Artists can feel conflicted about selling or promoting their art because of an association that selling is gross, with agenda, and unethical. That’s why today I share a recent read of mine called People Over Profit by Dale Partridge. Selling doesn’t need to have negative connotation and this book frames how to change our mindset and approach to business.

How hard is it for you to ask for the sale?
Image courtesy of Clarita via MorgueFile

Artists can feel conflicted about selling or promoting their art because of an association that selling is gross, with agenda, and unethical. That’s why today I share a recent read of mine called People Over Profit by Dale Partridge. Selling doesn’t need to have negative connotation and this book frames how to change our mindset and approach to business.

Be transparent.

With a culture of corporations who are more concerned with bottom dollar rather than customer satisfaction (if my recent experience with Expedia suggests anything), it’s not surprising that transparency is now a way to build a culture of honesty and integrity.

For Your Art: A great example I’ve seen of art transparency is Gwenn Seemel’s price list. Seemel makes her pricing and reasoning exceptionally clear. This is especially important for new art collectors: your prices won’t feel arbitrary.

Support a cause.

Marie Forleo gives 2% of all profits to select charities such as Pencils of Promise. Partridge mentions how Panera has urban locations where people come in and pay what they can afford. I love the idea of paying it forward. This turns the idea of selling being selfish right on it’s head.

For Your Art: Is there a partnership you’d make with your art? What about a cause to contribute towards? I visited an orphanage in India and know when I’m profiting where I want to give back!

Packaging artwork for delivery makes me happy.

A photo posted by Carrie (@artiststrong) on

Customer loyalty is key.

Creating a group of raving clients will do wonders for your bottom dollar. Sounds easy enough…?! Ha. So, how to achieve this? I’ve observed this in the online sphere with people like Kimra Luna. Consistency helps build trust with potential clients. Consistently offer value. Consistently be yourself.

For Your Art: Listen to people who buy your art. What do they enjoy about your work? How can you add value to their experience even after they’ve purchased your art? Think about it like you are performing a service: how can you better serve the people who invest in your art? A handwritten thank you note, or some kind of bonus preview for your collectors of your newest work may be just the ticket.

Grow mindfully.

Businesses often focus on building systems of efficiency when profits are at a high. Sometimes this is at the expense of the very values and customer experience that created their financial success. It’s at this point the customer or client can feel alienated and lose some of the hard earned trust you built.

For Your Art: As you begin to profit keep your values as a creator in mind. Make choices that align with your values and goals. This may mean saying no to projects or partnerships that come your way.

Focus on quality.

People return to places where they feel value in terms of cost but also in terms of quality of design, production, etc. List the many ways you observe quality in one of your favorite purchases. Can you apply this to your art?

For Your Art: People don’t want cheap artwork: cheap looking or cheap in terms of value. People see art as an investment. Treat it like one. Don’t decrease quality for the sake of output: those valued collectors of yours will fade away.

sell your art | art marketing | artist tips | art salesOwn Your Mistakes.

Tied also to a commitment of transparency, it’s best to own our mistakes. Sevenly, the company created by today’s author, had it’s own mishap with production and orders. They have burned some bridges with these mistakes, but have been open about the mistakes made and how they are taking steps to fix the problem. I have greater respect for the company knowing they admit to the mistakes and are taking strides to fix them.

For Your Art: Did you fill out a certificate of authenticity incorrectly? Or, did you underestimate the time your commission would take? Don’t offer excuses: be clear, concise, and apologize. Overdeliver and you will have a collector for life.

The people you hire are as important as your collectors.

If you are lucky enough to hire help with web design, or a photographer to take pictures of your art, treat those people like gold. Morale of the people you hire impact the entire experience of your brand and company.

For Your Art: Don’t act like people you hire owe you something because of the money you invest in them. Instead consider the transaction a partnership that raises the bar of your work. All interactions, including terminating relationships, can impact your brand.

Be true to you.

The best way to connect with collectors and grow the sales of your art is to own who you are: quirky personality traits and all. The people who invest in my art do so because they like and relate to ME.

For Your Art: Don’t force or fake your art promotion: tell honest and true stories (there’s that pesky transparency again) and people will connect with you and your art.

“Help your customers love and embrace themselves, and you’ll offer them a beautiful gift they’ll not soon forget.” (pp 107)

Remember that collecting art is a personal and emotional experience. Some people can feel quite vulnerable purchasing an artwork. What can you do to help them feel pampered, attended to and help them reinforce their decision to purchase?

For Your Art: Handwritten notes of thanks, a follow up brochure on the care of their art and even your packaging can create a continued positive (or negative) experience.

Be generous.

Partridge offers examples of companies who choose to offer amazing benefits to employees and customers. People said a fast food chain could never afford to do that and be profitable. P. Terry’s Burger Stand does.

Also I observed Marie Forleo’s (what can I say I’m a fan) recent job description for potential employees which includes 6 weeks paid vacation, well above the US standard of paid vacation.

Being generous doesn’t mean lowering the price of your art or giving it away for free, it does beg the question: how can you add value to ALL the people who interact with your brand as an artist?

For Your Art: This could mean creating an ebook that showcases process of an original artwork that you email to your collector with a note of thanks. It could also mean sending out a postcard of your art with a handwritten note of thanks to your web designer. What feels generous and good to you?

Today I have an artsheet just for you: strategies for adding value to the collector experience. Sign up below and get access to 25 Ways to Add Value to The Collector Experience.

Do you want to read People Over Profit yourself? Get it through my affiliate link here. There is no additional cost to you and it helps me continue to write articles like this one. Thank you. #peopleoverprofit

“Artists too, can choose #peopleoverprofit.” (Click to Tweet)

Be Creatively Courageous: What is one strategy you could use to add value to the experience of your collectors? Tell me in the comments below.