Are you too shy to sell your art? Let me tell you something, selling your art for the first time is intimidating for everyone. Shy artists can succeed and I say that from experience.
I’ll show you how to:
- 1. Break the Ice and Start Selling
- 2. Sell to Groups of People
- 3. Learn to Read Signals
- 4. Bring a Friend Along
In my 20+ years of experience as a reserved Englishman selling my art for a living and traveling extensively, I’m living proof that shy artists can sell their art and even travel the world.
Let’s go into more detail.
(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
How Do Shy Artists Break The Ice?
What is the most intimidating and limiting aspect of shyness? I would say it’s meeting new people and saying hello. Ugh. Just the thought of it makes your body slump.
It’s the most important hurdle to overcome if you are ever to make sales, but how do you do that?
You make up some rules and you stick to them.
The first rule of thumb is to always greet your customers.
Now before you run off screaming, hear me out. there is more to language than speech alone. A smile is a greeting. Your message is, I’m friendly and approachable, I know you are there and I acknowledge you. Be welcoming.
How Do You Deal With Rejection?
But what if they blank you off with a deadpan face or don’t even return your greeting? Listen up, it happens all the time. You deal with it by knowing from the outset that a percentage of people will not respond. It’s a numbers game.
You have to constantly remind yourself that many people browsing at your work are just as shy as you are. The last thing they want is your sales pitch and anyone invading their space. They are hard-wired for defense and they freeze. And you know what? That’s fair enough.
And you mustn’t presume that everyone has good hearing either.
I’ve been ignored, felt rebuffed, and slightly insulted, only to see my customers go on to talk in sign language!
Then again, your prospect might be a foreign visitor and thinking in their own language, not yours. That’s common, Or they might be wearing earphones and you didn’t even realize? There are plenty of reasons not to register.
The FACT is, most people are friendly and appreciate what you are doing even if they are not in the market for what you’re selling. And most people DO respond positively, especially if you smile.
What Do You Say After a Greeting?
You have initiated the greeting but then what? How do you follow through without a pregnant pause?
You must have a few stock questions or directions to hand, but they must appear to be casual and unforced. Insincerity will be noticed immediately. Time and practice will hone your delivery skills.
I determine what to say by the body language and demeanor of my customer. If I see someone reading my picture captions, I can say something like:
‘Are you reading all the captions? Nice one, at least someone does!’
It’s an ice-breaker that solicits a positive response without being pushy and gives them permission to remain, engage if they want to, and attract more onlookers for me.
I might go on to say:
‘You should read my bio as well’
Now I have passively introduced myself without any real effort.
This will show you how to write a bio: Write an Artist About Me Page: A Great Bio in 4 Easy Steps
There are any number of opening lines I have in the bank that help me, such as:
- ‘Are you a local?’
- ‘Are you looking for a present?’
- ‘What’s your favorite animal?’ (I’m a wildlife artist)
I might say something about the weather, it’s a cliche but it works. Or I might just say ‘How are you?’
The whole idea is to build up a repertoire of safe, non-threatening questions or statements that bring the barriers down without getting rebuffed.
This is my mindset:
Selling art is a performance, like being on stage. It’s my comfort zone, I control it. I set the agenda, it’s all about my art and my experiences. I get to talk about my pet subjects on a one-to-one basis to many different people throughout the day, and on my own terms. Each chat is a soft pitch that lasts just long enough to secure a sale or end it gently with a smile. It’s socializing without the commitments. Perfect for introverts.
How Do Introverted Artists Sell To Groups?
Do you panic at the thought of talking to more than a couple of people at a time? What if a gang of friends come by and bombard you with questions? Suddenly you are the center of attention, for an introvert, it’s the stuff of nightmares!
And it would be if you weren’t aware of the opportunity it presents. Groups are a goldmine for sales when you get it right.
The trick to dealing with a group is to concentrate on one person. You can’t ignore the others but by focusing on one person you don’t get flustered. Ideally, you should choose one of the leaders in the group. a dominant character who will influence their friends.
If the ‘leader’ can be persuaded to buy something, it’s highly likely their friends will buy something too. One sale turns into a flurry.
If you manage the group encounter well, passers-by will notice and come over to see what the fuss is all about. Rebound sales are almost guaranteed. It’s called a rolling pitch.
Be strong and cash in while you can, they’ll be gone in a flash. Seek out the by-standers bring them in and when your flurry ends you can step back and count the cash. There is nothing quite like sales to boost your confidence.
