Three months into the new year and you don’t have much to show for it.
You started off the year ready to make some sales, ready to get a gallery, ready to get that coveted grant, ready to meet new curators.
Three months later you wonder why very few of those emails or calls were ever returned, why few sales have come thru and why you haven’t made many new (genuine) contacts.
You could blame it on the universe and mercury being in retrograde, but how’s that going to help you turn things around? What do you need to do differently? What haven’t you thought of? What rock has been left unturned? This was the topic of discussion with a client a few weeks ago. We sat there for over an hour trying to figure out some new ideas.
And here is the one nugget of wisdom that we discovered. The key is not what you know; it’s who you know. I absolutely hate that cliché. I really despise it because what that means is that you have to do the one thing that most artists hate to do: self-promote, or otherwise known as Marketing.
Artists scream NO! No, I don’t have to do this. I can work in my studio and make good work and someone will discover me. Someone will just happen to trip over my studio doorstep in the middle of Alhambra, CA sandwiched in between Chinese restaurants and Escrow companies and just happen to see my work. And they always say good work gets seen. This is a fantasy, a good, valid fantasy but a fantasy nonetheless. I think most artists really know this deep down, that regardless of if you have a gallery or not, you have to do some level of self-promotion.
Okay, so now that it’s on the table and we know what has to be done, let’s put the dirty marketing word aside, let’s put the hate to rest. The first step to promoting yourself is getting organized.
Make a list or better yet make a MAP of who you know, what they could do for you and what you could do for them. When I started my business I literally drew a map with me in the center and drew lines in every direction. I started going around in a circle notating every job I had had, every show I had curated, every project I had participated in, every artist, gallery, collector, friend, colleague and all the random connections and overlaps in between. As I worked on this for a few hours I realized I had accumulated a lot of connections. The strongest ones, I put closest to me and the weaker ones were further away. I continued to add more and more detail, and then I wrote down how that person could benefit me and how I could benefit them. Dirty, dirty, yuk, but I digress.
I then created a core group of people that I needed to get in touch with first and have them help me promote my new endeavor. My close connections were thrilled to help. What I realized is that people want to help, people want to know what you are up to, people love making introductions and connections. So don’t be shy to take advantage of these opportunities. And try to accept the fact that you cannot do it all on your own.
I will admit that I’m a little out of my depth when it comes to marketing. All I know is what worked for me. So I’d like to hand the baton to Jennifer Ostrich, Professional Coach/Marketing Consultant extraordinaire. Look for the next blog post to learn more tips about how to promote yourself.