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, shares advice on how to build a body of work; and thoughts on paying to advertise on Facebook.

Listen to the Art Marketing Minute Podcast: Episode 120 >

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What questions do you have about selling your art? Visit or e-mail Eric 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, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, art magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads
In the art marketing minute I answer your art marketing questions. You can email your questions to me [email protected]. Or there’s other ways you can do it too. Now, I gotta tell you, we have the art Marketing Podcast separated so it tags the end of the plein air podcast, but it has its own podcast as well. If you’re somebody who’s not into plein air, that’s a way you can get it. Alright, Amandine, my producer. What is the first question?

The first question is from Gary from Minnesota. I’m head down and neck deep working on my 2023 goals. One of the first goals is to build a body of work by the end of q1. I’m obsessed with plein air painting and working with a well known local artist under a mentorship program he’s helping with is helping me with my journey in finding my voice. So right now, my body of work is pretty much studies in a bit all over the place. That being said, I do feel some are worthy for show. And so my questions to you are, what is your take, take on building a body of work? Do you start with a formal plan a theme or style or let the style just evolve and come through as I go? Lastly, how many pieces is considered a body of work?

Eric Rhoads
Well, there’s a lot of questions in all of that and I’ll try to answering the best I possibly can. Gary. I’m glad that you’re obsessed with plein air painting. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a lot of fun. More people are doing it every day, Gary You know, you have to make some decisions about what you want to do with your life. If you have the intention of selling artwork, then you’ve got to start thinking like a business person. And let’s say that I was, let’s say, I decided I was going to start selling Scissors, scissors at the farmers market. And so what do I have to do before I go to the farmers market and sell scissors? I gotta make scissors. And I got to anticipate how many scissors I need to sell to cover my cost of the farmers market. I also need to say, Okay, how much profit do I need to make. So let’s say the Farmers Market, I’m using a silly analogy, of course, but let’s say the Farmers Market table cost you 100 bucks, and your scissors are 10 bucks each, you’ve got to cover 10 pair of scissors just to cover your cost, right? But covering your cost is of no value. Because your if you go to the farmers market and you sell 10 pair of scissors, and you cover your cost, you haven’t really got any value of that time. Now you’ve got to ask yourself, what is my time worth in making the scissors? What is my time worth and putting them in packages? And what is my time worth for standing at the booth for 10 hours on a weekend or 20 hours on a weekend? And then okay, now what’s my time worth? Now you add that to your costs, because that’s really a cost? And then on top of that, you’ve got to say, Okay, well, how much money should I make? Now, when you’re selling something, there’s a thing called a cost of sale. A cost of sale could be involved in your marketing costs. So in your particular case, if you’re at the farmers market, right, the cost of sale is the cost of paying for the farmers market paying for everything else, that you know your time there, it’s not going to include your cost of the scissors, but but you need to keep that in consideration. So if you want to make money as an artist, you got to start thinking about those kinds of things. No matter what you’re going to do. Now, you’re not likely to be selling at the farmers market, but you might be selling at an art show a tent show as I call them. Or you might decide you’re going to sell in a gallery or or otherwise. Now, you might say, Okay, I’m going to do only originals. And you might say I’m going to do originals plushy clay prints, or other kinds of prints. You know, people who do art short shows, like to have something that people could buy for 50 or $100. And so they have print bins, and they’ll have prints of a big hanging painting. And maybe they never sell the original. Maybe their intent isn’t to sell the original, but they you know, they have those prints handy. You got to kind of decide what’s right for you. I’m going to talk galleries today, because it kind of relates to your question. If you want to get into a gallery, then a body of work is critical. Most anybody can do one good painting, you know, I see a lot of people who show a painting that they did. And it turns out that they didn’t really do most of it because the workshop instructor did most of it. But there’s their signatures on it, right? But and galleries know this, but can you provide them with dozens of consistently good painting, see, galleries want to know that you’re consistent that you’ve got a body of work, and they also want to bring you on knowing that you can provide consistent work and provide enough inventory to sell because they’re in business to sell product, right, and you are the product. So yeah, you need a body of work, but not just for galleries, you also need a body of work for yourself, if you plan to sell in any way, whether you’re selling direct