In Which I Get Told Off

Last week, I decided to visit a Toastmasters meeting.

After all, if I’m going to have a public speaking career, it’s pretty useful to be good at, you know, public speaking.

And much like the National Speaker’s Association, Toastmasters makes you get better.

Plus, it’s a nice way to meet interesting and ambitious people.

It was a nice event, I quite enjoyed it.

Except at the end, when the meeting was done and everyone was standing around in little clusters, chatting.

Moments like that, I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Yes, insecurities and shyness are part of Martin’s psyche too, just like with most people.

I looked around the room, and the only choice I saw was to make a quiet escape.

Grabbed my coat, my helmet, my rucksack, and sidled out of the room.

At that point, I started to enjoy the evening even less, because the event organiser collared me.

Telling me that it’s not done to sneak off like a thief in the night.

That, despite my protestations to the contrary, most all of those people didn’t know each other either, prior to the meeting.

So there’s nothing unique about me, I’m just like one of the others: new here.

And then (gotta hand it to ballsy Spanish women) she practically grabbed me by the ear and pulled me up:

“And the thing to do, Martin, when you’re in a situation like that, is you go up to a group of people and you say hello.


I’m trying to think of the last time a stranger told me off… can’t remember when that was.

Not that I mind: she was, of course, completely right.

Does that mean I’ll have it easier, next time around?

Maybe, maybe not.

But I’ll definitely go back and put myself in similar situations, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that difficult things get easier if you keep running into them.

And I’d much rather run headlong into something difficult, instead of running away from it.

Same with you and your business, now that I think of it:

Maybe you want to run away from the marketing side, the business activities, the communication of it all…

But you know as well as I do that doing so will only make it more difficult.

We’re not ostriches, even if half the time we try to act like we are.

So here’s my challenge for you today:

What’s the thing you’re afraid of, the one thing you pretend doesn’t exist?

What would life be like if it were no longer a problem or obstacle?

What if… you’d just go do it?

I dare you…

If you are up for it, if you do take the challenge, write back and let me know how it went…



This is SO Not Done – Maybe You Ought to Give It a Try

As we speak, my client Anook Cleonne is on her way to a large art fair in Germany.

Getting her prepared for it, she asks me what she should do to figure out whether a visitor is an art-buyer, or an industry professional instead.

Good question, because the way you talk to a potential buyer is very different from the way you talk to a gallerist, critic, collector or agent.

And nobody wears a label that states what side of the market they are on.

So I tell her: “I don’t know, why not just ask?

“Are you an art-lover, or are you a professional in the art industry?

“Very likely, a gallerist or agent won’t straight away tell you who they are, but if someone is NOT an art professional, they very probably will say they’re an art lover.

“Which means that anyone who does not give you a straight answer is very likely a professional”.

We’re on a skype call, and she looks at me with a slightly baffled look:

“That’s so not done!”

Which, to me, means it’s a great thing to do.

Why would you want to comply with the rules – just because they exist?

Seems like a pretty bad reason to me.

Besides, when something is considered not done, it’s usually the establishment that says so.

And isn’t the art establishment up for some serious overhaul and refurbishment?

Methinks yes.

So give it a try: when you’re at an official function, and someone comes to talk to you, just ask whence they come.

The results might amaze you: it’s a great conversation starter, to ask and show an interest in others.

It will also tell you exactly who you’re dealing with, meaning you won’t have to guess and there’s less of a chance you’ll say the wrong thing.

And, it’s a cheeky way to start a conversation.

And being cheeky = confidence = attractive = increasing your chances of selling something.

It’s these breakthrough moments that make my job so awesome.

To listen to people, and serve up solutions and suggestions that they’ve never considered before, and to help them see ways forward and upwards.

Yes, I love my work.

And if you want some of that for yourself, and work with me one on one, all you need to do is holler.



And Sometimes, You Just Need to Chuck It

In general, I’m passionate about persistence.

I’m always going on about action, and putting in the hours, and forging your way through rough patches.

But sometimes, you might be better off taking a break.

Some days, especially those when you’ve been banging your head against some or other difficult task, without much progress, you might be better off putting down your tools and going for a walk.

Take a bath, read a book, call a friend, or just do nothing for a while.

