Why Great Art Isn't Enough - 5 Ways to Make Sure You Don't Starve

A Guest Post by Frank McKinley

Why Great Art Isn't Enough - 5 Ways to Make Sure You Don't Starve. Photo credit - Crystal Ice Photography
Why Great Art Isn't Enough - 5 Ways to Make Sure You Don't Starve. Photo credit - Crystal Ice Photography


Even though you might think creating great art is the sole requirement for being a successful creative, in fact it is not enough. As dirty as it may sound, you might actually need to sell your art, should you consider making a living off it.


In today's guest post my good friend and fellow writer Frank McKinley is tackling the subject of how you can avoid the trap of a job you do just to get paid and create art in your free time (hopefully, if you still have it).


Are you ready?


Here we go!

Why did you become an artist?

If you're like me, you like to make stuff. And not just any stuff - you make Art.


Paintings that look so real they stop people in their tracks.

Writing that moves people emotionally, that urges them to take action and take it now.

Plays that tell a story so personally the audience believes they're eavesdropping on real life.


So why do artists starve?

Why do they have to work a day job to support what they do with their free time?


The problem starts when we go to school.


Art Schools Teach Great Art, But They Don't Teach This

Right out of high school, I headed off to college.

I hoped to get a great job and live my life with a wife, 2.5 kids, and a house with a white picket fence.


Then I decided to become an art major.


It didn't take long to discover most of my classes were really workshops. We'd get a little instruction, a list of projects, and a professor who used class time to catch up on other things.


The goal was to unleash the great artist in each student. Each quarter, I'd have to buy $100 worth of art supplies. Then I'd spend every Saturday afternoon from dawn to dusk drawing, painting, or sculpting.


When we graduated, we'd be ready to take the Art World by storm!


... Or would we?


I asked my advisor:

"What can I do once I have my degree?"


"You can teach art, but you'll need some education courses."


"What if I want to sell my art?"


He snarled:

"You'll have to go to the business school to learn that."


He made it sound like some forbidden zone where only the worse miscreants would go.


Great Artists Must Sell to Survive

when you sit down to write, just write.

What I never learned in school is this - Art is a business.


So how do artists get paid?

Painters get commissions, sell portraits, or produce art for people's homes.

Writers sell articles, books, or coaching services.

Actors perform in movies, plays, or commercials.


So am I saying you've got to sell your soul to sell your work?

Not at all.

You do have to sell your art, though.


Imagine your art hanging on someone's wall, making their home more beautiful.

See your book on Amazon, hitting the bestseller list in your chosen category.

Picture yourself on Broadway, on movie theatre screens, or on TV.


Here are 5 things you can do immediately to start making your living selling your art!


1. Create an Avatar

I'm not talking about the popular 2009 movie Avatar.


If you're not familiar with the term, an avatar is a profile. It's a description of your ideal customer.


You can develop one by answering a few questions:

  • Male or female?
  • Age?
  • Occupation?
  • Hobbies?
  • Favourite things?
  • Biggest frustrations?
  • Wildest dreams?

The more questions you answer, the more real your avatar becomes. Think of your writing as a conversation over coffee with this person. Create art that will satisfy one of this person's strongest cravings.


Then you'll always have a market for your art!


2. Find a Market to Sell Your Great Art

when you sit down to write, just write.

Eugene Schwartz, one of the greatest copywriters of all time, said this:

This is the copywriter's task: not to create mass desire, but to channel and direct it.

What he meant was this: you can't create demand for your art. You've got to find out what people already want and create a product that satisfies that desire.


Jeff Goins says in his book Real Artists Don't Starve that Thriving Artists (those who create Great Art) don't create anything original. They use what has come before, and offer a better arrangement of those ideas.


The remarkable thing is when you do this people will call your work "original"!


3. Get Active on Social Media

People can't buy your art if they don't know about it.

And they won't buy it if they don't know you.


Here's what you need to do to maximize your presence on social media:

  • Concentrate on two social media platforms.
  • Share things that benefit your ideal customer - articles, tips, or free samples.
  • Reply to those who comment. Have a conversation!
  • Ask open ended questions that get your tribe talking.
  • Use social media to build your e-mail list.

Social media is a great way for people to get to know you, trust you, and want to buy from you.


4. Blog About Your Art

Have you got a blog yet?


If not, you need one.


Maybe you're saying:

"Why do I need a blog? I'm not a writer. And I'm busy enough already."


A blog is another way for people to get to know you. Here's what you can post:

  • Articles about how you create your art
  • Tips for aspiring artists
  • Helpful posts that benefit your target customer
  • A photo gallery of your art, your shows, or your writing
  • Links to the art you have for sale

You can start with a free WordPress blog. Eventually, you'll want a self-hosted one. This will show you're a serious artist - a confident professional who is ready to do business.


5. Sell Your Art to Create More Art

I used to own a couple of children's clothing stores.

The number one priority for everyone in my company was selling. That's where the money is. The more you sell, the more merchandise you can buy to sell again. Focus on anything else and you'll be out of business.


It's the same way with your art. Sell it consistently, and you'll have money to make more art. Do that again and again, and you'll make a living for as long as you want!


You may bristle at this, but it's an undeniable fact. It takes money to live.


You don't sell your soul when you sell your art. You make the world a better place.


Can you think of anything nobler than that?


Do This Now!

Are you ready to prosper with your art?


Start the week by doing these things:

  • Start a blog if you haven't already.
  • Look for places you can sell your art.
  • Be intentional about your social media strategy.

You've made it to the end! Congratulations on being a great artist! I wish you much success as you implement these strategies!


I'd love to hear how this works for you. Share your story in the comments below.

I'll cheer for you, and you may inspire another great artist to prosper!


About Frank McKinley

Frank McKinley - guest author of this post
Frank McKinley - guest author of this post

Frank McKinley is a published author who has sold over 25,000 books. He's been writing since he could pick up a pen.


His mission is to help writers engage readers, sell their ideas, and build their tribes. Frank is the Founder of the Tribe Builder's Network, a place where writers can get the attention they deserve.


He lives in the Southern United States with his family and a dog named Jake.


Download Frank's free report Learn how you can sell 25,000 eBooks

For more great articles like this please visit his official website.


You can reach Frank via e-mail: frank@frankmckinleyauthor.com.


Head image credit: Crystal Ice Photography. Found on Sketches of Sofia.

Have your say!

  • Have you gone through any of the 5 steps? Which ones?
  • How does your Avatar (ideal client) look like?
  • What are the greatest challenges in selling your art?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and remember to tell your friends on social media!


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