online, whether you’re selling art shows, whatever your method of selling is, you have to have some inventory. Because if you go to an art show, and you you know, you don’t take enough paintings, you don’t cover your expenses, you got to go to the art show with more paintings than you think you’re going to sell. And what have you sell out all of those. So it’s always better to have some more in your truck, right? Same thing with your, your warehouse, if you’re selling online, you know, you’ve got to have some paintings tucked away so that you you know, so I start by doing projections, I start by saying how much money do I need to cover my expenses? How much money do I need to make now, you know, you could say $100 million dollars, and that’s fine, except it’s not likely to happen, at least not right off the top right, you got to kind of take it in steps. So if you’ve never sold a painting before, you’ve got to get used to selling a painting, you’ve got to probably start out at a lower price point, establish a collector base, etc and get to where you want to be. And so you’re really I don’t want to be crass about this but you’re really selling inventory. You’re creating inventory to sell your scissors right your inventory Uh, your earlier living is dependent on your inventory. And so if you want to make, let’s just I’m gonna use round numbers or not real numbers, but let’s say you wanted to make $50,000. And let’s say you sell your paintings for $1,000. Well, you just need to sell 50 paintings. And by the way, if that’s $50,000 net that you need after taxes, then you got to sell, you know more than that, because taxes are pretty high, depending on your bracket. So, and you also need to know that not every one of the 50 paintings is going to sell. So you need to do more than the 50 paintings. So I’d start there, in terms of a formal plan or theme or style. I’m kind of a shoot from the hip kind of a guy, I’m not big on spreadsheets, I use them all the time, I have to use them in business. But I don’t know that you have to have a completely formal plan. But it is a good idea to have some goals and try to hit those goals. Because if you don’t have any goals, you don’t know what you’re aiming for. But let’s say you want to get into a gallery in three months. Well, that’s a whole nother topic getting into a gallery, I’m not going to address that now. But let’s say that you have a plan and you have somebody who’s going to look at your work in three months, they want to see your body of work, then you’re gonna have to do 20 to 30 Good paintings. Now, a gallery might say, Oh, I only want five paintings, but they might also say, hey, I want to do a show, I got a contact from a gallery, they want to do a show. And I’m like, No. And they said, why I said, because I don’t want to do 50 paintings. I don’t have that much time. So I turned down the show. But I think that you know if you have that opportunity, and you can do it, do it. But let’s say they want to see 2030 Good paintings, and you have to do 10 a month for three months. That’s not likely, because that puts you under a lot of pressure. Most of us can’t paint 10 Good paintings in a month. Some people can, especially if you’re a plein air guy, and you’re really really fast. And your plein air work is sufficient. But determine how many you can do and then set a goal Oh, and let’s say your goal is in the year 2023. I want to have a body of work that I don’t touch that I’m going to offer to a gallery or to and I want to have 30 paintings, 30 good paintings by the end of the year, then set that goal and then you say to yourself, Okay, how many do I have to do once a month. Now, my friend artists, tiny Hertwig once told me, you can’t make money at painting unless you learn to paint fast. So you might keep that in mind. But don’t don’t sacrifice quality for speed, you know, you’re learning you’re growing, you know, maybe some point you’ll get there. But take it take it appropriately at the pace you need to. But produce what you need by setting up a body of work. Now. You also asked about theme, you know, some artists will do a theme for a show. You know, maybe they’ll do a theme on Volkswagens or something I don’t know, I had Rusty Humphries. I gave him an idea. He did a theme on 3030 on 30 of us 3030 bards on 30, or something like that. It was a gimmick, but it was it worked. It was effective, it got attention. So you might want to think about that. But the one thing that I think is important is and this is a question that comes up a lot. And that is that you want to be known for one thing and doing one thing really, really well. This is very important to a gallery. I had a friend who did this gallery show, and he had not shown The Gallerist what he was doing beforehand. And he decided to change everything he painted, he changed his subject completely. And he put it up at the show and it bombed because he was known as a landscape artist and he was doing figures or portraits or something. So you got to get buy in from your gallery. But you got to become known for one thing and doing it well. Let’s say it’s because you’re a plein air guy or you want to do landscape painting, then be really known for your landscape painting. Don’t throw portraits in don’t throw other things in. After you get established. You can do that a little bit, maybe a lot more. But right now you got to be known for one thing, because if you’re not, it’s gonna hurt you. Just pick one thing and do it really well master it. Okay, I’m gonna do and what’s our next question?

