If you’re at the beginning stages of your art business and you can’t seem to get things off the ground or you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you “should” be doing to make it happen, then let’s make things a lot simpler.
There are two decisions to make that will inform pretty much everything else. Just two.
What are you selling?
Who are you selling it to?
You can decide either one first and it will help inform the other, along with things like your artistic style and your own preferences.
Let’s go over them one at a time.
WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?
To start off, you only need to focus on one thing. Either selling lots and lots of small things or selling a few really expensive things.
I find the latter a bit easier because, while it’s more difficult to sell something expensive, it’s still easier to make one sale than the equivalent 10 or more you have to make from small sales. But you might prefer the comfort of something low-priced (it is a lot easier to tell someone it’s going to cost them $30 than $3000).
Of course the most common way to do inexpensive things in the art world is with prints and the most common way to do expensive things in the art world is with originals. Though there are other ways to achieve both.
While it’s best to develop lots of different ways of bringing in money to create a strong business, when you’re just starting to get the money flowing it’s a lot easier to get one revenue stream working well than to get five up and running at once.
WHO YOU ARE SELLING TO?
This is a lot more complicated than just picking what you want to sell. You probably have a quick opinion about what you’ll sell – an idea of what you feel most comfortable with or excited by. But who is going to buy your art? That’s a much tougher question.
I like to start with obvious demographics.
Who can afford your art? Is your art more likely to identify with men or women, or is it very gender-neutral? Is the style very classic or super-modern, which might give you an idea of the age of your target market? And depending on the subject matter that prevails in your art, you might find a career or hobby that is likely to include many of your target market. For instance, if you paint flowers more than anything else, you might find that gardeners are particularly thrilled by your art.
Once you’ve dealt with basic demographics, if any of them are clear, it’s time to look at psychographics.
I think psychographics are actually more important.
They mean that you really know your target market on a personal level, and thus you’re more likely to be able to identify them, speak in ways they understand and relate to, and ultimately help them make a decision about whether to buy your art.
A good way to shoot right to the heart of psychographics is to think about clothing stores. Looking at your art, is it likely people who shop at Banana Republic would like it? What about Hot Topic? Chico’s? Target? Urban Outfitters? etc. Sometimes you can actually pinpoint your exact target market using a clothing store because they’ve already done that hard work of articulating to the marketplace who buys from them. You’re just picking up on that and using it.
You can also figure out psychographics by thinking of people who have purchased your art in the past or even just people you know.
Who is the most attracted to your art? What sorts of personality qualities do they have? If you had to describe them in a couple sentences, what would you say about them?
With demographics and psychographics in hand, you’ve probably got a pretty good picture of the type of people who are most likely to purchase your art. And that’s all you need!
So you can stop with the silly exercises you may have been given to draw your ideal customer or list out your target market’s favorite foods, magazines, and sports. You don’t have to be that detailed. The point is that you narrow enough that you’re speaking clearly, with a very distinct vision.
GOT EM BOTH?
When you’ve got your starting revenue stream and your target market, you’re actually ready to start figuring out pricing, branding, product photography, and marketing strategies. So it won’t be a guessing game anymore. You can decide what fits based on the two things that are solid and fixed in your business.
What a load off your shoulders!