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

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

Art Sales, Luck Surface Area, and What Marketing REALLY Is

I firmly believe that we create our own luck.

Not just in terms of ‘luck favours the prepared’.

No, we get to actually create it, because as artists, creating is what we do.

But what do you do to create your own luck?

How does that work – do you cook it up in the kitchen, Breaking Bad style?

Paint it on a canvas, sing it?

Nope. It’s much simpler than that.

Luck is something that comes as a consequence of things like mindset, attitude, passion, and action.

Jason Roberts of the TechZing podcast calls it the luck surface area.

You know how certain materials absorb more sunlight or liquid, because their surface area is bigger?

Same mechanism applies to luck.
If you increase your luck surface area, you get to be more lucky.

And that means you get more lucky breaks – like sales, exposure, fame, fans and so on.

So how do you increase your luck surface area?

It’s simple. Jason even has a brilliantly simple formula for it.

Starts with the act of doing something that you’re passionate about.

And it follows with telling people about it.

Multiply those two, and the result is the size of your luck surface area.

Doing x Telling = Luck

Simple, no?

Very true though.

And the cute thing is, all ye who despise marketing and advertising, that he doesn’t talk about marketing.

It’s not about marketing, that’s just a (wildly abused) nomer.

What it is about, is telling people about the thing you do.

That is in the end all that marketing is.

Telling people about the thing you’re passionate about.

And why wouldn’t you?

You’re passionate about it, that art you make – so obviously you want to tell about it.

And because you’re passionate, people will want to listen to it.

And so the more you do it, and the more you tell people about it, the luckier you get.

This is why I’m putting email templates in the next LEAP.

Written according to the tried and tested rules of copywriting.

You just copy them, adjust as needed to fit your art business and your audience.

And then you hit send, and bam: you’re telling anyone who knows you and is interested in your work, about what you do.

And, what they can do to help you increase your reach.

Without you coming across as needy.

And seriously, why not?

You’ve already got an audience, big or small as the case may be.

If those people like your work, it’s only logical that they’ll help you.

People will be more than happy to help – if only you ask, and ask in the right way.

Sign up before midnight tonight to learn that right way.

Right here –>



The Tools, Mindset and Strategies You Need to Sell More of Your Art

Another reader writes in, asking how it works when you subscribe to the LEAP art marketing newsletter.

Specifically, are they sent in order, meaning you get last year’s issue #2 first and then onward from there?

So, let me round up how it works, what to expect, and what you get.

First, they are written and sent fresh each month.

So if you sign up today (or tomorrow by the latest, in case you want the September ‘art-business-hacks issue), the one I’m currently working on is the first one you receive.

It gets printed by a company in the USA, and it gets shipped to your door by registered mail, costs included in your membership.

This happens each first week of the month, so depending on where you live, you’ll generally receive the envelope between the 7th and 14th of each month.

With your first issue, you also receive a 4-page manual called ‘the Spyhole Salesman’s Business Secret’, which is a quickstart guide to creating a simple small product that you can launch each time you need some cashflow.

And, that first sale doesn’t only get you cash, it’s also a great low-threshold purchase for your customers, the start of a relationship.

It’s commonly known that it’s easier to garner a repeat sale than it is to find a brand new customer.

So by selling something at a low price (easier sale), it’s more likely that people will later come back to buy a more expensive work of art from you.

In addition to your membership, you also get virtually unlimited email access to me.

Within reason of course – but as long as it’s ‘one email, one question’ and I can answer them in a few minutes, I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

Because it’s important that you don’t have to go it alone.

And when you do sign up?

Then you just might be surprised by what you find inside the 16 pages I’ll send you each month.

Like last year, when a subscriber wanted to cancel her subscription: she had been hit with a dentist bill and was worried about finances.

But 5 minutes later she wrote again and told me to not cancel her membership, because:

“I changed my mind!!! I’d rather eat beans and rice than miss an issue”.

I put a lot of work into this newsletter.

The result is that you come away with actionable strategies, a different view on your work and your market, a mindset that sets you up for success and sales, and:

Provided you actually put the learnings into practice…

More sales of your art.

Go here if you want to see for yourself –>



When Art Saves Lives (Are You Marketing Yours Yet?)

Can art in fact save lives?

