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Success Tip #1: Quick Start

Success Tip #2: Setting Prices

Success Tip #3: Marketing is an Ongoing Activity

Success Tip #4: Make a plan for next year


Success Tip #1: Getting motivated to get started

If you have trouble getting motivated, here's a tip to help you get started with your Artist Success Kit: Try setting a timer for fifteen minutes. Studies show if we commit to doing something for only fifteen minutes, we can get beyond the procrastination stage. Usually, you'll become so engrossed with your project, that you'll continue on with your task. But if fifteen minutes is all you can devote at one time, break your tasks into smaller chunks. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

After you have read the Success Handbook, here's what you can do to get started:

Session 1:
Set your timer for 15 minutes: gather the following materials you will need to start using your Artist Success Kit: a three -ring binder, white paper, colored paper (see your kit instructions on what colors you will need), a set of 12 notebook dividers and a three-hole punch. (time: 15 minutes)

Session 2:
Set your timer for 15 minutes. Print out several copies of each form in the kit; be sure to print them on the correct color of paper recommended; punch them with a 3-hole punch. (time: 5 minutes)

Put them all in a three-ring binder and label the dividers. (time: 10 minutes)

Session 3:
Set your timer for 15 minutes. Review the instructions on the Inventory Number/Media List page to familiarize yourself with the simple inventory numbering system. (time: 5 minutes)

Go into your studio and start taking inventory by filling out an Inventory Data Sheet for the first piece of art you created this year. Then enter the information for that piece on the main Inventory sheet. Continue by doing the same for the second piece of art you created this year and so on. Get as far as you can, and if you must stop, simply set down your notebook, leaving the pencil inside so you know where you left off. Pick up again at your next session and when you've completed all the works created this year, you can work backwards beginning with last year, and so on, until you have inventoried all the artwork you've created.

As you inventory each peice, you should note the information on the back of the work of art. You can use the sample provided in the back of the handbook to create your Artwork Labels, and print them off onto self stick paper. Then simply attach to the back of each work of art.

As you create new works of art, inventory them immediately, keeping track of all the details as you go.


Success Tip #2: Setting realistic, competitive prices for your artwork

Last month we discussed how to get started with your Artist Success Kit by beginning to inventory your body of work. As you’re working on completing your inventory form, questions about pricing your art work are sure to come up. It’s a challenge for both the beginning and experienced artist, and it’s not often a very clear-cut process to figure out. So how do you price your work so that it is both competitive, and likely to sell?

One way to get a feel for pricing is to visit galleries and exhibitions. Find work similar to yours, done by an artist who is comparable to you in stature and reputation. This can give you an idea of how to price your work competitively. That’s not as easy as it sounds, because often it’s hard to tell the "stature and reputation" of a particular artist. But, if you are persistent, and look for work of similar style, media and subject matter, and work that you judge to be about the same quality as yours, you can then try to find out more about the artist. Here’s how:

The first step is to visit a gallery. By doing this you’ll be killing two birds with one stone: you’ll be scouting galleries that might be suitable for showing your work, and you’ll be gathering information about pricing and artists. Take along your "Gallery Information" sheet from your Success Kit. It will help you know what kind of questions to ask.

When you identify work that’s similar to your own, ask if they have a bio or handout on the artist, or if that artist has a business card or web site. That way you can investigate the artist further, and begin to judge his or her particular level of experience. You can then decide how your pricing might relate to theirs—higher, lower, the same?

Remember to take notes on the prices for different sizes of work of the artist. You’ll want to develop a pricing structure that covers the typical sizes of art that you produce.

Finally, while you are visiting a gallery, you also have the chance to ask the gallery staff about pricing, and what sizes, prices, media and subject matter sells the best in their experience and in their region.

Your Success Handbook has more information on the many other factors you need to consider when you are struggling with pricing. It contains a simple-to-use method of establishing a pricing structure, utilizing the "Price List" form in your kit. You can order the kit now.


Success Tip #3: Marketing isn’t a single event, but an ongoing activity

Most people think of marketing as a single event – a gallery showing, a postcard mailing, a booth at an art fair. But effective marketing is about a series of activities that support and follow through after those events.

This month’s Stepping Stones Update is in part inspired by the East Lansing Art Festival, which is held each spring in Michigan. Every year, hundreds of artists converge on downtown East Lansing to exhibit their work. They must undergo selection by a rigorous art-review committee before even being able to participate. In addition, art galleries in town start their First Sunday Gallery Walk at the same time. All around the country, communities put on these types of events.

What makes an event like this successful for an artist is how much premarketing and post-event follow up is done.

Only a small percentage of visitors to your show or your booth will actually buy on-the-spot. But that doesn’t mean the event or exhibition is not a worthwhile endeavour.

Preshow marketing
• Mail a postcard to every local gallery in town mentioning your show, event and/or your booth.

• Mail a postcard to any of your customers in the surrounding area (most regional art shows attract visitors from up to 100 miles away or more; gallery exhibitions are more local, up to 25 miles).

• Purchase a list of potential art buyers, by demographics (household income), in the target area to do a postcard mailing. Most good commercial single-use lists cost between 40 cents and one dollar per name/address set. Lists need to be purchased ‘fresh’ within 2-4 weeks of use, and you’ll need to expect about 10-20% inaccuracy rate (people move often).

At the show
Collect information from your visitors by having a "business card drop box" or a "guestbook," and offer a discount on a future purchase as incentive to fill this out. (You build your database of future clients this way.)

Post show
Add all the show names to your database. Within 10 days (no more than) mail a thank-you post card to the list. If you wait more than ten days, the list is too "cold" for immediate sales. However, you can remarket to them if you have a web site where your portfolio is displayed, or when you return to a show the next year.

Web site
Artist web sites serve primarily to display portfolio samples of artwork. Some might sell works on line, but typically the main purpose is for exhibition and evaluation. Most artists can’t revisit or even call each of their prospective customers, gallery owners or past customers regularly. A website (combined with an opt-in e-mail list service) showcases your work 24/7. We encourage you to have such a site.

In closing
Armed with these marketing programs across an entire year (a good average to shoot for is four-to-six events a year) the effects multiply. You’ll gain a wider potential customer base and have selling opportunities year-round.

Your Success Handbook has more information on the many other factors you need to consider when you are expanding your marketing. You can order the kit now .


Success Tip #4: Get Organized and Reconnect

At the end of each year, we all vow that we will finally 'get organized.'

There are three simple steps you can do to get organized if you have the Artist Success Kit. Click here for our Success Tip #1: Quick Start program.

There are four other things you should do around the first of each year:

Thank, Remind, Renew and Build

Mail a postcard to everyone on your contact list — anyone who has expressed interest in your work (galleries, friends, previous clients).

Thank them for their support of your work in the past.

Remind them of your upcoming events / gallery exhibitions or even a new piece (you can put a photograph on your post card).

• Digital prints of postcards are quite inexpensive, for a list up over 1,000, you can order post cards online at many online print shops for as little as $99. For smaller lists, say 100 or 200 pieces, contact your local copy shop for economical digitally printed cards.

Renew interest in your work by placing your work into an online gallery on your website (or online photo album or blog services available at many big web sites like Yahoo).

• Build a Relationship
A blog, short for weblog, is a great way to place photos of your work, or discuss creative work in progress. You can share your blog's URL with your clients, friends, family and galleries you've exhibited at in the past. It's easy to set up at most of the free blogging services (blogspot is a favorite), and supports posts of photos and text about your work.