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Collaborations are a great way to get your art seen if you’re tired of social media

By Jessica Craddock

Sep 04

You're like a musk ox

Way back in 2016, I started keeping track of the things that I did inside The Artist Market Co. that made a difference in my business.

Each month, I record specific numbers that are most important to me.

The first time I started keeping track of where my email subscribers came from in January of 2017, I was proud to write down all FOUR of my new subscribers that week:

  • 2 subscribers from Instagram 
  • 1 subscriber from Pinterest
  • 1 subscriber from my Facebook group

That month, I was up to 83 email subscribers... no small feat for a new business owner. I was proud of those numbers.

For some of you, that may seem like diddly squat.

For others, that might look like a miracle.

The point I want to make, though, is that every time you put yourself out there, every small win you have, is a drop in the bucket.

And as sure as spring will come again (whether or not that groundhog sees his shadow), over time, those drops start adding up to your big goals.

So this week, instead of saying things like:

"Ya, one person signed up but my list is still small."

or "I only got one new follower."

or "I had a sale, but it was my friend so it doesn't count."

or "They only commissioned me because they knew someone who knew me."

I want you to say:

I am amazing. I am enough.
I am doing this.
I'm making progress.
I'm a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox.

Wait, what?

homework for an artist's online art business

Talk yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. You'll be amazed how those drops morph from feeling like reasons you aren't good enough to grand accomplishments...

... and that might be just enough to give you the strength and confidence to follow your dreams.

Next week I'll tell you a story about how I multiplied those drops in a big way, without even meaning to.

One way I like to build my audience without social media

One of the benefits of keeping track of what works in your business is that it helps you know how to simplify and do less.

And we all know... I looove to simplify.

To me, simplification doesn't mean making big sweeping changes in your life at once.

Simplification means:

  • Paying attention, not just once but on an ongoing basis.
  • Looking for the small baby steps that can create lasting change.
  • Making those small changes into habits so they can have a big impact over time.

Last week I told you how I celebrate the people who join my mailing list by writing down where they came from.

One of the reasons I do this is because it's a perspective changer that helps me see I'm making progress and builds my confidence. The other reason is that it helps me pay attention, so I know how to simplify.

Sometimes, I am testing out a strategy and recording the results.

Other times, I come across valuable information completely by accident.

That's what happened here. I discovered one of my favorite ways to build my audience and make sales, simply by paying attention.

(Now, this is one of my favorite techniques to teach, and I'll be doing so next month in Anchored Artist.)

In February of 2017, I was scrolling Facebook and came across a business I was drawn to that catered to creative entrepreneurs called Creative Founders. I dug a little deeper, downloaded one of their opt-ins, stalked some content, and decided I really liked the woman putting out all this content.

So I did something out of the ordinary for me: I emailed the founder and asked if she'd like to have a chat.

You know, meet. Like people do in real life. (Only she lived halfway around the world so we did it on the phone).

We ended up talking for an hour while I cooked dinner and my (then) three-year-old ran under my feet. It was so nice to meet someone online that could have a real conversation with.

Then, in March 2017, she decided to write a blog post called 10 Art Websites Every Aspiring Artist Should KnowI was flattered and thrilled, then more or less forgot about it.

But I kept keeping track of my numbers every month.

In April, I got four new email subscribers just from that article, which at the time, was almost double my usual number of subscribers.

More came the next month, and the month after that, and the month after that...

As of today, I have over five hundred new email subscribers from that article.

We've stayed in touch and done a few other things together since then, and I'm so grateful to have met this lovely woman.

Not only did I make a friend, but I found a way to simplify my business.

Instead of hoping every Instagram gets picked up by the algorithm, stressing every day about it, and spending an hour on every post, I can use it when I decide I want to. I don't have to rely on it.

I have alternatives.

I know how to grow my audience in ways that don't rely on social media - cuz she's a finicky one, amiright?

Collaborations and making new friends is one of those methods. It's invigorating, fulfilling, and easy.

Ahhh. My body relaxes just thinking about it.

If this way of building your audience and selling art interests you... consider joining me for Anchored Artist next month!

But for now, it's time to wrap it up. I have a call in a few minutes with some potential new friends. I'll tell you more about them next week.

homework for an artist's online art business

Start keeping track of your numbers. What's working for you?

How to ask for a collaboration in the right way

There are two places to look when you are considering your plan to sell more art:

  • What has worked in the past.
  • What you want to try.

Marketing and selling your art is a balancing game.

Energizing activities (new, inspired ideas) + already working activities (day-after-day consistency) = the growth you're looking for.

Sometimes the energizing ideas are full-blown start-from-scratch, learn from the bottom up. Like  for me, I'm trying the new app, Clubhouse to meet new people in a place that's uncurated and real. I just joined in btw, come find me @artistmarketco if you're a member.

Other inspired ideas might come in the easier form --

Tweaking things that are already working.

My new friends Kirsten and Nora had one such idea over at Wolf-Craft PR.

A few months back, they decided to try something new: a roundup of some of their favorite resources on their blog + letting the people they highlighted know what they were up to.

And as it turned out, they created new connections with some cool people.

  • Did they already know creating relationships and meeting new people is one of the most valuable things you can do to grow your business after ten years in PR? Sure.
  • Did they already know about the power of a good story and sharing valuable resources? Of course.
  • But had they done it in this way before? Not yet.

But they tried this tweak on what they already knew worked, enjoyed the process, and liked the results. They decided to add roundup posts to their marketing plan.

The next roundup they created was 17 Essential Business Boards for Makers, Designers, and Creative Entrepreneurs.

-- and guess who they included? 

After they hit publish, they sent me a short personal email letting me know what they'd done and inviting me to take a look.

I'd never met or heard of these girls before, but in this process they showed me:

  • They knew how to get my attention in an authentic way. I mentally noted this for my own PR needs in the future.
  • They understand how to grow their audience effectively, which generated extra faith in their abilities.
  • They weren't grabby or needy about wanting something in return, making me take real notice instead of blowing them off.

That's quite a lot of return for their efforts, don't you think?

And who knows what else has happened for them. I was only one of seventeen people on this one blog post.

So while it may or may not make sense for you to do a roundup of resources to sell more art, what I'd love for you to take away is that finding ways to make connections with other people is one of the best ways to start building your art business in a fast, genuine, fun way.

If you feel like you're spending hours marketing your art and nothing is happening, it might be time to try something new in your plan.

Next month in Anchored Artist, we'll be going deep into the power of collaborating to help buyers find you - why it's such a good strategy, how you can use it as an artist, ways to reach out to others without sounding needy, and the steps to follow.

If you think this might be a good next step for you, but you're not sure, just hit reply and share your situation. I'd love to hear it.

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Do the work & create your luck,

About the Author

I'm a consultant for artist entrepreneurs who have started building their following online but haven’t figured who would buy their art. My unique approach enables artists to create a signature brand around their art and work smarter so they can sell more & spend their days creating beautiful things. My clients have doubled their social media following, raised their prices, and sold 3x more art within a matter of months.

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