If you create amazing art and share it on social media, sales will start rolling in, right? What does it really take to start getting your work and name out there as a professional artist? What marketing tactics work for artists in today's world?
As I have shared in past blog posts and YouTube videos, being a full-time artist and making regular art sales involves way more than shutting ourselves in our studios, consistently producing work and blindingly sharing on social media.
Studio time is absolutely essential, don't get me wrong.
However, so is creating meaningful connections, as well as making time to learn about business strategies, marketing and sales. At least this is the case for all of us who want to get to a point at which we're making a livable income from our work/artistic skills.
As artists, we are creative entrepreneurs.
It's imperative to make peace with the fact that we're business owners and that we're selling products and/or services.
Meaningful, unique, impactful products that we should be proud to share with those around us!
No matter how skilled we are or how amazing our work is, sustainable success implies learning about business, staying on top of boring and tedious tasks we may not want to do (such as accounting and taxes) and creating connections with other artists/art businesses/art lovers. All this has to be done while consistently producing new work and getting our message out there in a way that is professional and coherent.
This may not be something us introverts want to hear, but we need to be able to talk about our art, too. Repeat customers or collectors buy our work because they establish a connection with us, the creator of the piece, not only because the artwork is nice to look at. And we want repeat customers!
There's a lot to learn, for sure. And it can certainly be overwhelming, as well as frustrating, when we're putting in so much work and not getting the traction we're hoping for.
Learning from other artists who are farther along in their journeys, as well as from creative business experts has been a huge factor in me being able to grow both my artistic skills and my online presence, which has led to exciting opportunities and sales. And though I have a long way to go still, I'm very thankful that we have access to others who so generously share their advice with us.
Today we have an article contributed by Erica Martin, who creates educational content for ArtworkAbode and has 10 years of experience in creative writing, Graphic Design and the online world. She'll be sharing seven key things that artists should make sure to start and/or continue working on throughout their careers that will help ensure greater, sustained success.
Without further ado, let's get into her article!
7 Useful Tips to Market and Promote Your Art
Unfortunately, there are a lot of artists out there that want to make an income from their work, yet don't know enough about business, or show any interest in learning about it.
Oftentimes, they associate negative emotions like shame or fear when it comes to business and selling, and refuse to see them as areas that can be creatively fulfilling and can grow alongside their artistic skills.
Marketing and sales are instrumental in an artist's career and success over time, and the sooner one is able to embrace them, the sooner the success will come.
I've met artists that don't even know how to price their work! Some have no idea how to earn a profit from their paintings and end up losing money on sales. Others drive away potential buyers by overpricing their work.
In Erika's blog post titled Essential Tips on Taking Art Commissions, she explains two common methods used by artists when pricing their work, as well as many other important points that will help you keep healthy relationships with clients.
Here are seven key things to start doing to market your art and begin gaining the experience/connections you need to grow your brand and make sales more consistently.
1. Get in Touch with Galleries, Businesses or Event Organizers that Could Provide a Space for You to Physically Share your Art
In the art world, it’s essential to create meaningful relationships and network on a regular basis. Not only with other artists, but also with people you could work with or could offer valuable opportunities to show your work in the future.
As tempting as it may be to spend all our time sharing on social media and online communities, nothing will replace connections we create in person, especially when we're just starting to get our work known and gaining expertise.
It’s important to approach gallery owners or venues that can provide a space to display your work, as well as establish strong communication with possible collectors who have already bought from you or have expressed interest in your work.
We cannot just connect with other artists and expect to make sales this way.
Visit as many art shows or related events as you can, whether you're displaying your own art or not. Have updated marketing materials such as business cards prepared at all times.
The more events you visit, the more people you will meet, and the more likely opportunities will come your way. It's as simple as that.
If the idea of networking makes your skin crawl, try to look at it as opportunities to meet like-minded creatives or art-lovers. Do your best to stay open and always approach every new person thinking how to can provide value to him/her, as opposed to what he/she can do for you.
Be on the constant lookout for art-related events, opportunities to participate in art shows/markets, and even competitions or juried shows (if that's your thing).
Charity events, non-profits, restaurants and small businesses can also provide great opportunities to start getting your work out there.
There are also artist associations or clubs where you can meet a lot of peers. Through participating in such groups, you can learn important business tips that have worked from others, as you simultaneously grow your artistic skills and stay motivated.
2. Build a Strong Social Media Presence as a Professional Working Artist
Now-a-days, having a strong social media presence is basically essential for all kinds of businesses.
If artists don't have a professional-looking website that is updated frequently and aren't consistently sharing their work/message (in a professional manner) on social media, they are missing out on opportunities to create connections and make sales.
You can’t just close yourself in your room and think that your art will magically find its way to other people!
Luckily, social media is available for everyone. Even those who don't like the idea of investing in advertising. All social media platforms give you the option to build your profile or professional page where you can share your work and engage your target audience.
What’s even better is the fact that most social media platforms come with some basic analytics you can use for free. These tools can help you learn about who is interested in your work and help you define your target audience better, which is very important.
Experiment and do research to learn about what works on each social media channel because they are all quite different. I'd recommend to explore a few different ones that you feel called towards, and then limit yourself to a couple that you feel work best for your particular situation.
