Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Here, Let Me Prove Some Pudding to You

Reader Susan writes in with a few remarks, following yesterday’s email.

Says she:


Hey… There are websites that cater directly to artist.  That got all bells and whistles and are less then a few hundred a year.

But the artist has to upload and update all info.  We find people took us more seriously when we got our website, vs not.  Though FB appears to be a better platform….

Ps – love what you are doing, and thank you.



Couple of interesting things to glean.

For one thing, the fact that you can get fully tricked out websites, built especially for artists, for a very reasonable fee.

And I do admit, there’s a lot to be said for something automated: you won’t have to learn how PHP works, or HTML and so on.

And I can attest: maintaining my website is one of my least favourite tasks.

Something always seems to want to break when I touch it.

But is the trade-off worth it?

“People took us more seriously when we got our website”.

So when you have your own site, your own platform, people take you more seriously?

I find that fascinating.

Not that I’m the least bit surprised.

Every serious buyer knows that an artist who takes himself seriously is effectively in business.

And if you have your own platform, you demonstrate, for all to see, that you do in fact take yourself and your art and your business seriously.

Final learning: The last line, the PS.

Loves what I’m doing and thanks me.

Before you think I’m bringing that up because I’m arrogant:

It’s got nothing to do with me.

Instead, it’s because of the email system I use, the one I keep saying you would do well to use for yourself.

And, I can teach you how to do it, and send sales getting emails like a boss – in the March issue of the LEAP marketing newsletter.

IF you go here and sign up, before Sunday midnight –>



P.s. I’m currently editing the recording I did with Jimmy, where we go through the survey results and answer the pressing questions and dramatic dilemmas.

And I gotta tell you: there’s a lot of no-holds barred, no-bs, no-excuses goodness in it.

Watch your inbox, I’ll be sending you the download link later today.

Your Art, You, Marketing and Selling: Will It Blend?

There’s one way to sell art that people keep telling me is very effective:

On the street.

Which makes sense, but it also has some important drawbacks.

For one thing, location is incredibly important: choose the wrong street and all you get is passersby who can’t afford to pay good rates, or who don’t care much for the finer things in life.

And depending on where you live, that might mean it’s not an option for you.

Besides: my impression is that most if not all street-selling happens at rates that are too low.

Then there’s the fact that you’ll need skin as thick as that of an elephant.

If 1 in 100 people stop to look and 1 in 1000 buy, that wears on you like you wouldn’t believe.

Definitely not for everybody.

And, not all types of art are suited to taking to the streets.

Large canvasses, sculpture, installation art – you get the picture.

But it’s a fact that if you’re visible, you’re more likely to sell your work.

And on the street – well, you’re eminently visible there.

So what is the thing that makes it so effective, aside from being visible?

I think it’s one single thing: You.

Because don’t forget: if people buy a piece of art, they also buy a piece of the artist’s story.

They watch you, read your body language, get a feeling, exchange questions and ideas…

All that is part of the buying process.

And it’s much more important than you might imagine.

It gives them a story to take home, along with the painting.

“Hey, you got a new painting?”

“I do! I bought from this wonderfully funny/charming/intriguing artist on the street, last week!”

People love stories – hearing them, but also telling them.

And if you add yourself in the mix, you give people a story.

This is why blogs can be so effective for marketing – art or otherwise: it shows people who is behind the scenes.

And it’s why I don’t think galleries or sites like Etsy are especially useful.

It’s more impersonal that way, and that means people don’t connect with you on an emotional level as much as when they interact with you directly.

So, what if you can’t go and sell on the street?

If you want to command the prices that your work is worth?

Simple: Send emails.

I tell you, it’s fun, it’s easy, it’s incredibly personal, and best of all?

Sending emails to people who are interested in you is free.

Oh, and let’s not forget: it creates a bond between you and the reader, which forges trust and gets them to like you.

So if you’re even half serious about selling your work, and if you’re willing to invest a little money and an hour a day, send emails.


And if you’re not sure how to go about it, I’ll show you with examples, template subject headers and detailed instructions how to do it, in the next issue of the LEAP Newsletter.

Next, go here –> and sign up before Sunday’s deadline.



Now I Look Like TinTin, and She Won't Get My Business Again

“How do you want it?”

I sat down in the chair, and as she draped the cape thingy around my neck and shoulders, I said:

“Long. Just some cleaning up, please.”

She got out her shears, and got to work.

You know that song, the one that goes: “The first cut it the deepest”?


