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

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

Hands Down the Best Kind of Marketing There Is? “I’d pay for that”

“Martin are you at home? I have a crate full of oranges for you”.

I tell him that I’m on my way to Switzerland by car, gone for at least a week.

But next time, yes please: “Oranges, mangoes, avocados – whatever you have too much of”.

“Ok Martin”, he says. “Have a safe trip”.

I put it to you that if you do your marketing really right, you can’t ever do too much of it.

Sometimes, people tell me they don’t want to spam their email subscribers, and I invariably say:

You can send daily, twice daily, or eve thrice, as long as you do it right.

Give the people what they want, and they want it all the time.

But in order to do that, you need to deliver real value.

As in: give people something that is valuable in an of itself.

Like the Spanish guy who called me.

He earns money by driving people to and from the airport.

He lives on a little finca, where he has a whole bunch of fruit trees.

And several times a year he shows up at my doorstep with buckets or crates full of produce.

Refuses to take any money: “I need to harvest it anyway, and it’s not enough to sell. So I just give it away. See you next time”.

Brilliant, what that guy does.

That right there is valuable marketing.

He gives away something that costs him nothing or very little, but which has real value to his clients.

Something which, when his produce is out of season, I would pay for and indeed do pay for.

And he doesn’t expect anything in return, except to be remembered.

His intention – aside from being genuinely generous – is to be top of mind with people when they need an airport run.

Helpful marketing.

Best kind there is.

What about you?

You can also give people something that has value to them and comes at little cost to you.

Email marketing, maybe?

Works for me and it would work for you – IF you do it.

And if you do it and do it right, people won’t think it spam, won’t complain, but will in fact thank you.

For your marketing messages.

How cool is that?

It’s not every day that people tell me thanks for these emails, but it happens a lot.

How about you?

You’ll be positively surprised (and your bank account too) if you start marketing in a way that delivers value to people.

And really, I don’t know what method is better than email marketing.

Want me to show you how to write and get all those benefits?

As in: fans, ambassadors, thanks and connections and sales?

Then go here and sign up for my mentorship program —>

Three months of intense writing training, and your business will never be the same, in a very good way.

Cheers from the road.


Art Makes and Defines Culture – Are You Selling Yours Yet?

No but seriously: are you doing everything you can to sell your art?

Yes indeed, a bit of tough love this morning.

But it’s for a good reason, because art in whatever shape or form is what always has shaped society, and still does.

You’re not just here to create beautiful things for the world.

You’re here, with the talents given to you, to change the world.

Even if your only intention is to create beautiful things.

If you put a beautiful flower in a bare white room, the entire room takes on an aspect of beauty.

That’s change.

That’s what you do.

Provided you actually get your work out there, of course.

And there’s more than just beauty.

Throughout the centuries, artists have been the ones to inspire, uplift, to create social change.

Shakespeare is still with us, as is Homer.

Cave paintings still show us facets of ancient history.

The masterful architecture of the Incas, that’s art too.

Now obviously, not everyone works on such a grand scale.

But even so: we as artists must get out there, and contribute to what our global culture looks like.

It’s our duty.

Imagine you’re a painter and speaker, and the topic of your art, your writing and your speaking is violence and women’s rights.

Definitely something that needs to be out there, because there’s still far too much of the former and too little of the latter.

And you, whatever art you make, also need to get out there.

If only for the fact that if you don’t contribute a bit of culture, Hollywood and its friends step in and foist some more commercially made formulaic crap on us, and then that becomes our culture.

So yeah. We need to get out there. Definitely.

I do too, which is why I’m starting to give seminars this year.

A domino effect: I teach artists how to get out there, and then they can get themselves out there.

And that way, we all put in our effort to build a healthy, and yes beautiful, culture.

Ah, you say. But you don’t live in Spain, so you can’t be there.

Fear ye not.

I’ve mentioned Emma Plunkett before, who happens to be a professional filmographer.

She’s going to film the entire event, so no matter where you live, you too can get access to 3 hours of art marketing teaching, courtesy of yours truly.

All you need to do is click the link, complete payment, and you’ll have the videos delivered to you automatically.

Which link?

I’m glad you asked.

That one –>



Date is Set – How to Build a Healthy Art Business!

The holidays are over, family has returned home, turkeys have been eaten, and the new year is rolling along nicely.

