How to Destroy Customer Relationships in Four Words

Just four little words can turn a happy customer into an unhappy customer. These words, when uttered, send a signal that you don’t care about your customers and that your business is screwed up.

These four little words wound customers and tell them you won’t do whatever it takes for them. They also say you hate your job, hate your company, and are very self-centered.

What are they?

“It’s not my job.”

I was mortified when I was in a grocery store recently; I asked a question, and the man I approached said, “It’s not my job. I don’t actually work for the store, I work for one of the vendors.” Yet he had a store apron on.

The right response might have been, “I’d be happy to help you. Even though I don’t work for the store and I work for a vendor, let me take you to someone who can answer that question.”

You may, in your company or business, have employees who have very distinct roles. In fact, if they encounter a customer who asks them to do something, it may not be their job.

The problem is that if the employee says that, it makes the customer feel unimportant, unheard, and as though employees are unwilling to help. And that sends a devastating message about company management.

The correct response is always, “Yes, how can I help you?” or, “I’d be happy to help you.”

Everyone on the team needs to know that every customer pays their paycheck and that when customers have a negative experience with your company, they’re likely to tell 10 people, who may each tell 10 more people. Suddenly you’ve lost customers, and you may not even know why.

“It’s not my job” leads to “I’m outta work.”

Smart companies need to coach their team to always do what it takes, never pass the buck, to help whenever possible or find someone who can help. Management should also make it known that if they hear of someone using those words, that person will probably be working elsewhere soon.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

By |2020-01-21T12:21:47-05:00March 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Art Businesses Die

Though we like to think of ourselves as artists, if we’re selling paintings, we are running a business.

According to trainer Tony Robbins, businesses go through the following cycle:

  • Birth
  • Infancy
  • Toddler
  • Teenager
  • Young Adult
  • Mature Adult
  • Mid-Life
  • Aging
  • Institutionalization
  • Death

Rather than explaining these cycles in depth, I’ll just say they are much like life. Each of us and our art businesses are at a different point in the cycle. If you’re just launching or planning your art business, you’re pregnant and about to give birth. If you’re a teen, you make reckless decisions. The longer you’re in business, the more you mature, until you grow old.

The part of the cycle I want to discuss today is death — when your business is no longer sustainable and there is no one to support it.

My goal is to help you, or those you know, to prevent death — to keep art selling.

All Cycles Are Predictable

One thing always follows the other. The problem is that we often cannot see when we’ve gone from one part of the cycle to another, and if we’re not paying attention, it’s often too late.

Recently I met an artist who had been a queen in the art world. She was a big seller, she’d made a lot of money, but she came to me for marketing advice because nothing is selling anymore.

How is it that an icon, a success, enters the part of aging where the breakdown in the business has been accelerated?

As I asked this woman some questions, it was clear this had been happening gradually over time, but she had not recognized the signals. And she was in denial about her current circumstances. She was placing blame on the economy, claiming that “people just don’t buy art anymore,” which is completely untrue.

In her case, her business had been aging for years, but since that fact went unrecognized, the aging continued until she may have reached the point of no return.

Though I’m always one to believe any circumstances can be changed, I also believe that once we get comfortable with a certain lifestyle, once we get to that point in our careers, we’re often unwilling to do what it takes to reinvent. We get set in our ways.

Not Seeing Obvious Signs

This lovely woman had not seen the key sign — gradually slowing sales. She had been in a number of galleries, but many closed over time and were not replaced. “People are just not buying your work anymore,” she was told.

The reality is that she did not reinvent herself when the signals of mid-life appeared, and never considered that aging would be next. She did not see that some of her galleries were dying, for the same reason she now faces … they did not reinvent themselves. Had she replaced her aging galleries with new, vibrant ones, she may still have been selling work.

“I tried to get a couple of new galleries,” she said, “but the new galleries had no idea who I was and how big I am in the art world. I tried to tell them how big I was, how I sold hundreds of paintings at high prices, but they did not seem interested.”

What had happened is that success killed this woman’s career.

What? How is it possible for success to kill a career or business?

This woman was so successful that she stopped doing what had made her successful in the first place. When I asked her about her early career and her struggles, she told me how she worked the galleries, how she advertised heavily to get collectors even when she had no galleries, and how that resulted in her getting invited to shows and events, which made her better known. It also made her known to the galleries.

Business Was Booming
Within a few years, she had several galleries, and she couldn’t keep up with all the work they were selling. This feast went on for several years. Because she sold so well, the galleries were advertising her work. That continued to build her name, which made her prices go up because she could produce only so much. In fact, demand became so high that the galleries didn’t even need to advertise. All the collectors knew who she was and wanted her work in their collections.

Over time, sales started to slow down. It took a while, but she would sell a little bit less every year. The galleries told her all her collectors were saturated and there was not as much demand for her work. Of course, they gave that as the reason they did not advertise her anymore. There simply was not the demand there used to be. Yet they still sold some — it’s rare that sales just come to a halt. Death in most cases is gradual.

From Queen to Virtually Unknown

I pointed out to her that new galleries did not know who she was because she had not worked to continually brand her name. I pointed out that as an artist, you have to take some control over your success. When the galleries stopped advertising, there was a gradual decline in her sales. I don’t believe it had anything to do with demand or oversaturation. I believe it was because they no longer promoted her.

A fact of life, as an artist or a gallery owner, is that when you fail to do the things that made you successful, you fail to get the results you used to get. When you achieve success and comfort, you can be slowly dying and not realize it.

She Killed Her Own Career
I believe this woman killed her own career because there are always new people coming into the market and other people leaving. In a typical year, it’s probably 20 percent attrition. That means you have to bring in 20 percent more people every year, because if you lose 20 percent of your customers a year, it only takes five years until you have no more customers.

Furthermore, the galleries not advertising sped up the death of her career. They were comfortable with her sales and did not feel they needed to advertise because everyone knew who she was and who the gallery was. They were dead wrong.

How Customers Act
In my first Art Marketing Boot Camp video, I show an up and a down escalator to make the point that people are always leaving and people are always coming into the market to buy. People leave because they age or die, they run out of wall space, they run out of money due to retirement or going to a fixed income or another change in their circumstances, like the loss of a job or needing to save money for college for the kids.

On the other hand, new people are coming into the market because their kids got out of college and they have money again, or they got a raise, or a bonus, or an inheritance.

New people coming into the market don’t know you exist. They don’t know that galleries that have been around for decades exist. They don’t know who has a good or a bad reputation. They have all of that to learn.