Learn How to Read Signals For Extra Confidence
One way of making life easier is to tune into and interpret body language. Not only are your customer’s postures and expressions important but so too are your own.
Your aim is to understand as much about your prospect as possible before you make an approach. Indeed you may decide that the best option is not to approach them at all.
For example, the middle-aged man standing square on, frown-faced, legs astride, and arms crossed does not invite contact. Until the defensive body language changes, I wouldn’t bother. I’d be wasting my energy and risk being rebuffed.
On the whole, I prefer to stand rather than sit, I try not to fold my arms but I do try to look slightly preoccupied. I look ‘busy’.
Browsers relax when they see someone whose attention is elsewhere. It reassures them that you’re unlikely to pounce. You must adjust your stance to cultivate that impression. In truth, you are well aware of the dynamics happening around you and can attend to a customer in the blink of an eye.
Smile, be attentive and keep an open bearing. Mirror your customer, by which I mean compose yourself in a similar way and adopt a complementary manner. Don’t overdo it, keep it subtle.
Don’t impersonate them, that would be spooky.
Oh and one more thing,
DON’T WEAR SUNGLASSES!
It’s a classic way to hide from the world. Great but the world will avoid you too.
Sometimes you need a helping hand to see life clearly. Have you heard of Skillshare? Check out some of these classes.
Should Shy Artists Bring a Friend for Company?
On the face of it, why shouldn’t you? Ah, If only life was so simple. These are a few things to consider first.
What kind of friend would you bring? If you are going to spend all day with a mate are they going to help or hinder you?
Some friends, lovely that they are, don’t shut up. That’s fine socially, but in a sales situation, the wrong chat is disastrous.
For example, let’s say you have a friend who wants to come along and catch up, it’s a bit of fun right? They chat as if you were at home and consequently expect you to LISTEN.
But you are not at home, you’re at work and you must engage with your customers first. Few friends really appreciate the nuances involved in selling.
Worse still are the friends who join in the fun and spoil your pitch. They mistake your conversation as a genuine social encounter and steer your prospect away from the topic. One misplaced word, joke or heaven forbid, monologue, and the encounter is over.
Even friends standing in the wrong place can kill your sales. It’s vital to have a clear path between you and your prospect. A low barrier is fine but not your friend’s face. I have friends who come along and talk at me non-stop and block my way, while I’m trying to sell. It’s so frustrating.
And then there are the roll-players. The friends who try to pretend they are customers to ‘help’ you get a sale. They are embarrassing and it’s traumatic. I end the theater as soon as it begins.
Customers can see through that nonsense straight away. Plus it’s dishonest. I use wordplay and likability to win people over, you don’t need anything more.
A good friend is someone who understands when to back off, keeps quiet at the right time, and is never insulted when you break away.
Here’s another pitfall for the unwary. It’s using your friend as an excuse to avoid the public altogether. Your friend can be the security blanket that you can’t let go.
So, on the whole, I don’t recommend taking a friend along unless they know exactly how to behave and will not be offended when you break off mid-sentence.
After you become more confident and you know what you are doing, you can go it alone.
Shy Artists – Final Thoughts
Selling, for an introverted artist, is not so much about being yourself as being your other-self. It’s about presenting the person you’d like to be. In many ways, it’s a performance, not fake because it’s still you.
It’s about letting your alter ego free, that hidden ‘you’ who’s strong, cheerful, and confident.
When you get home you can close the door to the world, have a cuppa, and count the cash.
If you like the way I draw and want to try things for yourself, this is my basic kit: (Amazon affiliate links)
- Pentel Mechanical Pencils 0.3mm
- Derwent Graphic Drawing Pencils
- Daler-Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper
- Jakar Battery Eraser
- Tombo Mono Eraser Pen
- Faber Castell Putty Eraser
- Blu Tack
- French Box Easel
You don’t have to be an extravert to sell your art. If you don’t know where to start, I’ll show you what to do. This guide is your helping hand!
If you enjoyed this article you may be interested in these too
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- How Do Artists Handle Rejection? 6 Ways to Cope With Critics
- How to Motivate Yourself to Make Art: 11 Kickass Ways to Get Going
- Art Block: What is it? Its Causes, and How to Overcome it
- Do You Suffer From Artist Imposter Syndrome? You’re Not Alone
- What is Creative Burnout? Plus How to Recover Your Life
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