Judging by an email conversation I was having with a reader named Cendrine Marrouat, apparently yes.

This is what she wrote:


Unlike a majority of indie artists, I believe that you can make good, commercial art without selling your soul. And as you said, it’s sorely needed in this day and age.

I still remember the person who emailed me after reading my collection of poetry on death. She had been contemplating suicide for a long time. And then, reading my words triggered a complete U-turn in her life.


How’s that for proving that art must get seen?

Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Must be a beautiful experience, to realise that you made such a difference to a person.

With nothing but something that you created? Wow.

Of course things like that don’t happen every day.

But I believe that each time people see or read or hear your art, something happens.

Something changes, and you just never know what or how or to which extent.

Butterfly effect, and all that.

The point isn’t to save lives, or to be on big and high-falluting missions.

It’s about being aware that art matters, is important, and always has some sort of effect.

Most of the time, you’re not even aware of what happens to the viewer or listener.

But something happens, and that’s why art exists.

And to make those things happen, you were given a talent, an attitude, a view and a style.

They together define what your art is.

And your art makes a difference, no doubt.

Cendrine and her reader were lucky.

What kind of name is that anyway – Cendrine?

Sounds like a rainbow sandwich with a side of bliss. But I digress.

On topic: your gift and talent they’re meant to serve a purpose.

And they can only do that when you get good at becoming visible.

So get out there and make the difference that you want to see in the world, to badly paraphrase Gandhi.

Learn how in the next issue of my art marketing newsletter:



Like Listening to My Own Clone

Interesting to see what Johnny said, the other day on the interview.
At one point, it was almost as if I was hearing my clone talk to me.
That’s how similar his advice was to the way I see things, when it comes to selling art.
The most salient points:

Stories work, stories sell.

Show your work, your progress.

Give people a way to get to know you, to bond with you.

Allow your audience to get to like you.

And, always end whatever you write with some sort of ‘do this next’ call to action.

Can be a direct call to action a la ‘go here to view my gallery’, or a more mild ‘look me up at’ in your author bio when you publish a guest post.

Either way, never end anything you put out without giving people a suggestion, or invitation, or recommendation on which action to take next.

Not always to sell, but always to do something that logically follows after having just seen your video, your art, read your blog post, seen your Periscope and so on.

It’ll take me a few days to edit the audio and give you the download link, but it won’t take long.

I just need to finish creating the next LEAP first.

Which LEAP?

The one where I show you how to get the most result out of the smallest possible effort.

The one where you learn how to hack your art business, and apply the 80/20 principle and Occam’s razor to your business and marketing.

Meanwhile here’s the next most logical action, now that you have read this piece:

Sign up to make sure you get the September issue, over here –>



Once Again, Watch Me Ride My Hobby Horse *cracks whip*

Writes a reader:


One big hurdle or light bulb moment I had recently is that university sets you up for this ‘ideal’ artist career, who sells with a gallery and wins all these awards.

I question why is that the only way to work at your art business.

You can still have a good reputation by being autonomous from a gallery and work the web to your benefit. What do you think?”


What I think?

Oh please don’t get me started.

I mean, my hobby horse is still sore from the last time I rode the poor thing.

But it’s a problem though, because artists do really get sold this nonsense that you can’t make a living from your art, unless you get ‘discovered’ by the critics and galleries.

Just this morning, talking to an art biz coach in Holland: she teaches at schools and academies, and says that 90% of students just don’t think it can be done.

Not until that magical holy grail shows up, and you ride the frigging unicorn into the gallery, portfolio under your arm.

And when you do get that type of success, you still don’t get to own the business, because it’s the owner of the venue, that exalted permission-giver, who runs the show (your show) and owns the business (your business).

So, the solution:

Think of concentric circles.

The biggest one, that’s the art-audience at large.

Then next and smaller one, that’s the audience that likes your kind of work.

Next, a circle of people who know about you and your work specifically.

After that, a smaller circle of people who have communicated with you – email, an exhibition, social media, whatever.

That’s your own audience.

Smaller than that, your email subscribers – your list.

Even smaller – and partially overlapping the previous: your buyers

And the smallest: your fans, your ambassadors, the people who make it a point to look at your work before going to sleep.

The folk who consider you an actual part of their lives and would actually help you spread the word about you – if only you ask…

Which is something you ought to do.

