Wilson Mountain Sketch, 9x12, pastel - $100 - SOLD
Imagine a beet farmer with lots of beets to sell but no truck to get them to the grocery store. It's like a painter without marketing skills. Marketing is the engine that sells the beets - or paintings - and puts money in the bank. It allows you to keep on doing what you love best.
It's tough being a self-employed painter in a free-market economy. There's enough to being a painter without having to market the work, too. Just think of all the details that occupy your day in the studio - ordering paints and canvas, wrestling with composition, color and brush-handling, framing the work. I sometimes yearn for the days of Soviet-style, state-supported arts in which an artist could just make paintings and not have to worry about marketing it. (Of course, then I'd have other problems to worry about, such as whether I'd have to give up painting for a few years to go work on a collective farm, harvesting beets.)
In the old days, you got a gallery to do your marketing, and it wasn't much. They had a mailing list and perhaps placed an ad in some glossy collectors' magazine. You might also have hung out a shingle advertising your studio. But today, marketing - and the economy - has changed. We haven't totally abandoned mailing lists, magazine ads and shingles, but now we also have Facebook, Twitter, eBay and Google Adwords. Figuring out how to market turnips is a lot harder now, especially with so many ways to do so and with many of them, such as Facebook and Twitter, still unproven.
So what do you do? As you've always done - establish a marketing budget that fits your business projections. In that budget, be mostly conservative in your marketing venues, but leave yourself a little room for new marketing opportunities. Something may come along with a lot of buzz attached to it, and you may want to try it.
And, please, let me know if you find one that really works!