The Secret of Successful Artists

Tips - The Secret of Successful Artists by Linda Rosso

It isn't just about talent, or production. It's about organization. 
Don't fall into the trap of fearing marketing. A marketing plan is simply a way to organize all the activities you do (or want to do) to connect you and your art to potential collectors.

Do you need one? Yes. It will help keep you focused.

Does it need to be more than a page? No. Well…maybe a few pages.

What should it include? 
Marketing textbooks outline four fundamentals: product, pricing, distribution and promotion. In plain English this means: what you are selling; at what price; where you will sell it and; how you will promote it.

Your product is you and your art – your reputation, your style – or in marketing terms, your brand. The essence of this should be in your Artist’s Statement, distilled to a short phrase. As in Monet, the Impressionist. Edgar Payne, painter of the American West. Or Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light. (You get the idea.)

Your pricing is based on factors including experience, size, competitive analysis and demand. Write down your prices. You can revise and update them on an annual basis.

The most detailed part of your marketing plan should focus primarily on distribution and promotion. Carefully identify your target audience, because the strategies for reaching them can be very different.  

Your distribution strategy is based upon where your potential collectors are likely to be looking for art. Typically, you will strive for a mix of channels: retail and/ or gallery representation and open studio/direct sales and perhaps licensing. Marketing channels can be physical bricks-and-mortar locations or online. 

Tips - The Secret of Successful Artists by Linda Rosso
Promotion is showing and telling your story to the audience you want to reach. Utilize marketing tactics such as: postcards to announce Open Studios to collectors; a blog about your process for students; a press release about an exhibit opening to reach local newspaper readers; a Facebook business page to share images of your art. 

The final part of your marketing plan should be measurable goals of what you hope to accomplish in each category. Use real numbers, and real dates. Last year, I set a goal to double the number of paintings sold and to double the income of my art business over the previous year. It was a huge stretch*, and the net effect was it kept me focused on making art. 

Here is a simple, sample marketing plan you can use as a basis to create your own.
- John Artist, Plein Air Watercolorist of Coastal Maine

- $2.00 per square inch, unframed           

Target Audience:     
- Second home-owners, boat-owners and vacationers in New England
- Primarily couples, aged 35-65

- ABC Marine Art Gallery for large works
- XYZ Hotel and Resort for small works
- Area gift shops for notecards and prints
- Personal website for commissions
Summer’s End Open Studio Sale

- Advertising in Coastal Maine visitors guide
- Free postcards in XYZ Hotel and Resort guest rooms
- Letters to home decorators specializing in vacation home market
- Display paintings at high-end home furnishing stores
- Exhibit at marina restaurant
- Exhibit at yacht club
- Social media: Facebook, Pinterest
- Thank you notes to all collectors

- Increase e-mail/mailing list of potential collectors by 250 by October
- Get 5 commissions to work on during next winter
- Meet with 5 decorators to show portfolio
- Get commitments to exhibit at yacht club and marina restaurant
- Pinterest boards to follow decorators and pin my images weekly
- Create a Facebook Business Page by February
 -Sell 50 paintings by year-end
Be realistic. Or stretch a little. Go big, and if it scares you, scale back your goals. The important thing is to make the commitment to write down your plan. You don't have to share it with anyone, and you will have a personal scorecard to measure how well you are doing in marketing your art. 

Good luck! If you have questions, leave them in the comments.

*I met my goal for the last year and my current goals include: create more art (product), diversify my distribution (add Open Studios to the mix) and create a regular schedule of promotions.

Linda Rosso
Linda Rosso
Artist and Marketer, Linda has found the sweet spot between stuff she loves to do, stuff she’s good at and stuff someone will pay her to do. You can find her marketing help here: and her art here:         READ MORE

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