Your Creative Work: Sell Without Selling Out

selling creativity

Everyone sells something to someone each and every day.

Moms and Dads sell to their kids. “If you finish your peas you’ll get to watch the Happy Squirrel show.”

Kids sell to their parents. “But I neeeeed this! I want it! Can I have it?”

Spouses sell to eachother. “Honey, we really need a bigger/smaller/older/newer house. It’s time.”

We’re all salespeople–though many of us don’t want to admit it.

Even creatives sell.

The Artist as Salesperson

Many creatives despise having to sell.

We feel it may compromise our creative process–that it may cheapen our approach our work.

Many of us envision ourselves becoming a slimy, used car salesmen wrapped up in a polyester leisure suite with a toothy grin and commission breath.


Our fears about becoming ‘salesy’ with our work are usually founded in a negative experience we’ve had with a salesperson.

But it’s a good thing we don’t have to replicate those negative experiences.

We can sell without selling out.

Sell Without Selling Out

Think of the last creative tool you bought. Maybe it was a book, a brush, a DVD, or a class.

Did you feel ‘sold to’ when you bought it?

If you did, the value or benefit you recieved from what you bought was lower than the price you paid for the item.

In other words, you felt slimed. Cheated. Snookered.




From that experience you learned what not to do.

When we offer (not sell) our creative work to others we can now do it differently so people don’t feel that salesy twinge of grossness.

When the value of our creative work exceeds the dollar amount we ask for it, we don’t have to sell.

To sell without selling out, it’s a simple (but not easy) process:

  1. Know your audience. Not that we have to create for them, but we can create with them in mind.
  2. Focus on quality. Make good stuff.
  3. Share it. Like show and tell–remember how fun that was? Why’d we stop doing that?

Here’s how it works.

The Best Creative Sales Pitch Ever

Ah Jim Henson…he’s still inspiring us.

I dare you to watch this and not be wildly inspired to…

  • Create.
  • Share.
  • Sell. Offer.
  • Inspire.
  •           fill in the blank with goodness here           .

For real, Jim Henson is still inspiring us.

Clearly he’s selling us the Muppet Show. Thank goodness he did a good pitch! We needed that show. It inspired us and still does!

Here’s how he did it…

Did you note how you felt while watching/experienceing this pitch verses how you feel being ‘sold-to’. Granted, all pitches don’t have to be that grandiose, but it’s amazing how Henson sells without selling out.

Question: What success (or failure) have you had with selling without selling out? We’d love to learn from each other!

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Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Moira Gardener

    Thanks, that helps.

    MITM (moira in the moment)

    • So glad Moira! It’s not always easy to be an artist AND a salesperson.

  • True dis. The eternal fear of artists. It’s hard. Easy to accept in theory, but difficult to accept and embrace when push comes to shove! It’s a state of mind I guess.