The next question is from Anthony from Metro Detroit, Michigan. I’ve been paying for Facebook ads for months now with no sales, and I believe I’ve tried just about every method you could think of. I have spent well over $2,000 with no sales. A year and a half ago, an online art gallery reached out to me and I signed with them to sell my art. They take 50% of all sales. They’ve sold four of my paintings, including my most expensive piece at a time for $5,000. My question is she Should I just stop paying for ads myself, and just rely on the online gallery to sell my work? Or keep paying for ads until I figure it out?

Eric Rhoads
Anthony Anthony Anthony Anthony, I’ve got lots of things to tell you on this. There’s a lot of questions in your question. Where do I begin? Well, first off, you might think your advertising is not working. But how are you measuring? What’s working? Are you measuring the number of people that are visiting your Facebook page? Are you measuring the number of people visiting your website? Are you do you have a method of capturing people, once they visit your website, do you do know that they’re, you know, you, you’re, you’re measuring it purely on sales. So you know, they’re not buying. And so it’s not working from that standpoint, but it might be working in another way. And you may just need to tweak things a little bit. The other thing is that social media and all advertising, quite frankly, ads don’t work until they work. And what I mean by that is, you know, we have, we do lots of ads, 1000s, probably 10s of 1000s of ads in a year, in terms of placement, but we do lots of different creative, and we will test everything we’ll put, we’ll put an ad up on Facebook, we’ll see how many responses we get, or how many click throughs, we get, because the first thing you’re selling, your whole goal is to sell a click, the only reason to do an ad is to sell a click. Now, if you’re trying to get them to buy a painting, from a click, it’s not likely to happen, it’s just not likely to happen. So you’ve got to take people through a process in the process is sell a click, get them to you know, so you’ve got to entice them with something on that click, and then you’ve got to once a click, then they’ve got to see something that’s going to sell them the next piece of the process. You know, Facebook is kind of known as a five to $25 medium, meaning you’re not likely to sell anything over $25 In a Facebook environment. But if you’re, if you’re buying a lead, and then you can develop that lead. So think about this, I look at all of this, like fishing, I’m not a big sportsman. But fishing so right you, you throw your line in the water and you pull the thing back and you you hope to catch a fish. Well, what you everybody wants a big fish, right. And a big fish takes bigger bait. In that case, bigger bait is more money, better creative, etc. But really, what you really want to do is you want to catch a lot of minnows, right, because if you can take a net and scoop up 1000 memo men mid minnows, then you can put them in your own fish tank, and then that fish tank, you feed them and you grow them. So what I’m saying is if you can pull leads in and and then get them on your newsletter, and then you develop them by sending your newsletter or telling them what’s going on in your life and showing them I’ve got a whole thing on newsletters in my book, showing them your latest artworks, and so on getting them more familiar with you, then that’s a very good thing to do. Now, you don’t want just anybody you want to write your ads so that they repel people as much as they attract people. Because you don’t want to pay to get people first off, you’re paying per click usually. But you don’t want to pay to get people who are never going to buy a thing from you, you know, you don’t want 12 year olds coming in. And even though it might be a nice ego thing to have somebody looking at your art, you know, you only want people who are gonna buy your art in your particular case if you’re trying to sell art. So there’s a whole lot of different things here. But you know, one One strategy is to offer something for free like an ebook. And then that you know, ebook and my 50 Best paintings, and then that they get that ebook, you get their email address, you say, you know, I’m sending you the book and I’m adding you to my newsletter list. And then you send them your, your newsletter, and then maybe you send them some promotions from time to time. If they leave you you have to stop sending him stuff legally. So that’s one thing. The other thing is, I try as I mentioned, lots of different copy testing is everything, test everything, you know, test two different versions of your ad two different images or two different headlines and see which one pulls them in better and then that’s what you call your control. Once you get a good control that’s working then you always try to beat that right so test everything. I have probably spent more than a million dollars on Facebook alone and I’m not an ad spurt, I employ experts. And I talk to them all the time. And I know a lot about selling on Facebook and Instagram and other things. But you know, the big issue here is that you are you might be fishing in a pond that doesn’t have any warm fish. What I mean by that? Well, there are two types of audiences there are warm audiences and they’re cold audiences warm means that they are they know you real warm, they know you and they like you. And they trust you, you know, the warmer they are, the better they are for you, and the better or more likely, they will become a customer for you. So it’s kind of hard to get warm audiences in Facebook, now you can get them, you can retarget people who follow your Facebook page. But you don’t know if they’re buyers or not. You can retarget people who visit your