In order to be a sell-out, you first have to have something to sell out to.
Just get over it… What, you want more? I guess I can’t blame you for craving more of my magnificent insights.
I have found that most artists aren’t as assertive as they need to be. No one’s a born salesman, okay, maybe except for me. The overwhelming odds have it that the next person you talk to likes selling about as much as you do. The weird paradox at work here is that people buy stuff due to clever marketing all the time anyway. You see something on a commercial and BAM! Next thing you know you’re walking out of Wal-Mart with a Cuisinart. What? Just me?
You don’t have to be as business-minded as someone like Gene Simmons, but you have to give him props for the marketing machine that is KISS. And besides, there are probably a few ideas you could steal pick up from his arsenal of promo tactics.
Look, you’re an artist. You have a lot of difficulties feeling confident about your work. I get that.
However, it’s the internet age, and there are so many passive aggressive more ways to get your work out there. Let’s take a look at a few different ways of engaging people, making more money and not feeling any guiltier for it!
Tell Your Story
These days, there’s something in the music world that gets said by experts over and over again, and it’s just as applicable in the art world. Tell your story. In a marketing space littered with “click here”, “vote for us”, “watch our video” and “check us out”, storytelling is a breath of fresh air. It’s like an extra-strong mint in a horse’s mouth.
When you think of that crazy hippie Jesus, he was always telling people those wacky stories about seeds and such. Most words that came out of his mouth were formed into parables with morals. Jesus knew the selling manipulating impacting power of storytelling!
If you have a gallery showing and your guests have questions, share the story behind the piece they are interested in, no matter how cheese-ball you think it’s going to come across. The right story from the heart always makes you a wuss markets better than sleazy sales tricks. It takes a lot of pressure off of the situation too. The same principles apply to merch items.
Get Your Fans Involved
Your fans are your best disciples salespeople. They already like your work and follow it by choice (remember that the next time you’re having a hard time hitting send on your next digital newsletter). If you can think of creative ways of getting them involved, your cash pile will grow without you having to be pushy. Yes, you will actually need more than one piggybank for once.
You can ask your fans to pass along your newsletters to interested parties, share your blog posts on social media, or encourage them to use a design of yours in their email signature. Perhaps you could make a special annual black-tie occasion for your fans (invite-only, but invitees are allowed to bring guests) and have a good time together.
There are a lot of different possibilities here, but the key point to remember is that your fans are people (not aliens like Nicki Minaj) and people have needs. If you work to build relationships with them and make an effort to add value to them as often as possible, they will gladly go to work for you. Just remember to have a whip on hand. Just in case.
Diversify Your Work
Sometimes diversifying your work and trying new mediums allows you to break out of creative ruts and build a bigger platform for yourself (not a literal platform, but that might work too). If you normally draw, you could paint. If you normally paint, you could sculpt. If you usually sculpt, you could make puppets. Just look at Jim Henson.
Diversification could lead to additional opportunities you’ve maybe never even thought of. If something isn’t working for you, there’s always the chance that something else will. Try new things and see how people respond to them.
Market Yourself Guerrilla Style
We live in the age of flash-mobs, harlem shakers and Nicki Minaj (what the heck is that thing?). Not sure if you’ve been on StumbleUpon lately, but the type of artwork that often gets showcased there is optical illusions (hole-in-the-ground type stuff), giant dogs peeing on art buildings (no word of a lie), and sidewalk chalk stunners.
Though you may not have the budget (or the permission) to build a giant Godzilla by the city tower, this strategy is definitely scalable. Perhaps you could find a building they’ll let you paint, a section of road you could do something clever with, or someone’s car that needs a makeover (make sure to ask first).
Guerrilla marketing is one way to show off your skills and build awareness for your merch without having to spend a bunch of money or do a bunch of extra legwork. Put your thinking cap on and come up with some ideas!
Let People In The Factory
This is a strategy that has been working well for many companies and businesses, big or small. Give your followers, fans and visitors an inside look into your artistic world, whatever that may look like. You might have to tidy up your studio a bit though, just in case we’re not clear on that point.
You could take pictures of your studio or garage and post them to your blog. You could do a brief tour around your work space and show people your most recent works and post a video to YouTube. You could quite literally let people into your home and show them around.
This provides an inside look into your world and your creative process. You could also give tutorials on how you pull off a specific technique or style of artwork. It’s called art classes, dude!
If you’re still hesitant, leave a comment below and we’ll smack you into shape!
Cover image by SB.TV