When it feels risky to sell your art

By and large, people are incredibly generous when you create art and then sell it. They’re supportive; they cheer you from the sidelines, and sometimes they even run down to the field with you and help you carry the ball a few yards. The ultimate in support.

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But once in a blue moon, a purveyor of your art will complain that you’re selling your work, something you could give away for free. Eleven months of the year, for years at a time, your words (or whatever your preferred medium) are free for anyone to consume. But for a combined total of a few weeks annually, you need (and want) to use your platform to sell your talent—your words, your art, your photos. And they complain, presumably because they’re used to finding almost any sort of art for free on the Internet.

They are free to complain, and they don’t have to buy your work. You’re not coercing them into handing over their wallets, and though they may continue consuming your free products, your hanging out a “for sale” sign on your awning may compel them to walk away.

This is fine. It doesn’t always feel fine, because their complaint sounds louder than the crowd of praise—it keeps you up at night, it tempts you to second guessing. It’s no fun. But it’s okay to have nay-sayers.

The longer I blog, the more I realize that if everyone loved everything I did, I’m probably playing it too safe. If you want your art, your words, to be a bit more memorable, it needs to be a bit risky. Making the nice, generic, please-everyone sort of art…that’s safe.

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Good art (books, paintings, music) is polarizing. It asks you to question what you believe, where you currently stand. And marketing it well, especially these days, should be a bit polarizing, too.

There’s way too much noise on the Internet. If you want your art to sell online, you’ve got to rise above the cacophony and take a bit of risk. And if the minority few shake their heads and walk away, let them. Hopefully, this means the majority have heard, and like what you have to say.

Take risks with your art. And take risks with selling it.