the concept of “doing” marketing. If you really hate the concept, then consider consulting with someone – even me – to help get your head wrapped around the issues. With a little bit of planning and a small amount of time each month, you can get your work in front of more and more prospects. Note: you want your marketing to target art collectors.
Many of my clients admit that the hours spent on various social media sites results in putting their work in front of other artists. And while it is possible to sell to other artists, it’s not the most likely group to “target” if you are trying to sell your own art.
Are you saving money for taxes?
Don’t let me stop you from making sales when I say this, but when you make money, you owe taxes. Sales or other local taxes. Potentially you owe some state taxes or federal taxes, too.
My accountant always says, it’s a good problem to have and my response is always, “meh”. But it’s truly a bad problem if you are not setting money aside to pay those taxes.
I have seen many people reach that time of the year and have to borrow money to pay taxes. It’s not something you think of, but it’s something that you cannot ignore when the bill comes due. Before you started your business, you may have been getting refunds. If you have a job, the taxes just come out of your check, right?
Now, you have at least one bill to pay for sure. You are on the hook for your entire Social Security payment on all your income from your sales. And this is actually a good thing when you stop and think about it: As someone who is eligible (although putting off signing up!) for Social Security next year, my contributions have added up. Whenever I do get around to it, it’s going to make a big difference for me.
Are you sure your prices include a profit?
Whether you are setting money aside for your taxes, hopefully, you have included a proper profit margin?
Let me be very clear about this. Your profit is not what you charge for your labor. At best that is your “income”. However, your profit is a separate entity. It’s what you need to generate to grow your business, advertise your business, increase your production with new tools, or lease/buy a new location/studio for expansion. It’s used to give you the tools to grow and make more profits.
In point of fact, it’s where you get your money to pay your taxes, too.
When you include the profit margin into your pricing, those profits need to be sequestered into a special savings account. This is your “emergency fund”, expenses fund, and your growth opportunity fund. Consider putting a percentage from each month’s sales directly into a higher earning account so all that funding becomes automatic.
(I will be releasing a course in the future that will teach more about pricing your work. Sign-up here.)
Do you know how to answer the question, “What do you do?”, confidently, concisely, and compellingly?
Do you have an “Elevator Speech”? Do you have a quick and compelling few sentences that make you stand-out? Do you have a way to entice people, woo them into wanting to know more about you?
The idea behind the “Elevator Speech” is to have such an interesting story that people stay on past their floor on an elevator just to learn more. You want people to say, “Wow, that’s so cool. Tell me more.”
Take the time right now (well finish this article first!) to really work on this concept. Here’s mine for my art:
Since 1992, I have made my living selling wearable art jewelry from found-objects and construction site debris. I use no fossil fuels, so I actually converted a foot-powered treadle Singer Sewing Machine for all my sanding and grinding. I literally create each piece by hand and by foot!
Here’s my Elevator Speech for My Golden Words:
I am a sales and marketing therapist for small businesses – especially the art community. With over fifty years of experience, I am able to help people move beyond the common fears of failure and soothe their overwhelmed souls with targeted solutions for their situations. I grow sales for small businesses.
(Who wants an appointment? LOL!)
Understand that this exercise is not just creating words. This is something that you “feel” not just say. You are defining your “job” and your passion. If you don’t create a sense of awe, you have lost an opportunity to create a potential customer out of an otherwise casual exchange.
Do you have a 5-year plan?
This is not a month-by-month set of goals, but rather a long view of what you hope to accomplish. If you don’t have some idea of what you want to do with your business, how can you set your sights on the steps it takes to get there?
Whether you are trying to break into wholesale and/or you want to be juried into one of the top art fairs, you need to have that in your focus. Do you have a dream? Dreams come true for those who truly believe and take time to set up the steps needed to accomplish their dream.
Maybe you are still working full-time and your dream is to make your art your full-time job? Set up a plan of action. Talk to artists who have made the transition. What will it take to make it happen? Do you need to do it stages? Maybe drop to a part-time paycheck job and work full-time to replace that income?
Maybe you want to have a one-person show at a gallery. What will it take to make that happen? Talk to artists who have managed that feat. Maybe you want to have your own retail location or teach classes? Whatever you “imagine” can be real if you pay attention and set yourself up for reaching that goal.
But be kind to yourself. Plans are… well… just plans. They are not written in stone. Someone you know may have opened 10 wholesale accounts in six months, but that doesn’t mean you can do that. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure and despair.
Bonus Question for my artist community: Do you know how truly valuable you are to the world?
I promise not to cry while I write this, but it’s very emotionally charged for me, to be sure. I hope it charges you up, too!
Whatever art form you engage in, you are creating from a place in your mind, heart, and soul that no one else can duplicate. Your vision of the world, your interpretations of your surroundings, are from an artist point-of-view.
We artists look at things from a very different perspective than the average person. A sunset, while awe-inspiring to everyone, is felt with a depth and a sensibility by artists that is hard to explain. We seem to see into shadows, and “feel” colors as though they are covered in velvet or denim or silk. We have a place inside us where the art lives full-time.
When we complete an art piece, we see a connection to something much bigger than ourselves. We rejoice when someone else feels even a tiny bit of the power we infuse into our creations.
And it is, therefore, imperative that you know that a sale of your work is valued unlike any other purchases made. You are not selling a mattress, car, or appliance. You are sharing your vision and bringing a moment of artful sensations to all who view your art. From Flashcard # One from the “E’s of Selling Art System”:
“You are not selling art. You are giving collectors the exclusive rights to a lifetime of personal enjoyment.”
Therefore, you have a responsibility to find homes for your art. Whether it’s two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or a hand-thrown coffee cup with a fun saying, it’s art. It’s your expression and it deserves to thrill others.
Go find homes for your art!