Intro to the Art Marketing


I run marketing at a company called Art Storefronts. If you guys have never heard of us, what do we do? We sell software. It’s a hosted e-commerce platform for print studios, art galleries, and artists, the three legs of the stool, if you will. And, it’s not a market place, which is a common misconception it’s not a solution where there’s a bunch of art from a bunch of different people and we drive all the traffic to it, like an Etsy or a Fine Art America or an Art dot com. No, we are a hosted e-commerce solution.

You own your own website like Casinoslots and create a list of online gambling websites with a lot of casino games. It lives on a domain that you own and control and your responsible for driving traffic to it. And obviously driving traffic to a website is a big and difficult task and so that’s what we spend the majority of our time doing. Educating artists and art sellers on the best digital marketing tactics and strategies that they can employ to drive traffic to their websites, grow their email list, and make more sales.

So, that’s the brief intro of the podcast and kinda wanna riff on that a little bit. So let me riff on that a little bit, then I wanna laser focus in on who exactly this podcast is for. Then we’ll get into the conceptual outline of what the vision is for this podcast and then kinda tease some of our upcoming content, and then we’ll slap a bow on it and call that episode number one.

So, first a quick house keeping, right? Where’s the fancy intro music, the fancy segways, the really clean intro voiceover by some extremely talented English voiceover talent that just makes you feel like you’re traveling and puts a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach. We don’t have any of that yet. At least as you’re listening to this somewhat early on in the process, we don’t have any of that yet. I mean, I rattled through six or seven, maybe even ten different tag lines there, and wandered all over the place on what the podcast is, where it’s going, and even the name.

Why? Why am I even telling you that, right? Lemme give you a quote, and it’s a quote that I absolutely love and it’s from a guy named Reid Hoffman, he’s the guy that founded LinkedIn.

And the quote is … I can give you the gist ‘cuz the gist is just as important. If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

I think we gotta let that one sink in a little bit. I’ll say it again because I really do find it to be profound. If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, and or insert, first version of your podcast, or most importantly, first version of your art website, then you’ve launched too late, right? We live on that quote.

We love that quote. I mean, we love that quote so much, we absolutely practice what we preach. This podcast is no where near as polished as it could be, should be, in the first episode, but we don’t care. We’re launching and we’re getting going. Why? Because the minute that we launch, we’re gonna email the entire list.

We’re gonna get feedback. That feedback is gonna inform our future decisions on what this podcast is, what the tagline is, what direction it’s going. It’s not gonna move the entire ship conceptually, but it’s gonna help us refine it, and we’re gonna be able to do that with your feedback, rather than trying to outsmart the marketplace ourselves, and attempt to know ahead of time, without getting your feedback, what it is that you guys want. Now why did I go on that rant? That was a strange tangent to hear this early on in a podcast.

Because I see way too many artists making this mistake. Whether you’re talking about artists that are coming on to our platform, or whether you’re hosting somewhere else, or the feedback I get on the Facebook comments, I can’t tell you how many times you artists get these creative ideas in your head, that if you just get a few more pieces ready to go and then launch your website you’ll be ready, or, if you just work out the copy or, if you just refine the design a little bit more you’re almost ready to get launched, you’re almost ready to get started. Launch immediately!

You’re never gonna know how successful you can be or can’t be until you get launched. If you’re not embarrassed by that first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. So. I wanted to kind of plant my flag in the sand, for lack of a better term, on this concept. And to use it to say, we practice what we preach. I don’t know the final direction this podcast, or what the final taglines are gonna be.

You know we’re gonna get into more stuff later, even in this podcast. But I wanna plant my flag and say, not knowing those taglines, not knowing the fancy voiceover or the cool music segway, which, by the way, can’t wait to get that done. I hope I figure out this language quickly. But what I can plant my flag on is nothing that we’re gonna talk about on this podcast, nothing that we’re going to advocate on this podcast comes from anywhere but experience, education, and data. We practice what we preach. We want to make that a … a mainstay, a pillar, a foundation of the podcast going forward.

