The Best Business Model for Artists?

A reader writes in, asking what I consider the best business model for artists.

Which is a good question, and the answer is simple:

There’s only one business strategy, in three basic steps:

1. a constantly growing list of interested individuals

2. a well-planned and consistently executed strategy for communicating with them

3. something for sale at the right price.

Very simple.

Very buildable.

And, extremely adaptable: it applies to online as well as offline business, and to any medium or social interaction you could find yourself in.

It even applies when you yourself don’t do the business, but have agents or gallerists do it all for you.

Except in that case you don’t own the list (and therefore you could ask yourself whether you actually own your own art business, but that’s not the point
today).

Now, how you build the list, communicate with them, and what you sell at which prices, that’s when it can quickly get complicated.

Doesn’t have to be though.

I like to keep things simple, and fun.

So, I ask questions like these:

What way of communicating with people do you enjoy most?

Where can you find communities of people who will buy your work, and can you become part of those communities?

How could you create systems for meeting those people, having conversations, and inviting people to sign up to your list?

In what way are you going to talk with those subscribers in order to get your work sold…? Studio updates?

Emails with stories and behind-the curtains insights?

Video blogging?

Invite them to events, shows or meetings, and communicate with them that way?

Plenty of options, hundreds to choose from.

And when I coach people on building their business, it’s questions like these that get answered.

There’s no one single method or strategy that works for everyone – it’s always a question of what will work for you, and a large part of that is an emphasis on what you’re good at.

Now aside from the above very simple business model, there’s another question that needs to be addressed:

Revenue and cashflow – how you gonna get it?

Because if it’s not making money, it’s not a business (yet).

Surprisingly, the best way to have people give you money for your work, is to ask for it.

If you don’t, if you don’t appear open for business, it’s going to be difficult to actually build one.

Not that you should plead with people, or beg, or appear needy.

No, all you need to do is state that ‘this is for sale’, in whatever way fits your style, your brand, and your audience.

Like so, for example:

My brain is for sale.

Get in touch if you want a slice of it.

Cheerio,

Martin

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