A Million Bucks and Nowhere to Spend It
I once met a collector who asked me who to call because he had a million dollars to spend on art and wanted to buy a John Singer Sargent painting. Imagine that. There were people who had been known for many years as experts in Sargent, yet he was not aware of them because they had not been advertising for decades. I had to tell him where to go. (He bought two Sargent paintings.)

Habits of New Buyers
When new buyers (they are not collectors yet) start to get interested in art, they start picking up books or magazines, or start Googling and studying what they find. They discover artists or galleries that are visible at the time they enter the market. New people enter every day, yet most artists or galleries are not there when those people begin to look. Those who happen to be there at the right time start branding themselves and eventually, over time, get a chance at a relationship with that new buyer. Those who are not there stay invisible.

Of course, there are years when 20 percent is a low attrition rate. In a year like 2008, there may have been a loss of 60 or 70 or 80 percent of customers who never returned to the market.

The Impact of the Election
We’ve seen this happen in election years. Both sides play up fears that the world is not going to survive if their candidate is not elected. Consumer confidence is everything. State of mind impacts spending if you think everything is about to get bad. So people lay low for six months or a year, and sometimes even for a few months after the election, until the sting disappears. In fact, we know a lot of artists who had not seen any significant sales for months and only just recently started to see things selling again.

People with art businesses need to anticipate this and be ready for the storm, whether it’s a short- or long-term storm.

In every storm, there are always people spending money, but you have to hunt them down and find them.

Taking Advantage of a Crash
I know of a very smart and successful couple who started a new gallery in 2008, after the crash had happened. Everyone thought they were insane, but they understood human nature. In 2008, almost all the galleries and many artists stopped advertising because business was bad. This couple doubled down on advertising and managed to draw massive attention from the people who were still spending. The environment was less cluttered, too, so they got more value out of their ads. Like a giant magnet, they drew customers away from other galleries that were quickly forgotten because they were out of sight, and out of mind. This gallery was booming as a result.

It’s counterintuitive to spend when things get bad, but there are always buyers. Even the Depression saw massive spending among the wealthy.

Success as a Sign of Near Death?
My dad, a successful business guy, always told me that companies often go from having their best months ever to having their worst months ever almost overnight. The reason is that they hadn’t recognized problems when those problems were revealing themselves. Plus, when times are good, people tend to take more time off, take longer vacations, do more remote management and more spending, and put less money away for a rainy day. Plus, business is so good they assume they don’t need to advertise or even do as many shows. They don’t follow the practices that made them successful.

Momentum Is Powerful
What they fail to understand is that success is the culmination of momentum created by years of doing things right. Momentum does not stop immediately, but if you don’t continue to feed it, your business starts to slowly die, because you’re not staying visible, and not bringing in enough new customers.

By the time they recognize the problem, it’s usually too late. There is no money or no energy or desire to work as hard as they used to.

Uphill, Downhill

It’s like a car that chugs up a hill, but keeps trying till it gets to the top. Then, once at the top, it heads to the bottom, going faster and faster until it’s going so fast the driver doesn’t need to do anything. But if the driver fails to keep the gas on, they’ll coast until the next hill slows them down and, eventually, they stop.

Death can happen to any business, including yours, whether you’re an artist, a gallery, or any business outside of the art world.

Clues Even When You Are Thriving
The best time to pay close attention to the danger signs is when you’re thriving. Because once you hit your mid-life crisis, things begin to break down. Entropy begins. You have to decide if you are going to reinvent yourself and rejuvenate your business by getting aggressive again, by promoting again — or will you decide to just ride it out as long as you can? That is when you really begin to die.

Once things get bad, you’re in denial. You can’t see the problem clearly, and tend to blame the market, the election, “people not spending anymore,” the state of the art world, etc. You feel like a victim, and you begin to attack and blame others. That’s when good employees bail out, because they’ve been saying it all along: “We need to do things differently.”

Death is usually self-imposed.

It’s rarely about market conditions alone. You see smart operators who are ready for the storm of a bad economy or changes in technology or changes in consumer behavior.

A Tough Decision

My friend was faced with a decision and had a tough pill to swallow. Once famous, once rich, once world-renowned as an artist, she was no longer known by the galleries or collectors, and a whole generation of people in charge of art shows and events had never heard her name. She had not been visible for about five years, and she had been forgotten.

To her credit, she did not just lie down to die. She asked what she could do and said she would do everything she could to get another decade or more out of her art career.

We’re working on a plan, and soon the world will know her again. I’m convinced her wonderful art will sell and she will be embraced as she once was. She is fortunate to be in a position where she is able and willing to work at and invest in her career. And she now wishes she had never stopped promoting herself and given up control of her own career.

How to Prevent Death

Whether you own a gallery or are an artist, your best chance for survival is to always assume people are in and out of the market and that you’ll need a plan to stay visible, stay relevant, and bring new people into the fold each and every day. You need to return to the things that made you successful, and you must always be paranoid and never get too comfortable, no matter how well things are going.

You and I both know artists who have been relevant and at the top of their game for decades. It does not just happen. They work hard at staying visible, doing shows, and continually reinventing themselves and exposing their work to new people coming into the market. If they did nothing, they would be unknown today as many once-famous artists are.

Lifetime Commitment
If you’re young or if you’ve got a lot of years ahead, you need to assume that visibility is a lifetime commitment. Too many people think they can run a couple of ads and everyone will flock to them. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

Just like you pay the electric bill every month of your life to keep the lights on, you need to pave the way to keep customers flowing to you for a lifetime. When you slow down, the customers may keep coming for a short period, depending on how much momentum you’ve built, but when the momentum ends, there are no more customers.

Death in life isn’t preventable … but it’s preventable in business.

Even old, established companies can die because they get comfortable and arrogant and don’t continue to do what made them successful in the first place. Yet those in a continual state of customer acquisition and occasional reinvention stand a chance of a long and healthy business life. The same is true for artists and galleries.

I wish you great success.

By |2017-06-13T08:57:45-04:00April 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|7 Comments

Your Thanksgiving Demo, and My Thanksgiving Wish for You

Eric Rhoads Thanksgiving Message 2017 for artists


A Note from Art Publisher Eric Rhoads

Dear Friends,


Life these days tends to go faster than a Porsche on the Autobahn. We’re all busy.

Thankfully, we’re forced hit the brakes and slow down around the holidays. It is at this time of year I try to cool my jets, rest up for the coming year, and take inventory of my blessings and my friends.


I feel especially blessed to have you, my art family. Art has changed my life. Just seeing life through the eyes of an artist, viewing life as color, light, form, shape, and atmosphere is a blessing. Translating beauty to canvas enriches our lives, as does painting outdoors en plein air, when we can be a part of nature.


I’m very thankful for the “new life” I was given when art entered it many years ago, and for the great friendships I’ve developed as a result of this journey. I’m grateful for your embrace of our magazines, events, products, and videos.


