Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Art of Pricing and Marketing Art

Artists are just that, Artists! We don't like the business end of selling our wares, we don't like filing or any kind of paperwork for that matter, we rarely keep receipts, and most of all ~~ we would rather create art than market our art!

Marketing art is an art all unto itself.  Pricing our art is quite another story! I'll address the latter and finish with the former.

Most artists spend hours on end in almost complete solitude creating their art. By that I mean that the whole house could be in a complete tumult, kids screaming or a fire breaking out but when an artist is creating they are locked in their head. Self-representing artists are, in my opinion the most creative of people and the most insecure about their work. By that I mean: is it finished; is there anything else I can do to make this piece better; will anyone like it enough to buy it; how much is it worth; are my prices too high; are my prices too low; who is my competition; how will I market my art...and on and on.

Pricing is one of the most difficult aspects of creating art for sale. Finding out who and what your competition is, is one of the key factors to pricing. What venue an artist uses, be it a brick and mortar store, self hosted website (and that in and of itself opens another can of worms), art and craft online venue or craft fairs, just slapping a price on the piece isn't enough. Pricing could be the amount of time spent on a piece; it could be the amount of materials used in the creation of the piece or a combination of the two. As an artist myself, I am lucky to have little or no overhead AND I'm finally retired ~ so I can discount my time to zero as it's the creation itself that gives me pleasure so my selling price is predicated on materials alone. Not all artists are in my position. My advice to all artist is to study pricing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper ~ and a fast browser helps. Do searches on the internet specifically for artists who create in the same medium, check out their pricing and write it down ~ or copy the URL to NotePad. Keep a list so you can refer back to it. Your marketing will depend on your pricing and I'll address that post haste. Put your insecurities in your back pocket once you have done a LOT of research and put a price on your piece and forget about all the nagging questions above. That's your price and stick to it!

Marketing for the self representing artist is unfortunately a necessary evil. The internet has opened so many ways to market that the choices can be mind boggling! Making the decision to self-host a website is one of the most difficult in that SEO (search engine optimization) comes into play as well as the design of the site itself. A simple search on Google for "art" nets a result of 1,200,000,000 results! How do you get seen under the behemoth weight of results. Marketing, marketing and more marketing. Simply having a Face Book page or Twittering until your fingers bleed won't raise your rankings. It takes hard work, writing blogs, visiting and participating in complimentary blogs (it's not enough to simply post your link ~ it's in poor taste), writing articles, joining groups and creating enough attention to yourself that others will link to your site. Finally, not everyone is adept at website design or speaks html. The template based websites typically won't get the job done as they are very limiting by their sheer nature. If you are going to self-host your own website ~ branding is critical. By that I mean everything about your site should be cohesive, from your logo to the actual display. Branding is a subject for another blog!

Showing and selling your art on a site that is created especially for art and crafts creators is probably the easiest way to promote one's self. However, there are  many, many out there and again, it takes good old fashioned research to find the one that's best for you. A few things to keep in mind are: how much traffic does a particular venue have: what kind of success do they enjoy (easily found out by simply checking out the other sellers or by reading their forums); is the venue in line with your personality or selling ability; and finally, what kind of competition will you have on the venue.

Simply listing your art on a community venue created for artists won't guarantee you sales. Again, study what marketing capabilities a particular community has. Be it forums, groups or back links to other artists, there are a lot of ways you can market your art on a pre-built dedicated community. Finally, make note of the tools available to you in any community cause if it's too difficult or too time consuming...let's face it, you're an artist, not a marketer!

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