Why am I Doing This?
I get a handful of emails every week, the gist of which is:
“If this marketing stuff you teach is SO good, why aren’t you keeping it a secret?”
“Why aren’t you just keeping it to yourself and making millions? I don’t believe for a second that this works because if it did only an idiot would let anyone know about it.”
“I’ve never heard of you so all this stuff must be a scam!”
I used to gape and gobble but The Colonel (my wife, if you’re just joining us) “pfhfhfht”ed and said that some people are just rude and small minded and who’re suspicious of everything, including mailmen and Girl Guides selling cookies.
“They’re probably those kooks who write 10 complaint letters a day for every perceived grievance, with their heads wrapped in aluminum foil and are convinced Big Brother’s out to get them” she said.
“One can see how they’d make enemies…” I said.
“Honey, we don’t need their business and certainly not their approval; they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Even if they were to take your courses – which they won’t – they’d find something to complain about. They’re the ones who’ll take a perfectly good glass of lemonade and turn it back into lemons.” she said.
All very true no doubt, and yet I’ve also had very sincere people ask me similar things over the years, in very polite and apologetic tones. So maybe under the vitriol, there’s a germ of an honest sentiment, so I suppose it’s worth talking about.
Rationally. Respectfully. No aluminum foil wrapped around our heads.
(Though I still wonder that they have nothing better to do than rummage around to find my email address and be snide about something they never even bothered to check out…)
So Why am I doing this?
The simple answer is that I want to help artists.
I’m very aware of how fortunate I am to be in the position I am, and on a daily basis I see beautiful art done by beautiful people and it’s not selling, and I know that there’s no real reason for it, other than:
- mindset, or
- a few hiccups in the sales process.
Another answer is that I was spending a not-inconsiderate amount of time each week answering emails from artists around the world who saw what I was doing with my art and asked me for advise and help with their careers, often to the extent that my own work was falling behind.
The Colonel didn’t like that very much.
“Look, you’ve got to start charging for your time.” she said. “What’s the point of scheduling calls and time blocking and restricting access to clients and locking yourself away just to give your time and expertise away to any artist who’ll ask?!”
And she was right of course (and I’m not just saying that because she’s going to read this).
It’s a much more efficient way to communicate the knowledge by distilling it down and clarifying it and putting it into courses that allow me to create them according to my schedule, and the artists can absorb it on theirs.
“If you’re so into sharing, how come you’re charging for it and not giving this information away for free? Lots of artists don’t have the resources to pay and I don’t think that’s fair!”
A small segment of artists, communists I think, are convinced that it’s somehow my obligation to take the knowledge I’ve had to earn through sweat, blood, Herculean effort, or cold hard cash and hand it over.
I don’t mind helping, I even enjoy it, but I refuse to be guilted into anything. Ask my mother in law (The Admiral).
Where is it ordained that knowledge should be free? (especially when I paid so dearly for it)
My son’s school teachers are terrific; they love their jobs, they love the kids, they’re invested psychologically and emotionally in helping our children get the most out of every day they spend there. There’re standards and rules and respect and love.
And all the teachers collect a paycheck!
Second, there are more costs than you might think in running an organization like the Marketing Tools for Artists.
We pay for ads online, hosting fees, several video creation tools, video hosting, video distribution, shopping cart fees, web development costs, email hosting, banking fees, membership plugins and premium website themes and tools, and even PayPal costs every month on top of their percentage.
I should pay this out of pocket so someone can take advantage of my years of knowledge and experience for free?
My Scottish ancestors would roll over in their peat bogs…!
Third, it’s important that artists have “some skin in the game”.
That may sound self-serving, but I’ve found it to be very, very true.
If they’re not invested financially, they won’t be invested psychologically.
In other words, paying a nominal sum keeps everything from being “free advice”, and we all know what free advice is worth.
In past years, artists would ask me questions and I’d give them the very best advice I had, only to have them do nothing with it. But something magical happened when I began charging a consulting fee and taking on coaching clients: because they were invested in it, artists applied the knowledge and got results!
Here’s some Tough Love.
