(Originally published 3/17/14.)

Whether you are just starting out or an experienced visual artist, there are always good rules to follow when looking for your next opportunity to sell or show your artwork.

1.  Look for opportunities that offer specific facts about the value to you rather than rhetoric about the opportunity..

Consider the difference between an opportunity that offers simply “exposure and foot traffic” and one that offers “an average of 400 guests per day and vendors sell an average of $3,000 over the course of the two day event.”  If applicable, the opportunity should list items like circulation rate and reach, specific social media and listserv reach, and offer verifiable testimonials from past participants.

Events that list the primary call to action as a benefit to the community or exposure are typically looking to get away with something for free.  While their hearts may be in the right place, you (the artist) provide a service and should be compensated fairly for your time and effort.

2.  The higher the application fee, the more the organization must precisely represent the value of the opportunity.

Any time an application fee is listed, the organization should describe how that fee will be used.  This is a good baseline for determining if the opportunity is being presented by a professional organization or by someone whom is playing curator.

3. Sometimes an award of services provided may be better than a cash prize, although a mix of both is best.

Services may include marketing collateral design and development, legal or accounting consulting, social media development and management, rental facilities, or other intangibles.  In any case, be sure that the specifics are well-defined and the cost alternative is clear.  For example, 3 hours of free in-person professional legal consulting provided by ABC Law Firm - a value of $750.