And the people in the other circles, you should ask those for help too.

Because you’ll find that if only you show up and ask people for a leg-up, many people will.

When you look at it this way, each smaller circle holds more power, and is more ‘yours’ – eg is one of your very own business assets.

And you should build those circles out and grow them, because that’s how you go from being an artist, to being a business-owning, selling artist.

What to ask, and how, and of whom?

That’s what I’m putting in the next LEAP.

Available here –>



Systems, Efficiency, and Hacking a Tailor

I surveyed my workbench, checking that all the pieces and tools were there and in the right place.

It was perfect.

3 pairs of trousers cut out, all the trimmings and pocketing and zippers and buttons ready.

In the right order too; first the back panels, then the back pocket welts, then back pocket fabric, a button loop.

Next the right fly facing, then the zipper, next the left fly facing.

Pliers to break the zipper in two, chalk right there when I would need it.

It was good, and it was ready.

10 AM, and I launched into the job with vigour and single-pointed attention.

8 hours later, the three trousers were ready.

A new personal record.

Normally, that kind of trouser takes between five and six hours to make. Each.

But because I had created my own system and hacked it to perfection, I was able to do everything in one fell swoop, without ever thinking or stopping or looking for the next tool or piece of cloth.

I had hacked trouser making to such a fine point that I flew through the process.

This is what you can achieve if you create a system, and you optimise and perfect it.

And, that goes for your art marketing as well.

There are all kinds of things you can automate: from automatically feeding your blog updates into Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/SumbleUpon/Tumblr, to setting up curation tools like to automatically present you with interesting and useful content to share.

You can create a system to write emails on the fly, a system to track conversations with potential buyers, systems to track the creation process for sharing on social media.

Ideally, you have a system for everything that isn’t strictly part of the creation process.

Once you do that, and you start to experience the benefit of a well-designed system, everything becomes so much easier.

You’ll no longer have to think or plan, because you know what to do and when.

And that leaves your brain free to do what it’s good at: create.

You’ll be more creative, more perceptive, and your mind will be able to create new connections and come up with new ideas.

Systems are where it’s at.

And the best kinds are failsafe systems.

As in, things that work fully automatically, without your active involvement.

The thing to realise is that your art business itself is a system.

That’s what most people don’t get.

They go through the steps of running and building a business, constantly reinventing the wheel.

And yes, to a large degree I too am guilty of that.

But, I keep trying to create new systems, and perfect them, so that I’m more free to do the things that really matter.

And that means I’m much more at peace, even when things break or problems arise.

I’ll show you how an art business works, what kind of systems you can build, so that you are free to make the most out of your creativity.


As soon as you sign up for the LEAP program and the postman delivers the September issue to your door.

Go here next –>



Building an Art Business, One Stitch At a Time

Building a business, one stitch at a time

Here’s something that may help you get through dark times and difficult phases in building your business.

Because let’s face it: there are times we all deal with difficulties or doubts, your own little Stellar included.

So let me take you back a few years, to when I was still a bench tailor, making fine bespoke suits.

I was of the old school, meaning there was a lot of handwork in my suits.

You know: cross-legged on a table, deftly wielding a needle and a thimble.

The chest piece, for example, would get anywhere from 500 to 1000 handstitches, just millimeters apart.

Meditative work, well suited for an ex-monk.

But one hell of a lot of work.

What I enjoyed about it though, was seeing the buildup of results.

Starting out, you see a huge swath of cloth and there’s just so much ground to cover.

But with each stitch made, each row completed, you see that hey now – you’re making progress.

An hour in, and you could see the effort amass into results.

And when you’re in business, there’s something similar happening.

Problem is though, much of the work you do is invisible, you can’t see it build up over time.

Sure I now have over 400 posts on my blog but that’s just part of the mix.

Beyond that is the network I’ve built up and it’s largely invisible.

But I know that it’s much bigger than the people I know and am aware of.

Same thing with my learning: I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts at triple speed, read books, blogs, saw videos – but what I know I know is just a fraction of everything I’ve learned.

And then there’s the effect that my writing and coaching may or may not have had on people: there’s no way I could ever assess all of that.

Even when someone writes me with good feedback – that’s just what they say in that moment, and it’s only one person at a time.