So, we advocate that you launch, and launch as quickly as you can as an artist. We encourage and really poke and prod and push everyone that’s on our platform to do it. Because we think that the sooner you do it, the sooner you start generating traffic, the sooner you start building your email list, the quicker you’re gonna get to success. So, that was a quick rant.

Let’s get to who this podcast is for. Alright, so let’s answer who is this podcast for? Who is it designed for? You know, when I was growing up one of by best friend’s dads, just a really sage man, he had some of the best sayings ever, and he would have this one, you know, say me and my buddy are in the backyard messing around, doing whatever and he would take a look at us and say boys, there’s only two kinds of people in this world, lifters and leaners, only two kinds. Be a lifter. Be a lifter, boys.

Love that quote. Well, when we thought about who this podcast is for we didn’t need to think about it, we know because we’ve got the data. There’s only two kinds of artists that are attempting to sell art online in this the year of our lord 2017. You are in group A if you’re just getting started, you don’t have a website that’s online, and you have not attempted to sell on one of the third-party market places out there.

I.e. a Fine Art America or an Art dot com or a SoChi Art or an Etsy or any other market place, Redbubble, some of the other ones that are out there. If you haven’t done either of those two things you’re in group A.

Group B, pretty much the opposite. You’ve had a website online, which you attempted to sell art on. Could be for years, little as a year, but you attempted to do so, or you’ve potentially attempted to sell on one of those third-party market places, or both, right? And again, our data has led us to this conclusion.

I wanna come out and say right away that if you’re in group A, the don’t have your own website, have not attempted to sell online, this isn’t the podcast for you. It’s not designed for you. Not for you. Now, I don’t want that to sound exclusionary or judgemental, you’re probably saying ‘you tyrant, that’s me, how dare you say that? I’ll decide what podcast is for me.’

And of course, you can. But … Trying to sell art online and artists selling art online and attempting to design a podcast for both of those groups is … You know. Attempting to boil the ocean, right?

That is a job for the S.S. Fail boat. Who’s ready to set sail? We’re not. One of my favorite internet memes, I’ll include a link of this thing in the show notes, but attempting to boil the ocean, the concept is that it’s too big of a problem, it’s gonna take you forever, you need to have some focus.

So, the focus of this podcast is really group B. And again, the data guides us to this point. If you’re in group A, we believe that you have two steps to take.

One is that you need to pass the ‘does my art suck?’ test. And what does that mean?

How would you answer this question? Have you sold art in any form to people not named mom, brother, dad, family members, girlfriend and or close friends. If you can answer that question in the affirmative, I.e. you have sold your art to a complete stranger that bought it because they like the art, then you’re ready to move on to the second step. And one side note, no one’s saying you’re a good artist or a bad artist.

Let me tell you, there are thousands of artists that have had to pivot from one style to a different niche, and they’ve done great, so. Step one, you’ve gotta get through the ‘does my art suck?’ test. If you’re through that test, you need to get your art online immediately. Go get a website up as quickly and as cheaply as possible. I recommend WordPress, love WordPress, but there’s others.

Or, attempt to sell on those third-party market places and get the validation that you need. If you’re in group B, you know. You have a completely different set of expectations and you know, I think if we pulled 95 out of 100 of you, 95 out of 100 of you would say I’ll agree with this statement. Selling art online is hard. It is difficult. Most likely you’ve probably failed at it yourself.

You probably don’t know many people that have had any level of success doing it. You are probably extremely frustrated. And you’re probably just about ready to throw your arms up in the air and take up gardening because you know, the artists, they can’t succeed in today’s day and age, right? This podcast, my friends, is aimed directly at you. And I can say, this is one of the benefits of being able to do this, being backed by data, is we have, you know, several thousand artists on our platform. I get to see all of the data for the artists that are doing extremely well, admittedly a small number, on down to the artists that have just gone from selling their first couple of pieces to being up over the thousand dollar mark, to everybody in between.

