Artist marketing plan (1994)

YOU: Being clear about what you want to achieve.

Hope London
Creative Business & Entrepreneurship | 2 January 2011
This excerpt is from Gerri Morris & Hope London Morris’s book Marketing for artists and crafts people, chapter one, entitled “YOU: Being clear about what you want to achieve”, pp. 2-3, published by North West Arts Board, 1994, ISBN 0-9501990-5-2.

On seizing opportunities

“Sometimes your excitement covers any fear, like finding this rare opportunity of a 3500 foot studio— in an old mill building which I talked my way into and cleaned up; it was derelict. I got myself a good deal by being honest and talking about the work and what I’m doing and how I imagine it to go on. The loss to the landlord would have been nil. Talking about your work with conviction is quite powerful, and you learn to use that as you go along. You become more aware of the power of that and how it affects other people.”

The decision to make a living as a maker
The commitment to making a living as an artist or craftsperson is really the starting point of any marketing plan. Once you are on the road to mastering your chosen discipline, the next step is to make the basic decision whether or not you want your work to support you, in whole or in part, possibly in combination with other work.

As part of this decision-making process, there is a valuable exercise you can do. For a moment at least, put aside the question of whether you think this goal is achievable. Just ask yourself if it is honestly what you want. Your inner belief that you are doing what you want to be doing will be the one thing that drives you to make a success of it... and remember, too, that you can define what constitutes success for you. Once you have formulated your vision about your work and what you want to achieve, you need to be able to sustain it and find ways to move forward. The basic guidelines below may help.

Guidelines for self-motivation and a positive approach

  • Set goals. Declaring your intention to do something is a powerful motivating force.
  • Speak about your work with enthusiasm. This is not insincere “sales talk”, but a natural result of your commitment to what you are doing. Communicating your commitment to your work and projects is an effective way to reach people who are interested in what you are doing, know someone else who might be, or have information that might be of value.
  • Find supportive people with whom you can share your ideas, doubts, and experiences. (Note that “supportive” doesn’t mean people who agree with everything you say— support may come in the form of people who have been through similar experiences themselves, and can warn you about the pitfalls.)
  • Talk to knowledgeable people in similar and related fields at every opportunity. Talking can be a way of trying out ideas, discovering potential problems as well as possibilities, and generating contacts. It is also good practice for making presentations to buyers, curators, bank managers, agents, potential employers, grant-making bodies, etc.
  • Start collecting information for your reference, and names for your mailing list.
  • Follow up every lead you get, though they won’t all be fruitful. Each will be a learning experience, at least; you only need one successful result to get started.
  • Let your commitment to your goals and belief in your work outweigh your fears about trying things, when appropriate (for instance, when an opportunity comes up to expand in a new direction).
  • Assess your progress periodically and honestly, and make whatever adjustments and changes are required to stay on course. Be willing to accept constructive criticism about your work and marketing issues (e.g. pricing).