Artist SEO blog

The New Artists Marketing System: making the sale

(Links to the previous two videos are below, but if you would like to see my offer to help, here’s the final video )


I speak with artists every day and it’s always like an impossible dream that all their work sells. We’re so conditioned into thinking it’s hard to sell your art.

Well, the New Artist Marketing System gives you a way to step into that future.

Now, I’m not saying you’re guaranteed to sell out. There’s a lot of you in the mix. If you’ve decided that dentists need slasher movie fan art in their waiting room, I’m not convinced my system would overcome the issues there.

But if there’s a market that wants what you do, this system can get you in front of those people, give them the opportunity to discover and get to know you, and if they are ready, they can find you and buy your art.

That last part, that’s the subject of this video, how we turn people into buyers.

This is the third video of a series.

In the first video I talked about how to find and communicate with your audience, and in the second video I showed you how to move them from never having heard of you to become warm prospects.

So here we are with a hundred or a thousand warm prospects, people who like what you do but they haven’t bought anything yet, and we want to sell some art.

Just as an aside, let me tackle one issue.

Let’s imagine you sell your paintings for £1,000, and you’ve costed it that over the year, perhaps £100 of that is materials and you’re getting maybe £20 per hour and you’re kinda happy with that, just so long as people buy your paintings. And the issue is, there are a few that don’t sell, so inventory is stacking up and you can’t get to the wardrobe any more. But also it’s a real faff, not so much to post to Instagram every day, but to think of what to post and what to write and by the time you’ve done that creative work for Instagram you arrive at the easel .. drained of that top level of energy. It feels like you’re creating .. again. Where obviously it would be great just to arrive at the easel ready to rock with everything on full power and with total concentration.

That’s the essence of the New Artist Marketing System. Of course, you do have to visit it every now and then just to renew things, but it’s like posting once or twice a month rather than the social media treadmill we’ve gotten used to. After that bit of maintenance, your days are free. Well, you’ll have to post people their purchases, of course.

“But Instagram is free, and ads cost money.” Here’s how to think about that.

First of all, how much your ads will cost depends on a lot of things. So I’ll just make up an example, and we’ll go from there.

Let’s say you spend half an hour a day on Instagram. That’s 15 hours a month. There’s probably another painting in you for that. Or at £20 an hour, that’s ‘costing’ you £300 a month.

But anyway, so you’re painting something every week and charging £1,000 on average. One way to look at it is .. all that energy you use keeping up with social media, maybe you’d be better off spending that on your art. And maybe that either allows you to make better art, or perhaps you create more art you could sell. So your turnover rises.

Plus, if you discover this system and it allows you to sell more or less all your art, I would say it’s time to put up your prices. So again, your turnover rises. You earn more for the same effort.

The final point is .. in every product you buy .. cars, cakes, clothes, some percentage of what you pay is their marketing. You’re paying for their marketing. Art should be no different.

So if you were selling for £1,000, would it be the end of the world if you charged £1,100 instead and that £100 covered your ad costs? Just to be clear, I’ve no idea what your ad cost figure would be, it could be less or more, it’s different for everyone. I’m presently running a video ad to get people to join my mailing list so they can watch these three videos so they can get to know, like and trust me, and it’s costing me £2.09 per sign up. Perhaps obviously, I’ll have something you can buy to make all this real for you in the next video, so I’ll find out later if those people (hi those people) convert into clients.

But anyway, the cost of marketing is in the cost of the product, that’s how it all works. You’re not paying anything out of your own pocket, the buyer pays for your marketing.

So let’s just take an overview and catch up with ourselves.

The New Artist Marketing System has three major parts.

  1. Discovery: we find the sort of people who you think will buy your art and we test to check
  2. Introduction: we send them a video, and the people who watch it all the way through have demonstrated by their actions that they are interested in you and your art
  3. Action: we send those warm leads an offer, a call to action.

And just to be clear, the video in step two, it isn’t a big sales job, you’re not selling at all, you’re just being you so people can get to know you.

Let’s just switch perspective and look at this from your prospect’s point of view.

They are hanging around doing their thing, they’ve never heard of you and then this video pops up and they like what they see. It’s a values match, or a style match .. whatever. So they watch the whole video, maybe click ‘like’ or whatever but they are now in our system as someone who is interested.

Over time, we’ll show them other videos and they’ll continue to be in our warm leads list for as long as they continue to consume.

Inbetween, we’ll send them an offer. What’s that? Well I’ll come to that in a moment, but it’s an opportunity for them to step up and become a buyer.

Some will take it, others will spend a little longer getting there.

So let’s talk about your offer.

That’s marketing speak for .. an offer. You literally offer something. So when you say “I just painted this, and it’s for sale for £500”, that’s an offer. You’re offering to swap that work for £500.

Now, the free market economy works like this. No-one is forced to buy your artwork. The sale happens when someone sees that there is more value to them in owning your artwork than there is in them either keeping the money, or spending the money on something else.

You will sell more if you can imagine yourself in your buyer’s shoes, see into their soul and work out what they really want.

And I kinda trust you’ll find that easy, since art is all about seeing what others don’t.

I took a music course recently about making music that ad agencies would buy to underpin an ad and one of the lessons they taught me was to appeal to universal values. No ad agency will want to use a song that’s about one sports team being the greatest, because it will make enemies of fans of all the other sports teams. But a song about winning or pushing through or being the best and so on, most people are pretty cool with that.

So if your painting is cheerful, that’s worth something to the buyer. To uplift themselves every morning, that increases their chances of a good day.

If it speaks to them, reinforces something they want to keep top of mind or reminds them of a place they covet. These things centre people on what matters to them.

