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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Why Every Artist Needs A Partner


I was laying in bed last night thinking about all of the insane artistic outlets I have. Then I thought about how hard it is for me to get my own products out into the market. It's not that I lack faith in the products themselves, it's just that I don't like the “meet and greet” part of being an entrepreneur.

I've always been hard on myself for that. I feel like I should be able to push myself, be that person. I should be able to shake hands and fake smiles, then come home and take 3 days to myself to recover. I've never understood why I wasn't able to put on that professional suit and tie and walk the streets to sell my art. But last night, I had this revelation. The answer came to me, like it had always been there and I just couldn't hear the words: It's not who you are.

It's that simple, guys. There are people who make stuff and there are people who enjoy socializing. Sometimes, both exist in the same person. But more commonly, they don't. Those who have turned to artistic forms of expressing themselves often cannot use words anymore. They could paint a picture or write a book or draw something to describe their feelings, but the words aren't there. It isn't who they are. But, art does not always sell itself. With online markets and stores popping up, it's easy to get your work out there, even if you're not great at socializing. But social media became the new hand-shake. It's the new meet & greet. If you don't have a social media presence for you and your product, you're never going to get seen by anyone. Maybe a few sales, but you won't be able to make it a career.

So what do you do? Today, I am going to share my advice to my fellow struggling artists: You need to get a partner in crime.

The Type Of Partner You Need

Call it what you want: Partners In Crime, The Beauty & The Beast, The Dynamic Duo

You have to have a partner and you have to have a specific dynamic between the two of you. Your partner can't be someone like you, but someone who is the opposite in many specific ways. Sure, you may love the same music or have a list of things in common, but your personalities should be as different as night and day.

Think of Max & Caroline, from the television show “2 Broke Girls”. Max had delicious cupcakes and she wasn't even asking a lot of money for them. Yet, it was only a few extra dollars on the side. She was “the beast”. Someone with heart who created products she didn't feel comfortable pushing or selling. The typical artist. Caroline, an upbeat and in-your-face socialite was able to sell the same cupcakes for double the price. She's the “beauty”. She's soft and easy for people to listen to. Yet, bold. She could sell firewood to the forest, that's how good she is.

Some people are makers and some people are sellers. If you are both: You are 1 in a million and you should take advantage of it. Offer a course to those who WANT to be both. But if you're like me, or many other makes, you don't WANT to be social.

Creating Incentive For Your Partner

Many of us like to think of our best friends as our “partners in crime”. Your best friend may be willing to try and sell for you. You may even have a few friends who try and sell for you. This is asking a favor, even if they are offering. Why? Because there is nothing in it for them.

A partnership means there has to be some incentive for them to sell for you.

The type of incentive would depend on your partner, their needs and the dynamic of your personal relationship. Personally, I'm suggesting that you get money involved. I suggest paying your partner, like you would anyone else, for providing a service. That is what they are doing. However, it shouldn't be in a way that is going to hurt you, either. Here are some ideas, off the top of my head:

  • Commission-based payment (they get paid more if they sell more)
  • A percentage of the sale (agreed on by both parties)
  • Rewards (if money isn't possible/needed)
  • Permanent discount (they will always get XX% off anything they buy from you)

The reason I strongly suggest involving money is simple. Once money is involved, people are generally more willing to take a task seriously. That means instead of casually selling your art for you, your partner is going to push. Your partner is going to be aggressive because there is a reason. If they want to make money, they have to sell for you.

In the end, it works out for both of you. You sell your art and get it out into the market, increasing the likelihood that someone will get in touch to buy something from you directly. Plus, your partner gets paid. Win-win.

Creating A Social Media Presence

We have all seen the Instagram Queens on our feeds. They have perfect pictures, every time. Their post is always some inspirational saying and usually has a prompt for viewers to answer a question and interact with the post. They use every relevant hash tag (actually called the octothorpe) and often have 100's of likes. We live in the shadow of these Queens, like peasants, trying to pick up crumbs.

It doesn't have to feel that way. It doesn't have to be that way.

We all need to understand that there are just people in the world who actually LIKE doing things like that. They enjoy sharing and posting and have fun with their hashtags. It's what they do. We create, they express. It doesn't make them better or worse than anyone else. The same way out antisocial artist nature doesn't make us better or worse. Just, different. And there's nothing wrong with being different.

Of course, the reality is that without a rocking Instagram like that, it's hard to get your art seen. Cue: Your partner in crime! She's happy to dive onto Instagram and post a Live video of herself doing a 10 mile hike with messy hair and a great smile. Your business Instagram doesn't have to be all art. In fact 9/10 of the Instagram Queens say people are more drawn to accounts that mix up their content with:

  • Pictures of themselves
  • Pictures of things they love
  • Inspirational quotes/sayings
  • No make-up videos/pictures
  • How-to videos
  • Product pictures

Notice that product pictures are last. People on social media often buy products from people they like, not always because of the product itself. By combining the outgoing nature of your partner in crime with your amazing, you can become an Instagram Queen too. You'll just have to share your crown.