All combined though… I’ve built up far more than I’m aware of.

For you, I’m pretty sure the same thing applies. Whether you’ve been an artpreneur for five years or 15, you’ve built up far more assets than you know.

But even that notion might not be enough.

For me it isn’t, anyway.

I need to see the stitches line up, I want to see the results accumulate.

So I’m going to stick a large calendar on my wall, and I’m going to track my activities.

Just like Seinfeld writes one joke a day every day, and marks that day on a big calendar with a cross.

It’s worked for him, so I’m giving this a try.

Here’s something you could give a try:

Think of the work you’ve done over the years, the network you’ve built up.

Start making a few lists of names and contact details (either email or phone).

One list is for friends and family, another for buyers, maybe one for students if you teach, and one for business contacts.

Then, create a separate list out of the people who are your biggest fans and supporters.

Next, make a plan to contact these people, with a simple question to help you become more visible.

As in: to share something on social media, or to think of people they know that you can contact, or to write you a testimonial – all depends on what will help you most right now.

Create a separate message for each list, and customise it if need be for certain individuals.

Hit send, or start dialling.

That way, you can amplify your reach rather quickly, build your list, and get your work in front of new potential buyers.

Not sure how to formulate such emails in a way that’s not pushy and not pushy?

Then sign up for the September LEAP, where you’ll find template emails written by yours truly (and remember, I used to be a copywriter, you bet they are going to work).

Signup for this issue closes on August 31st, so go here to get in on time –>



So if you ever end up in a slump, if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels or if you no longer see the forest for the trees, why not

In that you need to always keep moving, one foot before the next, buidiong up results.
For a long time, i’ll look like you aren’t achieving anything and you might feel ddisheartened.
But if you do keep at it, you’ll end up building a lot of content and momentum.
And there will come a moment when you can say yes, It’s ready. I can now wear this thing.

How Does This Make You Feel?

“I just really don’t like talking about how great I am, or how spectacular my work is”, says Kay during a coaching call.

Meanwhile I’m scrolling through her website, looking at the jewellery she makes.

And I have to say, it does look spectacular.

There’s a lot of taste in there, and a boatload of skills.

Kay’s lived from her art for 25 years – selling as well as teaching.

But, she’s never come to the point where it earned her a good living.

I switch back tot he skype window, and tell her:

“That’s a good thing, and you shouldn’t talk that way to begin with.

“Compare if you will the message ‘Look how gorgeous this pendant’

“With the message: ‘Now that you’re wearing that… how does it make you feel?’ ”

Kay gets it, instantly.

I smile as I see her face light up.

“Oh that I can do!” she beams at me.

This here is one of the most important lessons in sales and marketing: getting into *their* world.

See, if you try to convince people to see the beauty or specialness in what you make, you’re trying to get people into your world.

You’re trying to have people resonate with you and that’s the wrong way round.

Whereas if you ask the right questions, you step into their world.

And that’s where the sale happens, always.

Whatever it is you’re selling – an album, a painting, a dance – the sale happens in the other world, the world of the person trying to decide to buy or not.

Sounds counterintuitive right? Paradoxical even, or maybe contradictory, given that yesterday I was talking about how you want to get people to resonate with you.

It’s very logical and simple though.

You can get people to resonate with you, easily, but not by pointing at yourself (or even at your art).

Instead, you create resonance by pushing their button – plucking their string.

And how do you do that?

By talking about the things that matter to them.

Sounds complicated?

Worry ye not.

All shall be revealed in the next LEAP, and you can get it here –>



How to Hack Your Art Marketing With Resonance and Amplification

Looks like something resonated when I sent that piece yesterday.

You’ll remember: the one saying you don’t need permission from the art establishment, and you sure don’t need anyone’s approval.

An Aussie artist named Vanessa Baensch wrote back:


Hi Martin ~ you are so right!

This article just hit the target for me!

Thank you :)

I just realised that the sub-conscious fear I carry around – stopping me from moving forward with my “art-business” plans – is the fear of gallery-owner snobbery and related demoralisation.

I never had the courage to approach a gallery.  But that was 25 years ago. Before internet, or blogs, or websites or email…

Technology has brought me exposure opportunities that I should be embracing, but that fear of gallery-rejection has been holding me back.  But you just gave me permission to bypass the galleries!

