In the Art Marketing Minute Podcast, you’ll learn how to sell your art, how to market your paintings and everything else you need to know in order to have a successful art career.
In this week’s Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads, author of Make More Money Selling Your Art, answers the questions: “Should I start an LLC or get a business license before selling my art?” and “How do we engage more art buyers?”
Have a question about how to sell your art? Ask Eric at artmarketing.com/questions.
Listen to the Art Marketing Minute Podcast: Episode 115 >
Submit Your Art Marketing Question:
What questions do you have about selling your art? Email Eric today at [email protected] (include your name and where you’re from) to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
FULL TRANSCRIPT of the Art Marketing Minute:
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Art Marketing Minute. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.
This is the Art Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the Amazon best-selling book, “Make More Money Selling Your Art.” In the marketing minute, we answer your questions to help your art career brought to you by artmarketing.com, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, art magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.
In the marketing minute I tried to answer your marketing questions. I learned marketing the hard way. I didn’t have anybody to teach me it just kind of was experimentation. And I had a lot of failed mistakes, a lot of disasters, wasted a lot of money did a lot of stupid things. And so I’m trying to share what I’ve learned. I’ve tried to make myself a student of marketing for the last 30 plus years. And so I don’t necessarily approach things the way other marketing people might. And that’s not necessarily good or bad. It’s just different. So if you have questions, you can send them to me artmarketing.com/questions. You can go and actually produce a video there or you can email me [email protected]. I’m gonna read the questions today, because Amandine, my producer’s a little under the weather. The first question is from Valerie Lovell Roselli I’m sorry, I probably butchered your name in Phoenix, should I start an LLC or get a business license before considering selling my art? I’m really stuck on the business side of things. Well, Valerie, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not an accountant. I can’t give you sound advice on tax matters and licensing matters and things like that. But that’s why there are pros out there who can answer those questions. And I have to go to those people too, because I don’t possess all of that knowledge. But when I launch a business and I have launched 3040 50 businesses, probably some of them have been really big, you know, big, well funded, venture capital funded businesses, some have been startups. But when I launch a business whenever I possibly can I try to test things out before I get commitment. Now, you can’t always do that, you know, if I’m going to a venture capital firm, I can’t go to them say hey, I have an idea. And I don’t know how much money it’s gonna make, they’re gonna ask you to be a little bit more buttoned down than that, and they’re, but they’re not going to invest in artists. So I wouldn’t worry about that. But, you know, I like to get a feel for whether or not it has a chance of success before I start building out infrastructure. So I oftentimes will do some marketing tests. I’ll put it out there, see if people are interested in it, then sometimes I’ll contact them and say, Hey, thanks for your interest. I’ve decided not to do it. Or sometimes they’ll say thanks for your interest, I am going to do it. But it’s going to take me a year or two years or five years or whatever. And so I like to test it in your particular case, as an artist. I think the starting point is you got to find out if your work is good enough. And are you able to sell any art now if you’re selling art now, you already know what to do. You just have to move forward to the next level. But if you’re not selling art yet, then don’t start a corporation don’t get a license, don’t set up bank accounts, and then find out that nothing is going to sell I think you need to find out if it’s going to sell first. So the alternative is to test right. And again, I may be giving you wrong advice. But you know, I think, you know, there are a lot of people who would sell something on eBay. And you may have to claim it on your taxes, I’m not suggesting it shouldn’t, but you sell a painting, or two, or five, or 10, or 20. And then you find, realize that you’ve got a business here, that’s when you want to build your business structure. So test the waters. Now, there’s all kinds of things you’ve got to keep in mind, too. For instance, you know, business, business is simple structure, but it can be overwhelming. So for instance, you know, there are different types of corporations that a good lawyer can walk you through those, I started to make a mistake, one time, I was going to set up a different type of corporation. And my lawyer pointed out to me, don’t do that. And I had gotten some bad advice from somebody. But he said, Don’t do that, because you’ll get doubly taxed. And I didn’t realize that. So I set up a Sub S Corporation, so I don’t get double the tax. But, you know, there’s a lot of different things, and they serve different purposes. Their purpose for a corporation, quite frankly, is you want to have structure, but you also have liability issues, and you have to be able to take care of those liabilities. And a corporation will protect you in theory, if you have, you know, you do something where somebody gets hurt, or damaged or killed, or, you know, whatever, that’s not likely to happen in the art world, unless, maybe they eat your paint at a workshop. Well, just sayin. So find experts, and don’t be stuck. You know, the hard stuff is finding a way to sell, the easier stuff is finding a structure because you can go online and find somebody who can teach you all that. And by the way, you can find most of the advice online and then just set up your corporation whatever.
