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How to sell your art (when you don’t want to make the wrong choice)

By Jessica Craddock

Feb 17

My inbox is flooded with emails that say, "How do I sell my art?"

This is highly frustrating to me (not because they asked!) but because it's a symptom of a much larger issue.

There are so many shiny objects out there that claim to solve everything -- and I think the real question people are asking me is...

"Which thing actually works?"

Here's the secret: Any of them can work. It's how you fit them into your overall strategy that makes them successful or not.

The other part of the secret is knowing "how" is only part of the equation. The real work is deeper. It's inner work that creates the magic you're looking for. 

Combine strategy with inner work and you've got a killer combo.

Let me explain...

These will make you a successful artist (aka the real work)

You may or may not know these ideas already -- but that won't help you. In order for them to work, you have to learn them and live by them everyday. Where you "already do that", find ways to do it even more. Push your limits. Question yourself. 

Selling art in a way that feels light-years away requires you to morph into someone who is:

  • 1
    Brave enough to be imperfect
    I've watched people get stuck for YEARS trying to make everything just right before they start telling people about their work. They finally launch their shiny new website or Instagram and... crickets. They could have spent all that time spreading the word, learning what works and doesn't, and putting themselves out there, but instead, they now have to start from scratch. Find the simplest way to execute the thing you wish could be perfect, start talking, and edit as you go. 
  • 2
    Brave enough to stop self-censoring
    You can hit backspace every time you realize something you were about to say might offend or leave someone out, or you can learn to say it anyway. Censoring for what others might think is the easiest way to keep you in the sea of 'just like everyone else' - which is exactly what you don't want - because that's where all the competition is. Learn to be proud of being you.
  • 3
    Brave enough to remove the phrase "I can't because..." from your dictionary
    "I can't because..." is the same as removing opportunities from your plate. Your subconscious feeds you "I can't because" because it knows that thing will create change. Change isn't fun for your brain, because it has to work harder to figure out new situations instead of being comfortable firing through the same situations over and over. It's kinda lazy! We want to create change, because otherwise your life stays the same, and I know that's not what you want simply because you're reading this.
  • 4
    Able to make decisions quickly and decisively using your intuition
    There's the voices in your head, then there's inner knowing. It's not possible to listen to both at once. Voices = confusion where to go next. Inner knowing = your best path forward (which usually looks scary at first and requires trust!)
  • 5
    Consistently creating situations where magic can happen
    The difference between an artist who grows quickly and one who stays where they are year after year is the ability to look for opportunities. When something "isn't working" it's usually because you're completely attached to success looking a certain way. By learning to see doors opening and following the threads, you can find true success in almost any situation.
  • 6
    So dedicated to creating the life you want there is no other option. 
    Whether something works on not becomes irrelevant when you have this mindset. It changes the game to a problem to be solved rather than a reflection of whether or not you're failing/succeeding. It's not possible to fail because you would never stay down, so you move through disappointments much more quickly.

These pieces are why I've become highly focused on working in long containers with very limited numbers of people. I'm very dedicated to partnering with my clients on a supportive level — because this work is so hard to do alone for most of us.

I finally reached out to two online acquantainces about chatting about collaborating. And they both said yes! It's taken a lot of time to get more comfortable with reaching out and collaborating but it doesn't feel as scary as I thought it might. It also made me feel proactive. I've been working on these thoughts about being able to create something of my own, of making money offering something I love to do, of actually having AGENCY over how I create money and abundance in my life. It's taken quite a while to achieve this feeling but it's quietly exhilarating.

The "how" strategy (aka what you really wanted to know)

If you skimmed the part above to get here, go back. This section won't help you until you start practicing the ideas above every day, all day. If you're dedicated to embodying them, you can keep reading.

The strategy part, on the other hand, is really quite simple. It boils down to four things:

Make people aware that your art exists. 

Don't wait for people to find you. Find them! Tell them all the wonderful things you are doing!

For faster impact, focus on people/businesses who are more likely to connect to you, your art, and/or your message. Eliminate anyone you're not interested in talking to. This makes sure your time and energy is well spent and makes talking to people energy filling instead of another task to slodge through.

Next add in your vision - what direction sounds the most exciting to go next? Do you want to turn your work in to surface patterns? Collaborate with brands to create art for them? Get into galleries? Launch art collections?  There is no one right way -- only the way that is calling to you.

Incorporating your vision will help you decide what type of people you should be spending your time looking for and talking to to create the business of your dreams. 

If I think about what I've already learned it's amazing. I can now talk about my work and what it's about, my work has a message, who knew! I know what my vision is and I am starting to see the sort of people I want to either work with or get to know better. 

Nurture relationships 

Nurture relationships with people from above by starting conversations, showing love, extending invitations, and being completely unattached to what comes from these efforts. Create a base of true fans to grow from.

100 true fans can create a six-figure art business. Even if they aren't buying, they're talking about you to their friends, introducing you to opportunities, telling you where they hang out (so you can reach more people like them), promoting you... These people are solid gold.

Once you start, even just one place/shop/organization you feel a connection with, the opportunities from there starts to flow. Then you don’t need to push and strive very hard anymore, all you need to do is deliver well. So now I don’t have the pressure on my calendar to force myself to contact every single one on my orbit list, coming from a place of abundance and gratitude, I make connections. I go in to all the usual shops and places I visit during weekends with my family and drop of my business card and have a brief chat with them and see what happens, it kind of integrate into my life and I don’t need to plan and strive anymore.

Be in love with what you're selling. 

Find anything holding you back from being in love with what you make (is the price too low or too high? do you hate shipping? do you want to stop doing commissions? don't want to deal with canvases?). Eliminate the friction so you can't help but radiate magnetic energy that people want a piece of. 

When you do this, you stop having to convince people to buy from you. You become a natural salesperson in love with your own work and you stop wondering how to sell, you just do it. You can't help but talk about what you're making and why it's so amazing.

All that's left is to answer, "How do I get one?"

"I was afraid that, when becoming serious about selling my art, I would lose some of the artistic quality in my work. But the opposite happened. I am feeling more confident now. Jessica put an amazing amount of work into helping me. Much more than I had expected."

Re-read The Real Work

When you get stuck on any strategy piece, refer back to the list of the "real issues" above to get to the root of it. Work through it. Continue with strategy. Repeat.

Putting it all together

When you're deciding which shiny object to spend time on, think, "How can I fit this tool/technique into my flow of making finding ideal art buyers and making them aware of my work -> nurturing them -> gushing about what I have for sale?"

To be honest, we usually use tools to procrastinate getting our hands dirty and following the steps above in the simplest, most straightforward ways. Start with high touch, direct contact, and you'll grow much faster. Once you reach your capacity and are selling higher prices consistently, that's the ideal time to scale by incorporating tools into what you are already doing.

There you have it — the answer to "How do I sell my art?" 

Of course, we could talk for ages about the details and nuances of each of these pieces, but consider this your high-level overview of the strategy you've been searching for!

It's all out on the table! Is it everything you hoped it would be? Does it sound too easy? Too hard?

If you want to go deeper, find out more about working with me!

Do the work & create your luck,

About the Author

I teach intuitive artist entrepreneurs practical and energetic strategies to create consistent income and life balance.

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