If anything, you probably deserve it.

And besides: if you’ve worn yourself out trying to fix or finish something and halfway through the day you’re exhausted and still on square one, how likely are you to make the problem go away with sheer doggedness?

Very likely, not very likely at all.

So why not step out and get some oxygen into your system?

The problem will still be there for you to deal with when you get back, don’t worry.

And nobody is going to fire you or scream at you if you don’t empty your inbox today.

Sometimes, you just need a break.

When you get back, you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the task, instead of trying to force yourself to slog on, despite knowing that today, well, just
ain’t the day.

But, only use this advice as an exception to the rule and not as your standard approach.

Because, yes, grit and persistence and relentless action – those are, in the end, what build your success.

You just need to know when to put in the effort, and when to step back and gather your strength.

I’m not talking about giving up – that’s never an option.

I’m talking about taking a break.

Because sometimes, you need and deserve it.



Pricing to Your Market vs the Right Market For Your Price

“I did lower my prices somewhat. Not much, but still.

“People in Spain just don’t pay as much for art as the people in Denmark do”.

Fair play, I think as I look at her paintings.

But fair or not, her paintings aren’t selling as much as possible, at this exhibition.

Which makes sense: It’s a whole different economy here in the South of Spain.

And yet…

There’s extremely affluent people in this area, and not just the odd one out.

Spanish or foreign, the coast is riddled with pockets of well-to-do folk, many of whom would be eager art buyers.

Except at this venue, they don’t seem to show up.

Which begs the question:

Should you adjust your prices to the market…

Or should you adjust your market to your prices?

See, you’ll never be able to influence, much less control, how much someone will pay for your work.

Even if you lower your prices, that’s no guarantee that you’ll sell.

Which you may have experienced for yourself.

What you can control however, is who you show your work to.

In other words: don’t adjust your prices, but adjust your market instead.

If you paint something and know it’s worth, say, $2000, the worst thing you could possibly do is start slashing your prices until you reach such a low point it’ll sell.

Terrible idea.

For one thing, it’s murderous for your self-esteem.

Not only that, it’s terrible for your economy, which is likely to cause stress and frustration.

Worst of all, it reduces your market (in your head) down to a small puddle of bargain-hunters.

When in fact, there’s a huge pool of very keen, well-paying art buyers out there, and you too can get yourself in front of them.

And you know what?

That kind of person, those who don’t notice the difference between a $1000 purchase or a $1500 purchase, they’ll be more keen when they see a higher price.

For people who can afford luxurious things, something that’s cheap is unattractive, not more attractive.

Simple psychology, really.

But, it does take guts to price your work high.

Then again, if you didn’t have courage you would have a dayjob instead of building your own business.

Believe me: the right kind of buyer, for your art and your prices, is out there.

Your task is to identify them and find ways to show up, confidently.


Not really, no.

Fantastically exciting adventure of discovery and relationship building?

Yep, definitely.

Once you find your own path, all this marketing stuff can become extremely enjoyable.

How to find that path?


You can study and implement and experiment, and given enough grit you’ll get there.

Or you can talk to me and I’ll help you figure out what methods a) will work for you and b) will be fun enough to keep doing until your business is a success.

Either way, your perfect buyer is out there.

Are you on the hunt to find them yet, or are you still looking for ways to please the wrong kind of person…?



Where DO You Get Your Guidance?

Interesting how sometimes, inspiration comes from the most unexpected places.

Today during a coaching session, for example.

An artist telling me she doesn’t like marketing and selling.

Or doing the business work involved in being a professional artist.

Something in me gets triggered, and I start to preach ye holy business truth:

You are the architect, the composer and the director of the grand opus called ‘your life’.

You design the way you want to live, whether you’re aware of it or not.

You choose the styles you work in, the materials and inspiration.

You’re the one who decides who are your peers and your friends, and they in turn influence you.

You choose where you want to live, and how much you want to charge for your work.

And, you are the one who either ignores the inspiration that comes to you, or instead ignores it.

And in all those big and small choices, you’re creating a masterful work of art.

It’s called ‘your life’ and it’s fully you.

Your life is yours, it fits you like your skin.

And, you’ve got full permission to shape that masterpiece just the way you want it.

