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« A.C.T. Featured Artists: How Professional Artists View Art Market Changes | Main | Art Business: The Bones of Your Art Business »

Art Marketing: Move Your Marketing Muscles

To read this article, you are using the busiest muscles in your body, and until I pointed this out, you didn't even think about it. Your eye muscles blink about 100,00 times a day - and you don't have to think "blink, blink, blink...." (I'm having cataract surgery soon so I am actually thinking about this a lot!)

You don't have to make millions of decisions to blink, breathe or make your heart pump blood to and from your heart and through your body day and night. Thank you body.

Skeletal muscles pull our bones closer together or further apart, with our joints acting as pivot points. We barely notice the brain impulses that initiate common activities like chewing, talking or walking.  These movements are second nature, like making art is to artists.

Muscle tissue makes up about 35 to 40% of your body. When we decide to move, we make conscious choices that are in our control - a good thing since gravity seems to be in charge of some parts of my body as I "gracefully" age.

Build your art marketing muscle.

When you start a fitness program, you don't get results overnight. You work the program by yourself or with a personal trainer. You keep doing what works, and you change what doesn't. You keep at it until you get results.

Marketing results do not come automatically connected to art talents. You build your marketing muscle the same way, so that you can move your art career forward and build momentum.

There's obviously more to muscling up your art marketing than I can cover in one post, but I can give you three easy warm-ups that may encourage you to add more moves to your repertoire.

Take Stock of Your Current Strengths

Before you begin a marketing fitness program, you'll narrow the gap if you start by taking stock of what you already have going for you.

What are you already feeling good about in your art marketing? 

For example,

  • You have a strong body of signature work
  • You can describe your typical viewer profile
  • You have found venues where your work shows well

You can add to the list later, but for now, name three things you have going for you.

Take Your Daily Art Marketing Pulse

Anyone who has joined a fitness club has seen the crowds right after New Year, all jazzed about a better body and wearing brand new sneakers and matching tank tops. How many of these eager exercisers are still showing up by March?

The hard part is sticking to your workouts until they pay off. I built my art marketing muscles one at a time, starting with the major ones. Over time, I worked on supporting activities with a team.

The biggest muscle in your art business is your art. Most artists don't have much difficulty choosing the studio over situps.

Next comes any activity with fixed deadlines where you have already made a commitment and someone is counting on you to deliver. Not letting folks down seems logical, even to a creative brain.

After that comes working on future possibilities. Not so obvious but necessary to support your artist lifestyle.

Before you launch into the heavy lifting of your day, take your art marketing pulse:

  • How strong is your creative energy today?
  • What activity would most raise your credibility, visibility or desirability?
  • Who is expecting you to deliver on a promise within the next week?

Add to Your Current Strengths

Notice I did not say, "Write down your weaknesses." You don't want to feel bad before you even start!

No, better to start with marketing muscles you can already flex but which could take you further if they were stronger or supported by adjacent business bones.

If you have all the time in the world, you can start with your long-term vision of a healthy art business and work backwards to break down all the marketing steps to get there. (Today may not be the day for this, but treat yourself before the year is out. You'll be the one in the gym ahead of all the rest come January.)

For now, try the "baby steps" approach so you can see immediate progress:

  • Which relationships do you need to begin or nurture to build trust?
  • What is the next conversation you need to have about an exhibit or commission?
  • Who trusts you enough to consider exhibiting, representing or buying your art?

What's Your Next Move?

Last week, I bragged about my bone density score. That didn't just happen. I was heading for osteoporosis, so I decided to strengthen my bones and improve my range of motion. The results so far have me pumped to continue and do even more.

I'm lucky to naturally be flexible enough to touch my palms to the floor, and walking has made my calf muscles strong.  Now I want to build my quads and core strength, so I can touch my fingers to my toes in V-sits.

Whatever the reason you read this far, know that you can build your art marketing muscle the same way athletes tend to their fitness. Decide how strong you want your art business to be, design a simple regular marketing routine, get some support and show up to work the program until your dedication pays off. With each move made, you'll be more likely to take the next step, and the next and the next....

Read more like this:
The Bones of Your Art Business
The Brain and Face of Your Art Business
A.C.T. Featured Artists: How Professional Artists Direct Their Art Business


Please post your replies here or on Facebook and Twitter.

You do have to do the workout yourself but you don't have to do it alone. Consider joining the A.C.T. community of artists in our online programs.

If you are an emerging artist and want to build a strong business foundation, check out "Start Your Business."

If you have already set up your business, and want some company strengthening your art business thinking and structure you can "Build Your Art Business."

If you have a growing art business business, and want some support moving your marketing on a regular basis, we can work together on a custom program.

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