If an artist claims they can’t afford it – whether my courses, a decent website, to reach out to clients, whatever – then they just don’t want it enough.
Not to go too far into it right here, but in 2003 we lost our oldest son, Jackson, very suddenly. In addition to the loss of our boy, the business crumbled and within an embarrassingly short period of time our resources had gone and we were within hours of losing our home.
I’ve had to figure out ways to bathe our other infant son after the water’s been shut off and I’ve had to rifle his piggy bank to feed him. But I crossed that point where I wasn’t going to live like this and I found a way to turn things around. Several things, actually.
There’s always a way.
“If this knowledge is so good, why aren’t you keeping it for yourselves and dominating the marketplace?”
Easy: The world is infinite.
There’s no limit to the amount of art the world can absorb, and there’s no way any artist – or group of artists – could “dominate the marketplace”.
We can share everything we’ve learned with artists all over the world and it won’t affect our individual sales one little bit…in fact, the opposite is probably true – the more we share, the more we receive.
If we teach artists how to increase their prices without losing any clients – (in fact high pricing almost always gets you MORE clients), that does nothing but good for everyone concerned…we’d be fools NOT to teach it!
The “marketplace” isn’t one thing; there are infinite markets.
We’re not in competition with each other.
One of the sea changes artists make as they learn more about marketing is that they begin to see things in bigger ways than they did previously.
Their mindset expands and they begin to see possibilities instead of limitations, so if marketplace A gets overcrowded and unprofitable, we’ve already noticed and begun to cultivate markets B, C, D, and E.
One couldn’t possibly keep up with the opportunities surrounding us!
It’s a way to “sell our scrap”
Back in the late 80’s, one of the very first business books I read was Harvey MacKay’s excellent Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, and in it, he tells the story of when he was the new owner of an envelope manufacturing company in Minneapolis, and he spent his last dollar having a grizzled old consultant come in and help his struggling company.
The consultant peered at him and asked, “What’re you getting for your scrap?”
“My scrap?!” MacKay asked.
“Yes, how much are you selling your scrap paper for per ton?”
It turns out that MacKay had been paying for a company to haul it away, when he really should’ve been charging for it!!
My marketing experience and education has been paid for – several times over in some cases – and by creating courses to distill and share what I’ve learned I can create a value-added side business that delivers that knowledge to other artists without having to blaze their own trail through the jungle.
The jungle is an unpleasant place.
You think you see a clearing through the undergrowth and think “I can get through this”, but before you know it you’re up to your armpits in sweat, gators, and quicksand, the skeeters have got you, your water’s gone, you’ve lost a boot, and you’re bleeding through a thousand scrapes and cuts…and you’re only 10 feet in.
You’ve never heard of me.
I get this a lot, but usually it’s an honest question instead of accusatory. Usually.
I’m hardly a household word.
- You won’t see write ups in Big City newspaper columns about my new show at MOMA.
- You won’t likely hear about my new drawing getting millions in feverish bidding at Sotheby’s (though I do get $12,000+ for an original, which is tidy),
- and I doubt I’ll ever be a question on Jeopardy.
But this is good news for you!!!
I’m proof positive that a thriving and successful career can be had without The Art Establishment’s blessing.
I don’t sell through galleries, or have agents, or publishers, or an army of minions doing my bidding.
But I’m really good at finding customers and creating value for them. I’m flying under the radar; why would an artist know me, really?
I’m talking to clients, not artists (er, until now!)
This is doubly good news if you’re at all attention shy. I’m not per se, but you rarely see me swanning around gabbling on about my art.
Interviews? Sure. Appearances? Meh…
So why not give this a try?
You can get onboard for just under $12 and see if there’s not something you can learn by “walking a mile in my shoes”.
Will this $12 change your life in a big flash with rainbows beaming, unicorns abounding, violins soaring, and birds singing?
Of course not; it’s not magic beans.
But for $12 bucks you’ll know if I know my stuff or not, you’ll know if you’ve gotten your money’s worth, you’ll know a few spots that likely need shoring up in your business, and I have every confidence that somewhere deep inside of you, the spark of possibility will ignite!
Give it a try below, and you can be taking the first lesson in a couple of minutes!