You have your goals set, your plans mapped out, your New Year’s resolutions in a drawer somewhere in the back of your mind…

… and as you look at your studio and your bank account, you wonder how you’re going to make the former grow the latter.

Your paintings or sculptures or books or songs… you KNOW there are people who want to buy them.

You’ve sold before, you’ve received kudos and compliments, and you know that this year, you ought to be able sell more and earn more.

But frankly, when you look at your income goal for this year, your eyes blur and overwhelm sets in.

Oh sure, you know about specific tactics that would work – shows, social media, conversations and galleries.

You are aware of the strategies that brought others the success you aspire to.

You have a network, you’re willing to put in the hours, you certainly don’t mind learning.

But where do you start?

How does it all together?

What should you spend your time on?

Where do you focus first?

Where do you find your ideal buyers?

What do you say to them?

What’s the 20% of effort that will bring you 80% of your results?


Frustrated, you close your laptop and trudge back to your studio.

At the end of the day, you’re happy with the work you’ve done, but there’s a nagging feeling that you’ve skipped over something vital.

As your kids shoot peas at each other and your husband talks about his day at work, your food gets cold while you’re busy pushing away the notion that if you only work in your business but not on your business, you won’t reach the goals you have set.

How do I know this so well?

Been there, done that.

Minus the kids and the husband, that is.

But, here come the cavalry.

Lieuwke Loth (owner of Luz de La Vida Gallery) and yours truly have finally settled on a date for my Art Marketing Masterclass.

We had planned it for December 19th, but everyone who wanted to come was either abroad, drunk, both, or had previous engagements.

But now, there are no more excuses.

The date is set, and the seminar will take place. Huzzah!

3 hours of hard teaching on pricing, publicity, sales, psychology, communication – everything that I’ve learned over the last 20 years, condensed into a 3 hour masterclass.


Out the window.

Learn how to build a healthy art business, so that you may prosper.

Details here –>



You Deserve One of My Suits

Of course, I no longer make suits.

But I want to illustrate something that has to do with pricing, confidence, and yes: sales of high-quality products.

Reason being that after yesterday’s missive, I received quite a few replies from artists, saying that it helped them so much to better understand the psychology of high-end buyers.

So if you haven’t read it, you might want to go back and see what happened.

But for now, let me take you back some 8 years or so.

I’m in a fancy hotel room in a European capital, dressed in one of my own handmade suits.

My order forms and measurement sheets are on the desk, and on the bed is a wide array of swatch books.

Worsted’s, tweeds, Prince of Wales windowpane, silk and Egyptian cotton for shirts – the lot.

I’m open for business.

Any moment now, reception might call to say there’s a customer wanting to see me.

Except, the phone doesn’t ring.

Back in those days, I didn’t know much about marketing, and yes, I laboured under the impression that the quality of my suits would sell itself.

Expensive, this trip: flights for my girlfriend and me, three cities and three posh hotels… and not a single customer.

Frustrated, I loosen my tie and sit down to write an email to my list, remembering my conversation with Hugh MacLeod.

Confidence sells?

Ok, let’s see.

Tap tap go my fingers:

“You deserve one of my suits.

“They’re that good”.

I finish the post, explaining why my suits are, as they say in England, the bee’s knees, and I hit send.

The next day, a London banker writes an email:

“Martin, I want one. When can you come to London to measure me up?”

Holy crap.

Confidence does indeed sell.

Remember, this was just weeks after I’d bumped my suit prices up 500 Euro.

Before that, most inquiries were of the type “How much? Oh, I don’t have that kind of budget”.

But by raising my rates, and being confident that they’re worth it, suddenly I positioned myself for a whole different type of customer.

The kind who doesn’t haggle, but who just wants the real deal and for whom the price isn’t an issue.

You can do the same, if you are courageous enough.

And yeah, I know it can be scary.

But you don’t need to double your rates overnight, especially if you depend on your sales for your livelihood.

You can also go by increments of 10 or 20 percent over time.

I happen to be the brazen kind, and also: in those days I still had my dad’s inheritance to back me, so I could afford to run an experiment.

But whether you go for gold or incremental increase instead, I assure you that the higher your prices, the higher quality your clients.

And, when you earn more you get more time to be truly creative.

Hire a studio assistant, for example, or outsource some of your rote business chores.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’ll guide you through the process, if you know and understand the value of direct, one on one coaching.