Everybody’s got their own journey, and their on their own pace. The data that I get to extract from those, both that are doing well and both that are in the mid-tier, gives us the ability to present content and present information and what we believe is a plan that you guys could follow to get yourself to the point where you’re selling art online, you’re making consistent monthly sales, right? Which is the goal of this podcast. So, if you’re in that group B, this is who the podcast is for. If you’re in group A, highly recommend you take those first two steps, but of course, you’re free to listen to it to. Don’t mean to be exclusionary in the slightest, but that’s kinda the big dividing line that we found.

So, what I’d like to do from here is talk conceptually about the plan that we’re gonna be advocating for the year 2017, that’s gonna inform the majority of the content that’s gonna end up on this show. And then, I wanna dance around on some of the new topics that were gonna be coming up and I think, at the point it’d be a great time to wrap up this first episode. You’ll know what to expect in the coming episodes, and my hope is you’ll be excited, that I’ve peaked your interest at least a little bit, such that you might actually subscribe to the podcast. Which would be flattering.

So, let’s get into the conceptual side of things. (upbeat music) Alright, so let’s get into the conceptual basics. You could even say the foundation that’s gonna under everything that we’re gonna advocate going forward on this podcast, and you know, you ever seen the movie Casino? Directed by Scorsese, it was released in 1995, I believe. Man, am I getting old.

Anyway. De Niro’s character in the movie has got a guy, an employee, that he’s dressing down on the casino floor, and he says to him, there’s the right way, the wrong way, and the way that I do things. And, that’s what we’re advocating here. Are we saying that we have all the answers and that we know everything and literally the sun rises when we get out of bed in the morning?

No. But, we’ve been marketing for a long time, been in this space for a while. We feel like we have a pretty good system. We have the data to back it up. And we believe that this system really works.

And the thing that I love about this system, or let’s just say the conceptual framework that we’re gonna talk about, it’s no different for you as the online art seller and entrepreneur, than it is for us at Art Storefronts trying to hawk software. We’re in the same boat, the same fundamentals apply. Now, in certain cases, you know, you’re gonna talk about your buddy Jim who’s only on Instagram and he’s only ever been on Instagram and he’s selling hundreds and thousands of dollars of art a year just on Instagram and that’s totally fine, you know. The right way, the wrong way, the way we do things.

There’s always gonna be outliers. There’s another one I’ve heard about called bigfoot. Everybody’s heard about him but nobody’s ever seen him. The point is that there’s no silver bullets here. What we’re advocating, we’re advocating the basics, and then we wanna build on top of them. So what are the basics?

And we really do believe, whether you’re getting started, picking up steam, or on fire, these things apply. One, everybody needs a homebase. You need a URL that you own.

That no one can take away from you. You have the deed in your hand. You’re not renting. That you control on the internet. Could be anywhere, hosted by anybody, that part doesn’t matter, but you need your own URL that you’re driving traffic to.

You need to be growing — this is point two, you need to be growing your email list. It is still, as of right now this moment in time, pretty much the most effective marketing channel. If you’re just gonna make a blanket statement. It certainly is for us at Art Storefronts, it certainly will be for you. Our opinion.

You need to be emailing that list on a regular basis, and I’m not talking about once every sixth months or not often, I’m talking you need to regularly be emailing that list. We’re gonna get into those different capacities, but think it’s no different than that plant you have sitting in your office, it needs water, it needs love, your email list is the same thing. You need to be working on generating traffic through your website. Going to be a huge subject of this podcast.

And much of what we delve into. But you need to be driving traffic to your website and growing the traffic to your website, growing your email list. And we also believe, and one fifth critical one, which doesn’t necessarily apply to our business but does to yours, everybody should be discounting, and especially discounting on the holidays.

Now, we’re not trying to get into the nitty-gritty about discounting and I’m an artist and I don’t like discounting my work and I don’t wanna discount my work and I would never discount my work. To which I say, that’s fantastic. There’s you and there’s Louis Vuitton.

