Keep in mind, I’ve been screwed by Meta, and I’m experimenting. But I’ve already had my first success, so maybe the art marketing gurus don’t sell the whole enchillada.
But first, some art. I’m going to include some of my art in each post because art is the point of me doing this.
The Malala Yousafzai painting is at auction on my website at a low starting bid.
In my first week since being jilted by Meta, I already broke a rule that has been pounded into my brain since I went full time into my art gig in 2020. Everyone has been telling me I don’t charge enough for my art. And maybe I don’t. But as I charged more, I sold less. So, I did a thing.
Charging more isn’t the whole answer. We’ve got to figure out what the question is. My question at the moment is how TF can I sustain and grow my fledgling art business when Meta has just taken away my customer base? Charging more doesn’t answer that question.
This week as I was reeling from my Meta Breakup (see my first post, link at the bottom of the page), I started looking outside of the Meta trap for some artists I had followed on Instagram. Frankly, I only sold a couple of pieces of art through Instagram anyway, My main sales were through Facebook. I was mainly on Insta to follow artists.
One of the artists I really enjoy is Jose Trujillo. (There is a link on his name, just hover.) I LOVE his artwork. It’s bright, playful, and has brushwork that I adore.
Turns out Jose has stuff on several outlets including Teachable, so I took a free marketing course from him. Jose says he is making in the 6 figures, which is where I want to be. (Okay 7 or 8 figures wouldn’t hurt my feelings, but let’s start at 6.)
One of the most off-the-wall things he said was that if you need to make money, just figure out how much you can conceivably sell your art for, and sell it for that. Make it something valuable that you’re selling for less than you would ideally, in a dream world, sell it for. And honestly, that’s pretty cool, because you’re putting your art into the hands of someone who might love it but who might not be able to afford it otherwise. And they could tell their friends. And word of mouth is a good thing.
Lowballing yourself sounds totally messed up, right? Logically it seems like I should be charging more if I want to make more. But the truth is that in order to make more money you have to get your products moving into the hands of collectors. And that happens in two steps:
- Make art that people want to own
- At a price point they’ll easily pay.
The first part is not saying that the work has to be “good”. What does “good” mean, anyway? It’s completely subjective. We all like what we like, and if we like it enough to buy it, that’s good. Not “good enough”. That’s REALLY GOOD. Find somebody who wants to buy your shit, whatever it is.
Trujillo says. don’t just “put it on sale”. Leverage it for something you need to get out of it.
What do I need?
I need email subscribers. I cannot trust Facebook and Instagram. I’ve already been kicked out of them for no understandable reason. I was just starting to get leverage after 2 years in my art biz. The loss they arbitrarily caused STINKS. It takes a couple of years to get a new business to float in an ideal world, and honey, this world ain’t ideal. I was just starting to gain some traction, but I made a fatal mistake. I put my eggs in the Meta basket, and they hate Monty Python quotes. (See the first blog post for more on that. Link at end.)
I don’t want to annoy people with an email list, but I want to continue making art for a living. So, guess what? I won’t annoy them with an email list. I’ll give them something valuable for a price they’re comfortable paying.
I thought and thought about how much I could sell my paintings for that wouldn’t break the bank, and even did some math. But I didn’t feel comfortable with trying to decide what people are willing to pay. I think it was Miriah Coz who said, “Don’t look in your customer’s wallet! It’s not your business!” Granted, she said that while she was saying not to undersell yourself, but here we are.
But I knew who DOES know how much my collectors are willing to pay for my art. My collectors, and the people who will become my collectors know how much they are willing and able to pay for my art. Why not ask them?
NAME YOUR OWN PRICE
So, yesterday I posted to my Facebook account…. Wait, I didn’t tell you about that, did I? I managed to create an alternative Facebook account. I’m not confident it will last, but at this moment, as I write this, I have a new Facebook account.
So, yesterday I posted to my new baby Facebook account that is sitting on a razor thin tightrope, that if people would sign up for my email list, I would do an 8×10 painting commission for them that I would normally sell for $250, and they could name their own price, plus shipping. I created a cutoff of about 36 hours. I told them why I was doing it, and told them that they could unsubscribe at any time. Complete transparency.
I got 31 email subscribers before the time was up. Yes, I realize that means I have 31 paintings to do, but YAY. I love painting.
The first person not only offered to pay the full price, they went ahead and actually paid the full price. Boom. So, I made a solid sale, I have 30 other people lined up, and even if some can only do $0, I’ll be in good shape. Because now, along with the 48 wonderful collectors I already had on my email list, I now have 31 more. And some of those have referred me to their friends, so those are more potential collectors.
I now have a tool I know I can use occasionally when I need subscribers. I won’t use it often. It would not work if I were busting this routine out every month.
So there’s the first step on my recovery from Meta products. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what happens next.
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