F%#ing BRILLIANT!!!!

Thanks for the ‘light-bulb’.

Shine on, Martonomy, shine on :)

Vanessa from Australia


Couple of things I want you to take away from this.

First, the permission thing: You have permission.

There’s nobody stopping you, except you.

If there’s anyone in your way, it’s you and you know what?

You have permission to stop doing that.

You’re welcome.

Next, that validation thing.

Sure a gallery will know what will and won’t work in the market.

But at the same time, the art establishment also makes the market, which means that whether or not you get accepted or lauded depends not on your work, but on the business interests of the various stakeholders.

If a gallery doesn’t have the audience for your type of work they won’t sell you – and that says nothing about whether it’s good or not, or indeed sellable or not.

You know what tells you whether your work will sell?

YOUR audience.

When it resonates with them, that’s when you get to sell.

And that means you need to get out there and find that audience of yours.

And while we’re on the topic of resonance: I never use that word lightly.

It’s an important notion, in life as well as in business.

Scientists say that everything is a form of energy, and that everything has its own frequence of vibration.

And if you think about it, you’ll see all kinds of examples of how the vibration of one thing causes resonance in something else.

That portable Bluetooth speaker that looks like a tiny barrel?

How can that have such a rich bass, given that the woofer is only a few inches in diameter?

Simple: you put it on a table, and the table resonates, amplifying the vibrations.

Sing into a guitar, and the strings and body start to vibrate, resonate, with your voice.

Smile at someone, and they smile back.

Speak softly to a distressed child and they’ll calm down (well, most of the time).

It’s all different ways of using one type of energy to cause a resonance somewhere else.

And believe you me: there are people who resonate with your work.

I say go find them.

And when you do?

Then you plug in an amplifier and you cause the resonance to increase and spread out.

Can you hear me now?

And how you do that is what I’ll explain in the next LEAP.

She goes to the printer’s in a few short days.

Go here to make sure you get it –>



You Don't Need No Permission to Become a Successful Artist

A fairly heated discussion yesterday with Helen, the Irish lady who organises the annual art exhibit in this town.

Told me that galleries are useful for artists, that it helps get exposure.

Poor thing: she doesn’t know me very well, so I think she was a bit surprised to see me jump on my hobby horse and ride that sucker like there’s no tomorrow.

Because if there’s anything that gets to me, it’s when artists are stuck in an old-world, feudalistic system that lives to look after itself instead of after the artists.

Or, as the highly inspiring Ann Rea says:

“Side-step the permission and scarcity based art establishment. It’s broken”.

Of course it’s broken, it’s breaking more every day, what with the powerful tools we have at our disposal.

For example: if you’re an author you’re no longer at the mercy of the publishing industry because the internet has emancipated authors and artists alike.

You want to self-publish?

Nobody stopping you.

Same thing for painters: who says you can’t do your own promotion and client acquisition?

Musician? Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are your friends.

To be fair though, a gallery can have its use. It can indeed help you raise your exposure.

But if you start by aiming for the galleries you’re doing things the wrong way round.

You want to build your own audience and sales first, and only then go after the galleries.

Because once you have that audience of your own, it’ll be a lot easier to get your work into a gallery.

AND you’ll have your own audience to market to – regardless of whether a gallery takes you on or indeed sells your work.

Another thing I insist on: The gallery approach should never, ever, be the only route an artist goes for.

For starters, you always want to have multiple sales channels.

If only for the fact that if a gallery goes belly-up, or decides to drop you, you’re left out in the cold. And you wouldn’t be the first artist to see that happen.

Might have already happened to you.

Note that I’m not bashing galleries here – I just want you to be thoroughly aware that your own business should run on your own efforts and be built around your own list.

Galleries can be a part of the mix, but not necessarily. And it should never be the main course.

The old model is broken, no two ways about that.

You have the choice to try and wheedle your way into it, hoping you’ll get lucky and successful, or you can make use of the new model, where you’re the boss and you get to pick and choose how your work goes into the world.

You don’t need permission from critics, gallerists or promotors.

You don’t need to wait for approval or critical acclaim.

You just need to find a system that works for you and become expert at running and improving it.

Want to know how to go about that in simple, clear-cut step by step instructions?

The September LEAP will tell you how.

Get on board here –>



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