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10 Things You Need to Make a Successful Art Business

How to Make a Successful Art Business


Ask 12 people what artists need to create a sustainable business model based on selling their art, you will get a dozen different answers.

Here’s what I have learned in 30 years of helping artists find the most efficient ways to get their work to market. My best advice is to do these ten things. Get them right, and you cannot fail. I believe you will find this 10 Steps How to Make Your Art Business Successful infographic helpful. CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy. Feel free to share.

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Let’s elaborate on these improving your business suggestions.

  1. Make your art captivating. You can’t bore people into buying with uninspired art. However, I can say without hesitation art may be the most subjective thing on the planet. So my mention of uninspired doesn’t matter… at all. If you can find a group of people who like your art and want to own it, then that is captivating enough to create success. The only opinions that matter are those who will buy your art. Period.
  2. Identify your ideal buyer prospects. You don’t have enough time, money or energy to market to everybody. It makes no sense. Turn that around and market only to those who offer high prospects of becoming a buyer… hopefully, a repeat customer.
  3. Get connected to your top prospects. In today’s connected world, becoming known to your found audience is easier and more affordable than ever. The available tools to make this happen are easy-to-use and low cost, too. Buyers have shown they like sourcing what they want to own directly from the source. That sentiment is a huge advantage in your favor.
  4. Build an email list. Email marketing is far and away the best tool you have to create fans and to develop patrons who you will sell your art without the interference of a third-party. A viable list of responsive subscribers is golden. It beats relying on social media, galleries, publishers and other distribution channels you don’t own or control. Plus, your messages do not have distractions and ads. It’s the closest thing you have to a one-to-one conversation.
  5. Send relevant messages. To give your marketing purpose, develop a content marketing schedule. Mix it up. Move through educate, inform, demonstrate and entertain as ways to keep your followers’ interest high.
  6. Vary marketing systems, media, and messages. Your potential buyers are everywhere. They are on mobile, desktop, social media, reading email and more. You can have variety while being consistent in how you structure your messages and how you deliver them. Find your customers where they are and meet and message them there.
  7. Encourage current buyers to purchase more art. Do this at the point-of-sale and in your follow up. Always have a CTA (Call to Action). Be bold and ask. It works. When possible, suggest upsells. “I have another piece that complements the one you bought. Can I show it to you?”
  8. Develop a referral program. Most people are incredibly helpful and kind. Many will help you just for the asking. Share something with them. A portfolio, some note cards, a mini-print. Then ask if they know others who would also like to have a similar gift. Don’t be shy. It doesn’t pay. Learn to simply say something like this, “Most of my new buyers come from referrals. I would be honored and forever grateful if you refer me to others.
  9. Add secondary sales channels. Making direct sales to your to your followers is your primary channel. Round out your sales through galleries, social media, publishers, licensors and so forth as needed. Having a solid base of buyers makes it easier for you to be selective about where else and who else will help you get your work to market.
  10. Be consistent in your art, messaging, and branding. In a room filled with art, yours should stand out as made by you. Such consistency is valued by patrons, curators, gallerists, the media and more. Likewise, stay on message with marketing materials, your published content and with your branding.

If you do these things, you cannot fail. If you observe the careers of successful artists you admire, you will find they have done these things well. Do you have to do all ten? No, of course not. But, the closer you are to doing these ten things on a steady basis, the more you improve your odds of living the life you want from operating a successful art business.

You don’t have to go it alone. There is help!

If you want guidance on how to identify your ideal buyers, get and stay connected to them, and create a marketing program to help you sell more art, join the How to Find Art Buyers Workshop. There is no other training like it anywhere. You often are able to know the names of your best potential prospects by name. This is an evergreen program that does not rely on the latest trends in social media or other things. You will use it to help you find buyers as long as you want to sell your art. LEARN MORE HERE.

How to Find Art Buyers Workshop

Join the How to Find Art Buyers Workshop. It is your best solution for long-term success.

Barney Davey

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.