Just hit reply and let me know what you do and where you want to go.



When Does Art Become a Product?

Hugh MacLeod once drew a cartoon that answers that question.

We see an artist and a gallery visitor, who asks:

“And do you sell your paintings?”

The artist replies: “No. My paintings aren’t ‘products’, you bourgeoisie bastard.”

And, I can certainly understand how he feels.

But let’s look at that a little closer.

Art is a pure and inspired thing, right?

You may want to make money with it, but you create for the love of it, correct?

So far so good.

What happens though when someone buys – gives you money and takes it home – is that it has become a product.

And I’m using the word product strictly in terms of an exchange of values.

The work of art – be it a song, or painting, or sculpture – has a value in terms of meaning, inspiration, materials, and time, to name but a few.

What you get in return for all that is money (and hopefully, a goodly amount of it).

That’s it, that’s all there is to it.

See, it’s not about productising your art, or – puke – commercialising it.

I’m talking only about making something that another person wants so bad that they’ll part with money in order to have it.

So in a sense, art becomes a product the moment you put it out into the world and hang a pricetag on it.

But quite often when I coach artists, they are very conflicted about this.

Some people feel that getting paid for their work devalues it, turns it into a commodity.

The interesting thing though, is that this only applies when you give your work away too cheaply.

When you know, and feel, that a painting is worth $1000 and you accept a mere $400, that’s when you devalue your work.

And more importantly: you devalue yourself.

You’re telling yourself, the buyer and the universe, that your work really is only worth a pittance.

For your own self-esteem, that’s deadly.

For the buyer, it’s an outright put-off.

And if it isn’t, I don’t think that buyer is the right kind of buyer for you.

They’ll take the piece at $400 but not at $1000?

That’s as much as they’ll value it?

Then I’d say you need to ask yourself if you want that person to have the piece.

Sure you might need the money, but you definitely need to aim for a higher segment of the market.

And believe me, that higher segment exists.

But they won’t take you seriously enough to buy from you, exactly because your prices are too low.

It’s an interesting psychology, actually.

People who are affluent and who like to spend good money on quality products or works of art, they won’t be turned on by things that are affordable.

Beyond a certain point – and this is something else I learned from Hugh MacLeod – people stop caring about ‘value for money’.

When people are on the other side of that tipping point, they spend a lot of money exactly because it’s expensive.

Hugh told me this over a beer in a London pub.

I was still a bespoke tailor at that point, and he asked me how much my suits sold for.

Suits that took about 100 hours to make.

I told him 1200 Euros, and he nearly choked on his beer.

Told me this: “Why do people spend hundreds of thousands on a sports car?”

“Because something that luxurious is worth it?”, I ventured.

“No”, he said. People spend lavish amounts because they can. Nothing more”.

I went home, raised my suits by 500 Euros, and within a few days I’d sold another one.

Neatly proving his point.


Your art is art.

Putting it into the world with a price on it makes it available for purchase.

And the higher the price, the less ‘affordable’, the more you’ll attract the kind of buyer who’ll actually pay what it’s worth.

Scary stuff, raising your prices?

Doesn’t have to be.

When you work with me and I coach you, you’ll find that it get easier and more fun and more profitable to be an artist.

And all the while you just need to create art, not products.

Hit reply if earning more, from more high-end clients, is something that interests you.

If you’re brave enough to do it, I might be skilled enough to coach you through the process.

Want to find out?

Let me know…



Stoopid Obvious Success Habit

Whatever happened to MTV?

Not the thing it is now, but the real, original MTV, when the M still stood for ‘music’?

Anyway, I used to love that.

Especially the ads they had inbetween the songs.

Real artsy, but meaningful too.

One of them said: “Books. Feed your mind”.

There was your friendly little Stellar, barely grown out of his breeches, and every so often the message: Feed your mind.

You bet I took that to heart.

And if there’s anything I can credit for getting to where I am today, it’s a lifelong mission of learning.

Eternal student, that’s me.

And the curious thing is that all successful people share the learning habit.

Or maybe it’s not curious at all, but just logical.

Not that getting smart is going to bring you success by itself.

Academic knowledge, books-in-mind is nice, but only useful for the mind.

You’ll have to do something with that knowledge too.

Which is a topic for another day.

Point is, unless you learn, you won’t know what you should be working on.