I often say you can’t have a bad day when surrounded by art, artists, and people who love art. I feel very blessed each day.


But I never say thank you enough, and it’s clear that my family (and the families of my team members) would not eat without your support. I try to remind myself of this every day and try to make it clear to my children that their band uniforms, books, electronics, and meals on the table are a result of a lot of good people who trust us to provide things they need to inspire them or make them better.


I am truly humbled by your support and the confidence you place in us.


You have allowed me to serve you, and for that I am grateful. It’s my goal to serve you with generosity. My life has been enriched by spending my time around people, like yourself, who have been blessed with a passion for creating or appreciating the arts.


You are special people. You see life through different eyes.


My great passion is to help others discover what we’ve each found in our own way. Life is more fulfilling with art-making at our fingertips. And it’s my belief that it’s not about inborn talent, it’s about convincing those who say, “I wish I could do that, but I’ve got no talent,” that they can learn it, because it’s a process simply requiring instruction, practice, and passion. Therefore when you’re approached, consider putting the brush in their hand and finding a way to convince them to take a risk on a chance for a better life by trying painting.


Perhaps, as you gather with family and friends this week, and through the holidays, you can change a life or two by offering a little Thanksgiving painting demonstration for those uninterested in football. Maybe you can inspire a child, a teen, an adult, or a senior. It’s never too early or too late. Your willingness to take the time to inspire others could give them the gift you were once given.


It is my prayer that your Thanksgiving is surrounded with laughter, love, and people who make you happy. It’s my wish that you use these times to rest, regenerate, find inspiration, and take a deep, well-deserved break to get ready for an incredible 2017.


Don’t fear whatever the future holds. We don’t know, we cannot control it, but we can continue to make the world a better place by opening the hearts of others through our art. It’s never been needed more, and I see no higher purpose for all of us than healing the world through artwork and inspiring others to find the artist within themselves.


Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.


Eric Rhoads



Fine Art Connoisseur * PleinAir * Artists On Art * Fine Art Today * Plein Air Today * Plein Air Salon

By |2016-11-23T15:10:19-05:00November 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Drawing a Line in the Sand as an Artist

Eric Rhoads Artists Drawing a Line in the Sand Marketing

Years ago my wife asked a couple to spend a holiday weekend with us at the lake. When the power went down on Friday afternoon and we realized we’d blown out the breaker box, the husband, an electrician by trade, generously offered to fix it. So we went to the local hardware store to buy the parts. He pointed out what I needed, and I pulled the items off the shelf. I then watched as he grabbed a handful of screws out of a bin, said, “We’ll need these too,” and put them in his pocket. He winked at me and said, “I’ll see you in the car.”


I was mortified.


At the checkout counter, I told the clerk my “friend” stole a handful of screws that I estimated to be worth a dollar or two, but, to be sure, I gave her a twenty. I apologised and went to my car.


I was also fuming mad.


When I got in the car, I asked why he stole the screws, and he started whining about how the store didn’t need the money, that it was just a few pennies, that it was a big chain that was ripping off customers, and lots of other excuses.


I then did something I’ve never done before or since, because I’m not a confrontational kind of person.


I told him he was a common thief and that whether it was dimes, dollars, or thousands of dollars he was stealing, it was all the same to me. I said I don’t hang out with common thieves and that if he would steal from them, he would steal from me.


As I drove to our house, I told him I wouldn’t embarrass him in front of his wife and kids, but that I wanted him to go into the house and say that something came up and they needed to leave right away. I told him I would not tell his family that he was a thief, but he needed to be gone within an hour.

That was the last time I ever had contact with him or his family.


Everyone has to draw a line in the sand.


If someone is a thief, I write them out of my life. If someone betrays me, gossips about me wrongly, is two-faced or lies to me, I try to eliminate them from my life. That is my line in the sand.


Every artist has a line in the sand they must draw, but it’s not often as simple as it was for me in the case of my thieving acquaintance. If a gallery steals from you or doesn’t pay you, or if someone betrays you or lies to you it’s easy to draw a line in the sand and end the relationship.


But the line in the sand I’m talking about for you as an artist might not be quite so clear.


Where do you draw the line when it concerns “selling out” as an artist? It isn’t always about ethics. It’s about what works for you and your career.

For instance, I publish a couple of art magazines. Artists always want articles because those articles help their careers, and we love helping them when we can. But sometimes artists offer to buy ads if we will run an article about them. We always turn them down. That is the kind of line in the sand I’m talking about.


It’s not illegal, or even immoral, to sell ads in exchange for articles. A lot of magazines do it and are quite open about it. We’ve simply decided that our readers won’t trust our content as much if they believe someone might be featured who isn’t otherwise strong enough as an artist or who paid us to be there. It’s a choice we’ve made to maintain our credibility, and we’ve walked away from a lot of money because of it. It’s not easy, but for us, that’s the line we won’t cross.


As an artist, you also have choices you have to make that are not about what is illegal or immoral in themselves, but that will be very personal for you.


The best example I can think of concerns painting what sells.


Your gallery owner calls you and says, “Those little red barns you painted sold better than anything else you’ve painted. Can you send us more little red barns?”


If you’re sick of painting little red barns, or they don’t inspire you anymore, you’re then faced with whether or not you draw a line in the sand.


Will you paint more barns because they help the gallery?

Will you paint more barns because more paintings sold means establishing more collectors?

Will you paint more barns because selling more is validation that people like your work?

Will you paint more barns because you need the money?

Will you refuse to paint more barns?


Where is the line?


One friend who is a brilliant landscape painter and who was selling well decided she was sick of landscapes, so she started painting buildings and figures instead. Her gallery mounted a show, and nothing, I repeat nothing, in the show sold except the few remaining landscapes. Her career took a dive. She had branded herself as a landscape painter and couldn’t escape it. Her line in the sand was between not making a living or going back to painting landscapes. She opted out of landscapes, continued on her new path, and endured a two-year dip in her career until her other paintings caught on. But she was happy she made the decision because her heart was no longer in landscapes.


I applaud anyone who follows their heart. But I would not have criticized this artist if she’d decided to go back to painting landscapes, if that was what she felt she had to do.


Early in my career I was a wedding photographer. I did so many weddings that I got sick of weddings and swore I’d never do another, even if I had to starve. My soul could not take even one more wedding. I dropped it cold turkey and found a job doing something else. I drew a line in the sand. I still avoid weddings to this day when I can, and if I do go, I refuse to bring a camera. But someone else may have decided to forge ahead, to keep supporting themselves or for other reasons. Neither decision is immoral or unethical.


