TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 147 The Belief Triad For Selling Art with Miriam Schulman


Miriam Schulman:

Well, hey there, it’s Miriam Schulman, your host of The Inspiration Place podcast. You’re listening to episode number 147. I am so grateful that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about the belief triad, which are the three main areas you need to believe in, in order to sell more of anything, including art. So in this episode, you’ll discover why in order to sell your art, you got to be sold on yourself, why you must love your art hard, and finally, and this is something people don’t talk about enough, why you must also be thinking positive thoughts about your customers. So let’s dive in. The belief triad makes up three areas. You, the creative or artist, your art or your product, and the third area is your customer. Now your thoughts and beliefs are going to create positive or negative emotions that will positively or negatively impact your results. Now, whenever you are selling your art, you have to have full belief in all three.

Now you’ve heard before you must believe in yourself. You’ve heard you must believe in your art, but you also must believe in your customer, the art collector. I want to review first, what it means to believe in yourself. So Grant Cardone said, “You got to be sold on yourself. You got to believe in yourself. You have to be buying yourself.” So what this means is you have to sell yourself on you before you can sell anyone else on you. That’s something that your mother might’ve told you, you might’ve heard it with dating advice, you have to love yourself before anyone else will. Well, it’s true also in business. If you don’t do the job of believing in yourself, no one else is going to do that job for you. You can’t even ask them to do something you are unwilling to do. If you are unwilling to believe in yourself, you can’t ask other people to do it. Not your partner, not your mother, not your best friends and definitely not your client or your art collector or the prospects on your email list.

So many of you aren’t sold on you and that’s why you’re not taking action. If you don’t believe with all your heart, that your effort is worth it, you’re not going to take the action to move forward. It’s why you’re confused. It’s why you can’t let go of the safety and the normality of your current life, even though you say you want something else, you’re holding on so tightly to where you are right now. It might also be why you haven’t decided what medium or genre to focus on or what your pricing will be. When you don’t believe in yourself and you’re confused and insecure, you don’t take action and your current life seems so important and you feel afraid of giving that up, but here’s the truth, my friend.

If you want to be a butterfly, you have to stop acting like a caterpillar. Now, what happens when we take action is that we have been raised and socialized to look for external reinforcement. What do I mean by that? As we’re growing up, when we were in school, if we did something well, we got good grades, but now that we’re outside of school, we have to keep showing up with confidence and asking for what we want and take action even when there’s no success yet. I went through this actually very recently when I was looking for a literary agent. So indulge me for a moment I’m going to tell you about that story. So as many of you know, I’m writing a book. I had so much self-doubt and fear and overwhelm and, “I don’t know,” energy because I’ve never done this before. So I definitely had the beginner’s mindset that many of you might experience yourself when trying to sell your art.

You’ve never done this before. You don’t know what to do. So I was in that same mindset as well. So here is how I got through it and then I’m also going to share some bumps I’ve had along the way, because I’m not superhuman. But what I would do is every day I would take out this very small journal and by small, I’m talking about two inches wide by about four inches tall. Basically, it just fit in my purse and every day I wrote down my goals and my big goal for 2021 is to get a publishing contract. I also knew that a milestone in that goal was first getting a literary agent. The literary agent sells your book proposal to the publisher. So you need to get that first. In order to get a literary agent, I sent out 10 queries. A query is just a fancy name for a cover letter. That’s the name they use in the publishing world.

So I sent that out to 10 agents. This is in January, January this year and about half of them said no to me right away. By the way, most of them just ignore you, which is really a shame because I like to teach my students to make people say no to you, but the literature agency actually post on their websites, “If you don’t hear from us, it means no.” That wasn’t even true because out of those five people who ignored me, I did get two responses four months later, like in May, so four months after I contacted them. I’ll tell you about those two in a moment. But in that initial batch of 10, there were actually only about two to three that I really wanted to work with and not that they were better than the other ones.