You’re not beholden to any directives, you don’t need gatekeepers or permission-givers.

All you need is a plan, the grit to follow it, and of course, accepting that you’re a free agent.

Nobody will build your life-art for you, it would be impossible for anyone but you.

Which doesn’t mean you need to go it alone.

And, I don’t think you ought to try to.

Nobody is a rock, nobody lives in isolation.

At some time or other, we all need some help.

Maybe in order to learn something new, maybe to change the way we look at things, or maybe someone to keep us motivated.

This is important.

You might admire the success or status of someone else, and easily overlook the fact that they didn’t get there on their own.

Nobody does.

Every one of us gets help.

Can be for real, like with a coach or teacher or mentor, or it can be virtual.

Meaning: use the works, books, teachings of people, and treat it as if that person is coaching you virtually, even if the person doesn’t know you or is no
longer alive.

What would Steve Jobs have done?

What would Picasso?

How would Andy Warhol have reacted?

It’s not quite the same as getting one on one guidance, but you’ll be surprised what can happen if you treat someone you admire as a guide, and let
them ‘speak’ to your subconscious.

And of course if that’s not enough for you, and you want someone on board with you, on your team, you know where to find me.



Here’s What to Do Next (NEVER Miss This Opportunity)

I’ve written about this before, but it turns out not everyone got the memo.

So here goes again:

One of the most important opportunities as a business owner, and one which nearly everyone overlooks, is the…

“Here’s what next” moment.

With any given contact, you have a very small window of opportunity, a short moment where you get to tell the other person:

“This is what I suggest you do now”.

And it’s massively important – both online and offline.

Website, phonecalls, Facebook, real life meetings or the emails you send to potential buyers –  they all have in common that the reader or visitor or viewer gets to a point where
they’re open to your suggestion.

Not always and in all cases – but you’d better make sure you keep your eyes open and never miss the moment when it comes.

For example:

Someone sent me their new website.

A nice clean look, putting the focus squarely on the art.

So far so good.

But the homepage, where everyone lands, had a problem.

It showed a painting, with on it some text: “Exhibition, date, location, welcome”, more or less.

For the rest, the homepage had no text, aside from the navigation menu at the top.

At first site, it looks intriguing.

A sparse look can’t help but raise curiosity, but I guarantee that every visitor will get to a decision point: What next?

In general, there will be two choices: More, or leave?

Now here’s the problem: for reasons to do with psychology, the percentage of people who leave will be higher if you don’t clearly give a ‘this next’ suggestion.

You may think people are old and wise enough to decide for themselves what to do next, and yes.

Of course they are.

But don’t forget that there can be a 1000 reasons why someone chooses to leave.

Busy day, distracted, headache, tired, on a deadline and aware they’re procrastinating, or…

Simply not aware that reading or seeing more might be something they’d enjoy…

… unless you give them the suggestion.

Like it or not, sometimes people just need a little nudge – after all, we all end up tired and unfocused, from time to time.

Your being there with a question, request, or call to action, might be the difference.

Why this matters?

Because it’s hard work getting traffic to your site.

And if they visit and they don’t find what they want at that particular moment, they might leave and be gone forever.

Which makes your time and money investment in getting traffic a loss.

So, always invite people to do something next.

And the most useful next thing to do, when a person hears about you?

Them giving you permission to stay in touch.

Ideally, getting people on your email list.

But think further, think beyond that.

For example, last week at the art walk, I was talking to an artist, who said a visitor that morning said she wanted to buy the painting he was working on, and would be back later.

“So did you finish it?”

“Yes”, he told me.

“So you’re going to call her to come pick it up”.

He blushed: “I’m not a very good student of yours, Martin. I didn’t ask for her number or email address. I just hope she returns”.

My hear sank: what a missed opportunity.

All he would have had to do, is say: “If you give me your phone number, I’ll text you a picture once it’s done”.

The perfect ‘this next’ given the context, don’t you think?

Good chance she’d have agreed and given her number.

Which doesn’t guarantee a sale, but it sure gives you more opportunity than having no way to stay in touch.

Watch people, listen to them, observe closely: they always get to a point where they’re open to a suggested action.

When they get there, don’t miss your opportunity.

Online or offline: tell them what next.