At the first stroke, I knew things weren’t going to end well.

But it was too late: All I could do was watch, as great big tufts of hair slid down the nylon cape.

Snip, snip, snip.

“How do you like it?”, she asked.

“It’s very short”, careful not to hurt her feelings.

“It’s much better like this! Hazme caso!”

That means: trust me.

Which I used to, but what I got wasn’t what I asked for.

In winter, I prefer my hair a little longer. More warmth, more comfort.

And while her cut was better than the dishevelled pile of straw I walked in with, it’s not what I asked for.

Right now, I sincerely and severely look like Tintin.

All that’s missing is a blue sweater and plus-four trousers.

There’s a school of thought that says the customers isn’t always right.

Which, depending on the context and situation, can be true.

For example, if you’re working on a freelance project and the client keeps adding tasks to a job – scope creep – the customer isn’t right, and renegotiation is in order.

Or if you’re commissioned to make a portrait and once you’re done they say: ‘Can you add my daughter in as well?’ – then the customer isn’t right.

But if the customer asks for something specific, clearly so, and the vendor delivers something entirely different?

In that case the vendor didn’t listen, and he or she was in the wrong.

This – listening – is precisely why the newsletter is called LEAP.

Listen – Explain – Ask – Profit, in that order.

People may not always know what they want, they might at times ask for something that wouldn’t satisfy them.

But it’s your job as a professional to listen and to suss out exactly what they want – or, you use listening to figure out where to find those people who want exactly that what you make.

It’s a pity, this hairdo.

I like the girl, she’s a good hairdresser, but this is now the third time she forced her decision on me.

Next time, I will have to look for someone else.

The short of it:

You gotta listen if ever you want to become good at selling your art.

No two ways about it.

Whether we’re talking about commissioned work or creating art that’s aligned with your ideal audience’s desires – you’re the one responsible for paying enough attention to know what people want.

Or indeed to find those who want your particular style.

Not always easy.

But there is, of course, help:

Each month, I tell you all kinds of ways to use listening so as to find the right audience, and to sell your work to them.

Helps everyone: you sell more work, people get what they really want.

Ethical marketing in a nutshell.

And that gets you sales.

Get it here –>



Act With Confidence: Let Me Show You How It's Done

Scaffolding of the next LEAP, ready to fill in…

Last night, Jimmy and I did a little test drive for this week’s upcoming call, during which I’ll answer questions from last week’s survey.

I found it… difficult.

Unnerving, actually.

I mean, usually I’m not easily lost for words.

But with a camera staring at me, it wasn’t quite the same.

I felt self-conscious: aware of my um’s and ah’s, my stammering, my looking off-screen while thinking…

Not at all the kind of ‘professional webinar’ type stuff that other people make.

And if it were completely up to me, I’d probably skip it and write something instead.

But, that takes a lot of time (just the 16 pages of LEAP take anywhere from 5 to 8 days each month).

And I just don’t want you to wait until I have enough time for that.

Besides, my intention isn’t to produce a highly polished, professional looking, semi-informational-but-50%-sales-pitch event for you.

I want to answer your questions, as many as I can, as fast as I can.

So with the help of Jimmy I’m just going to go ahead and do it, whether I’m confident or not.

Whether I feel like it, or not.

And to be completely honest, I don’t 100% feel like it.

But guess what?

That matters nought.

So to make sure I actually do it, I’m telling you about it in advance.

What can I say? I know myself…

Anyway, that will be next Friday.

Will I answer all questions?

Probably not, since we have one hour but I have 15+ pages of questions.

Besides, I simply don’t know all the answers. Nobody does.

But anything that I can answer, I will.

And whether I feel confident that it’ll turn out right, I’ll do what Seth Godin preaches:

Ship it. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, go here to get on board LEAP in time –>
Only a few days left to get the email marketing instructional…



An Embarrassing Secret I Need to Share With You

For all the ‘get yerself out there’ I keep telling you…

All the ‘find your mice and you will be like cheese to them’…

The relentless ‘you can do this, if only you try’…

There’s hypocrisy in it all, and it’s time I get rid of it.

Zarquon help me, I’m coming out of the closet.

Here goes:

I have a book in me, a novel.

It’s a philosophical sci-fi comedy noir, and I would LOVE to write, publish, and sell it.

I’ve chewed on it for over a decade.

Last year, I wrote a few chapters of it, and the people who read them said it was quite good.