Tip: Split management over any social media accounts, allowing yourself and your partner access to the accounts. This gives you the chance to post something, if you want, while keeping your name and presence connected to the account. Your partner can make the frequent posts and engage with other users (likes, comments, etc). This is necessary to build an Instagram following.

Sharing Responsibilities

Aside from selling products, and building a social presence, there is another benefit to having a partner. Have you ever gotten an email about a product of yours or a phone call that you let go straight to voicemail? Did you reply? Did you tell yourself you would when you were ready? If so, you likely forget all about that call/email/text and never replied. Maybe you stumbled across it a few months later, maybe not. This is the kind of responsibility you can share with your partner.

If you're uncomfortable with any aspect of being an artist who is trying to make money, see if you can shift that onto your partner. Unlike selling, there is no incentive to being an assistant. Your partner will say no to anything he/she doesn't want to do. But, if it's something they are comfortable with, then it's one less thing you have to worry about. We have to face the truth: There are going to be some things we have to do for ourselves that are gross or uncomfortable. It's life, sadly.

A big responsibility that often lands on an artist is attending events. This could be art galleries or social events. Either way, it's a requirement to go. Why? Because you need to meet people who might be interested in your product. You need to make connections.

Did you know that “word of mouth” connections are still the #1 way to sell? Even with social media and advertising options, the most valuable connections you will make are the ones that are made through each other. Every person you meet could be a potential client or bring in potential clients. Unfortunately, that means in an ideal world, you've got to meet quite a few people. You should always be looking for the next event to attend in order to grow your connections organically.

Your partner, unlike you, will love the idea of getting dressed up and meeting new people. Especially if a grand opening is involved! You, on the other hand, are probably dreading the words “going out”. I'm the same way, honestly. The coolest thing could be happening and I just want to stay in bed. I'll watch it live stream from YouTube or I won't go at all. That's just how I feel about social events. But, it doesn't help sell my products, services, or build my brand, does it?

Having a partner means that you automatically have someone to attend events with. This should reduce some of the anxiety. If you're uncomfortable, you can leave and your partner will continue to work the room. This way, your product/presence remains even after you're gone. Of course, if your partner doesn't like the idea of being ditched, you'll want to try and suffer through the evening.

Take Care of Yourself, First

There is so much stress behind trying to sell your products. With or without a partner. I know from personal experience. I mean, I personally love my novel One Day At A Time, yet I've hardly sold any copies. I tell everyone I know and everyone I meet about the book. So why hasn't it sold? Because when I tell people about my book, I'm doing it passively. I'm being informative, instead of trying to sell something. This comes across as a lack of confidence in my product, even though it's actually a lack of confidence in myself. I think the book is amazing and there are so many interesting life lessons between the pages. It is definitely something worth reading (and the first few pages are free to read on LuLu – just click the “Store” link above and find the book).

See? Even in this post. Am I trying to sell you a copy of One Day At A Time or am I just letting you know I wrote a book, in case you want to buy it. Exactly. And this is my blog! And I'm not into social media and making a “brand” for myself. It's tiring, not just physically. I find social meeting and meeting people and branching out to be emotionally draining. I'm sure millions of other artists feel exactly the same. It's so hard to try and wear a hat that just doesn't fit, you know?

I'm not a seller. I couldn't up-sell side dishes when I was a waitress and I can't sell my books now. It's just not who I am. And you know what? That's okay! I am learning, slowly, that I have to respect my own limitations. I want you to know that it's okay if you have to take a step back. No matter what: You have to put yourself first.

A Brief Recap & My Final Words of Advice:

Every artist needs an outgoing and extroverted partner to:

  • Sell stuff
  • Manage their social media
  • Return calls and inquiries
  • Attend events with



Your partner will be a great asset to you and your business. But, you have to make sure you aren't going to bring them down. This is a tricky wire to walk across. You choose your partner for their differences, in order to build a brand for yourself.

Here are a few tips to keep your relationship working:

  • When attending an event, try and keep negative thoughts or commentary to yourself
  • Always let your partner do the talking, unless he/she doesn't want to
  • Listen to any concerns your partner may have
  • Respect the time of your partner, even if you're paying them
  • Do not treat your partner like a slave
  • Allow space – do not smother your partner or let them smother you
  • Take time to yourselves
  • Be honest with each other about how you're feeling (but not too honest)
  • Try to avoid discouraging your partner
  • Try to avoid “being realistic” with your partner
  • Let your partner dream and flourish in his/her own way

In the interest of full disclosure: I haven't taken my own advice yet. This revelation and concept just came to mind last night. I will be actively searching for a partner for my start-up business. If you take this advice before I do, please share how it works. I want my readers to know how this concept will work in reality.