The next question comes from Aaron Volpe in California. Aaron says, How do we engage more people? I feel like there’s a section of people who buy art, but most people don’t. People who already buy or the eyeballs everybody’s trying to get in front of and they are already oversaturated. But what about those who have disposable income but our current content to hang a factory made live laugh love sign who their walls instead of fine art? Can they be awakened? He said woken up? Can they be awakened or engaged to see how fine art can enrich their lives for there’s about 30 questions in there, Erin? Great questions. I’m going to break them down in smaller chunks. So regarding how do we engage more people? It’s a natural question. And I often fall into this trap. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily the right question. The right question isn’t how do I engage more people? The right question is how do I sell more art? And if you ask yourself the right question, you get different answers. Because the answers to how do I sell more art might be engaging more people, but they might not be? You see, there are two primary ways there’s more ways. But there are two primary ways to make money. And that is to get new customers or to get old customers to spend more or buy again. So let’s play it out for a minute. Let’s say you have about 150 people who bought art from you over the past of say, three years. Some would say myself included would say they’re probably better prospects, the new customers why? Because they’re already sold on you, they already are aware of you, they know your art, they like your style, they’ve invested in buying something from you, they already own it. So the hard work of selling them on you and your art is over. You don’t have to do that. So the only challenge is, then how do you get them to buy more art? And that’s easy. In my mind. I’ve got all that in my book. How do you convert a person who has one painting to becoming a multiple painting collector? Out? You can do it now. So ask yourself this. So how do I sell more than one painting this year, if you sold 100% of them one more, and you painted 150 paintings this year, you wouldn’t need to sell anyone new. Now selling 100% is unusual because most people don’t sell 100% of anything and people circumstances changes. The people who are your collectors might have died or gotten sick or downsized or moved or gotten divorced or lost their jobs, whatever. But you could sell 10% of them another painting and some of those would buy more than one. So the odds are pretty good. And so I’d start there ask yourself the question, how do I sell more paintings and how do I sell more paintings to the people that got them because once you get into going after new audiences, now you got to sell them on you. You got to find ways to reach them. You got to expose them to your work. You know, you’ve got to convert them from a, from a looker to an interested person to a buyer. And so that’s tougher, quite frankly. Now, the second part of your question is that people who already buy, you say, are the eyeballs everyone is trying to get in front of, and they’re already saturated. I gotta tell you, this is a story that you’re telling yourself, I don’t know where that story comes from. But unless you have data to support that, because everything is always about data, especially in marketing, unless you have data to support that you’re making an assumption, and it’s probably an incorrect assumption, I don’t mean to embarrass you, please. But be careful about the stories that you tell yourself, the story isn’t true. There are lots of people who buy art and buy it frequently and buy more and more and more. I know, lots of them. And I hear stories like, I tell myself, I’m not ever going to buy any more art, than I see something I fall in love with. And I buy it anyway, you know, and I have no room on my walls. But I’m building another room, I actually have some friends who built a bigger house with a bigger room just so they can house more paintings. So there are lots of people out there that buy art, you’ve got to figure out how to get in front of them, and how to target them. And you know that that’s, that’s easy, really. Now the next part of the question is about those who have quote unquote, disposable income, but are content to hang a factory made live love laugh sign on their walls, instead of fine art? Can they be woken up or engaged? To see how fine art can enrich their lives? Well, here’s the newsflash, Aaron. Every person who buys original art did not use to buy it. Every person has a first time. How do you be that first time? Well, there are lots of first times, maybe you’re selling people now and you’re there first times. But you know, I don’t think people run around thinking about art. Most people don’t we do. They’re not thinking about is that an original or is that a print, they see something in target they like and they go, Oh, that’s beautiful. I’ll buy it. It’s Oh, it’s $75. And it’s a print in target. And I, by the way, have some beautiful prints that I got to target. They’re just beautiful boat prints, right? So you can be frustrated over that. But if people It makes people happy, that’s okay. Now, I know people who are billionaires who have prints in their house, and I know billionaires who have original paintings in their house, and I know billionaires who have both in their house. So it’s something that they love. But once you get exposed to original paintings, and you see the difference of them in your house, then, you know, you fall in love with it, and you want more and more of them. That’s what happened to me. And so I believe that, you know, there are a lot of people out there that you can target who are going to buy paintings from you, you you have a big uphill battle, trying to convert people who buy prints at Target to spending, you know, bigger money on original art, although your art might be the same price, you never know. But you got to get in front of them somewhere. And a lot of people wander through art shows intent shows, and they’ve never bought a piece of art. I bought my first piece of art ever, as a tourist in New Orleans from a street artist. And