Recently, I emailed a certain Australian artist because I’m interested in buying some of his beautiful paintings. I’ll admit that I’m not a big art collector or connoisseur. I just know that my partner would love the work of this particular artist. So I thought, with his birthday coming up, a piece of art might be a lovely present.
I browsed the artist’s website and narrowed it down to four pieces I knew my partner would love. I emailed the artist to ask if any of these were available and if I could buy them. It’s was a done deal.
The response? Crickets.
So I emailed again. Again, no response. And there is no phone number on the website so I don’t know how to contact the artist.
It got me thinking … how many of artists (or business owners) are leaving money on the table?
You see, in this transaction, I’m a sure thing. I’ve done the research and I’m aware of the pricing. It’s a hefty price tag – but it’s a special birthday. And despite the fact that that I’m ready to part with a significant amount of money, there’s no way for me to do so.
I see this time and time again. And, I hate to say it, I see it very often with creatives and artists. I can’t tell you the number of artists out there who tell me: “Oh I don’t want to have to deal with money” … “I just want to focus on my art” … “I hate negotiating and dealing with clients.”
These same artists then say to me: “Why aren’t my paintings/sculptures/photography selling?” “I’m so sick of struggling?!” “I need a grant from the government if I’m going to get through next year.”
Pullleeese! Give. Me. A. Break.
I’m still perplexed that I have not heard back from that artist.
Sure, my email could have gone into his spam folder. Well check your spam folder regularly then.
Yes, maybe he’s on holidays. Hey there’s this thing called the Internet… you can get your emails anywhere.
But perhaps he wants a real holiday where he doesn’t have to respond to emails. Ever heard of an out-of-office message?
He’ll deal with his queries when he gets back. It’s been six weeks so far. If you’re going away, get someone else to check your emails or sales queries. You’re a fine artist but you’re not yet Picasso so perhaps it would be a good idea to have a system to respond to customers who are ready to buy.
He’s an “artist” and doesn’t want to have to deal with “sales”. See my comment about the aforementioned system.
If you put your head in the sand and think that sales and admin are “all too hard” because you just want to focus on your art (or whatever core activity you want to bury yourself in), then realise that you are leaving money on the table. Serious money.
And this doesn’t just apply to artists. Consider this:
- Do you actually have contact details displayed (even if it’s just an email address) so that people can get in touch with you?
- Is that email address or phone number actually checked?!
- If you’re going away, have you indicated that you will get back to people at a later date? Alternatively, have you arranged someone to look after your correspondence while you’re on holidays?
- When you DO get the email, does it take you days – sometimes weeks – to respond because you just don’t like doing it?
If you can relate to any of this, then my suggestion is: get over it. That’s right, get over it!
To succeed as an artist, you can’t just focus solely on your art and hope that the “business” side of things will magically be taken care of. That’s not the real world. The good news is that the “business” side of things never actually takes as long – and is never as hard – as you expect.
If you’re an artist, just commit to doing something regularly – even if it’s just 15 minutes a week to start with – on the “business” side of your art. You’ll probably find:
(a) it’s not as bad as you think
(b) you get more done than you thought possible
(c) that 15 minutes flies by
(d) you end up putting some simple structures in place so that you don’t leave money on the table.
Go on. Do it. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. And everything to gain.