5 tips on selling from Indigenous artists

By May 17, 2016September 7th, 2018Creative Business


Over the last year, I had the pleasure of running a series of workshops around Regional NSW for Indigenous artists. It was a great opportunity to meet a range of very skilled artists and arts workers carving out their creative businesses.

I find such workshops work best when there’s a genuine exchange of ideas, rather than when one person stands at the front of the room professing to know it all. At these workshops, there was loads of enthusiastic and valuable input from everyone in the room.

The participants – Indigenous artists working across a range of media – easily contributed as much useful material as me. And I was delighted to find they were fully engaged with a skill set which lots of creatives find hard to master: selling. Here are a few points about selling which those artists felt were important. I think they’re applicable to lots of creative businesses.

  1. Tell your story. One artist in particular found this the best tactic for selling work. Engage the buyer by telling them about the work, what inspired it, and how it was made. This creates an anticipation within the buyer and gives them some added insight into that mysterious creative process.
  2. Greet your customer well. Make eye contact, engage them in conversation with an open ended question. Everyone agreed that the dreaded (and please use your best ‘Strayan accent for this one) “Are you right?” should be avoided at all costs!
  3. Engage all the senses: sight, sound, smell. Think about the place where the selling of your creative products or services takes place. Make the customer feel at home. Transport them away from the everyday.
  4. Have an offer. Make the customer feel like they’re getting a deal. Discount for multiple purchases, offer free shipping or delivery. Plan that offer before engaging with your customer.
  5. Close the deal as quickly as possible, but don’t over service. This is particularly true for people selling goods at markets, but the general principle is good for folk in other creative endeavours as well. Strike while you can with a customer, but if the sale is taking too long, switch to other prospects.

This work’s not quite done yet. I’ll be offering these workshops again at the Artlands conference in Dubbo in October. More details closer to the event, but if you’re interested in a vibrant, creative and business focussed workshop for your community, please get in touch.

(Photo:  work by Hands On Weavers from Wagga on display at the Black Arts Market, 2015. Credit: Regional Arts NSW)

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