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Marketing for Artists. Let’s Break It Down.

I am the artist in the family, and my sister, is the actual marketer with a high-paying professional job in the field. When I started painting again (about 4 years ago) and started doing things like sharing my work online through social media, writing a blog, and creating a newsletter, I entered the world of marketing without even realizing or knowing what I was doing!

I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. All throughout this process, I have made numerous friends, met some extremely creative and talented people, have sold paintings, have made supportive online connections, and have gained all of this almost completely organically. In other words, I did not have a method to my madness, I just wanted to share, and this growth happened very slowly over time. With very little business knowledge and using free services to get my artwork out there, it’s amazing what one (creative type like me) can accomplish with initially no budget and a little extra work.

In My Experience

One important thing I have learned is that you have to at some point, just take action, no matter what your circumstances are. The research and learning phase can get you stuck really fast and stall you. I’m a one-woman show, the mother of a teenager and 7 year old, and I have a chronic illness so I set realistic and small daily actionable goals for myself to avoid feeling overwhelmed. I do not compare myself to others and am only in competition with myself so that keeps me focused on where I want to go without getting distracted or being stressed out about where I am. Wherever you are, it’s perfectly fine to start.

There have been so many developments in technology over the last few years that make it even easier than when I started to get your work in front of art enthusiasts, art lovers, admirers, and prospective buyers. You can share your art with the world today with a few clicks.

Setting up a system in the beginning can be confusing if you are a total newbie. You must push through, and work in small chunks of time until you master one thing, and then move on. Your ultimate goal should be to develop an easy, time-saving system that makes sense in your life. It all starts with a purpose and a plan. If you haven’t figured that out yet, it may be wise to start thinking in these terms and writing it down.

There is a lot of information out there to help you along the way, you can Google and learn how to do just about anything. Here is my advice and encouragement to you if you have been wanting to start and/or restart your marketing plan. Keeping it simple at first is key. For example, reading about PPC ads, SEO, or marketing tactics that are over your head before even writing your first blog post will quite possibly scare you away and prevent you from ever getting started. Do not ride the information highway to nowhere and back. The truth is, people like to see your progress and are very forgiving.

Things to Consider and Do In the Beginning:

  • Do you have a clear vision and/or plan?
  • Why do you create art?
  • Have you developed your style as an artist?
  • Do you have a body of work?
  • Who is your art for?
  • Have you nailed down your pricing?
  • What is unique about you and your art? Can you put it into words?

Don’t let these questions discourage you. They are just a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself on an ongoing basis. Proceed and learn on the way. Below are five superduper easy ways to start marketing your art.

Five Easy Ways to Market Your Art

1.  Build Your Brand

If you are an artist YOU are the brand. The best way you can begin to build your online presence quickly and easily is to start a blog (today, this is the same thing as a website, but a more interactive and dynamic one). Think of this as your home, your base camp, your artistic existence where you will send people to visit you and your art. This is where you can really infuse your personality into your art business, build trust, and stay in touch with people.

Your theme, in my opinion, should be very simple. You will want your art to be the focus so don’t get caught up with design, fonts, colors, headers, and sidebar widgets. I would rather you focus on the quality of your photos of you and your art. You can use a free photo editor like PicMonkey or BeFunky to adjust them to your liking. If you can’t hire a professional photographer, do not fret. Do with what you have now because you are in your infancy. Use a recognizable photo of you, or your logo/artwork for your profile, create an about page and keep it short and bright and businesslike, add your best work to a gallery page, and lastly include a contact page.

Build this foundation so you can quickly move into the active blogging phase and then tweak the rest later. Just like you and your art, your brand will be a work in progress that changes and grows with you over time. You have the rest of your life to work on it.

2. Blogging

You have your blog set up so you can start blogging about you, your art, your process, upcoming shows, or new artwork.

Share the things you are doing and why, or projects you are involved in, a behind-the-scenes look at your process, things that inspire you, have a giveaway, or share a story.

Think about who you are talking to and imagine in your writing you are talking to one person. Keep a running list of ideas, don’t be boring, plan your posts, and be consistent. You don’t have to write a novel with each post. Just use your creativity and have fun with it! The more you blog, the better you will get. Everyone starts somewhere and trust me there is no perfect time, so ask yourself; if not now, when?

3. Social Media Marketing

This would be Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and so on. Pick one, learn the ins and outs, then add on from there. Choose social media sites that you are already familiar with or personally using, and if you don’t have a Facebook page, you can create one in literally, 10 minutes, for your art. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I interact more on my page than my personal profile. Invite your friends to like your page, but again, give them a good reason, don’t just say, ‘like my page’. It is not the quantity of fans that you are going for, it is the quality, you want people to actually want to be there receiving updates from you.

4.  Use Email to Market Your Art

Start collecting emails of interested people with an opt-in form in the upper righthand corner of your blog. Give the visitors on your site a reason to subscribe to your blog or join your email list.

You can send the people who want to hear from you information about your next exciting project, invite them to upcoming art exhibits, updates on new art, or again, use your creativity and provide something fun, meaningful, useful, or of value to them. You can set up an account with MailChimp, GetResponse, or Aweber to automate emails or create a newsletter for the people on your list.

5.  Marketing Offline

While the internet is an important venue for marketing your art business, do not ignore the power of offline marketing. Start locally. I sell most of my art locally and just share it online. I am not pressured to make sales online this way. Join art groups for the support and valuable friendships you will forge. If you’d like to get into a gallery, do your research first. When you are scouting galleries look for ones that fit you or have the same aesthetic as your art before you approach them. Participate in a group show. Send out postcards and invite people to an open studio. Attend shows. Do a demo or teach a workshop. Hand out your business card. Tell people about what you do. Do more, take photos everywhere you go, and document everything, and you will never run out of content for your blog.

And lastly, in my opinion it is important and very rewarding to get involved in your community and give back every once in a while.

Action Leads to Momentum

These are all incredibly easy ways to market your art that you can start doing right now. I have been marketing, unknowingly in the beginning, for a few years. It wasn’t until recently that I really started to understand it all. I simply just enjoyed these activities and connecting with people through my art, through writing, social media, and other creative ways, and I still do.

I have integrated my life and art blog together, which is something you don’t have to do if you don’t want to. If you want a more professional appearance and presence, that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t be afraid to inject yourself into your business. Most people, even professional businesses are showing their personalities online these days.

Once you take the first few steps, you will continue to make progress and gain momentum in the process of actually doing it. This will help you find what works best for you. You don’t have to be like everyone else, just be yourself, and remember there is no comparison. Most of all, make certain that you enjoy doing it.

Here’s to you and all your creative endeavors!

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