Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time spent on marketing by artists (poll results)

The Making A Mark Poll for November looked at what percentage of your art time you spend marketing art.

69 people responded to the poll and below you can see a chart of the results.  The main finding is that nearly half the respondents (46%) spend less than 10% of their time on marketing art.

Making A Mark Poll - November 2011

This poll took quite a while to get off the ground. I had a sense of people waiting to see what other people said before responding!

I'm left wondering whether people who don't market their art at all ticked the less than 10% box.  I'm very surprised at the very high percentage of people who are spending very little time marketing their art.

What would have been very interesting is to ask people to respond to different polls - which differentiated - for all those who sell art - between those people who make art for a living, those who do it on a semi-professional basis and those who pursue art as a leisure activity.  I'm certain that those who are successful at making a living as an artist spend more than 10% of their time on marketing their art.
Remember that TIME is money
Benjamin Franklin - in a letter "Advice to a Young Tradesman"
Time has an ambiguous value.  Its value varies depending on your perspective.  However all those running successful businesses know that the time not spent on realising your aims has an opportunity cost.  That opportunity cost is valued at the the income stream which might have resulted if you'd done something to generate it

I remember going to an art business workshop a few years back.  The artist had been a professional artist for around 30 years with consistent gallery representation.  One of his important messages - and one which stuck in my head - is never ever underestimate the amount of time required to market your art effectively.  He pointed out that nobody buys art because it's good - they buy it because they know it exists - and also think it's good!

He said that he still spent about 50% of his time on marketing activities.  In this poll only 7% spent over 50% of their time on marketing.

Marketing is a key activity of any independent entrepreneur - because without marketing there is no business.  No matter how good the product - or the art - unless people know about it, nobody is going to buy it.

Question: Do you have any thoughts on whether people who spend a lot or a little time on their art are doing "the right thing"? (if there is such a thing!)


  1. It's well possible that artists don't know what marketing really is, I mean putting your work on Internet is, making a calendar of your work is, and there is lot's of other stuff you can do. For me I find that painting plein air is marketing as well, I carry around business card every time or better always and each time I have to print new ones I realize how much faster I give them away then in all those years I had shows, ...

  2. This is possibly the first poll result I've genuinely found shocking! The numbers should be distributed entirely the other way around. Wow!

    But maybe René has something, about the definition of marketing. A lot of artists don't understand what it means, and that it means a lot more than advertising. It's promotion in any form. As she says, website and calendar. Plus online forums, sending emails to customers, newsletters, listing things online, blogging about your work, networking, press releases, making and sending postcards about an upcoming show...

  3. Tina - I totally agree with you (and for those who are not already aware Tina is a professional and full time artist).

    I think Rene has a point. It did occur to me too but I wanted to see what others thought

    I think I'll now start planning a series of blog posts about marketing for artists in the New Year!

  4. I live marketing myself all the time. I learned to put that "shameless self promotion" into every introduction and encounter so it is part and parcel to all human communication: at the store, a party, online, etc. (Yes, I took a class on it and had to practice in the mirror a lot). It's a good practice, and people are genuinely interested. My challenge is to make much more art and market it, too! lol. I also started writing for the local paper on art to keep that promotion happening.

  5. I can't believe that the people who spend less than 10% of their time for marketing sell anything - maybe just a few pieces for their relatives or neighbours? It might be that such answers belong to artists who have grown attached to their artwork emotionally and have problems parting with it...

    To be know you need to be seen and that involves a lot of effort.

  6. Hehehe there you go, Tina thinks I am a girl, ... so far for marketing. An other point, I think most artists don't even know that times are changing, the time of getting your work into a brick and morter gallery are over, most artist I know (i.r.l.) still have their website as a digital business card, and without any links to other fellow artists at all, even brick and morter galleries haven't got much links to artist on their site, I find that disturbing because it's locking fellow artists and customers out.

  7. The two posts for this month's poll are now available as a pdf file. Contact me and I'll email it to you until such time as I get it up on my website

  8. Katherine and Tina,

    I'm with you - this is pretty surprising. Who are those people doing just 10% or less? I'd love to know more about these artists. Without more info it's hard to draw any conclusions.

    Could be that the artists that are spending 50% or more of their time marketing were too busy to answer your poll :)


  9. I know this discussion is a year old but it's still very relevant to me. I have been selling my work in galleries for a few years but have been quite shocked at how some treat their artists and I would now like to take more control over my own sales and this means learning about marketing! There is still a sense that marketing equals being commercial and I think this is why so few artists seem to be reluctant to do it. I know that when I was at art college many years ago this was a prevailing attitude and we had no training in how to sell our work and in the pre internet days it involved a lot of leg work!. Now it seems so much easier although I realise I still have a lot to learn.


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