And the price they pay? That’s how much they are dedicating themselves to the idea. So to a great extent the usual rule that you’ll sell more at a lower price doesn’t work with art because if you sell for £1,000, that could be a slightly lacklustre commitment on the part of the buyer to whatever the art means to them. £5,000 and they are really committed.

This is why I bang on about values such as creativity or winning or peace. If you stand for enthusiasm and they do too then you are forever entwined, always wanting the world to be more enthusiastic.

OK, so that’s high level stuff.

So what’s an offer again?

It’s you asking them to do something.

  • Maybe you have an exhibition? So “how about you come see my exhibition”? Would be an offer.
  • Maybe you have just finished an artwork and you’re putting it up for sale, so you offer it for sale.
  • Maybe you just want people to join your mailing list.
  • Perhaps you want a discussion.

Part of the offer is the price. Come see my exhibition it’s free barring time and effort. Buy my art it’s £500. Join my mailing list (for free) and I’ll send you x/y/z good things.

By the way, your mailing list is core. That’s where your main fans and buyers are. So it is a sale to get someone off your warm list from the ad system and into your mailing list so you actually know who they are.

So actually what I’m suggesting is that when you have a new work, you offer it to your mailing list. And so if people want to get the inside track, first dibs, and so on, they have to be on your list. So, like, 50% of your works can be sold to your list and all it takes is an email.

But to get buyers onto your list, that’s where the New Artist Marketing System comes in.

So you might think an offer to your warm list in the ad system, the people who’ve watched your intro video, could be “hey, here’s a recent work that you can buy”. And that’s fine.

But what about “here’s a recent work and it sold within hours to a collector on my mailing list. If you want to get first dibs on future work, how about you join the list too and I’ll send you x/y/z”. People want what they can’t have, right, and here they missed out so they’ll join your list.

I think there’s room to engineer some extra closeness for buyers and maybe slightly less closeness for people who are on your list who haven’t yet bought. I pay £40 a year to be part of the Death Of Guitar Pop fanclub (they are a ska band, I’m a ska drummer) and they have occasional live conversations about what they are doing, when they make a music video it often includes crowds of fans dressing up so they callout for that, there merchandise, requests for funds to record the next album and so on. It’s all closeness. They’ll even send you a personalised birthday message.

My version of that for you is this idea .. organise a week’s break where people can come and stay in a B&B near you and enjoy where you live, you guide that, you take them out to introduce the local spots that inspire you, you could even do some teaching, you do a few barbecues (maybe proper caterers so you are free) and bring in other local musical artists or whatever and you charge for the whole experience of gathering with other fans of what you do. And over the week you create an artwork that’s for sale at the end. And this is exclusive to your hardcore fans. That’s an upsell that you can offer.

A successful offer concentrates pretty much 90% of the time on what it’s going to feel like for the buyer. So ideally you’ll know your audience, you’ll know their concerns and how your art solves their problem. You can’t guess that, it comes from experience but if you have the prospect engaged, either in email, chat or in person, you can ask open ended questions such as “what’s caught your attention?” If they say “I love the detail” ask “why? Why the detail, what’s that mean to you?” And you might get back something that suggests

  • they love the industriousness, the work involved. Or
  • they might be into the infinity of it, that the closer they get the more they see. Or
  • perhaps it’s skill that turns them on. Or
  • it’s the fact that you looked closely and saw all that and captured it, so like a mindfulness thing.

Really resist the temptation to talk about yourself and your work. Talk about the buyer. Ask open questions. What are they thinking? Where are they thinking of putting it. 

It’s possible the buyer doesn’t get respected in this way very often. Doesn’t get listened to. So you’re doing good work right there. They’ll get to know, like and trust you.

After a few of these personal encounters, you’ll soon be able to say:

“here’s my latest work, it’s been a long journey, I’ve been working on it for 3 months” (appealing to industriousness). “I first noticed x “ (mindfulness) “and if I zoom in on that in the painting the closer you get the more there is to see. I’ve worked on my detail skills all my life .. . Now, I painted something similar a month ago and that sold within a few days, here’s how that looked in the buyer’s front room, it looks great against the wall colour doesn’t it? What they told me was, for them, looking at it every morning it sets them up for the day, reminds them of what’s important. So have a think about what that could do for you if every day you are reconfirmed and recentred before you leave the house. So this is *size* and it’s oil on canvas, it’s framed, and I’m offering it for £?? plus shipping, but like I say the last one went pretty quickly so do get in touch if you’re interested”.

So that’s an offer and that would make a great video for your warm list ad or your mailing list. If they feel like that’s a reasonable swap, they’ll get in touch.

Of course, I’m imagining, there, a home owner buying your art, it would be different for an interior designer or art collector or whoever your serious buyer is, and remember to use their language too. If it’s a horse portrait you’d know the breed and so on. If it’s a tractor you’d know the model.

Remember that your warm list is constantly changing as people engage with your first introductory video ad.

So this is video three, if you haven’t seen the first two videos do go and watch those (link above or in emails from a few days ago). But how this has turned out is .. these are the principles, and if you’re familiar with running pay per click ads or just plain fearless, you can just set this up from what I’ve shown you in these videos and see what you get.

Once the system is up and running, it’s pretty easy to maintain, but setting it up has lots of tricksy detail and some significant gotchas. So if you would like to get the New Artist Marketing System working for you and you would like to be walked through exactly what to do to set this up and get command over your art sales, I’m going to be opening up a time-limited offer in the next video I’ll release soon.

So do watch out for that, like I say, it’s going to be time limited so .. I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

Do you have any questions about making your offer to your warm list? Hit reply or comment and I’ll help, and also I’ll learn from your concerns so every question benefits everyone.

That’s it for now .. watch out for the next video.

Stay safe, sell art.