Tuesday, November 01, 2011

POLL: What proportion of your art time do you spend on marketing?

24 hour clock by Paulo Uccello
This month the Making A Mark Opinion Poll is going to focus on just one aspect - the time spent by an artist in marketing their art.

The question is What proportion of your art time do you spend on marketing?

You can find the new opinion poll in the right hand column (just above "For Your Information").  It closes at the end of the month and the results will be published on 30th November.

Read on to find out more about:
  • why marketing is important right now
  • how to count time spent on marketing art

Why is marketing important right now?

Some artists are doing OK right now - but not everybody is.

The double dip recession is beginning to bite.  It's not as dramatic a change as in 2008 - however it's not going to get a lot better quickly either.  The general expectation is that the pain being experienced this time around is going to be around for a long time.

People are losing their jobs and their homes.  People are not spending as much as they used to - and they're typically spending it on different things and in different places.  Galleries are closing.  Art sales are dropping.
The research findings confirm what artists and those who work with them know experientially – that most artists struggle to make ends meet financially and that this struggle is even more pronounced in tough economic times. The study also confirmed our observation that artists are remarkably resourceful in crafting their work lives and creative in responding to the ebbs and flows of opportunity.Artists and the Recession Survey Results
There's an awful lot of concern being expressed by some artists at the moment about the way their  income is being badly affected by the double dip recession, gallery closures, people not buying etc. It's prompting lots of artists who sell their art and need to maintain their income from art to rethink the way they market their art.

That involves asking questions - such as
  • Can I improve on how I market my art at present?
  • Are there new outlets which I need to try?
  • Are there new strategies which I could employ?
  • Are there new people I need to meet?
  • Should I spend more time on improving relationships with people buying my art?
There are lots of aspects to marketing art - and areas where making a tweek can make a real difference.  However the really big problem is knowing which bit to tweak - and how much time to spend on marketing your art.

How much time should be spent on marketing art?

Very often artists do not start out with any sort of business or retail background.  Hence much of what they do is learned by copying others - who in turn may not know the best or most effective way to market and retail their art.

Very few artists have any experience of how much time and money is invested in marketing in other areas of the economy - except maybe for the TV and online adverts!

There are also some very good business advisers for artists around.  One thing they typically have in common is a view that artists who manage their time effectively are more likely to prosper in the long run.

However, even if you have got better at managing your time, there still remains the big questions about
  • how much time should I spend on my art?
    • Do you just count the studio time?
    • Do you count all the time covering every aspect of your artistic endeavours? and.......
  • What proportion of my art time should be spent on marketing my art?
Some artists (but not many!) factor in the time they spend on making art into the price of the art.  However I've never seen this approach extended to include the amount of time spent on marketing that art.

It's almost as if the time spent on marketing art is being counted as negligible or valueless.

That's not the way it's viewed in other areas of economic activity.  I therefore think it would be interesting to try and develop some sort of baseline about how much time artists spend on marketing art.

Making A Mark Opinion Poll November 2011

I've been trying to think how best to run a poll which looks at how much time spend on marketing art. Obviously everybody spends a variable amount of time.  Also, getting feedback this time will enable a better question and an improved poll next time.

So I've decided to look at it from the perspective of the proportion of time allocated to art you spend on marketing your art as opposed to creating art.

The question is simple.  What to count towards "marketing time" is a bit more complex.  Below are some suggestions about the activities which count towards marketing art.

What proportion of your art time do you spend on marketing?
  • less than 10%
  • 10-20%
  • 20-30%
  • 30-40%
  • 40-50%
  • more than 50%
It would also be interesting to hear - via comments on this post - whether artists are spending MORE OR LESS TIME on marketing their art compared to 5 years ago (in 2006).

For the purpose of allocating time, marketing art includes essentially the "4Ps":

product - the features and appearance of your art.  So this includes time spent on matting, framing , photographing and packaging your art.  Basically all the physical aspects of your art (over and above the painting or whatever) which make your art a positive experience for the buyer.

price - how much customers are prepared to pay.  This includes time spent on
  • research on pricing generally (eg attending exhibitions) 
  • updating your own priced art in the marketplace 
  • communicating with customers/galleries on price and billing for income due 
place - the point where your art is made available to your customers.  This includes time spent on:
  • finding places to sell your art (B&M and online)
  • maintain site and/or relationship with those selling your art
    • the development and maintenance of contacts with art galleries
    • the development and maintenance of  third party art sites selling your work
    • the development and maintenance of all websites, blogs and ecommerce/auction websites used to sell your art
promotion - how customers are informed about your art.  This includes time spent on making sure people know about your art and have a clear and positive concept of who you are and what your art is about
  • communicating and maintaining relationships with collectors
  • newsletters of more general interest, 
  • blogging and other social media contacts such as Facebook and Twitter
  • entering artwork in art society exhibitions
  • additional time spent on a special artwork produced with a view to getting into a prestigious exhibition or winning a prize (ie this is a promotional tool not just art for sale)
  • development of content of your artist statement and resume
  • identifying and targeting prospects for your art
  • correspondence associated with a sale
Tips on time management for artists

I'm currently developing a new site which will have Time Management Tips for Artists - which I hope to publish by the end of the month.

If you've written or read a great blog post or article about this topic please leave a comment and a link below.

Related Links:


  1. It would also be interesting to see a sort of comparison between sales - are those who are marketing their art more than 50% of their time experiencing more sales (not specifically dollars but perhaps transactions) than those who are marketing, say, 10%.

    Katherine, how could you tie this in, because one of the biggest challenges I hear from other artists/my students is justifying that marketing time expenditure/investment.

    I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this!

  2. Kimberley - you've hit the nail on the head

    I'm taking an onion approach to this - peeling the layers back one by one. I was going to try for that tie-in and then decided it might get a bit too complex. So this survey is by way of "first toe in the water" to see what happens.

    Next I'm going down the line you're suggesting - is there a correlation between time spent on marketing and the results achieved in terms of sales?

    My gut feel says "Yes - with knobs on" but I think it's very likely difficult to unpick. Not everybody is at the same level of knowledge about how best to spend their time so that it is productive.

    For example I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people taking a lot of time over marketing but also being inefficient and unproductive because they don't look for shortcuts that work and haven't taken advice from those that know what works - in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

    That's why i'm keen to link this into a notion of developing a theme around time management and sharing what works and what's a waste of time.

    So - bottom line - this is just the start but it's going to be a theme which builds over time.

  3. Katherine, I can't wait to hear what you've learned!! Thanks so much for having the tenacity to tackle a tough subject - :)

  4. Interesting, when got to the list of % I thought maybe 10% but as I read on I realised that I spend more than 50% and I'm not sure how much more so I will be monitoring this a bit more.
    If I didn't I'd barely sell a thing.
    I may do a bit more than 5 years ago.
    I shall watch this space for the other toes to go in.


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