THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well hey there it’s Miriam Schulman, Chief Inspiration Officer and Host of the Inspiration Place podcast. I want to give a shout out to my new listeners over in Nigeria. Welcome, I am so grateful that you’re here. You’re listening to episode number 138.
Today’s show is about the five most common mistakes I see artists making when it comes to selling their art. In this episode, you’ll discover why your success isn’t measured by your social media following. And what’s really going to move the needle when it comes to sales so that you can ditch TikTok, Clubhouse, and whatever they come up with next year and get more of your studio time back.
Plus we’re going to dive deep into what’s really sabotaging your sales. And often it’s not what you think. Before we dive in I want to check out your art and here’s how, send me a direct message over on Instagram, I’m @schulmanart, S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T, and let me know that you’re listening to episode 138 of the podcast. I’d love to hear from you. And when you message me that way I can check out your amazing artwork. Okay, so let’s move on with the show.
So if you want to sell more of your art and be well paid, whether you’ve been trying to sell your art for months or years, this is for you. Whether you’ve never gained serious traction that inspires you to keep going, or maybe you’re just starting out, or maybe you had success in the past but what used to work no longer works, or maybe it still works but it doesn’t bring in as much as you want it brings in trickle sales, or maybe you feel like you’re falling behind you don’t know what the current strategies are, any of these things. Basically the bottom line is if you’re not making this sales you want, that’s what this episode is about.
You’re watching other artists look like they’re doing it so easily because maybe your in-person events and those other opportunities have dried up. You feel like now you’re spending all your time on social media, talking to your phone instead of making art. Sound familiar? I get it. It’s easy to fall into that trap because there are so many experts out there telling you that you need an audience to sell your art online and that is true. You do need an audience, they’re right, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. And that’s what we’re talking about today, what you might be doing wrong and what you should do instead.
To have a successful business, and by the way this is true not just of art businesses, this is true really of any successful business there are five foundations. They all coincidentally happen to start with the letter P. But they’re, what are you producing? What’s your production? What are you pricing it at? I call that your profit plan. How are you finding customers? I call that prospecting. How are you promoting to them? That’s your promotion plan and your productivity. Production, profit, prospecting, promotion, productivity. If you’re struggling it’s because you have a problem with those areas and sometimes more than one of those areas.
You may not know which area the problem with. And sometimes what happens is you think you have a problem with one area when really the other area that’s the real problem. So that’s why I want to share five of the most common mistakes I see, break them down for you and show you why it’s a problem.
So mistake number one comes from the production problem. And most commonly, I see this show up as spending too much time on low profit art. Now that could be that it takes you too long to create art that other artists make, and so that you can’t charge as much as what you’re spending your time on, but more often than not it’s because of the type of art that you’re choosing. So what do I mean by that? Perhaps you’re putting a hand painted portrait of a dog on a onesie. That would be an example of something where you’re limiting yourself to how much you might be able to charge for that product because of the substrate you’re using, or the thing that it actually is going to be.
Often time, artists who have this problem don’t recognize says that it is a production problem, that the problem is what they’re producing. And they think their problem is that they don’t have enough traffic, or they don’t have enough customers. But the real problem is they’re trying to sell cheap things at a volume.
So how do you know if you have this problem? One sign is that most of your art is under $500. And by the way, I’m using the word art very broadly. So your art doesn’t have to be a painting. It’s really whatever your creative product is. But if you’re selling things under 500 or really under 100 or $50. And then I’ve had people come to me who are spending a lot of time doing things like handmade cards that are $5 each, that’s definitely a production problem, because if you want to make $50,000 a year, and you’re selling things that are only $5, you have to find 10,000 customers that becomes too much of an obstacle. So you think, “Well, if I only could find that kind of audience that will solve my problem.” But really it’s much easier to fix what you’re producing.
People who have this problem, artists who have this problem, they think they have a prospecting problem and need a bigger audience, but really you have a production problem because you’re selling low profit art.
That is exactly where I was about a year and a half ago. I was doing textiles. I was doing illustrations. I was doing fiber art. I was also doing landscapes painting. I was doing everything and I was supplying everybody with anything and everything that they needed, because if they wanted something, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I better make it for them. Because that’s given me money.” And it was only when I decided to pick one thing. It had been calling and my God for a long, long time, just painting, painting, painting, and painting big was just coming, coming. And I didn’t even know what I was going to be painting at this stage, but I knew I had to get rid of the textiles and the sewing. It was all [fittery 00:07:32] and small, and there was no profit. I had been doing this for literally seven or eight years and haven’t made a profit.