What is your line in the sand?


In my blogs I write mostly about marketing and the value of building your name and your brand, and increasing awareness of your work. I teach techniques you can use to speed up your sales and your progress as an artist, and I’ve watched hundreds of people change their lives and see their dreams come true.


Still, some people view the very act of marketing as crass, or even wrong. Some feel they want nothing to do with the business aspects of painting. I even know artists who refuse to sell their artwork to willing buyers, because they don’t want to have their artistic purity challenged by the act of making a sale.


I think it’s important to understand that any of these decisions is perfectly acceptable.


It’s acceptable to market yourself and your art. It’s just as acceptable to wait, doing no marketing and hoping your work will be discovered and sell organically. It’s rare, but it does happen.


Most great artists who have accomplished some level of success are also brilliant marketers, though they handle it in such tasteful and subtle ways that it’s usually not recognized as marketing. Frankly, that’s the best way to market, if you can finesse the style. Other older, established artists did the bulk of their marketing long ago, when a lot of us weren’t around to see it, and we assume they never stooped so low as to self-market (or that they never needed to). Some were those rare cases who were genuinely discovered by collectors or a gallery, with no marketing at all.


Some are willing to market their careers and find it perfectly acceptable, while others won’t cross that line because they find it objectionable.

There is no right or wrong here. This is not an ethical issue. It’s a personal issue.


That is the most important take away: These are your decisions. If you need to paint more red barns to sell paintings so you can pay the rent, it’s not ethically wrong to do it (though it’s not a good idea to create the same painting again and again). If you still love painting red barns, so much the better — there is absolutely no reason not to paint something that satisfies you just because buyers want more of it.


Ultimately you have to search your soul for what works for you, what inspires you, and what is over the line for you.


I know a lot of famous artists who painted what their galleries wanted for a lot of years until their names and careers were established, and now they won’t do anything unless they want to do it. I know others who have always painted only what they want to paint. No one should judge you for the decision you make. As my dad always says, “You never know why someone does something until you’ve walked in their moccasins.”

Careers are delicate things. There is nothing that can overcome hard work, putting in the time to learn and grow and develop your career. But once that heavy lifting is done, that’s when you need to decide where you should draw your line in the sand.

By |2020-01-21T11:56:14-05:00September 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|21 Comments

Six Tips to Get More Money For Your Paintings Without Hurting Sales


Pricing is the least understood facet of any business, but it’s one that can easily be fixed — without a negative impact. Most of the artists I know are underselling their art, struggling, having to paint too many paintings to keep their heads above water. They are on an exhausting treadmill because their prices are too low.

How would your life change if your prices were higher? If your immediate reaction is that you would sell less work, we need to work on your pricing strategy.

Most people in business get into business because they want to provide a good, quality service at a good price. They want to offer what they would want. Yet the number one reason for business failure is that profit margins are too low because of low prices.

Of course, low prices are necessary in some businesses because that’s their business model. Think Walmart. Yet the perception of Walmart’s prices and the reality are often two different things. Some companies promote low prices on high-volume items to get people into stores, yet other items may not be priced than you can find them elsewhere.

But as an artist, you’re not in the commodity business where, you produce lots of low-cost items. What you produce is a single, unique, handmade item by a well trained craftsperson — you. But do you think of yourself that way?

I can buy a chair for $20. I can buy a chair for $200. Or I can go into a craft gallery and buy a beautiful hand-crafted wooden chair for $1,500, knowing it’s one of a kind. That chair won’t be for the person who buys chairs at Walmart, but there is a market, and there is a special person who will buy it.

You Are Not Your Customer

One of the hardest things to overcome for anyone in business, including artists, is understanding your market and understanding that you are not your market. An artist once said to me, “I want to sell my paintings cheap so that people like me can afford to own them.” Though that’s admirable, people like him are not likely to want to own them. A painting is a luxury item, and the people who treat themselves to luxury items are not the average Joe. When I asked this painter how his sales were going, he told me they weren’t going well. He couldn’t understand it, because, as he said, “My prices are much lower than everyone else’s.”

Tip #1: Low-priced luxury items typically don’t sell to luxury buyers.

Let’s look for a moment at the typical art gallery visitor. Perhaps it’s a couple, and both are lawyers making a half million a year. Instead of owning a Jaguar and a Lexus, they could afford to own four or five Kias. Why don’t they buy them and save their money? That takes us to tip #2.

Tip #2: Price is a signal of perceived quality.

In my art marketing seminar, a man told the story of being at an art show. A woman asked, “How much is this painting?” He responded that it was $4,000, and she said she would “take it.” She handed him a check for $40,000. When he told her she had made a mistake and added an extra zero, she ripped up the check and said, “I don’t want it, then. It can’t be very good if it’s only $4,000.”

Tip #3: Certain people always want the best.

There is always an element of society who perceive themselves as needing the very best, and if it’s not the best — often signaled by the price — they won’t buy it. They don’t need bargains.

One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, says that rich people have quirks. They will be cheap in one area and extravagant in others. For instance, he paid a million dollars to own a classic collectable car that had been owned by his favorite celebrity. He had no price resistance when told how much it cost — he didn’t even negotiate. He simply wrote a check. Yet he also said, “When I buy shirts, I hate the idea of paying more than $30, so I always buy my shirts at Walmart.”

So how do you get your prices up?

I have two theories.

Tip #4: Build a luxury image and brand, and reinforce it constantly with everything you do.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 12.31.37 PM

First, luxury selling is all about perception. A Louis Vuitton bag is not a purse, it’s a handbag. A large coffee at Starbucks is a venti, and it’s not served by a clerk, but a barista. These and other companies focus on selling image. My favorite Louis Vuitton ad (at the top of this blog post) doesn’t mention the company name. It’s all image. People buy image, and people want to reinforce self-image. People want others to see what they own. That’s why, when I visit some collectors, they’ll say, “Do you want to see my Mundy? Or my Schmid?” or their “Warhol or Hockney” or their “Sergeant or Zorn.”

Building your brand matters. Giving meaning to your name, ensuring your paintings are perceived as the best, is a critically important process. People will pay more for it.

Even in the lower price ranges, the person who buys a $1,500 painting is just as likely to buy a $3,000 painting. So if you’re in a gallery, giving up half your profit means doing without either $750 or $1,500. Which is better?

Let’s do the math.

Let’s say you sell 10 paintings a year at $1,500 each. Your total sales are $15,000, and your profit is $7,500.

Now, let’s say you raise your price to $3,000 and you lose 20% of your buyers, so you sell only eight paintings a year. Your total sales are $24,000 and your profit is $12,000. Which is better?