I was more or less neutral about the other ones. It’s not that anything was wrong with them. I just wasn’t familiar with the authors that those agents had worked with already and I recognize names on the other list. So there was one or two that I really wanted to work with. In the first week, actually one of the top, my top choices came to me and asked to see my book proposal. We’re going to call her Agent M because it sounds James Bondish and I’ve always wanted to say that, but after we spoke, it’s not like she said to me, “I want to work with you.” She just said, “Here’s what’s wrong with your book proposal,” and I wasn’t completely sure she was committed. I wasn’t even confident I’d be able to change the proposal to make her happy.

So she didn’t extend a formal offer of representation. She just asked me, “Revise the proposal, send it back.” She wanted less of my story, less inspiration, and more practical stuff in it. I was very nervous during that phone call in that I felt as though I rushed her off of the phone and I was worried I even gave her the idea that I didn’t want to work with her because I was like, “Okay, all right, fine.” I got her off the phone. It was so uncomfortable. Around the same time, one of the other agents I really wanted to work with, let’s call her K, sent me a rejection. But instead of just sending the typical, “Oh, I don’t think you’re a good fit.” She actually shared why and she pretty much said the same thing Agent M did. She said, “Oh, well, I just wish you hadn’t saved the practical stuff for the end of the book.”

So with that very actually informative rejection, as well as what Agent M had told me, I was able to take their feedback and rewrite it. But at any of these times, there were so many times where I really felt like, “Oh my gosh, I have no idea what I’m doing. Is it even worth bothering?” I did revise it and I did send it back to Agent M and while I was waiting for her, I found another agent I wanted to work with, and I sent her the query as well and she also quickly responded that she wanted to read the proposal. So I sent it to her and I spent the weekend fantasizing about working with this new agent. I was like reading all her blog posts and watching her YouTube videos and imagining how thrilled she should be to work with me.

So I became very attached to working with that one agent. A few days later, when I’m sitting in the hairdresser, checking my email, I was getting my hair dyed, this new agent rejected me. I was crushed because I was so attached to the idea of working with her. I didn’t know if the other agent wanted to represent me. I thought I had blown it and this rejection, it wasn’t just, “Oh, I’ll pass,” and she didn’t tell me what was wrong with the book. She just said, “I’m not enthusiastic about representing you,” which I took very personally. Que the depressing music.

Now what I want you to understand and what this means to you, why I’m sharing this specific story is there’s so many times when I see my artist clients inside the Incubator become attached to selling a piece of artwork to one client in particular. They fantasize that one client buying this artwork. What are the exact words I need to say to convince him to buy this artwork? When you hear the, “No,” you don’t think about all the other infinite possibilities, the limitless possibilities and if that’s not your story, just think about times you’ve gotten attached to getting into maybe a gallery or a college or a romantic partner. You get stuck on the idea of that. So what it means to believe in yourself, it’s not about attaching to a specific outcome. It’s about believing that there is the perfect person for you or the perfect gallery for you, or in my case, the perfect agent for me, it’s not about that agent.

I got a lot of nos while trying to find my agent and a lot of agents ignoring me. In that particular moment, I was indulging in catastrophic thinking, “Because this agent said, ‘No,’ nobody’s going to want to work with me. I have to start all over. I have to rewrite my proposal from scratch. I have no idea what I’m doing and now I have to find a new batch of agents.’ Meanwhile, all that negative drama was for nothing because before I finished getting my hair blown out, there was another email waiting for me and it was from Agent M and she said, “Oh, actually I do want to represent you if you’re still interested.” What’s important for you to understand is that actually Agent M, the agent who actually is my agent, who I ended up working with, she actually might’ve said, “No.” I might have succumbed to the thinking that I don’t know what I’m doing and I might as well give up because I only needed that one yes.

If I had made all those initial nos mean that my book was no good or take it a sign to give up, that wouldn’t have been true. Meanwhile, remember I told you, there were two agents who reached out to me four months later. One of them also offered me representation. Actually, another one said, “No,” but by then, I didn’t care because I already had a book deal. There was actually another yes out there for me. So if I had never sent my query to my agent and somehow her name had never come on my list, there was somebody else and if this person wasn’t there, or if I didn’t know about her, there was somebody out there for me. What’s important for you to know is you have to continue to take inspired action even when the evidence seems to say that it’s not working.

