If you are an artist or photographer who has a dream of making a career out of your craft, you will need three things: practice, promotion and patience. And you will need them exactly in that order.
Practice means that you will be painting a lot of paintings. Many will be thrown right in the trash because they just didn’t work out. Photographers will be taking many photos in a single shoot only to find that none of them work or if you are lucky one is good enough to list for sale. You will try new things that will either be total flops or lead you to something really cool and interesting. You will invest money that seemingly never pays off. These days I sell about 5 prints a day on average from the various POD sites I am on and about 2 originals per week. The majority of what I am selling now is work I have created in the last year. Since I have been selling my art professionally for over 10 years this means that I am a much better artist today than I was back then. I have removed 100’s of images from my portfolios because as I practice and improve, I realize they aren’t my best work anymore. If you have just started creating photography or any kind of artwork within the last 2 years, I guarantee you that you need a lot more practice before your work will sell really well. If you look at the famous creatives most of them never sold early work while they were producing it and many never made a dime from it at all…money was only made after they were dead. In the Internet age we have so many opportunities that they never had. So keep creating regularly. The more you produce the better you will become and eventually sales will start rolling in. Babies do not come out walking and neither do artists. We crawl first.
While you are busy perfecting your art, there is a key ingredient to success that cannot be overlooked. Much like creatives of yesteryear we have to have someone believe in us and “get us out there” in order for our work to sell. For them it was luck and chance by being discovered by the right person at the right time. These days that someone is ourselves. You must believe in your work and be willing to share it with the World. Social Media provides us with instant access to millions of people from the comfort of our own studio computer, laptop or phone. We can connect to a mind boggling amount of followers with a few clicks. As an artist or photographer who lists on online galleries, if you are not using ALL of the FREE social media sites available to us, you are completely missing the boat. This post would be way too long for me to delve into all of the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, etc. but there are tons of free resources online to get you started. Check out the link to my social media in my blog and see what I am doing.
Once you have the discipline to create new work on a regular basis and you are willing to put in some hard work promoting yourself what you are left with is time. It takes time to become successful. Patience will be your best friend for awhile. A year ago today I was only selling about 1 print a week and 2 years ago only 1 a month! Now it is 5 a day! But that did not happen overnight. It took about 2 years to get moved up in searches and it took about 6 more months of creating new and better art than I was used to producing and HEAVY social media promoting to see the magic start. And I am still learning and improving myself.
Not everyone is cut out for the kind of hard work and perseverance that an art career requires. But if you can commit to at least 3 years of constant creativity and as much promotion as time will allow, you can definitely find your market and succeed!