And it was only when I started focusing on abstract art, had never done it before. So it took about a year to kind of get myself going and get better at it. And then once I started just posting abstract art and just doing that one thing, everything changed within about two or three months, I just knew. And that’s why I always tell people, “Just focus on one thing, be that thing.” People just respect, painting so much more than when I was doing little tiny craft things that people put on their shelves. Now they’re paying 2000 pounds for a painting that takes maybe twice as long to make. The the prophet is just immense.
All right, mistake. Number two, you have a profit problem. The problem with that pricing or profit era. Now you might call this a pricing problem. This most commonly shows up as artists who are afraid to charge more. Now your reasons for not charging more may sound good to you, but really it’s your fear that is driving the bus on this. Your fear is showing up as a doubt.
Now, as humans, we’ve evolved to let fear run the show because anytime we feel uncomfortable, whether that’s leaving the cave, or raising your prices, or asking more for your art, whatever that is, if you have a fear and you feel uncomfortable, your smart brain is going to come up with all kinds of reasons why you shouldn’t do that uncomfortable, scary thing. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between leaving the cave and getting eaten by a tiger and raising your prices and you’re afraid somebody may not buy from you because you have a higher price.
Now, artists with this problem think that low priced art is easier to sell, but the truth is that high end art collectors will think something is wrong with art that is under-priced.
I remember at the beginning of the show, I said, “This isn’t just true for art. This is true for all businesses. It’s not necessarily easier to sell cheap things.” I’m going to give you an example of this. So myth, artists believe that cheaper is easier to sell. The fact is price isn’t always the deciding factor and conversion rates can be high with high price things.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say, I told you, “Hey, would you like to buy a Rolex watch it’s only $49.50.” What would you say to me? I don’t think I could find anybody to buy a Rolex watch for $49.50. Why? Because you’re going to assume it’s a fake and it’s a waste of money to spend $49. So you probably would not invest in a Rolex watch unless it was priced at least for $4,000. I actually don’t know what the market is for Rolex’s but I know it’s not $49.
Now there are other times in your life where you are also less price sensitive. Let me give you an example. You can hire a babysitter, one babysitter’s $10 an hour. The other one is $25 an hour. Do you know based on price, which babysitter you’re going to pick? Let me give you a little more information. The $10 an hour babysitter is 12 years old and the $25 an hour babysitter is Mary Poppins. Which one are you going to pick now? What if I told you Mary Poppins was $50 an hour? You might even want to pay that. I mean, I know I would pay for Mary Poppins to babysit my kids when they were little.
So there’re many times where you’re not going to be as price sensitive. And what people are really looking for is not the cheapest price. They’re looking for the best value. I’m going to give you one more example. Not everybody likes expensive watches. Not everybody has hired babysitters, but many of you might have had a pet who were sick. What if I told you, or what if you told me Miriam, “The vet is going to charge me $250 to do…” No, let’s make it higher. Let’s make it, whatever, something more than what a vet was going to charge “$700 to do surgery on Cocoa.” And what if I said to you, “I know a guy who will do the same surgery for 100 bucks.” would you do it? Probably not. You probably would go with the vet, even though he’s $700 because you trust him or her.
So there’re many times where we spend more money when we trust, when it’s a better value, when we know that it’s worth it, when it’s luxury and the lower price is going to turn us off. This is something that is known as reassuringly expensive. Art collectors are luxury buyers and they want art that is reassuringly expensive.
All right, so this falls into the pricing/profit problem. How do you know if you have this problem? If you said to yourself, any of these low profit thoughts, these are all low profit thoughts. “No one buys are in my town at those prices.” “I’m just starting out.” “I can’t charge my friends or my coworkers or my family.” Or maybe you’ve said, “No one is buying art right now. It’s a pandemic.” Those are all low profit thoughts.
How do you fix this? Start charging fair market value for your art. And more importantly, overcome pricing drama. That’s something that I work with clients inside my artists incubator. Sean Ronnie, who is a coach inside my program, spends a lot of time helping my clients overcome their money mindset blocks and overcome pricing drama.
The sessions with Sean Ronnie were powerful because I think in order to manage a good business, you also have to have the right mindset. I’ve been able to get myself out there more, which means selling my art. And I have an email list, which means writing emails and in turn selling more art. I doubled my prices. I’ve changed a lot. I don’t know if you remember that first call with me, but I was so unsure of myself. I questioned whether I should get things out there. I’m stronger. And I believe in myself more. And I can talk about myself more and talk about my art with no apologies. I know my worth as an artist.
