When I was fourteen and starting my first business (designing biz cards and a brochure made me life-long friends with the local printer who had never had a teen for a customer before), I loved selling.
And my customers loved buying.
I understood that what I was offering was needed and wanted and appreciated. And that being paid made me all grown-up.
Back then it was a Birthday Party for harried mothers where I did it all: made and sent out invitations, bought and put up decorations, made the cake and party favors, created an entertainment agenda (I danced, juggled, told stories, played games), and managed the day of the party as “mother’s helper.”
I had a blast!! My customers recommended me to their friends, and the birthday party girl or boy became my fan club.
Then I grew up and…
in an upside-down turn of affairs, I became infantile about selling—myself, my ideas, and my expertise.
Even though I was DNA coded for entrepreneurship (I once joked that I could wallpaper my living room with business cards), my business ideas came with a dreaded pit in my stomach when I had to “ask for money.”
It was as if I had locked my happy-g0-lucky 14-year old in the closet.
Through it all, though, I had this sense that I was missing some critical piece of information. The feeling itself—that asking for money was wrong or inappropriate—felt wrong and inappropriate.
What I was missing was a conceptual framework that would allow me to shift my point of view (or in this case, my point of feeling). Of course, this was unconscious as the feeling came robed in certainty, as feelings often do.
Then I came across a remarkable person, with a remarkable gift for writing, and clarity on sticky issues, self-promotion in particular. (As it turns out, self -promotion is kissing cousins with selling.)
Molly Gordon, MCC, that sassy, savvy lady of “authentic promotion.”
We are talking way back in the dark ages of 2004, when I didn’t even know what a “coach” was (little league anyone?).
Some thoughtful soul had sent me an issue of Molly’s newsletter. I loved her writing (always have been a sucker for good, easy-flow writers), and loved her ability to clear think complex issues.
Once she laid out her reasoning (this is my badly paraphrased nutshell), that only through self-promotion (and selling) would the person most suited to what you created be able to be served by your gift, my hate-to-sell flipped to love-to-sell.
The shift was quick: all it took was one of her newsletters and I was hooked.
No wonder, when I decided to launch the first-ever, professional development conference for visual artists, online or off (smARTist Telesummit—btw, the longest running telesummit online), Molly was the very first person I asked to be a speaker.
Her enthusiasm was contagious (and helped me through grueling 12-hour days and 7-day weeks of work) as she gave generously of her time and expertise (she presented 5 times at 4 conferences – the most of any of my 51 speakers).
I credit Molly with my hate-to-sell turnaround, 100% — well, that’s really not accurate since I did the turning around (does this sound familiar?).
I’ll back up a bit: I credit Molly with being the catalyst, the conceptual trigger point that opened up the turnaround so I could walk through that door.
Now, what about you?
Have you had a sell-your-art turnaround?
I’d love to add more stories to this very edgy, and often uncomfortable topic for artists.
Btw, if you’ve been following, this is the last day to invest in the Sell Your Art—Stress Free Training Bundle before the 35% Featured Product discount goes away at the bewitching hour of midnight, PT/CA.
Molly is one of the featured presenters in this Training Bundle with “The 3 Inescapable Laws of Selling Art”, so you too can avail yourself of her funny (dare I say touching?), savvy smarts.