But – and this is where I’m ashamed of my hypocrisy – I’m doing nothing whatsoever to write the whole thing.

Let alone market it.


Excuses, nothing more.

“No time to write” – bollocks.

If I had put in 30 minutes a day since last year, it would have been finished.

And I can afford 30 minutes a day.

“I don’t have the storyline clear yet” – nonsense.

I have the outline in scaffolding, and as a writer I know for a fact that as I go along writing, the rest will fall into place.

“I don’t know how to market books” – oh come ON Martin.

Aren’t you the guy who keeps saying that what you don’t know, you can learn? Sheesh.

Heck, I could ‘do a Dickens’ and let it run itself.

Charles Dickens wrote many of his works as weekly installments.

I could do the same thing: post a chapter a week on a blog, and once the whole thing is done I could stick it up on Amazon as an ebook and sell it for $7.

And you know, I wish I would.

But I haven’t yet, and I have to admit that I resent myself for that.

Tons of excuses, and no writing.

Or, like they say in Dutch: lots of bleating, but very little wool.

What can I say?

I have in front of me a very large bottle of my own medicine.

And it’s mocking me, staring me in the face with a menacing grimace.

My trembling hand reaches out for it.

An invisible force seems to hold me back.

I push and strain, I axe away viciously at excuses, limiting beliefs and doubts.

“We’ve got humans!” wants, needs, begs to be written.

To be continued…

Incidentally, what also begs to be written is the next LEAP, starting tomorrow.

Get it here –>



How to Cast a Wider Net and Stop Barking Up the Wrong Trees

Also: how to mix metaphors, but I digress.

A survey comment:

“I do have good public response to the work but people don’t seem to want to pay what the work is valued.

Everyone wants extremely deep discounts.

I don’t feel the work is overpriced, I’ve looked at this carefully.”

Nasty problem, but luckily, there’s a simple solution.

In the copywriting world, they say:

“Sell to the wolves, not to the dogs”.

Meaning: find a hungry market, and offer your product or service to them.

If you keep being pestered by bargain-hunters, tire-kickers and freebie-seekers, the problem is that you’re putting your work in front of the wrong people.

Two reasons why that’s bad news: first, you won’t sell at any sort of decent rate.

Secondly (and this is more damaging than you think): it changes the mindset out of which you operate.

If you say (or think) “Everyone wants extremely deep discounts”, that tells me that this has become a fixture in your mind.

That it’s become a modus-operandi assumption.

Which (as described in the February LEAP) determines which opportunities you’ll perceive.

It influences what you consider real possibilities.

In other words: it becomes a limiting belief.

So the thing to do is to expand your perception: look at a larger sample of the market, and aim for that.

Stop looking at the dorks who don’t value your work, and just tell them “No”.

If you put yourself in front of those folk, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Forget ‘em, move on.

Start looking for people who do want to pay good rates.

They’re out there.

Believe me.

You just need to get better at finding them.

Which is something you can learn.

And learning is what you’re made for, so what’s stopping you?


Time can be a problem.

But you can afford 30 minutes of daily learning.

Yes, you can. Skip some time on Fakebook or TV, for example.

If you spend 30 minutes a day learning how to reach a broader audience for just a few months, you’ll end up tons smarter pretty fast.

It all adds up.

The solution to problems?

Learning how to solve them.


And here’s where you go if you want in on the March LEAP –>

Some good learning in there, if I say so myself.



On Knitting Yoghurt. Also: I'm Humbled

Lending a hand whenever possible…


I’m seriously thrilled, impressed, thankful and humbled.

SO many people took the survey – and SO much information was shared.

Thank you, so very much.

That said, there was also a bit of disappointment:

Only 1% (GASP) of people who took the survey said they could live off their art sales, and 74% said ‘not at all’.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Only 19% people said they were confident about selling their art.

Only 20% feel they earn a fair price.

56% of respondents said that they were stuck, marketing their art.

Obviously, that means there’s work to do for this little Stellar.

Because as I’m fond of saying: the world NEEDS more art.

More art makes the world more beautiful.

Which means that if you learn to sell, you do the world a service.

Well, here come the cavalry.

Here’s the deal: I mentioned that I would create an ebook out of the questions and problems in the survey.

But, I gotta better idea:

I’m going to turn it into an audio course – that way I can cover MUCH more ground in less time.

And, as promised, you as a reader will get free access.

So, stay tuned for that – couple of weeks, and you’ll get the download link in your inbox.