website, if there’s a certain you have to have a certain number to be able to do that. And then then you’re being able to warm them up. And so you put things in front of them. And sometimes a strategy for advertising, by the way is you don’t want clicks. And so for instance, if you, you just want to put artwork in front of them, so they’re seeing your latest artwork. And you’re warming them, you put artwork on there, but you don’t put a call to action on there, because then you’re not paying for the click, but you’re getting the exposure, right. But Facebook is onto this. And they know that if they’re if you’re not getting clicks, they don’t want to put you in front of people, if you’re getting a lot of clicks, they’re gonna put you in front of a lot of other people. So there’s a different strategy there. You know, there, the key to warm audiences are you want warm audiences who like and trust you. But secondly, you want people who already want to own your work or they love your work, they’re going to be likely to buy your work. And the way to do that is to look for places that are more likely to advertise where you’re more likely to advertise where there are warm audiences. And so like, you know, I have this magazine called Fine Art connoisseur, I have all these art collectors really, really, really, really rich art collectors in many cases. And so what you do is you go in there, and you expose yourself to them, maybe the wrong term, but you you give yourself exposure. And then what you do is you you just stay visible all the time. Because here’s what happens is, if you’re advertising to sell a painting, that should not be your primary goal, your advertising should be to brand yourself, and to brand yourself so that you can get a higher price you see, branding, gets them aware of you. And people go through this process of awareness. I’m not aware. And then I’m aware now I’m interested. Now I’m interested enough to consider buying now I’m interested enough to buy, right, so you got to take him through that process. And some people that take seven impressions, some people it takes 10 impressions, some people it takes 30 impressions, everybody’s different. But you gotta that’s why you got to stay there constantly and be in front of them constantly. We have a lot of artists who do branding, who have built their names and reputations. And when you do branding, you’re also appealing to the emotions of the of the people you see because emotions are what sell products. And so status is an emotion, right? How do I compare, you know, to my neighbor, if I own a you know, George Carlson painting, that’s a big deal, right? So everybody’s like, wow, you want to George Carlson painting you feel good, you can beat your chest. And so that’s status and status comes from branding, you know, George Carlson’s brand was built up over lots of successful wins that art shows and successful sales and things like that, you know, that’s, that all builds brand. And so you want to take that as a process. Now, it takes time to build a brand, it doesn’t happen overnight, you can still sell paintings through that process. But if you you get a good brand, you get more money for your paintings, you get more demand, you get invited to more things. There’s a lot of other things going on. So this is very complicated. I recommend you read my book as a starting point. Don’t think of advertising as making a sale. Think of it as getting leads. You’ve got to track your numbers develop a cost per lead strategy, you know, what percentage of your painting sold? Are you willing to give up for advertising? Well, it should be somewhere about 10 to 20% In the beginning, maybe even more in the beginning. Because you have to establish yourself, you know, like some people will pay half of the ad that a gallery runs and that way you know you’re you’re branding yourself with that made You’re a gallery you go to that gallery and say, Listen, you’re you know, you’re I’m on your, I’m in your gallery anyway. And I’ll pay for half of the ad. And the gallery gets the attention, but they’re promoting you that makes you look better. They had helps them sell, that helps them brand and you know, it’s a win win deal. So there’s a lot of things you can do, you know, choose cold or warm audiences, but I always try to go for warm Facebook targeting is probably not enough. Facebook isn’t selling a lot of art for a lot of people, but it is selling probably the place that’s selling the most is people who follow your actual page. You know, here’s the latest painting I’ve done. You know, a lot of artists buy paintings and a lot of collectors buy paintings. The key is how do you get collectors, real collectors to know you and follow you on Facebook. And the way to do that is to go on LinkedIn, to collectors groups, and start commenting on posts. Don’t ever promote yourself just comment do smart things. Then they start looking for you. They look you up on LinkedIn or they look you up on Facebook or Instagram. They follow you and the next thing you know they’re buying paintings. There’s a lot to all of this. You paid a high cost of marketing for that online gallery 50% But that’s what we all pay for galleries, you know, most of us pay 50% for our galleries on consignment. And that’s that’s worth doing. So I recommend you keep your online gallery try to get a couple more galleries look for other ways. You don’t ever want to have all your eggs in one basket because sometimes people drop eggs right? So galleries go out of business. Things change for online galleries, you know, there’s a lot of things but try to spread your risk. Anyway, that is today’s art marketing minute.

How to Submit Your Art Marketing Questions: What questions do you have about selling your art? Submit it at to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.