Which is why so many entrepreneurs spend their day running around like headless chickens, always putting out fires and getting distracted by new shiny objects.

What to learn?


Biographies of successful people are excellent, because they allow you to let your brain to follow in their footsteps, as it were.

There’s actually a bit of neuroscience behind how that works.

But how-to material is also good.

And it doesn’t have to be books either:

Seminars, podcasts, youtube – or simply finding someone who will be your mentor: if you are serious about learning, you can learn everywhere, all the time.

And if you’re serious about your success as a creative professional, you’d better get your learn on.

Unless your head is already full, in which case decisive action might be a better idea.

What kind of action to take, that’s not always easy to figure out.

Choices, choices.

But it gets a lot easier when you have a coach who understands business, psychology and marketing, and who can help you make the best decisions.

Let me know if you want help from a salty and savvy creative entrepeneur, and we’ll see if we’re a good match.



Success Without This Habit? Fuhgeddaboutit

The other day when interviewing Mark McGuinness (the interview is edited and should be live some time next week), he surprised me.

Said that I’m good at interviewing people.

I’d never considered it – I just do what I always do.

Which is: I ask a question, and then I listen. A lot.

Whoda thunk that that makes for a good interviewer?

Thing is though, that way you learn a lot about people.

When you let a person go on talking, they get to a point where they’ve answered your question.

And if at that point you stay mute, and only hum or ask ‘tell me more’ or ‘why’ or ‘how does that work’, that’s when the magic happens.

When people talk beyond answering the question, they tap into further thoughts, deeper motives, and the subconscious starts to push things to the surface that wouldn’t get the chance if you would ‘get in the way’.

This is why successful people tend to be good listeners.

For one thing, someone who listens carefully is perceived in a very friendly way.

Whereas someone who’s always talking, well we don’t like them as much, do we?

And that’s important because until someone knows you, trusts you and likes you, they won’t buy from you.

But it gets better.

When you really listen to people, you learn what makes them tick, what doubts they may have about their purchase, what their desires and feelings are like.

That’s why a long, deep conversation isn’t just fun: it’s actual market research.

And the best part of it?

When people talk long enough, they themselves tell you how they like to be ‘sold to’.

Give someone enough time, and they themselves will give you the cues that indicate that they’re ready and willing to buy your work.

And at that point you don’t even need to do any ‘selling’ any more.

At that point, all you need to do is ask: “So, would you like to own this?”

And if all works out, the answer will be yes, more often than you’d expect.

Listen to people.

Explain why your art is what it is, what they can expect, how it works, or whatever other doubt they tell you about.

Then ask if they want to make the decision to buy.

And you shall prosper.

There you go: the LEAP marketing approach in a nutshell.

And the best thing of doing your marketing like this?

It’s totally people-based, it all centres around conversations and relationships.

In other words: it’s fun. (I can tell you from experience).

Want to know how much fun?

Only one way to find out, and that’s doing it.

Ask questions, listen to people, and a world of knowledge and insights will unlock.

And let’s not forget relationships.

And if you want help and guidance and teaching?

Then I’m here for you if and when you’re ready to invest and take your business to the next level.



Another Success Habit – Don’t Skip This One

You know another thing that successful people do, almost without fail or exception?

They plan things.

Whether in detail or in broad strokes, people who go places tend to get there because they planned to.

And I’m not talking about a plan in your mind.

That’s not planning – that’s just wishful thinking combined with unscheduled ideas and events.

Planning means sitting down to look at the big picture, stretches of time, milestones and their connected prerequisites.

On paper or on a screen, that doesn’t matter.

But having a plan sure does.

For example:

Me, I never used to make any plans.

I always flew by the seat of my pants, always reacting to whatever happened without actually creating things to happen.

Except this time.

Last week, I spent two entire days planning out the first quarter.

And I’m REALLY happy I took that time.

Because something extremely urgent came up.

A friend is over from Holland with his girlfriend, and she fell ill on the 31st.

She nor he speak Spanish, and her affliction was serious.

Life-threatening (actually: lethal) if untreated.

So I spent two entire days and many hours on the phone, talking to doctors and nurses and translating.

Which means that my entire carefully laid out plan became null and void even before the first working day of the year.

(She had an operation btw, and is getting better real fast, so no worries).

Now in a normal year, if my half-assed plan would have been thwarted, I would have abandoned all planning and gone back to seat-of-pants.

