I’m often asked questions that lead to founding stories. Different versions include:
There are other variations, but they all come from the same curiosity. People want to know my qualifications. Some want to know if they measure up and could do something similar to me. Others want to know if I am authentic and can walk the talk. You know, they want to know if I’m counterfeiting someone else’s work or do I have a real tale to tell.
Regardless of the situation, I’m always happy to jump in with my answer. Most of the time depending on the circumstances, I’ll decide whether to give the short version, or the longer answer.
Here is the extended version. I can cut it down to a few sentences if needed, and I modify it according to who I’m talking with and what their and my interests are in providing the information.
Even as a kid, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In my 20s, I joined a company that did promotions for local businesses. After a few years, I started a company doing similar work. My partners and I moved the business to California. After struggling for a few years, we closed it.
I took a job selling customized newsletters for insurance agents. That eventually led to a sales and marketing job with a company that had multiple trade magazines and trade shows. It had a business publication and a trade show that served art galleries, artists, art wholesalers and picture framers.
I made it my business to learn what and how the top marketers in the industry did to succeed. I shared the non-proprietary information with my clients to help them shortcut success. It worked. My sales territory grew by an average of double-digits for more than a decade.
After the internet had killed off trade magazines, including mine, in the early 2000s, and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks helped finish off its trade division. I took a few years off to decide what to do next with my life. My wife and I moved to Sedona, AZ. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. And, it has a rich art heritage and is loaded with artists.
We soon decided to live in Sedona was not the same a visiting Sedona. To borrow from Edna Ferber, “There is no there there.” Like most resort towns, you come to realize you can’t eat the view. There are no good paying jobs. And, the scenery only hides the lack of big city amenities for so long.
We decided to move down the hill and relocate to Phoenix. That was a great decision we’ve never looked back on. But, in the months before we left, I started advising some local artists on how to market their work. That led to a speaking engagement at the Sedona Visual Artists Coalition, which got the attention of the Education Director at the Sedona Arts Center. It is a premier destination for artists wishing to hone their skills.
I was asked to put on a six-hour workshop on How to Get Your Work Published in the Print Market. When I was done I had an appetite to want to do more. I found helping artists was something I enjoyed. I believe that my mother’s influence steered me in that way. She was an exceptional artist who due to life’s circumstances never had a chance to get her work sold.
The six-hour workshop left me with 90-pages of speaker notes. At first, I thought I would go on the road and keep giving the seminar. However, it quickly became evident that a book based on the material would reach many more thousands of artists than I ever could with a workshop.
In 2005, I published How to Profit from the Art Print Market. I launched a website and a blog at the same time. Since then, I’ve published more than 600 blog posts and five more books on art marketing, which have all topped Amazon’s “Business of Art” list. All in all, I’ve written more than one million words on the topic.
I continued to give workshops on various topics. Eventually, I began offering online webinars and that led me to start the MyMarketingCourses.com online training site. All along I have known much of what I teach artists applies to other businesses as well.
Today, I’m focused on continuing to help artists, but also to reach out to those who would like to write “how to” books based on their life and work experiences to help them get started. I also want to help those in my generation of baby boomers learn how they can create an online business and share their expertise with others.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.