Let’s take it further. Raise your price to $4,000 and lose 30% of your buyers. Now you sell seven paintings a year, for a total of $28,000 and $14,000 in profit. You made double the profit of selling at the $1,500 price and you only had to paint seven paintings instead of 10.

The snowball effect also kicks in. First, your paintings get better because you can spend more time on them. Second, the gallery is making more money on you, so they push your paintings more. Third, because your prices are higher, you are perceived by the buyer as more valuable. Fourth, by painting less, you create scarcity, which actually boosts sales and prices. “Jane only paints seven paintings a year. You can own one of the seven” is a powerful statement, the kind galleries love to make.

Have Some Guts

I had dinner this year with a very famous artist who produces about four paintings a year and makes close to a quarter million a year from them. I asked how he got his prices up, and he told me that he had no idea what he should be charging for his paintings, so he just picked a number out of the air. He sold his first painting for $40,000 because he didn’t know he couldn’t. It only went up from there.

Most price resistance is in your head because you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a painting. Your customer can. I have readers of Fine Art Connoisseur who don’t think twice about dropping 100 grand on a painting.

Tip #5: Go for it. Raise your prices. Be bold.

The way to get your prices up is to have some guts. And if you’re not raising your prices every year, you’re losing money because of inflation. Have you noticed how much more groceries cost?

Some galleries will give you resistance, and it’s the kiss of death if you have low prices at one gallery and high prices at another. So you have to notify your gallery of your universal price increase. If the gallery does not support you or believe they can get that price, it’s time to leave and find someone who thinks your new price is perfect. People cannot sell what they don’t believe in. Find believers.

Lipstick on a Pig?

I’ll end with a story a dealer once told me. He said he had a beautiful painting that sat in the gallery for a year, priced at $1,400. He could not understand why it was not selling, so he took it off the wall, put a $1,500 frame on it and raised the price to $14,000. It sold within a week. Same painting. Was it the frame or the price? I suspect it was both.

A painting in a cheap frame won’t be perceived as being worth much, but an elegant frame sends a signal. Who would you rather do business with? A financial adviser who drives up in a Hyundai, or one who drives up in a Bentley? It probably depends on your value system, but I’d pick the adviser who appears more successful. For people who use their cars in business, cars are like picture frames. If I’m selling a $10 million house, I want the agent in the most expensive car.

Price also impacted that sale. A painting is better if it’s more expensive — that is the perception of luxury buyers. The combination of great frame and great price cemented that deal.

Tip #6: Framing sends a signal to support your prices. Expensive frames allow you to increase even more.

In summary: You will lose some customers at a higher price, but you’ll make more money and work less. Build the importance of your brand with constant repetition over years and a luxury appearance. (A great trick is to put your high price in your ads, which instantly packages you as a more expensive artist. Again, this takes guts.)

I believe most artists could double their prices and not lose any customers. Your prices will rise. But it all starts with your understanding of pricing — and having the guts to do it.


By |2020-01-21T11:51:45-05:00July 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|21 Comments

How Do I Know If My Ads Are Working?

An Art Marketing Message from Eric Rhoads




"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half."

— John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

Founder, Wanamaker Department Stores

Advertising seems simple. Buy an ad, get results, right? Our lives are so filled with advertising, coming from so many directions, that we all feel fairly comfortable engaging in it ourselves. How difficult can it be? Especially for artists, who have strong graphic instincts, and many of whom have graphic design backgrounds. Some have even been doing work for advertising companies.


But when you are advertising, how do you know it's working? Sadly, the answer is not cut-and-dried.

Easily Trackable Results
In the direct marketing world (direct mail, direct e-mail, direct Internet), they test like crazy, comparing one piece of copy against another to see which sales letter or campaign worked best. They have industry standards for returns on "mailings" and are very disciplined about tracking sales as correlated with campaigns. In the direct marketing world, results are easy to track. You know what you purchased and when, and whether people purchased something after seeing it.


But as an artist, you're not selling widgets, gadgets, vitamins, videos, or books. If you were, the question would have an easy answer: Track results.


In the world of art, here is what you are selling:


  • A specific image that will have a narrow appeal to a small group of people

  • A brand name as an artist

  • A status item (in some cases based on the notoriety of the artist)

  • A piece of decoration for a home or office (sorry to be so crass as to bring it to the level of commodity)

  • A memory or a dream, something that represents an emotion to the viewer

  • The feelings stimulated by your painting

  • A solution to a problem (we need something to go over the couch)

  • A souvenir of a place visited

  • An investment or a hedge against inflation


Artists who advertise often think their primary goal is to sell a particular painting. And of course selling something is the fuel that keeps the business moving forward. Yet finding one single buyer to like and buy one single painting is a pretty narrow focus. Though you want to sell that painting, you really need to develop a deeper and wider vision.


The Importance of Trust-Building

Imagine you meet someone for the first time at a cocktail party. Twenty minutes later, that same person comes up to you and asks to borrow $500. Would you give it to them? Of course not. Why not? No trust has been built.


If, on the other hand, you get to know that person, see them frequently, and a few months later that same person asks to borrow $500, you might consider it.


In fact, if you know someone well, feel comfortable with them, have known them for years and they ask, you would probably not hesitate if you had the money.


This highlights the importance of building trust, which is a big part of what branding is all about.


When someone sees your work for the first time, they may like and respond to your art, yet not take action. Why? They don't know or trust you yet. Over time, the more they see you, the more evidence they see that supports their desire to buy your work, and the better chance you have of selling them.


It's the primary reason I'm so insistent on focusing on trust-building through branding.


Branding Is Not for Wimps

I was coaching an artist on her first advertising campaign. She said, "I'll buy an ad and see if it works, and if it works, I'll buy more."


I said, "How will you know if it works?"


She said, "If I sell this painting."


I said, "Respectfully, that won't work. Save your money. Though you might get lucky and sell it, no one has heard of you. You have to build trust, you have to build awareness, you need to create and maintain a brand. It won't happen overnight, and there is nothing you can do to make it happen faster because trust requires time."


I told her she needed a campaign that would build trust by advertising consistently to a single audience (mine or someone else's) and that she would not see much, or any, result for about a year.




That's a tough sell.


To her credit, this artist wanted to be successful so badly that she found a way to commit to an every-issue ad campaign.


I then told her this: "Though you might get lucky and sell the paintings you advertise, your primary goal needs to be trust-building — branding. And about six to nine months into this, I fully expect a phone call with you cancelling your advertising because it's not working. The reason I'm telling you this now is that at the point of your greatest fear and frustration, you'll be just starting to build momentum, even though you can't see it. When you get to that point, don't give in to the temptation to cancel. You'll lose the momentum, and if you come back later, you'll be starting over."