Meanwhile, let’s look at a few of the individual answers:

“I give it away usually. Have given away over 60 paintings, mainly commissions – just can’t ask someone to pay money for something that has been so easy for me to do. OR can’t ask for money for something that after 40 tortured hours creating I am still unsure of whether it is finished or not.”

What the what?

You give away your art?

But… how… what… – What???

Look, I understand insecurity, and doubt.

But consider this simple and proven fact: when someone pays for something, they appreciate it more.

In fact, the more they pay, the higher they will rate things.

Blind test wine tasting proves it over and over again: Present $3 plonk from a carton in a luxury bottle, and even seasoned experts will rate it as high-grade vintage.

So if you don’t ask money, you’re doing the receiver a disservice.

Besides, I consider it degrading to yourself, to not earn good money for your work.

The fact that it is easy for you doesn’t mean it has no value.

“Mr Picasso, why 30.000 Francs? That drawing of my poodle took you 5 minutes!”

“No madam. That took me 30 years.”

Another one:

“An online friend who sells cards told me” Take your supplies cost, multiply by 3 to get the selling cost” which is what I do, but some cards take way more time than the 3x supplies gives me. Not sure where to go on that.”

Nothing as worthless as bad advice, is where to go.

Those numbers just don’t work, not at all.

Makes a truckload of no sense.

What about your time, does that not get factored in?

One more:

“last minute pity on the client, wanting them to have the work, and feeling that any sale is better than none.”

Sure, but that also means that any sale is better than valuing yourself.

Like Hugh MacLeod once told me, over a beer in a London pub:

“If you don’t value yourself, how are others going to be able to value you?”


Last one:

“I~ am unsure. Pricing art is like trying to knit yoghurt. My personal choice of selling is compensation for never being able to hold that piece again.”

Knitting yoghurt – ha, I like that.

It’s not that hard though – the LEAP issue on pricing made short work of that. (Available on back order for subscribers).

I do like the notion of ‘never being able to hold that piece again.

That’s really precious, we can all learn from that.

Anyway, must get on: I have probably 4 hours of audio to record.

And, another LEAP to write.

The upcoming issue?

Down & dirty, nitty-gritty, hands-on instructions on how to write emails that get read, loved, opened, commented on and bought from.

Get it here –>

Cheery bye

And hey?

This Probably Isn't For You

It’s amazing to see what happens, when someone makes it their mission to write something every single day.

Like Preeti Helena, for example.

She’s an email mentorship student who went through the mentorship program with me.

And graduated with honours, btw.

Brave one, too: She’d always considered herself as not much of a writer.

In the sense that while she knew that she was able to write good stuff, she just never enjoyed it.

Which meant she avoided it, and a writer who doesn’t write isn’t really a writer.

These days though, she’s on a roll.

She pared down from daily to twice a week for practical reasons, but still.

Every time I see her emails come in,  they’re original, fun, inspiring, and helpful.

In that sense, a daily writing practice is definitely a form of therapy.

She went from ‘gah, no’ to ‘love it!’.

And, her readers love it too.

Each week she receives words of gratitude, and inquiries, and sales.

Here’s what she told me:


“You really unlocked the writer in me.

“I’ve always felt that I had a book in me, and often when I reread something I’d written I felt it was pretty good, but writing had always been enormously stressful.

“Nowadays I really enjoy the daily writing, and I feel like: “Yeah, I can write”.

“And I get the feedback from people, that’s a great thing too.

“The thing is to just write, and not think of what comes out.

“You supported me, showed me how to just write, but then you also turned it into a form that wasn’t just self-exploration:

“You helped me turn it into a situation where I actually have something for other people to feel inspired with.

“You did unlock it, with your little process and your persistence. Thank you.”


Excuse me while I go and feel smug for a minute. Thanks.

I’ve seen it happen with several people: once they actually got down to it, committed, and stuck with the daily practice, all kinds of things started to fall into place.

For themselves as well as for their business.

It gives focus, purpose and clarity to your work and your days.

I dare say it changes everything.

So if you want that, I can help.

Mentorship really works.

And by the way: when I say ‘gift wrap’, I mean that.

If you sign up for email marketing mentorship before the end of the month, I’ll give you one hour of consulting, completely free.

But, a word of warning: This mentorship program is hard work.

Or maybe I should say: I am hard work.

I’ll expect to see a rough draft every workday, for 3 months straight.

I’ll give you support and help, but also no-BS feedback.

