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Oil_painting_paletteCarla is an oil painter.

She’s been painting as a hobby for years, and now that her children are grown and out of the house, she wants to pursue her art more seriously. She wants to show and sell and create a business around a hobby that she’s enjoyed. She wants to participate in the artist community and be around creative like-minded people.

Wonderful. Great.

After a couple meetings, we developed a plan of action, that she followed, brilliantly.

Carla got herself a website and a Facebook page and even connected with the owner of a local tea shop who was happy to exhibit her paintings.

She sold almost all her landscapes to family and friends through her Facebook page, submitted an image of her work to a local environmental magazine (which was accepted) and received a couple leads on possible commissions.

Yet, she’s disappointed.
WTF-Blocks
WTF? What?

I didn’t get it – I mean, she went from nothing to having a working website and Facebook page and building an audience and a mailing list and framing and hanging her first exhibition in the tea shop, ALL within 3 months. AMAZING.

Nope. Disappointed.

“I didn’t sell any work out of the tea shop… I only sold to family and friends. Those aren’t real sales.”

Ahhhh…

True. And bullshit.

 
 

We want to skip this part

Okay, I get it. I know, I know… Selling to family and friends feels a little like charity. It’s not “real” sales, as in some stranger comes and buys your work purely on the merit of it’s artistic awesomeness. Those are the sales that are most validating… I know.

I remember the first sale I ever made to a non-friend, non-family at an art show in Brampton. I had to go into the back room and cry a little because it was so VALIDATING. I felt worthy and deserving as an artist.

Okay, I get it… but, it’s not really true that family and friend sales aren’t real sales.

Firstly, most people won’t buy from you unless they trust and like you. Most of your sales will end up coming from people who you’ve developed a relationship with over time.

Even at comic conventions, I mostly sold prints or books by establishing some sort of connection to the buyers, a connection that was based, not on my art – but on my personality and ability to establish rapport with strangers.
 
 
 
 

People are happy to buy from


people they like and trust.

 
 
 
 
There were still people who would dart in and buy a print or book and then disappear like mist, but they were the minority, by far.

It’s unlikely that strangers will purchase your work on a first outing to a show, or a tea shop… unless there is already ample social proof and positive support for the purchase.

This can be an artist who is well known and established and already has a reputation, OR social proof to support the sale can be the encouragement and agreement from their friends and family.

Which could also be your friends and family…. see how that can work?

 
 

Let Friends and Family Support You

"Buy my sisters art! She's AWESOME! You'll LOVE IT!"

“Buy my sisters art! She’s AWESOME!
You’ll LOVE IT!”

Let them buy your art and then promote to their friends and family about how awesome you are.

Let your family and friends buy your art and hang it in their homes and offices so that their guests and clients and customers can come in and admire your art and ask where they can find out more information.

Give your family and friends your business cards so that they can hand them out to people who are interested in what you do.

Friends and family are ALWAYS going to be the first to buy and support your artist career. You can not avoid this.

SO, LET THEM. It is not a charity, it is not “unreal” AND they can be the beginnings of your social proof and spreading the word about your artistic genius.

You are not going to be able to skip over the friends and family portion of the career growth – and here’s a hint, they won’t ever stop wanting to support your art biz and buying your stuff, so you might as well embrace them as the first wave of your affiliate sales team and be happy that the people that love you want to pimp you out.
 

 
I still have trouble accepting money from my mom for anything I create. I try and gift it to her, but she yells about how I’m running a business and then throws money at me.

I guess there’s worse things.
 
 
 
 

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