Know your audience.
This is not exactly an uncommon advice. It is something you find a lot of freelancing blogs talk about. It is also one of the holy commandant of building a good business.
And why not, it is important.
You don’t know your audience, you don’t sell, it’s simple.
You’d be surprised how despite this is the one of the biggest fundamentals to creating a successful freelancing career, most artists I’ve talked to dragged their feet on it. They have a hard time believing that their lack of success is because they didn’t talk.
They think it is their portfolio website…
Or that their art is rather niche, so they just have to paint more and be patient…
Or they even much rather acknowledge they aren’t very good, but if they work harder, it’ll get better!
If there is one thing I learned in my own journey of figuring out how to be a freelancing artist, it is that doing more doesn’t necessarily means better.
So, why do they avoid talking to their fans?
Don’t have fans? I am pretty sure if you post art in any form of social media, you’ll get at least 1 Like and that’s really all you need to figure out what is the most appealing part of your craft.
So, it really isn’t not having fans. It is something deeper. Something more primal.
Something that’s more like irrational fear.
I can tell you why I avoided talking to the people buying my art in the beginning:
- It seemed so foreign. I had this mental concept that most artists probably don’t send messages asking for opinions (this is entirely true). Oh my god, I’d come off so annoying and scare them away.
- They won’t reply. For some reason, this scared me a lot – but I realized it wasn’t the end of the world, there’s always another like or retweet out there that I can follow up with.
- I’ll get laughed at. Honestly, I have no idea why they would laugh at me, but I just felt like that they would.
I am going to admit, I still get vastly uncomfortable trying to cold email/message people into talking to me, but it does work. Much to my own dismay. My feelings in this matter ended up being completely irrelevant.
And if you get uncomfortable like me, you have to push against it. It is really hard, but well worth it. Otherwise what I’ve seen other people do is that they end up using their discomfort to create reasons to why their art career isn’t launching exactly the way they want to.
Art doesn’t make money!
Making money is bad!
Creative direction is the most important!
They just don’t understand true art!
Artists saying they’d much rather create art they love than to make money, when the reality is that it is possible to have both.
And they much rather live in comfort – in denial – rather than actually taking active steps to learning more about how to sell their art.
Then because they have managed to make some money (but not enough, it’s never enough), they end up thinking that they can eventually make more money if they just do more.
Before they know it, they’ve spent 20 years creating art, selling a piece here or there, but never finding that magic that takes their art into the next level.
The cycle continues.
You don’t have to be like them.
So, here is one thing I want you to do today after reading this blog post.
Talk to the people that like your art and ask them what they liked about your work.
If you think you don’t have people that genuinely like your art (because friends and family can be nice, but they can sometimes just don’t really mean it)…
Look out for those favorites and likes!
… If you’ve already done all that and all of this is old news…
GIVE YOURSELF A BIG PAT ON YOUR BACK.
Good job you!
Check out this podcast with Kai Davis on audience building. It goes a lot into the technical methods that I won’t go into here, but Kai also does an amazing job to explaining how to understand your audience.