I said, "At about the one-year mark, you'll start seeing some activity. You'll start getting invited into shows. At about a year and a half, after consistent trust-building, you'll start being invited into galleries. You'll start seeing paintings sell, and your workshops will start selling out. At about two years, you'll hear from more galleries, sell more paintings, and you'll be invited to bigger shows and have a waiting list for your workshops. At three years, you'll see your prices double, you'll see the very best galleries seek you out, and there will be so much demand on your time you'll have to cut back on shows and workshops. And you'll be selling more paintings than you ever imagined possible."


Then I cautioned the artist, "At that point you'll be tempted to stop advertising because you'll start believing all the press clippings and think it is you making all this activity happen. And it is, but it's because you've become like a giant magnet, pulling people toward you with your marketing."


Sure enough, at the six-month mark, she called to cancel. I reminded her of what we'd discussed, and to her credit, she stayed in, based on faith.


At the nine-month mark, she started getting invited into shows and selling a few more paintings. At the 12-month mark, she started being contacted by galleries. It snowballed from there, and everything I predicted came true, almost exactly. (It's only because I've done this so long that it's that predictable.)

Trust-building — branding — is not for wimps. It takes courage and patience. Yet if you do it, and you keep it alive, you can become a major name in about three years' time, and within five to seven years become known as a master. Keep it alive for a decade or more, and you're an icon.


So How Do I Know It's Working?

As you can see, all this relies on momentum building quietly in the background, and it's hard to see it and measure that. Yet it's a powerful tool and is the very reason big brands hammer their name and message in the media, over and over, forever. There are always new people entering the market who don't know your brand, and the minute you stop, another brand takes your place.


You'll know it's working when you start seeing the activity level rise and other signals begin to show, about a year into a good campaign.


Critical Elements of a Marketing Campaign

All campaigns have critical elements. If those elements are out of balance or not fine-tuned correctly, the results will vary.


  1. Powerful Headlines
    Lots of research has been done on this topic. A headline is designed to pull someone into your ad. Without a strong headline, they won't stop and look; they will simply keep turning the page until a headline does get their attention. I recently attended a conference where a speaker said a change of headline can impact an ad's results by 700 percent — when the only thing that changed was the headline. (The same is true for a subject line in an e-mail.)

  2. Powerful Copy
    The copy in your ad, short or long, matters. Every word counts, and every word needs to help accomplish your goal. Most ads are weak and meaningless emote-y drivel. Ever hear these lines?

    1. The best quality

    2. The best service

    3. All your ___ needs

Your copy needs to cut through.
The problem for artists is that they primarily want to highlight their name with a big image of a painting. But it's hard to stand out by doing that alone. If you study who is getting lots of attention these days, you'll notice they are writing strong headlines for their ads.


3. Audience Saturation and Repetition

It's important to pick a single media outlet (a publication, a website, etc.) and dominate it as much as you can, with ads as large and as much frequency (repetition of ads) as possible. Most of us are tempted to move to other publications after a couple of ads to reach a new audience. But that's a giant mistake unless you can stay in the initial publication, add the other, and dominate in both. Few can afford to do that, so stick with the one outlet. It's time + repetition of message that builds trust, which builds your brand and your sales.


4. Audience Target
Contrary to what others would like you to believe, size does not matter. What matters is that you reach a relevant audience for what you're selling. Though you will get a bounce from advertising anywhere because you can gain customers from any audience, a relevant audience will speed your success. For instance, if you were selling gold, you'd want to reach people who can afford gold. Being in Investor's Business Daily or the Wall Street Journal will be better for that than People magazine, even though People has a bigger audience. In your case, you want to reach people who can afford what you sell, people who are known buyers of paintings.


5. Emotion

All decisions are emotional and only later supported by logic. Never forget this. If your ads don't have an emotional element to trigger strong feelings in your potential buyer, you'll reduce your success. (Of course, paintings themselves trigger emotions, so you have that to your advantage.)


6. Call to Action

Ads that don't ask for the order don't work. It seems simple, but most people simply include their contact information and never ask for the order. Research indicates that results will increase if you simply ask someone to pick up the phone and call to make a purchase.


7. Overcome Fears

Ads need to overcome the fears of a buyer. What fears do people have when they buy a painting? "Will it retain its value? What if I get it home and it looks bad with my couch? What if the gallery goes out of business?" The best way to overcome these and other fears is with a guarantee, such as: "If you decide for any reason the painting is not right for you, you have 60 days to return it for a full refund, no questions asked." Of course, everyone is afraid to do this, yet this one line will put some buyers over the edge and help them pick up the phone to call.


There is no one easy answer to "How do I know if my ads are working?" To some extent you have to trust that they are, after you've made sure the right elements are in your ads and the repetition and commitment are there.


Two Ads, Different Results

Most media works, or they wouldn't still be in business. Yet I can have two advertisers call me on the same day, and one will say their phone has not stopped ringing, their sales are strong, and they are getting amazing results. The other will tell me their ads are bombing — and they'll want to blame the publication for not having the audience. What's the difference?


It all boils down to the elements we discussed above. A great, well crafted ad, with the proper elements, and the proper frequency over long periods of time, is the difference. Badly crafted ads don't work.

Unfortunately, everyone tends to be in love with the ads they create. But most advertisers lack deep experience in creating great copy and the right elements for success. Then when their ads don't work, they want to blame someone other than themselves.


In closing, before you ever buy one drop of advertising, you need to ask what your primary goal for that advertising is. If you could accomplish just one big thing, what would it be? Once you understand that, it will make the message you craft crystal clear, and clarity is critical to make advertising successful.

By |2020-01-21T12:00:03-05:00May 21st, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Is Marketing Manipulative? How Re-framing Your Beliefs Will Change Your Career

An Art Marketing Message from Eric Rhoads


Recently and artist friend proudly told me “I don’t do any marketing, and I’m proud of it.” She then suggested that she felt marketing was manipulative and that as an artist she did not want to be manipulating people to buy.

I fully respect her opinion and the choices she is making.

Much later in the conversation she asked these questions:

  • I need to add another gallery or two, do you know anyone I can get into? I’d appreciate an introduction.

  • Do you have any ideas on how I can sell a few more paintings every year?

  • “How can I make painters more aware of me?”

  • “How can I get more people to my workshops?”

I respectfully did not point out that marketing could solve all those problems.

Somewhere along the line some of us have picked up the idea that marketing is manipulative and that branding isn’t necessary. Many artists feel the same about the concept of selling.