Because there’s nobody else out there that discounts aside from you and Louis Vuitton. So I think that’s fantastic that you’re in that particular stratosphere, and it must be nice. Let me know where your yacht’s parked, I’ll check it out the next time I’m in San Tropez. In all seriousness though, there’s a lot of charged energy around the discounting thing.

And I don’t wanna play it up or play it down. There’s many different ways we can define what a discount is but we have found that if you’re selling art online and you’re being aggressive with discounts of some format or another during the holidays, and especially in that last period of the year, as an art seller, if you engage in that activity you’re going to do fantastically well. And we’re gonna get way into the weeds on everything related to that subject, how you discount, when you discount, the tactics, the strategies, how many emails to send, all of it. But let’s just reiterate those points quickly. You have to have a homebase. You need to be growing your email list.

You need to be emailing that list. You need to work on generating traffic to your website. And you should be discounting during the holidays. We believe that if you focus on those pillars, on that foundation, at that point in time it really just becomes about focus, and then pressure over time.

About doing the work, consistently doing the work. Getting better day by day, and it doesn’t happen over night. As we’re talking about playing around with concepts for the podcast, one of the one’s that I really like is double your business, like be reasonable about what you’re gonna be able to achieve in a year, and I’m not trying to cap your ambition I’m just saying pressure over time.

Measured, incremental growth. You get better bit by bit by bit. And there’s so much focus out there and talk out there about this silver bullet, and the grass is always greener and just this amazing new tactic that so-and-so told me at the coffee shop. Whatever it is, all of that is b.s. in my opinion. There is no shortcut to doing the work.

You don’t just come into a room and flip the audience switch and the next thing you know you have an audience. And fish don’t jump in the boat. I’ve been on the earth long enough to know that none of that happens. But, if you have a plan, you focus, and you do the work, pressure over time, we think you can get there. We think you can double your business, potentially double it many times over if your on the smaller scale of things.

But, potentially double your business in a year. And that’s what we want this podcast to focus on. We’re gonna give you our recipe, our secret sauce of what that looks like, how you get there. In depth focus on the individual techniques, the pros and cons, what we advocate. We’re gonna bring guests on, we’re gonna have success stories. Throw all kinds of things against the wall, centering around these topics and see what happens.

And I said I’d pivot from the foundation into the individual topics, like, each of one of thems critical in their own right, right? Yeah. You need to be growing your email list, so.

Let’s just assume you all have websites or whether you host with us or somewhere else you got the website piece taken care of. Okay. So you need to be growing your email list.

How do you do that? What do you go about? What is the software?

Where do you capture those emails? Do you do it online? Do you do it offline? How do those two work in conjunction? So, there’ll be a number of different topics in that silo. Everybody needs to be emailing the list.

How often do you email the list? What type of subject lines? What about the copywriting, the imaging, the links? What email service provider should you be using? When to discount versus when to not discount.

We’re gonna cover all of those topics. Can’t wait to cover those topics. We’re gonna do it the dive into traffic generation.

We’re gonna start very quickly on Facebook, we believe very strongly in Facebook, by extension Instagram, which they own. Offers two of the greatest opportunities to grow your website if and only if, to grow your website in sales, if and only if you’re capturing email and have your own website. See how they’ll build on one another.

So we’re gonna get deep into Facebook, all the specifics about Facebook. Art Storefront as a business spends a tremendous amount of money on Facebook. It’s how we get most of our new email subscribers and most of our new customers. And again, we practice what we preach. We think the opportunity exists even more so for you artists. So, how do you do it, how do you get into that?

So, we’re gonna hit that incredibly hard. Incredibly hard. And then, everything else that has to do with traffic generation strategies, again, it’s a combination of online and offline activities. It’s finding the channels that work for you, and there’s a myriad of different ones.

There’s a myriad of different ones out there. So, we’ll talk about what’s working for some artists, what’s not working for other artists. What we see internally in our data, as traffic sources that are the most valuable. Is it Instagram?

Is it Facebook? Is it email marketing? Is it SEO?