You have to love your art so hard and believe so hard to come from this place that the would miss out if they don’t take you up on what you’re offering. You have to take massive committed action consistently, even when there’s no positive reinforcement and you may even be getting negative signs, whether that’s sending out emails to your email list and no one’s replying, or maybe in my case, if my agent was not in my initial batch of reach-outs, I could have gotten 10 nos before I heard the first maybe, or yes. I wouldn’t know that there was a yes out there, but if you are committed to taking inspired action, when you believe in yourself, when you believe in your product, whatever your product is, product can be your art, product can be your writing, product can be your services, product can be your new online course.

You keep taking action and you believe in your customer. In this case, for me, it was an agent. You keep taking action and you keep tweaking the process of how you’re asking until you have a match. It’s just like job searching or looking for a romantic partner, or even trying to lose weight. There may be many times during these sorts of journeys when you think you’re doing all the right things, and maybe you are doing all the right things, but you’re not getting the results. Your body isn’t changing, the scale isn’t budging. You haven’t met your true love. I know we’ve all been raised that if we do the hard work, we’ll get an A+ but once you leave school and you’re doing these other things, it’s very easy to give up and say, “It’s not worth it.”

So when you’re thinking about what are the actions you need to take in the face of rejection and resistance in order to learn to keep moving forward, how long am I going to have to do it? How am I going to measure it? How am I going to keep moving forward and keep being excited and keep pushing forward even when it hurts? No matter how long it takes, no matter how many nos, no matter how much failure. That is commitment and I don’t mean it in a desperate graspy way, but you can be committed in a calm and sure way, especially when you feel confident in what you have to offer. You don’t feel bad for you about them saying, “No.” You feel bad for them because they missed out. By the way, that’s exactly how I feel when I’m interviewing people for the Artist Incubator.

If somebody says no to me, I know it’s because I didn’t explain it well enough because my program’s amazing. I know if they understood how valuable it is, there’s just no way anyone’s going to say no and when they do, I just think they’re crazy. That’s how hard I believe in the value of my program. That leads us to belief number two.

So belief number one is believing in yourself. Belief number two is believing in your art. Now for us artists, our art is so personal that often that gets wrapped up in number one. Now I want you to substitute whatever it is you create here. Your art could be your writing, your music, your painting, your dance, your consulting practice. Your art is whatever you are putting all your creativity into. Someone from college, she’s not in college, someone I went to college with recently asked me the other day, “How much time do you spend on your art? Because you’re doing so much.” I told her, “It’s all my art. Writing is my art. My podcast is my art. Coaching is my art. My life is a work of art.” Now, when you have 100% belief in your art and yourself as an artist, that means you are thinking positive thoughts about yourself and positive thoughts about your art. You aren’t thinking negatively about yourself or your art. That is a review of one and two.

Now part three is so critical and people don’t talk about it enough. Part one of the belief triad is belief in you. Part two is belief in your art. Part three is belief in your client or your art collector or your customer or your reader, or an agent, whoever that is. But what I hear from so many artists, they’re so sold, not on themselves, not on their art, not on their client. They’re sold on their stories more than they are on believing in themselves, their art or their customer. I want to just share a few stories I’ve heard lately. I’ll share kind of specifically, not giving away any names of course, but I want you to know these stories, versions of these stories, different flavors of these stories, they pop up over and over again.

Same story, different flavor. Here’s an example. No one buys art in Australia. There are too many artists in Australia. It’s too competitive. Often I also hear stories that contradict themselves. What I would suggest you do is to write down your story and see if you’re doing it as well. So here is an example of a story that contradicted itself. This one came from an artist I spoke to recently. She shared with me, “Everyone moves down to Florida from New York. People in Florida are cheap and looking for a bargain. People in Florida don’t appreciate art the way they do in New York.” Wait, what? You just told me everyone moves down to Florida from New York and then she told me people in Florida don’t appreciate art the way they do in New York. Just so you know, I’ve heard versions of the same story many times.

