As an artist I have found that the most difficult task is not in creating, but in selling. (Creating is to, but that is for another day.) Most, but not all, artists struggle to sell themselves. And when they do manage the sell, they so often sell themselves short. Myself included.
I think there are several reasons for this. Some of those reasons can be controlled by the artist and some cannot.
Things that can be controlled that are worthy of mentioning are (in no particular order):
Lack of self confidence/lack of confidence in your work.
A lot of self confidence comes with age and experience. Something that comes naturally with time. But a lack of those things does not determine your talent or ability. If you feel/know that you are talented, then hold your head high and seek out people who will help to raise you up (and be honest with you), instead of degrading your work or you personally. Let someone else's confidence in you hold you up until your own confidence sets in.
Just not a salesperson.
Let's face it, not everyone was born to sell. But that shouldn't stop you from making a sell. Take an online course on sales, seek out information from other independent artists on what works for them. Find what works for you. And put it to use. The more you do it, the easier it gets. And if you still have reservations seek out a gallery. Let them represent you, let someone else do the glad-handing and make money for you. Whatever you do, don't give up on selling your work!
Marketing and YOUR marketplace.
A hard truth is that if you live in small town "bluebonnet" Texas and you paint big nude abstracts, you are not in YOUR market.
There are several ways to remedy that scenario. One, move to your market. I do not consider this to be a very viable option. But it is one that may work for some. Two, just paint the damn bluebonnets. Don't stop doing what you love, just add the bluebonnets to your repertoire so that the bills can get paid. Three, find your market, and market to it. Ie, advertise yourself to those that you seek to sell to. Ways to do that would include going to gallery shows; eating/drinking at like-minded places and asking them to hang your work; and making yourself known to the people that would be likely buyers. And of course the fourth option, find a gallery that will do all the marketing for you. Of course as a gallery owner, I like that option best. But it doesn't mean that is YOUR best option. You will find your way.
Now there is one more thing that I think as an artist that gets in the way of being successful, it's a touchy subject: It's your friends and family. They all WANT you to succeed, I do not doubt that for one minute. But people that aren't artists (especially those trying to make a living at it) don't understand that it is a job. It's work. It takes you having to actually do the work. Most, not all, will not take you seriously because they think it's just something fun you do. They won't help you to make it a priority. And in turn, you DON'T make it a priority and therefore fail at being successful. I don't know how to completely remedy that for you, I have yet to really understand the dynamic of it for myself personally. But I will let you know if I do. To deal with it though the best thing for you to be is SELFISH. Be SELFISH. Don't be afraid to tell someone you have WORK to do. When you make it a priority, it will (eventually) fall into place.
I hope that my little blog helps someone out there. Tune in next week and I'll try to share more tips, or tidbits, or rants, or...who knows. I am an artist, I don't like to be tied to any one thing permanently.