Investing in your art education.
For those of you who follow my blog, it should be clear that I am aiming these posts at people who are trying to get their art and maybe their art business to the next level.
I know a number of really talented artists, some formally trained and others self- taught and most of them spend hours lamenting the current markets not being a good time to sell art and wondering how they can increase their online presence to increase sales.
One very good, almost essential way, if you are serious about selling your art and making money is to invest in educating yourself further.
There are many ways you can achieve this, ranging from taking art classes with local artists, though adult education facilities or through online courses.
The best approach it to ask around, get friends to recommend teachers. If having asked around you can’t find anyone locally your local authority will have details of classes or you could go online and visit the SAA (Society for All Artists) website and see who teaches in your area.
When considering online courses it all becomes a little more difficult and rather more costly.
I had a chance conversation this week with an artist who desperately wants to increase sales but felt she couldn’t justify spending money on an online course which had been recommended by a mutual friend (and also by me). And I get it. The course we recommended costs just under $2000, currently about £1600. Sounds a lot?
Firstly, let me tell you that I have taken a number of online courses, not all this high in price but a couple which have been similar in price. I have also bought online courses which I haven’t actually finished taking. They are lurking in the back of my computer files somewhere gathering dust, just like those art books we buy, flicked through and shove on the shelf never to be opened again. You already know this but I am going to remind you now for good measure. Owning that book without reading it properly will not improve your art. Right?
Taking an online course and not doing the work is the same. But there are some really amazing courses out there and it is a question of figuring out which one/s are best for you.
If you know someone who has taken a particular course and they rave about it, ask a few questions, see if you think it will fit your needs, but personal recommendations are usually the best way forward.
I will warn you though that there is one question you do need to ask just to make sure that the person recommending the course isn’t doing so to profit from you.
How? Well pretty much all of these courses have what’s called an affiliate fee. That means that the person recommending the course to you will get about 20-25% of your fee paid to them as long as you complete the course up to the point where you cannot change your mind and get your money back. This is between 14-21 days.
The course owners will mostly likely have taken a marketing courses of some kind and they have been taught and understand that people will be more likely to buy from a trusted source, a friend. They encourage their members to sign people up to their course with the affiliate fee being the incentive there by increasing the numbers who will take the course next time around.
I am not complaining about this; it is a marketing strategy and a very clever and useful one I will no doubt use myself when I launch my courses next year, but I believe in full disclosure hence this blog subject.
So what do you get for your money?
If you seek out the best courses you get a lot. And I mean A LOT!
It is in the course owner’s interest to give you more than you expect, to keep you happy and to encourage you to bring your friends along to the next course, receive the affiliate fee and possibly help that person go though the course. This is because in order to succeed you really do need to surround yourself with like minded people. You generally can’t get there….on your own.
One of the best art courses around for your $2000 gives you 12 full weeks of online live training, three times a week. You also have access to all the course materials, a huge library of information where they have thought of every conceivable problem an artist might have. They have it so wrapped up you can’t fail to improve your art by taking the course.
It also gives you a community to belong to. Other artists at different stages of their journeys working in every conceivable medium and with a multitude of different problems and needs. This community has your back. No problem is too small, no question is considered stupid and when you get that sale which you don’t feel you can talk about to your friends, these people will be incredible supportive and truly delighted for you.
When you break the figures down that $2000 (~£1600) equals $38.46 (£30.77) per week. Do you still think that is too big a sum to invest in improving your art?
I have also taken marketing courses. They come in at a similar price and yes there are a few good ones here in the UK but the Americans have been generally doing it longer so have a bit more experience.
These courses will take you through every step you need to take to increase your online presence, show you how to produce good copy, great ways to advertise your business and with the best courses that community is included.
Don’t be fooled by courses which say you have lifetime access. You probably will have the information from that course lying in the back of your computer for years to come but it become pretty worthless fairly quickly.
An updated version will be presented each year and the community element will disappear if you don’t stay involved after the first year.
Once you have finished your course, a good course will give you a yearlong access to all of the materials, you will be invited to stay on as an alumnus at a vastly reduced fee, normally about 10% of the full cost. Staying on as an alumnus does a few things.
Firstly it keeps funds trickling into the course owner’s bank account.
But what you get is the new improved version of the course. This could be critical when you consider just how quickly things change in this information age. Software, hardware, social media platforms and much more, change really quickly so staying within the group is a good idea. You will also get the continuation of the community support. As you move through the ranks from beginner to intermediate to advanced level within the groups you learn for people in different places with their goals than you and you get to help those behind you. Why would you do that? Because teaching people what you know, sharing that information helps you to cement the knowledge and understanding. It is truly a win, win.
In general we humans don’t like change, we are frightened of success and often we have a limited belief in our ability to succeed. Its not your fault. Our whole lives we are taught what to do, how to behave and that you will never make any money being an artist.
This is even more damning if you are a female. Women are still seen as home makers. The glass ceiling is still in place. Women are not expected to have great careers, not expected to be successful and are constantly being told that they can’t have it all.
So another full disclosure, I am a female, I have a beautiful family and I have had a number of very successful careers and I am not and I really mean it, not a feminist. What I am is a humanist and I know that people are only the limit of their own imagination.
I have watched people talk themselves into bad situations which are sometime really tricky to get out of.
I have been that person who has been dominated by a stupid, extremely insecure, man and thankfully came out alive. Yes, it was that bad. But I refused to allow myself to be a victim and I would not let anything negative define who I am and what I could become.
I also know that people have a hard time talking about money. This I don’t understand. All too often you are told that you are not allowed to discuss your salary at work. Why? We, particularly the Brits, have a real problem asking for a salary increase. Our parents rarely tell us how much money they earn or have as savings; our relationship with money is seen almost as some kind of seedy, unhealthy disease that we mustn’t talk about. Why? We all need it to survive. We have to buy food, put a roof over our heads , pay our dental and opticians bills with it, use it for entertainment. Money is something every single one of us has to deal with every single day and yet we are embarrassed to talk about it. Come on guys and gals, we are in the 21st century, there is no stigma attached to money other than in our own limiting belief. And wanting to make more money to improve our lives and our businesses is not a bad thing either.
So when people tell me that they can’t justify taking what they see as a really expensive course what I often say is, why wouldn’t you want to invest in yourself. Why don’t you believe that you can become better than you already are? How can I help you overcome your limiting self-belief? How can I help you understand that by investing in yourself you can become a better more successful version of yourself? Why wouldn’t you want that for yourself?
If you are interested in taking an online course for art improvement or marketing your art business please contact me and I will be happy to share details of courses which are worth looking at and a few it might be wise to stay away from.
PS I recently submitted one of my blogs to a site called Feedspot. I know, from the lovely feedback I have received from you people, that what I have provided so far has been helpful to many, so I wanted to reach more people.
I was delighted to receive an email from the founder of Feedspot telling me that my blog had been accepted by their panellists as being in the top 60 UK art blogs.
Now that might not sound great to you, but think about all the amazing blogs ahead of me: the RA; National Gallery; National Portrait Gallery; Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Dulwich Gallery etc.
Then there are all the private galleries, art stores like Jackson Art and Grantham Arts. Other blogs such as the fantastic Making a Mark, which most artists I know follow and I would encourage you to follow, too if you are serious about being more visible on the art market.
So I am delighted to be on there and if you want to share my blog with any of your friends I shall be even more delighted. Thanks to all of you who read and support what I write each week. I really am very grateful.