Everyone is online these days. If you want to make connections, do business, or sell your creations, it seems that it has to be done online if you want to have a bigger reach.
But what about you, the creative individual? What about the artists who are really great at selling their work in-person? How do you navigate the transition from offline to online success smoothly?
It’s certainly not easy, but it’s definitely doable. Artists already have something to begin with. You have a passion. A talent. A skill set. Something that others want to buy into.
But online there is no venue, no gallery, no agent selling your work for you.
The biggest problem when it comes to transitioning online is learning how to build up authentic relationships with potential buyers.
There is a way for artists to make it work without a monetary investment. But it does involve time, energy and patience. Because building up an engaged audience online that will buy from you is not an easy task. But, if done correctly, you will reap the long-term rewards.
The key to getting those long-term rewards is to follow a 4-step process that walks you through how to transition the creative genius that the world needs to see into a profitable online business.
Step #1: Figure Out the Story Behind a Piece of Your Work and Decide Who Would Buy it
A lot of the time, we make art for ourselves – whatever form or shape that might take. We write memories, dreams, or secrets. We paint bruises, sunrises and visions. We sing about heartbreak, love lost, futures realized.
But what if the messages behind our creations could actually impact someone else the way it does for us? What if someone could feel the reasons behind why we create what we do? There are stories there. We know them. When we take these stories to an online space, it’s about telling that story to potential followers, so they feel connected to us.
It starts with choosing a piece of our work. It could be your favorite painting, sculpture, written piece – anything. Then, take out a piece of paper and write down the story behind the piece.
- Why did you create it in the first place?
- Was there a personal story connected to it?
- Is there a particular person you want to have this?
Get as detailed as possible when it comes to the one person you want to have this piece. Give them a name, a history, a story. And then, when you go online, you look for people who have these same qualities on your social media platform. They are your potential buyers.
Step #2: Write Down the Ultimate Goal of Doing Your Work
This might sound silly, but what is the ultimate goal of doing your work? Oftentimes, a lot of artists get stuck in the “starving artist” stage. We think that if we were to have all of the money in the world, then we’d be happy.
Do you want to know a funny thing? I surveyed a bunch of artists recently (of varying skill-sets) and every time I asked them what they would do if money wasn’t an option, they responded with one of the following: write, do yoga, learn more, paint, sing, act, play the flute, travel, get inspired, grow, plan for more, design and create.Because when it comes down to it, we’re after more than the money.Click To Tweet
We’re after a means to have more time, which money provides, to do more of what we love, which is creating.
How do you actually do this? Try a simple exercise on a daily basis where you do the following:
- Write down what you would do if money weren’t an option.
- If it’s something doable (like painting), schedule a time to do it this week.
- At least once a week, do what makes you really happy.
The point of this exercise is to start detaching a big emotion, like happiness, from a future outcome. Make it part of your daily routine today, in whatever way that works for you. Making time for things that make us happy makes us fall in love with our creations again.
We never want the process of making our art to feel like work, which sometimes happens if you are doing all of the work to get your name out there and are selling online. Remember to keep playing, and that play time – whatever that means to you – is the ultimate goal of doing what you do.
Step #3: Cut the ‘Middle Men’ (aka Galleries, Grants, Agents) Out of Your Work
The traditional way of selling your art has been through galleries, grants, or agents. These are ‘middle men’ (or women) because they connect your art with potential buyers.
Often, relying on someone else to promote – and request – your work can make a creative person start to resent their work. This will never be the case for you if you remember to incorporate the act of creating into your schedule.
But, in order to really amplify your creativity, you need more freedom and flexibility (not to mention income), and that means transitioning from relying on these ‘middle men’ to relying on your own online marketing.
So the next action step for you to take, if you want to expand your presence online, is to actually cut out that ‘middle man’ and start connecting directly with potential buyers online.
Once you cut out your offline galleries, grants, and agents, make a list of all of the tasks they did for you, since these tasks will now be your responsibility online.
- Did they connect you with venues, shows, galleries?
- Did they promote your event or show?
- Did they follow up with leads to sell your pieces?
If they did any of the above, then you’re now responsible for those activities. In other words, you’re now responsible for prospecting, marketing and sales.
This can definitely seem overwhelming. But remember that social media is the wave of the future, and there’s no reason you can’t ride that wave to promote your art. Social media allows you an informal means of engaging with prospects, showing them what you create and asking them to click ‘buy’ when they’re interested in your work.Ride the wave of social media to promote your art.Click To Tweet
Step #4: Create a Strategy to Connect and Engage With Your Potential Buyers Online
Now it’s time for the real fun: what connects you with your buyers offline? Oftentimes, it’s being in the right room or at the right show, and telling the story behind a given piece.
Well, what if you were able to do that online? Because you can! That’s the joy of social media – people are looking to connect with other people around stories and ideas that fascinate them. Why shouldn’t you – or your art – be one of those stories?
Of course, there are lots of social media platforms to choose from. The platform that’s best for you will depend on both your type of art, and where your buyers hang out.
Once you’ve chosen a social media platform, it’s about engagement. You can’t just expect to build something, be somewhere, and wait for it to sell. It doesn’t work like that online – or offline, either!
When potential buyers know you, trust you, and like what you have to sell through engaged conversation, that’s when you connect with your buyer.
If we take a look back at Step 1, you wrote down the qualities of the individual that you wanted to have your best piece. Keep that in mind when prospecting online.
- Start to follow like-minded artists (even competitors) and look at their audience.
- If you see people commenting who fit your criteria, follow them as well.
- Start to engage with the people you see commenting elsewhere on your chosen medium (Pinterest, Instagram, etc).
- When you post a new piece, don’t just put it up and forget about it. Write a description or link it to a piece you’ve written on your blog about it. And keep writing about it, or Tweeting about it, or sharing it – you never know when the potential buyer will come across your piece!
You Have Everything You Need to Connect with Your Online Art Buyers
You have a passion that no one can take away from you, and a desire to share that passion with the world. The only thing missing is the authority to declare your value and who you want to buy your art. Yes, the potential for control in that area is yours online!
These are a few simple steps for you to start engaging and building long-lasting relationships online with prospects that will hopefully turn into continual buyers.
Because they’re not just buying a piece of art. They’re investing in you. They’re investing in the message behind the work you created. If it means something to you, then it’s certainly going to mean something to them, too.You don’t need the ‘middle’ man anymore. You have a story to tell, and a way to tell it.Click To Tweet
The point of doing all of this is to connect with people who love you online. If done right, they’ll continue to drive your hunger to create again and again.
And the beauty in all of this is that the power is in your hands. You decide your social medium.
Which step are you going to take today to put the creative power back in your hands?