Recently a gutter guy came out to our house to sell us gutters. I did not want or need gutters, yet he demonstrated to me why they would be valuable, how they prevent the boards from rotting, how it reduces wear from water dripping on my decks, etc. Suddenly I was eager to buy, and did buy. Now that I have gutters I’m thankful he showed up at my door to sell me on gutters. Does that make him manipulative?

Sitting around one night I was reading a local magazine when I saw an ad for a water filtration system. Something that’s been on my mind for months now, but I did not have a clue where to look. The ad was convincing, was just what I wanted, and I even folded the page until I decided to call. I never did. That is, until I saw the magazine a month or two later, saw the ad again, which was my reminder to call. I have not called yet, but I fully intend to when I find the time. I guarantee I’ll be looking for that ad and that magazine when I find the time. Is that manipulative?

The important point is that marketing or selling is a service to help others discover what you have to offer. Sometimes people need to be nudged, and often people like me appreciate seeing something that nudges me and peaks my interest.

The best definition I’ve heard is this:
Marketing is sharing something you believe in with people who need it.

Some of us have bad impressions because of bad marketing that is manipulative.

That is no reason to think that all marketing is manipulative.

Is writing a thank you card to a buyer manipulative? Of course not, yet its part of marketing.

Is telling the story of your painting manipulative when dealing with a prospective buyer? Not at all.

Marketing is nothing more than helping people find what you have to offer. Many times they won’t find it on their own, yet if you help them discover it, their life will change. I’m a living example. The first painting I bought was not something I would have done on my own, yet once the sales lady at the gallery helped me get past my anxiety of spending money, it changed my life. I stared at that painting over the fireplace every day of my life for a couple years, till I decided I needed more paintings. Then, I decided I needed to learn how to do it. Today, of course I’m publishing art magazines, art conferences, and my work is in three different galleries.

All that because someone helped me find what I needed.

If you look at your marketing as nothing more, suddenly it changes the framing in your mind and helps you realize that if you don’t market your artwork, people who should discover you will never know your name and never see your painting on their wall. Yet if they do find you that painting will bring them great enjoyment.

See how it changes things?

Marketing can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be, but it needs to start out with good intentions. There may be people who do manipulate, but if you follow your heart and your personal style, marketing won’t be manipulative, but you will benefit greatly and your career will soar.

By |2019-01-14T16:15:16-05:00May 12th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

It’s Tax Time: What Artists Can Potentially Deduct

Dear Artist:

If you haven’t done your taxes, you should be doing them now (unless you’ve filed for an extension). In either case, there are art-related expenses you may be able to deduct, and I want you to be aware of them.

(Please note that you MUST check with an expert tax attorney or accountant, and know that in order to make certain deductions, there are particular qualifications. Since being an artist is often considered a hobby business, there are specific guidelines you must follow.)

Here is a list of potential deductions to consider (again, check with your experts):

Magazine Subscriptions for Professional Enhancement
Yes, your subscription to PleinAir and/or Fine Art Connoisseur could be tax-deductible.

Professional Development
That means your attendance at our Plein Air Convention and other development events, including workshops, can potentially be deducted, including your travel costs, mileage, hotel, meals, and registration fees. Also, art-related travel — for meetings with galleries or clients or to other events related to your business — could be deductible as well.

Advertising and Marketing
If you’re advertising in Fine Art Connoisseur or PleinAir, in our PleinAir Today and Fine Art Today newsletters, or on our websites like or, you should be able to deduct that expense. And you should also check into deducting the cost of your website and its hosting and maintenance.

Training Materials: Videos and Books
If you’re buying marketing videos, such as my Art Marketing Boot Camp series, or if you’re buying videos on how to be a better painter, such as those we create at Streamline Art Video, those too should be tax-deductible, whether you’re using DVDs or downloads. Training books are also usually deductible.

Entry into Art Competitions
You’re entering contests to get noticed, so it’s a marketing expense. Your fees to enter events like our PleinAir Salon may be deductible. (Note that if you win the $15,000 prize, or other cash prizes for your art, you will have to pay taxes on that income.)

Your Studio and Materials
Anything related to your art business, such as a dedicated office or studio space in your home should be deductible — though be careful to make sure the area is dedicated to business, and know that this can be a red flag for audits. You may also be able to deduct supplies, such as brushes, paint, canvas, easels, frames, lighting, etc. You’ll need to check on large items like furniture or printers, which are considered capital expenditures and are often handled with a depreciation schedule.

Dues, Memberships, and Legal
I deduct my membership fees for the National Arts Club, Oil Painters of America, and the California Art Club, and for other professional memberships. You should be able to as well. You may also be able to deduct fees for copyrights, legal fees, etc. 

I cannot advise you on the exact nature of what you can deduct, but these are some things to consider as you do your taxes. Again, there are professionals who specialize in taxes, and even taxes for artists. But you should look into all the deductions you may be able to take; it will be well worth your time.


Eric Rhoads

PS: Tax time is always an eye-opener because it places financial reality right in our faces. Why didn’t I make more money? Why was I not more successful? Thankfully, April is early enough in the year that you can still make dramatic changes in your life, focus on your marketing, and increase your art sales for the year. I believe in you! If you’re not happy with your current status, start reading some of the art marketing posts on this blog, and make up your mind to make changes.

By |2015-04-07T16:37:29-04:00April 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment

8 Secrets To Winning Art Competitions From An Art Competition Judge

 Art Competition Judge

Today, art competitions are all the rage. Yet many artists still ignore them, thinking they’re a waste of time. Competitions are tools you can use to build income and career, kind of like selling your painting more than once — only ethically!

More important, if you become a winner, entering a competition is the single most significant thing you can do to make your career soar quickly.

Not only do art competitions give you a chance to win prize money (which is like getting paid twice for a painting, if it’s already been sold), it gives you visibility — which is great for your branding to potential galleries, collectors, and other artists. People love to associate with winners. Even if you’re not the grand prize winner, just by being a finalist, you’re in the category of winners.

And if you enter a painting that sold, let’s say, for $2,500, and you win $15,000, it’s like selling six more paintings — plus you don’t have to share the revenue with your gallery.

One gallery owner told me, “I find artists by watching who is winning competitions.
I also learn of new artists when I’m judging competitions, and I watch who is advertising.”

What are the benefits to entering an art competition?

  • You can win prize money
  • You can win publicity when winners and finalists are announced
  • You can win other prizes (art materials, etc.)
  • You can win the cover of a magazine (in some competitions)
  • You can win a story in some magazines and websites
  • You have something more to talk about to collectors and newsletter followers
  • You have another success to place on your resume
  • You get the recognition you deserve
  • You have something more to talk about in social media
  • You can get discovered by a gallery

Here are 8 secrets I have learned as an art show judge:

1. Every Judge Tends to Favor a Certain Type of Art 
Before you enter, study the judge. If, for instance, the judge is a gallery owner, what kind of art hangs in their gallery? Chances are they will pick the kind of thing they like and respect. If it’s an artist who paints tight, they probably will pick tight paintings. If it’s an artist who paints loose, they may tend to pick looser paintings. Though everyone tries to remain objective, we all tend to have a style we prefer and are drawn to.