Mistake number three, a problem with your prospecting. It’s how you find new collectors and customers, and this commonly shows up as treating Instagram like a sales catalog.
Now Instagram is a great place to find new art collectors, but it’s for connection and prospecting, not so good for selling. Usually artists who have this problem think they don’t have a big enough audience, or they don’t know how to sell on Instagram, but that’s not the problem.
How do you know if you have this problem? Your Instagram is salesy and not social. You get very few comments on your posts. You think you just need more followers. Or here’s a big sign, you’re making less than $50,000 a year even if you have a lot of followers. I had somebody apply to my incubator recently who had 50,000 followers on their Instagram and they were making less than 20,000 a year.
How else do you know if you have this problem? You don’t have an email list, your email list is less than 500 subscribers, or you have an email list and you don’t use it. Artists with this problem think they have a promotion problem when really they have a prospecting problem. And the fix is to move prospects from Instagram to your email list.
I learned in the program that social media is not necessarily the best way to grow an audience or to make sales with art and that really, you should be focusing on trying to make more personal connections either through in person or through email. So there’s a lot of people just scrolling through Instagram and you can have a big following there and not necessarily get the sales you’re looking for.
She taught us about my Google business. I was setting that up and decided to ask people for reviews, and I actually asked someone for review and they ended up buying three more paintings from me as a result. It’s okay to reach out and introduce yourself to either different media outlets or just different people around town. And that a lot of people are going to find you and your work really great. So it’s good to allow yourself to be seen.
Mistake number four is a promotion problem. I commonly see this as artists who are afraid to sell. Now, actually the truth is many artists do know when they have this problem, but sometimes they may think the problem is also the economy, or the pandemic, or they can’t sell in person. But the truth is many artists are selling even during the pandemic. The myth is artists believe that they don’t have a big enough audience, but the fact is the better you are at promoting the less people you need. So the fix is put in place time tested, predictable selling systems that work.
Here’s some results I want to share. In November 2020, which was during our pandemic year, every artist inside the Artist Incubator who used my Black Friday sequence sold art, including UK clients.
I’m connected with you day and night. I’m thinking of you. I hear your voice and I’m listening too. I’m nervous because there are so many things I could get from you and I don’t know how to do it. I mean, I really appreciate it from all my heart. Really, I wanted to tell you, you’re amazing. I met so many coaches, but you are amazing.
Mistake number five, productivity problem. This most commonly looks like indulging in [inaudible 00:18:37]. Artists who have this problem usually think they don’t have enough time. The fix focus only on what’s important and eliminate what doesn’t work.
Before I started, I guess I was just all over the place. I had not much of a direction. It helped me kind of stop and focus on one thing at a time, even if I have like a thousand things going on. The email list was the biggest help because it really just exploded. It went from 60 people to over 600 in less than a month and I still get subscribers.
All right. So we’re about to wrap up. What do all five of these mistakes problems have in common? Focusing on the wrong fix. Now there’s a right way and a wrong way to grow your audience and make sales, especially for someone who’d rather be in the studio, creating. Spending all day creating hashtags on Instagram isn’t what’s going to get you what you want yet I see so many artists making these same mistakes over and over again. And if it’s you, don’t worry, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault. There’s so much bad information out there about this.
Truly there’s only five plans that you need, production, profit, prospecting, promotion, and productivity. And the Artist Incubator curriculum covers all of it. So whether you’re ready to join me inside the self study program or work with me on a deeper level with the Artist Incubator Mastermind, I’d love to help you.
If you’re lacking a plan or a solid strategy to execute these plans, that’s what you’ll learn inside the Artist Incubator. If you’ve been enjoying the breadcrumbs that I share on this podcast, come enjoy the whole slice, the whole loaf.
The Mastermind is by application. If you’re not quite ready for yet, I’ll send you information about self study or a program that’s best suited for your needs. To learn more, go schulmanart.com/biz, as in the letter B, letter I letter Z and that’s where you can find the button that links to the application.
All right my friend, next week, we have a special Mother’s Day episode. I invited my friend the one and only Leanne Kim and trust me, you’re not going to want to miss it. So make sure you hit subscribe or follow in your podcast app.
Also, don’t forget. I’d love to check out your artwork. Send me a DM over on Instagram. I’m @schulmanart, S-C-H-U-L-M-A-N-A-R-T, over there. Let me know what you liked about the show. I’d love to hear from you.
All right my passion maker, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.
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