One of the secrets to art business success that I teach artists is that “Connection is Key.” Your ability to thrive creatively is directly affected by your willingness and ability to connect with clients, strategic partners, mentors, and other creatives.
But what do you do if you live, work, and create in the middle of nowhere, or out in the boondocks, as we say down south? Is thriving while geographically isolated even possible? Well, the short answer is yes, and here are a few nuggets of wisdom that will help you thrive where you’ve been planted.
No matter where you live in the world, the internet is your gateway to connection. Even if you only have a cell phone and a mobile data plan, you can still:
So, where do you begin? Well, obviously, in today’s world, social media may be the best way to start building a connection with people online. Connecting with clients and strategic partners online is something you can do from anywhere. From regularly posting on a Facebook page or an Instagram account to posting your art process and how-to videos on YouTube, you’re only limited by your own imagination and a couple of tech tools like a phone, some basic lighting and internet connection.
But the benefits of social media for creatives don’t end there. One of the worst things about remote living can be a crushing sense of isolation, and it makes sense. We weren’t created to live alone. To combat isolation, consider starting your own Facebook group of fellow artists, joining an existing group or program (like my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program), and even starting a simple group chat or text among creative friends! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just get started.
Fine Tune Your Website
Online art sales exploded last year with close to $5 Billion worth of sales. For many artists that I know, 2020 was their best year ever. Now they did have to pivot to prosper during a global pandemic. Still, the fundamentals of what they did on their websites will help any artist succeed.
Your website should pique curiosity, showcase your talents, inspire and inform your visitor, all while providing a clear, simple pathway for them to connect to you and the art you create. A great website is a mobile-friendly hub where you display, describe, and inspire people through your art. It tells the story of who you are, building that initial connection with your visitor. Then it presents them with an opportunity to purchase right on your website or through a link to a third-party site like Etsy, Fine Art America, or Saatchi Art.
Go to Where the Fish Are
So down south, it’s said, “If you want to catch fish, you have to go to where the fish are.” Make sense, right? The same holds for selling art. If art is not selling in your local area, you sometimes have to be willing to travel to where people are buying art. At this point, you might be wondering, “But Matt, isn’t online sales enough?”
Well, yes, but mostly no. I’m a big believer in something I teach in the Mentoring Program called The Parthenon Plan ™ . I encourage artists to create a multi-pronged, multi-strategy approach to building their art businesses. This concept helps creatives build healthy businesses with multiple income streams through the variety of methods they use to connect with their clients.
In a nutshell, don’t have all your “eggs” in one basket. Over the years, I grew my art business both only online and in person. I learned early on that I had to be willing to travel. From Atlanta to Philadelphia, from Atlanta to Chicago, or from Asheville to New Orleans. I sought out the shows and opportunities where I knew that my best clients would be.
“But Matt, I don’t know where to go. What do I do?” First of all, don’t let not knowing something paralyze you. Begin with a little research:
As we begin to return to a sense of normality post-covid, in-person shows and sales will come back. We’ll see old shows return and new shows and opportunities to connect and sell in-person springing up for those willing to do a little “road work.”
The last thing that I would say is be intentional. Be intentional about going to where your best clients are. Be intentional about creating community online. Be intentional about developing strategic partnerships. Don’t be afraid to be deliberate and step out. Be prepared. You have got to build a net, if you will, to be able to catch all the “fish” that God is bringing into your art business.
I hope this has been an encouragement. Thanks for reading.
PS: Combating isolation is one of the reasons why I started the Created To Thrive Artist Mentoring Program. Created To Thrive is a world-wide community of artists that have banded together to be encouraged, inspired, mentored, and challenged. They are embracing their calling as Kingdom artists while living life together online. Sure, we host a couple of live events a year, but we connect on Facebook, post on Instagram, and chat regularly on Zoom for the rest of the year. For many of our geographically isolated members, this online community has allowed them to find “their people.” Created to Thrive is truly a band of brothers and sisters who encourage and inspire each other along the way.
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.