then the second piece of art ever from a street artist in France. Well, so those are unusual. But my saying is you stand in the river, where the money is flowing. Another way of saying it is standing the river where art is selling, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. People like me survive by building audiences. Art buyers, I have an audience, for instance, fine art kind of Sir. You know, I have 310 billionaires that read it, quite frankly, if nobody else read it. Those are probably enough to survive on but you know, there’s 1000s of people who read it that some of them buy art, some of them don’t. And they you want to go into places where they’re concentrated audiences and and there’s nothing wrong with marketing on on social media, because people who are following artists like artists, and a lot of artists also buy art. But you also have to understand that you’re not necessarily going to reach concentrated levels of collectors there you might on a LinkedIn collectors group. Or you might find other ways to reach out to collectors. And by the way, not everybody who buys harder consider themselves collectors. So anyway, I think the idea is, why does something sell and how do I sell more of it? I have you know, I have magazines and newsletters. We deal with a lot of artists. I have a lot of artists who advertise a lot of galleries who advertise, but I can tell you one thing I can have two people in the same magazine, and one will sell The painting and the other one won’t. So when the it doesn’t sell, of course, it’s my fault, right? But then why does the other one that has the equal size at equivalent price equivalent type of painting? Why does that one sell. And I think a lot of that goes down to first off, it’s personal choice, somebody sees something they like, they might buy it, somebody is reminded of it, they might buy it. But it also goes deeper than that. A lot of people will have what I call brand preferences. If I say to you right now, what’s a fast food company that you think of? You might immediately think of a company, maybe it’s McDonald’s, right? And that isn’t necessarily we’re going to eat, but that’s what you think of. But if I said to you, if you came into a million dollars today, and you could buy any historic artist, who would you buy, you’re gonna have someone in the top of your mind. And there are people out there who track contemporary artists, and they say, you know, if I, you know, I get a bonus at work this Christmas, or next Christmas, then they might say, Well, I would, I would love to buy, you know, this person’s painting. And the reason that those people are on that person’s list is because it’s about top of mind awareness. And that boils down to branding, and always being there. Now, this is story about this guy. He, he came into some money, I don’t know how he came into some money. But he picked up the magazine, and he flipped through the magazine. And he had some artists in there that he was looking for that he always thought if I get some money, I’m gonna buy this artist. And one of them was in there. And the other one wasn’t he that other artists had been in the last issue. And this artist, or this person called the artist and said, Hey, Ken, is that painting still available, and he bought the painting, but the other, he didn’t bother to go to the website of the other artist. Instead, he’s kept flipping through the magazine, he saw something else he liked. It was something new. So maybe it was a brand new didn’t know, I don’t know, but he ended up buying that instead. And so that’s why you know, having that constant presence, even if you can’t afford a big presence, have a small presence, so that you’re there. Because you know, what happens a lot is somebody will buy an ad in a magazine that they’re featured in. And they’ll you know, they’ll put a big full page ad in there about the you know, themselves because they’re in a story. And then somebody will think about that. And I go, Yeah, I kind of liked that. And then they’re not thinking about you anymore. And the next time around, the next magazine comes out, and you’re not in there. But they might be thinking, hey, I remember I saw that magazine, I don’t know where it is, but maybe that artist is in here. And so we actually find that when you’re in there the second time, it actually has a good chance of success as well. So the idea is being there frequently. Anyway, there’s a lot of a lot of strategy behind that. So I think, first off, don’t tell yourself stories. There are plenty of people out there that buy art. The reality is if you paint 50 paintings a year, all you need is 50 people or maybe 25 people to buy two or maybe four people i i walked into a gallery one time the gallery owner said See that guy over there. I said, Yeah, he said he walked anyway, that one, that one, that one, that one that one that one six painting so far, he’s bought, it didn’t even ask the price. Right? So you just never know. And so the key is you got to be present. You got to be there where people can see you manage your thinking about stories don’t get negative, there’s plenty of business out there. There’s plenty of business out there even in a bad economy. And there are people out there who are spending money like drunken sailors, even though not everybody is because it depends on how much money you have. So anyway, that’s today’s art marketing minute.
Well, this has been the art marketing minute with me. Eric Rhoads. My goal in life is to eliminate the idea of the starving artist to help your dreams actually come true. So if you want to submit questions, simply email [email protected]. And to learn more about marketing ideas, you can visit Artmarketing.com. Thanks for listening.
How to Submit Your Art Marketing Questions: What questions do you have about selling your art? Email Eric today at [email protected] (include your name and where you’re from) to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.
> Visit EricRhoads.com (Publisher of ArtMarketing.com) to learn about opportunities for artists and art collectors, including:
- Art retreats
- International art trips
- Art conventions
- Art workshops (in person and online)
- And more!