2. What One Judge Rejects, Another Judge Will Embrace
Many artists will enter the same painting every month in the same competition. One artist told me he entered a painting one month and didn’t win, but the next month he entered the same painting, and that time he won. What one judge doesn’t like, another may love.

3. Entering Multiple Paintings Increases Your Odds of Winning
Most competitions allow you to enter as many paintings as you want. The entry fee usually goes down after the first painting, so you can increase your odds of winning at a lower cost. And more paintings, of course, equals more of your paintings seen by a judge. In theory, if you enter five paintings, you have five times the chance of being noticed. In my Art Marketing Boot Camp, I teach the value of repetition.

4. Entering Can Result in Editorial Coverage
Once when I was judging an art competition, I kept seeing paintings I liked, and as I studied them, I learned they were all by the same artist. Since I admired that consistency, I notified one of my editors, and the artist ended up with a story in one of our magazines. We’ve also had other judges discover new talent and tell us about them for stories.

5. Most Winners Never Expected to Win
I have a saying: “You can’t win if you don’t enter.” I’ve had three different grand prize winners in our PleinAir Salon art competition tell me they never thought they had a chance to win against the big important painters who enter. All three said they almost didn’t enter because of that — but were glad they did!

6. Some Judges Seek New, Unknown Talent
A judge told me once that even though he has signatures covered when judging shows, he can recognize the work of certain artists by their well known style. He said he likes to help undiscovered artists, so he tends to shy away from such familiar painters. Though not all judges do this, some do — consciously or unconsciously — which increases the chances for unknown painters.

7. Careers Can Soar After Winning One Competition
In our competition, the grand prize winners have seen their careers take off. Each was relatively unknown, or known only among certain groups. And as a result of winning, their stature has been elevated, and they’ve been invited to new shows, galleries, and events.

8. You Gain an Advantage by Entering in Multiple Categories
I once judged a major art show and noticed the same painting had been entered in three different categories. Though that painting didn’t win in two categories, several of the judges thought it was the best fit for one category in particular, and so that painting ended up a winner. You can gain a big advantage if you have a painting that fits in multiple categories. Some categories get lots of entries, but others get very few, increasing your odds even more.

Art competitions are a great value, a great way to be measured against others — which helps elevate quality overall — and the best bargain going for publicity if you even become a finalist. I highly recommend them as a marketing tool, and a great way to elevate a career fast. A few bucks a month can result in a career that soars like a rocket when you win.

PS: The PleinAir Salon Art Competition is a monthly online art competition open to anyone 18 years or older, and paintings don’t have to be plein air, unless you’re entering a plein air specific category. There’s $50,000 in ALL Cash prizes up for grabs, and exposure and publicity through Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, and PleinAir Magazine. Check it out Now! 
By |2024-04-02T16:32:03-04:00March 12th, 2015|Uncategorized|10 Comments

How I Made the Naughty List


My fingers are crossed. Will there be a lump of coal in my stocking this Christmas? Will there be anything under the tree?


You see, I was naughty.


When you're naughty, you make Santa's naughty list — and that means you don't get what you want.


Why was I naughty? Simply put, I didn't practice what I preach. And I learned an important lesson.


For 2014, I tried something new. I decided my system for getting things done needed an upgrade, so instead of writing out my to-do list each day and reviewing my goal list in my journal, which is always at my side, I converted to a digital solution. Now all my goals and "to do's" are on the cloud, and I can access them everywhere.


Seems like a reasonable solution, but my digital approach failed me — or I failed it.


Last week I was killing time on an airplane, poking around all the programs and documents on my iPad because I was bored and didn't feel like working. I opened my goals document for 2014 and started checking them off one by one.


Then something terrible happened: I realized I had missed over 30 percent of my annual goals. Gulp.


I also realized that I hadn't opened my goals document for several months. Had I opened it and looked at them, I would have achieved most of those missed goals.


I'm frustrated.


What's the lesson in this?


I'm big on annual goals. It's important to have them, but only if they are realistic, measurable, and believable (though we all need to stretch). But goals don't work if you don't refer to them frequently.


In hindsight, my new system failed because I wasn't forcing myself to transfer my daily to-do list and my monthly goals to a new sheet of paper each day. I thought I was saving time, but when Charles Hobbs first taught me his system decades ago, the key to success was taking the time to evaluate your goals and to-do list each day so they remain on your mind at every turn. By not doing that, I failed myself and missed 30 percent of my annual goals.


What does this have to do with marketing your art?


I'm a strong believer in setting and following goals, even very simple ones. You're more likely to achieve them if you look at them and work toward them in small bites. Something as simple as setting a goal of devoting 20 percent of your time to marketing can change your life. If you work an average 40-hour week, you'll make amazing progress if you force yourself to spend eight hours a week on marketing. But if you forget to do it, your sales will suffer.


Did you achieve what you want to achieve this year?


Did you make progress toward your goal?


I made progress, and I achieved some of what I want to achieve (including a new event, which I'll announce in February). But I missed more than I'd hoped to miss. Now I have to add those goals to my 2015 goals, which means I'll have to work harder to catch up.


As artists, it's more fun to paint than it is to focus on marketing or other goals. I don't like to take out the garbage either, but there are things we simply have to do to keep the flies out of the house.


This was a giant wake-up call for me. Rarely do I miss my goals, but I allowed my system to fail me. My fault — I simply wasn't paying attention.


I'd like to encourage you to use the peaceful time over the holidays to do some dreaming, set some goals, and then break them out into small monthly, then weekly, bites. Then look at them every day, or at least every week. It will change the outcome. It's a little thing that makes a giant difference. Just don't make the mistake I did.


Because I'm on the naughty list, I'll not be receiving all the things I hoped to achieve this year. Naughty was my own fault.


Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Happy Holidays.


Eric Rhoads


PS: I'm so grateful. Thousands of artists have watched my Art Marketing Boot Camp videos and I have heard from hundreds of them that their lives have changed. It does my heart good to know that my system can help artists live their dreams. In my first video, Art Marketing Boot Camp I, explain my goal-setting system and my system for deeply discovering what you really want in your life. You can find it here. If you know an artist who wants to live the dream, give it to them for Christmas. It's life-changing.

By |2022-12-14T16:49:43-05:00December 16th, 2014|Uncategorized|5 Comments
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