Like so, for instance:

If you want to have your website get more subscribers or buyers, I’ll create a custom optimisation report for you.

Next, go here to get it, if you know you could get more results from your traffic –>



Art Makes Many People Rich. So Why Not Artists?

The other day, after I posted the interview with Mark McGuinness, a new reader writes in:


To be truthful, I was skeptical about you and your page, thinking: This is another person who wants to profit from art, just like so many gallerists, framers, shippers, storagers, museums, etc.

It amazes me how so many people want to profit from art, and still think that artists don’t have the right to do so.

Art really does provide a living for many. Why not artists?


Wow, so very to the point.

If you look at the world, you’ll see rows of people who are involved in the art industry, and who make a fine living or even a fine fortune…

But if you look closely, you’ll see there are far more people who are not artists who get to make a living, then there are artists.

At least, I think so. I haven’t done any research.

But there’s framers, gallerists, printers and canvas makers, there’s Winsor & Newton and FineArtAmerica, curators, musea with employees on payroll, agents and collectors, you’ve got your UPS shipping canvases and sculpture and let’s not forget, the government earning taxes on everything gets sold…

In other words, the fullscale industry that makes the art industry possible earns millions of people a living.

So why not artists?

Last time I checked, buying a Tesla is more easily achieved owning a gallery or building an online art sales platform, than it is being an artist.

And that just ain’t right.

Sing, dance, paint, write. Just live, for all I care – it doesn’t matter to me what your art is, as long as you live if at the top of your lungs.

And, earn a decent or even very fine living doing it.

So if my favourite ‘the world needs more art, you deserve to live well’ hasn’t rung true with you so far, try this one on for size:

Everyone else is making a living with art.

So why not you?

You’re an artist.

Why not you?



SHOCKING Exploitation of Artists…? (You’d Get Only Ten Percent of Sales!)

One of my coaching clients is working hard trying to find the best way to get her artwork printed on objects.

Clothing, pillows, canvases, etc – which sounds like easy, given the many Print on Demand companies on the internet.

But so far, none of the platforms is right for her purposes though.

So last week, she forwards me an email from yet another POD company.

“Is this a good deal?” she asks.

I recognise the company: they pitched me too.

I know – weird, right?

I’m not even a professional artist – all I’ve done is I started uploading my photos to Instagram.

They probably have a system in place that automatically sends emails to people when they do that, I don’t know.

Anyway, my client asked so I went to investigate.

Now this company handles all printing and shipping, so that sounds like a pretty sweet arrangement.

But… they only pay the artist a trifling ten percent of net sales.

Shocking, yes.

So, I write an email to the company: “What is that about, why would I or my clients use your service?

“At ten percent of net sales, the artist is getting the short end of the stick”.

The next day, a reply:

“We researched the industry, and 10% is the industry standard”.

Makes me wonder what industry that is: the one where savvy business people capitalise on exploiting artists?

Shameful, is what it is.

The reply also contained the remark that their service:

“…covers all of the manufacturing, page creation, ordering, packaging, charity donations, etc.”

Oh very nice. Plenty of places online where I can get that done, and get 50% or probably more.

And here’s the kicker:

It says nothing about actually handling the sales, or attracting buyers, or actually getting stuff sold.

Which probably means the artist is responsible for building an audience, getting traffic to the vendor website, and… putting 90% of the money in the site
owner’s pocket.

But you know what the biggest disgrace is?

Without you, the artist, that company wouldn’t even have a business.

Without artists creating stuff that people want to own, they’d have nothing to sell.

So yeah, I think it’s a pretty crap deal, and I’d never work with a company like that.

Maybe in some industries it’s a normal deal.

Maybe licensing works that way, I’m not an expert.

But I don’t like it, not in a setup where traffic and sales are not THE primary purpose and effort of the company.

Just like a gallery: I’d be happy to have them sell my photos and take 50% for it – but they’d BETTER work damn hard and clever to make those sales

Ah well.

In the end, you don’t even have to go with companies like that, or indeed with galleries.

You can have your own list, your own marketing, and your own sales.

With 100% of revenue going to you, instead of a slice.

The best way to do it?