No one buys art in my town. No one pays for art in my town. No one wants art in my town. Yet, I can find evidence from both my artist clients and my own experience that art is sold all over the world. Yes, even in Florida. Yes, even in Australia. Yes, even in Indiana. Yes, in whatever state or country you live in and with art available to be purchased online, what does it matter where you live anyway? So when you believe in your art collector, that means you are thinking positively about your art collector. Again, substitute customer for art collector. This works for selling anything, including art, even coaching. So what does belief in your collector look like? What does belief in your customer look like? First, let’s talk about what it doesn’t look like. Here are negative thoughts about your customers that will absolutely sabotage your results.

They don’t want to pay. They don’t have the money. They don’t like my art. They don’t like me and I bet you have a lot of other ideas. Now, when you don’t believe in your client, your collector or your customer, guess what? It actually feels really icky to them. I’ve had this happen to me so I know, but I want to share with you a very famous example. I hope you’ve seen the movie Pretty Woman. If you haven’t, it is a must see. Julia Roberts plays a hooker and Richard Gere has decided that she would be his stand in for an escort because he needs and by escort, I don’t mean in the prostitute way. He needs a companion to take to all these social events. He dresses her up Cinderella-style, he hands her the credit cards and said, “Go shopping on Rodeo Drive, buy whatever you want.”

Makes it clear, money’s no object, just buy whatever you need. She goes into a boutique but nobody will wait on her. They’re so rude. They basically asked her to leave the store. So she comes back the next day after having bought in many other stores, except for that one on Rodeo Drive and lets the salespeople know, “Yeah, you work on commission, right?” Big mistake. It’s a great example of what not believing in your customer looks like and what it can cost you. So don’t be judgy. Don’t prejudge your customers. Think positive thoughts about your art collector. They want to collect art. They want to collect art now. They love your art. They’re willing to pay you for your art. They want to work with you if it’s a commission, a composition, a manuscript, a mural, or some other collaborative artistic project. My Artist Incubator clients, by the way, not only do they learn what to put in those emails, what to say, how to build an online class, all the things, but they also get help through a life coach.

Shaun Roney meets with all members, both self-study and mastermind members, right now it’s twice a month. So if you’re struggling in thinking positively about you, your art or your customers, and you want to unpack some of these stories, this is what we do inside the Incubator. That is what really fuels the success of my clients, learning to have a complete belief inventory, themselves, their art and their collectors. You can see if you qualify for my mastermind. As of this recording, there are two spots. One of them could be yours, head on over to, As in B-I-Z.

Now, if what you’re lacking is belief in your pricing, then I wanted to make sure you knew about my new Inspired Art Pricing Workshop, which you can check out at If you want to raise your prices, but are afraid it will hurt sales or perhaps you’re just starting out and you have no idea what to price your art, or maybe you feel your prices are right, but you’re not seeing the sales you want or you’re worried if you raise your prices, your sales will plateau. You probably have a pricing problem and pricing drama that goes along with it. So in this workshop, you’ll learn the secret pricing psychology that attracts high-end art collectors. You’ll learn what your prices say about your art and how to send the right message by choosing the right number, how to strategically price your prints, paintings, and you’ll also discover my three go-to marketing techniques that create a buying frenzy for your art every single time.

Finally, why selling art at premium prices actually leads to more consistent art sales, not the other way around. So if you want to confidently sell more art using this proven art pricing formula, you’ll want to check out And for a limited time, you can even get it at 70% off, I’ve included that in the show notes, which you can find over at

Don’t forget, if you liked this episode, I would love a review over on Apple Podcasts, but we’ve made it really much easier for you to leave a review. If you pop on over to and if you pop your Instagram handle at the end of the review, I’ll even give you a shout-out on my IG stories. Okay, my art lover, thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.

Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram @schulmanart and, of course, on


Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!