This time around though, I know what’s on the cards, what needs to happen, and all I need to do is go back to my files and adjust my planning and

No harm done, just a bit of delay, which is never a big deal.


If you want this year to rock, and you want to finally become a prosperous artist, you could do worse than to get serious about your calendar.

Take a day for it, even, or two.

And if you need help, let me know.


Habits of Successful Artists, #2: Show your work

I’ve yet to meet an artists who didn’t get results from showing their work.

You might not realise it, but to others you have a magical aura.

You create things, you invent and conjure and call up the muse and then you produce something utterly unique.

Can you even remotely imagine how magical that is to others?

I mean come on: You actually are an inspired individual, and you do something with that inspiration, instead of letting it dissipate like so many people do.

You don’t live a life of quiet desperation – no, if you despair at all you do it out loud.

And then you write or sing or paint about it.

How cool is that?

And how many people live like that?

Only artists do, creative people, folk like you and me who turn inner movements into outer manifestation.

And I swear: that’s magical to other people.

Which means that for people to meet you, see your work, talk to you, can easily be an unforgettable experience.

You don’t need to be the bubbliest personality either: it’s not about who you are, it’s about WHAT you are.

And you are a maker of things.

This is precisely why I’ll say until I die that an artist needs to have the conversations themselves, instead of relegating it to galleries.

Show your work.

Make it a habit, and make it a habit to start conversations with people.

They’ll love you for it.

Effective, successful artists know this, and make a habit out of it.

And so can you.

Not sure how to do it?

Where to find people?

How to assess if they’re interested or not?

You don’t know how to have that conversation?

Then maybe you ought to join me at the seminar at the end of the month.

It’s three hours of in-depth art marketing training.

And after it, you’ll never see yourself, your world, or your place in it in the same way.

In a very good way.

Ah, you say, you don’t live in Spain?

No worries: I’m having the entire seminar filmed by a professional videographer.

So if you can’t make it, you can still get the whole show and learn how a healthy art business works.

The only difference is that you won’t be able to shake my hand, but my hands will be sweaty anyway, so not much lost.

I’d send you to the registration page, but I’m waiting on Lieuwke to confirm the date.

It was originally slated for January 12, but this last week I’ve spent several days in hospital with a  friend, so we’ve had to move it to the end of the month.

Tomorrow, registration should be open, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific questions about your art business, hit reply and let me know, so that – provided there’s enough time and it’s a good question, I can answer it in the Q&A afterwards.



The 7 Habits of Successful, Prosperous Artists

Let’s do something fun this week.

Let’s have a look at some of the habits that all successful artists (all successful people, for that matter) share.

Today, number one: Ass in studio

This is a simple one: if you don’t make art, you can’t sell art.

A stellar example of which is yours truly.

I don’t make art, I only dabble: a bit of sketching one month, some photography another month, sing a few songs when the company is right, and that’s about it.

Which is why one of my clients even tells me that I’m not an artist (I beg to differ, but it’s a matter of definitions and not relevant to today’s point).

Fact is, I don’t have an artistic ambition at this point so I don’t really make anything.

Hence, I have no art to sell.

But if you’re going to sell any art, you’ll have to put in the hours.

It’s all very nice to say you’re writing a novel or that you’re a painter, but if you never actually write or paint, all you’re building is the story you tell yourself, but not your body of work.

Now, there’s a delicate balance you need to keep in mind.

If all you ever do is create art, you’re not going to sell anything either, no matter how much you make or how good it is.

Nobody will beat a path to your door unless you open the door and get outside to invite people in.

Which we’ll tackle in the next few emails in this series.

So: put in the hours.

Don’t procrastinate or dilly-dally.

Make art, sell art, in whichever balance works for you.

And if ever you doubt, if you’re not sure if your work is good enough or whether or not the world is waiting for it or if it’s sellable:

It doesn’t matter.

Make it anyway.

That’s why you were given your ability: to make things, for the sheer love of it.

Selling it, growing a business, fame and/or fortune: all that comes as a consequence of making things.

And if you already have a creative habit, and you’re ready to show it to the world and make a good living from it, maybe I can help.

If you want someone on your team, someone who understands what makes people buy and who can give you tailored strategies that are not boilerplate but that fit with your personality, style and art…

… then let me know.

We’ll talk, we’ll explore the possibilities, and we’ll discover if we’re a good match.



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