Become an expert at those and stay consistent so that you can grow your communities. You'll need an audience in order to start selling your work.
Make sure that your online participation shows you in a professional light and that you are including links or contact information everywhere. People need to know what you offer and how to contact you at all times. Follow best practices when you're creating your profiles and pages.
With ever-changing algorithms that share our posts to our followers less and less, it's even more important to make sharing quality content a priority, as well as staying up-to-date with changes.
Finally, remember that social media is meant to be "social". You want to engage with people who ask you questions and show interest in your work. It's all about building those relationships, and not only about constantly sharing or selling. You never want to appear spammy!
3. Strengthen Your Art Portfolio and Make it Available for Others
All artists need to have a strong, updated portfolio where possible customers/clients can find their work easily.
It's important that your portfolio shows your art style and includes the kind(s) of pieces you're personally interested in working on. Remember, that it's important to commission yourself.
Always be working on personal projects that excite you and make your style shine, even when you aren't having others commission you.
Carefully curate the work you include in your portfolio. As you continue progressing in your career, weed out the projects that no longer serve you or make you shine in your best light.
Make sure to include information like size, title, medium and, if the piece is available for purchase, state the price.
Write an Artist Statement describing/contextualizing your work and your story. Why do you feel compelled to create art and what sets you apart from other artists?
4. Build Your Art Blog
Building a blog (or YouTube channel) is one of the best things artists can do now-a-days in terms of online marketing, as these help you build a community around your work and your brand.
Not to mention a blog is, by definition, updated with new material frequently. This means it's one of the best ways to build a strong SEO online. I will not be getting into SEO in this post, but do know that it's an essential component behind making a website rank in Google.
Websites that aren't regularly "fed" with more content, don't have a chance of ranking when they have competition from bloggers who regularly create new content.
For any artist looking to set up an online store, knowing about SEO and keywords is key as well!
An artist's website should include a portfolio and a blog through which he/she can share the 'behind-the-scenes'. Through sharing special insights into their life and creative process, artists are able to establish deeper connections with their audience.
Let people into your process! Allow them to see the work that goes into creating your pieces and what fuels your projects.
Whenever you have new posts on your blog, you can share them on your social media channels of choice and continue feeding useful, inspiring information to your audience.
Slowly but surely, you'll build a community and create deeper connections.
5. Write a Creative Business Plan
Believe it or not, artists also need to have business plans. Don't get scared, though! They don't have to be overly complicated or extensive!
A business plan is a document which outlines all your goals, resources and actions you need to take to achieve set objectives over time.
As Erika shared in her blog post Time Management for Artists: My Secrets for Staying Consistently Productive, it’s not enough to have a vision – you need to build a smart plan and stick to it over time.
A business plan reminds you of what’s important and helps you stay on course. Some of the questions your business plan should give answers to are:
6. Regularly Revise Your Business Plan
As a creative business owner, you're going to be wearing many hats. You're also most-likely going to be plagued with new ideas (shiny objects) that pop up as you continue learning about all the moving parts in your business and try to take advantage of opportunities that pop up.
It's easy to get off-track and loose sight of your objectives.
It's important to review your business plan every so often to make sure you stay on course and continue making steady progress towards your goals. It's okay if you're going slow due to life responsibilities, just keep your artistic objectives in mind and keep taking small steps in the right direction.
A year from now, you'll be happy you pushed on!
Make sure to add both short-term and long-term goals to your business plan and make sure to assess whether you are achieving those goals. If not, revise and adjust.
Things don’t always go as planned, and there's nothing wrong with adjusting your strategy.
You're going to discover things that work and things that don't as you continue taking those steps, which means you're going to eventually have to make changes to your plan.
You'll discover factors you hadn't initially considered that are impacting your work towards your goals. Things you'll have to include into new versions of your document and continue working to improve along the way.
This is completely normal! A business is a living, breathing organism after all!
It's important to stay flexible. You may even find that new, exciting doors open up for you that take into into a path you hadn't even considered before!
7. Never Stop Networking with Art Lovers, Businesses and Other Artists
As we mentioned earlier, creating connections is essential and people need to know about what you do.
Start shouting what you do from the rooftops and growing that web of people around you that you could possibly work with, learn from or even support.
You'll go far if you make sure to come from an honest, inspired and helpful place.
Try setting a personal goal to attend art-related events once or twice a month, or whatever works for you're own situation. Stick with it over time and it'll do wonders!
Reach out to other artists online and join artist communities that will help keep you inspired and consistent.
Just remember to grow that web through both local and online actions.
Once you're able to establish a good network of people and others have gotten to know you as a reputable, hard-working artist, your work will start promoting itself.
Of course, this takes time and persistence over time, so don't get discouraged!
As with any entrepreneurial venture, it's important to stay persistent and to keep going, even when some opportunities don't pan out.
It takes time to build a name, but remember that everyone started at zero.
I hope this post was helpful!
Thanks so much to Erica Martin for so generously sharing all of this useful information with us. For more inspiring articles from Artwork Abode, visit their blog here.
Thank you for reading and I wish you much progress and enjoyment in your art journey!
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