This post is an excerpt from The Arts Business Institute’s popular e-course “Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople.”
Most artists are inspired to create art which is very meaningful to them and that they enjoy making. But that doesn’t mean that anyone will want to buy it. This then becomes a reality check.
Customers buy what interests them. If what they want to buy doesn’t coincide with what you are making, obviously sales will be lacking. The ideal situation is to love what you are making, with customers who are eager to buy from you. If that’s not the case, you must adapt and conform your product line to meet demand in order to increase sales.
Is it “selling out”?
Some artists feel they would be “selling out” by tailoring their line to what they think will sell rather than what inspires them and makes them happy. That is totally understandable. If you aren’t producing work that inspires you and makes you happy, there is little point in doing it. If you connect with an audience, they will expect consistency in your work, which means that you will need to keep using the same signature style. This can be frustrating.
How do artists resolve this?
- Create more than one collection so that you can work in different styles
- Schedule time in your studio where you can work on solely what inspires you, not what you make in your production line
- Work on product development, blending in new ideas with your existing look
Why do products sell?
Customers purchase art for emotional reasons. Knowing this, artists and craftspeople should be very aware that their product line will sell best if they make an emotional connection with their potential customers.
Making an emotional connection can help you:
- increase customer loyalty
- get more repeat sales
- charge more for your work
5 ways to make an emotional connection:
1. Tell your story. Skillfully create a compelling narrative about yourself and your work in a way that relates to how others feel and what they value.
2. Partner with a cause that is important to your customer. “Cause Marketing” is a great way to make a feel-good sale that might give your product priority over your competition. There is a section on this concept later in the course.
3. Use a photo of yourself on your website and in communications. It helps people feel that they know you, and helps you become recognizable to them.
4. Smart packaging. Your packaging tells a lot about your product. If you make a luxury item, how could you design your packaging to convey this? What images or information would you use for a spiritually-inspired object? A humorous one?
5. Talk about the benefits of your product in your marketing, and how they will make your customers feel.
Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople is a 133-page online course with comprehensive information about developing collections, pricing, building your brand, traditional and new ways of marketing. Chapters on Social Media, Networking Strategies, Getting Publicity, Working with Reps and much more. Self-evaluations, templates and six videos on many topics important for artists who want to launch or grow their small businesses. Find out more about this course here.