Ok, simple steps:

1: Get people on your email list, by asking them in person and online (and give them a free gift in return)

2: Relentlessly communicate with them. Once a day, once a week, whatever you want, but be consistent

3: Don’t be shy: be in business instead. AKA: ask for the sale

Repeat steps 1 to 3 until your list is big enough to earn you however much you want to earn.

Bonus: in the meantime, you’ll start to have conversations with your subscribers, and build relationships, create fans and ambassadors…

In other words: the professional part of your business will become more social and fulfilling.

Marketing will become fun, because it will humanise itself more and more.

And you can’t beat that.

One on one writing training, for those who want to get serious about email marketing, is here –>



Clients Handed to You On a Silver Platter (Oh the Temerity of Entitlement)

There are people who think that the world owes them success.

That just because their work or their art is high quality, people should simply flock to them and pour cash over them.

But (and if you know me, you also know I’m good for a few harsh truths) that just doesn’t work.

You’re not owed success or wealth, no matter how good you are.

Back when we still had VCRs, Betamax was way better than VHS, but VHS won and became the standard, quality or no.

The story behind that is long and convoluted and has nothing to do with art, so let’s take Van Gogh as an example.

Good art, no?

Earned him nothing though, and he’s not the only artist in history who never got famous until after passing away.

If you want success as an artist, you’ll have to work for it.

You’ll need to earn it.

The quality of your art, that’s part of earning it.

But it’s not enough, not by itself.

You’ll have to get out there and get seen too.

In a sense, you can call that marketing – and I completely understand if that’s not what you want to be doing.

But seen differently, marketing your art is an act of service.

It’s a way to bring your vision of beauty, inspiration, or meaning, into the world.

And when you do that, you make the world a slightly better place.

Whether you sell or not, you do get to put something meaningful in front of people who just might feel better because of it.

And that in a nutshell is how you earn your success.

Because, like the poet and author Mark McGuinness told me when I interviewed him:

Artists perform an important public service.

So if you haven’t listened to it yet, please do.

It’ll change the way you see yourself, your world, and your place in it.

Not to mention the importance of your art and the solid fact that you deserve to earn well for it.

Listen to it here, if you haven’t yet –>



Tell Me If This Hurts

Sometimes, people tell me “I don’t have time to do any marketing”.

Whenever I hear that, I wonder: If that’s the case, then do you actually want to sell your work?

I know, this is harsh.

But if you want to build a living for yourself, as a self-employed and independent individual, you need to make tough choices.

In fact, the very decision to go it alone is a very tough choice – if not in the sense of deciding it, then certainly in terms of sticking with it.

So if that’s you, then you have my respect.

But beyond that, there’s also the very real fact that you can only build your enterprise into a success if you’re willing to face your demons.

You know, the little voices inside your head…

The ones that tell you the pie isn’t big enough…

… that you’re not worthy…

… that others have it better and are more lucky than you…

… that you’ll never manage to compete with other artists and become successful…

… that – worst of all – you can’t…

Because here’s a truth:

Whether you think you can or think you can’t: you’re right.

And this isn’t some airy-fairy new age thinking.

It’s solid fact, and it comes to you courtesy of the world of positive psychology.

Because that lump of grey matter you carry around, that’s a massively powerful tool.

But, only if you use it right, and most people don’t.

Myself included, but at the very least I’m trying and (hopefully getting better at it).

What I’ve learned so far might help you:

You need to pay attention to the way you think, because how you think determines your actions, and they in turn cause your results.

Your results confirm the way you were thinking in the first place, and hoopla:

The self-fulfilling prophesy is born.

But if you start to pay attention to that thinking, once you become aware of the nature of your constant internal dialogue, you can start to change it.

When you do that, you’ll start to choose differently, act differently, and you will start to see different consequences in your life.

And then?

Then those new observations and opportunities and happenings will confirm that – holy crap! – once you change your thinking, your external reality confirms that you’re right, that it’s a good thing to think differently.

And thus, you start to fulfill a different prophesy.

Again, this is simple human psychology.

And, it works if only you give it a serious, committed try.

This is why, when coaching people, I like to challenge them on their beliefs.

It’s so very useful to experience a different viewpoint and test it.

And it can be so easy – provided you dare to let go of what you’ve always thought of as true.

So I dare you, I challenge you:

Are you willing to change, really change – from the inside out and on into your world?



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