Remember Karate Kid, and wax-on, wax off?

I’m like that Kung-fu master: relentless but just, compassionate yet merciless, and willing to do whatever it takes to bring out the best in you.

Believe me, while it’s a highly effective and life-transforming process, it ain’t no walk in the park.

So if you’re not ready, willing and able to handle that…

If you’re not committed to taking your art business to the next level…

Then do not go here:



What's Love Got to Do With It? (Oh, the Things I Don't Know)

If you ask a biologist, love is a biochemical reaction that maintains species.

A neurochemical process to do with hormones and instinct.

If you ask a religious believer, he or she will tell you it’s God.

Ask a philosopher and he’ll ponderously expound on themes such as existence, humanity, and truth.

If you ask a psychologist, they’ll likely tell you it’s emotions.

Ask a linguist and he’ll tell you it’s a socio-semantic construct.

And if you ask me…

You get no answer.

I’d just smile at you, most probably.

Because for all my years of introspection and meditation…

Despite having ‘fallen in love’ many times – with women, with life, with meditation, with music, and most recently with art…

I just have no clue what it is, what it means, what it’s for, or when it’s real.

No idea.

But I do know one thing: if you do love, or if you are in love – act on it.

This life is too short to shield ourselves, or to hide our emotions, or to play safe.

Be brazen, be audacious – be in love.

Like Brendon Burchard likes to say: “Live openly, love fully, and make a difference”.

Today, I wish for someone special to show up and express their love for you.



One thing useful to fall in love with? Daily email-writing.

Help here –>

Something You Need To Know About Running a Healthy Creative Business, Told By a Custom Tailor

Ceramica Los Alfares, Cordoba, Spain

Yesterday I spent some time on Skype with a gent named Kevin, owner of a tailoring company in Pennsylvania.

He’s a member of the tailor’s forum I moderate, and he told me some pretty interesting things about how to run a successful business as a creative.

Because make no mistake: creating handmade suits is an art, quite literally.

There may be maths involved, but if you’re not an artist, your suits will look just as if they’d come out of a factory.

The thing with tailors though, is that they’re just as bad – if not worse – as artists, when it comes to marketing and promoting their work.

Which, incidentally, is how I burned through my $150K inheritance when I was still a tailor.

Anyway, Kevin’s not like that.

He realised that while it’s great to make classic garments for the Plainfolk communities, and fancy suits for local businessmen, he also needs to pay the bills.

And look, there’s only so many people who can afford handmade clothing and are willing to pay for the luxury f it.

So, when he started his company he quickly decided to include different types of clothing – nothing fancy or artsy – just series of well-made, affordable garments that don’t require a master-tailor.

Items that a skilled worker can produce, serialised, and that can be sold in quantities instead of one-offs.

The result?

Not bad, not bad at all. He recently bought a church and moved his company into it (it looked STUNNING! The light… oh god, the light – would that any artist or tailor had such a studio)

But I digress.

Kevin has several employees, who get cross-trained in the production of different types of garments.

They can be assigned tasks depending on which part of his business is busiest at any given time.

And, he’s able to keep working on what he loves most: Handmade fine suits, and Irish embroidery.

Now, most tailors would snub at that.

“I only make bespoke suits. Sir”.

Which is part of the reason that the tailoring trade is having such a hard time and why so many tailors go out of business.

Sad, but true.

Not Kevin though.

He understands that a business has cost and needs growth, and he’s always been willing to use ‘less interesting’ work in order to enable him to keep creating his art.

The lesson to learn?

Well, maybe consider your own options:

Would it be beneath you to create, or sell, work that isn’t your most creative work – but that people like
to buy and that pays your bills?

To sell prints, calendars, cards?

Commission work?

It’s sound business practice, you know.

And if you’re an artist and you want to have the freedom to make a living creating things you truly love, why not?

I mean, how about this: last fall I went to Cordoba with a friend, who wanted to buy plates and cups and stuff – so I took him to one of the many artisanal potters there.

A whole warehouse full of cups, plates, pots, jugs – all very nice stuff.

But then I saw that the guy is actually a really good painter, creating magnificent artwork on the vases he makes.

He doesn’t sell many of them – but by making series of tableware, he gets to stay alive, and that enables him to create exquisitely painted decorative pieces.


Maybe, at times.


I’ll say.

Good for staying in business?


What about you?



P.s. Go here to learn how to actually sell your original or bill-paying work, with nothing more than a fun 30-minute email a day –>

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