One of the biggest challenges in transforming your passion for art into a business is marketing your work. As a creative soul, you are not necessarily naturally talented when it comes to promoting and selling your work. In fact, many creative find this area particularly challenging as it requires skills which are pretty much the opposite of the artistic and creative skill-set.
The good news, however, is that you can learn these skills and teach yourself to be stronger at marketing. Here is a step-by-step guide to developing a marketing strategy for artists, to let you successfully market and sell your art even if this area is not your forte.
The first step in developing a marketing strategy for your art is to define your goals and objectives. This will be the foundation of your strategy, because everything you plan to do follows from what you are looking to achieve.
Start by identifying your goals for your business. You goals should be the broad, overall things that you want to achieve. This could be to make a certain amount of money (either a set figure or enough to be financially sustainable, for example), to create a profile as an artist (locally, nationally or internationally), something else, or all of the above.
From there you can work out your objectives, which are the smaller, more concrete things which will bring you closer to achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to create a public profile as a well-known artist within your area, an objective may be to attract a certain number of followers on social media.
An important part of any marketing strategy is your audience. Every business’ audience will be different, and you need to know what yours is, as this defines the marketing methods and tactics you should use.
In order to define your audience think about your ideal customer: this is the person that is most likely to buy your product for the price you are willing to sell it. Your ideal customer will have an interest in your art, and the financial means to be able to buy it. Think about who this person is, down to factors like age, gender, profession and locality.
From there, explore the lifestyle and habits that person is likely to have: do they spend time on social media and if so what platforms? Are they likely to pick up flyers at community events or read the notice board at local cafes or other businesses and which ones? All of this will help you know how to market to them.
As important as knowing your customer is, it is equally critical to know who you are. Every business has a brand, and if you are marketing yourself as an independent artist, you are that brand! Your brand expresses who you are as an artist, and how you want people to see you. This is really up to you to decide: your brand could be professional, playful, fun, quirky, traditional, classic, or something else. Whatever you decide, everything you do in your marketing should reflect this essence.
These days the easiest way to sell your art is online. You may also choose to sell your art in person, either in combination with online sales or exclusively in store. However, assuming that you do want to sell your art online, you have a few options. There are a number of sites such as UGallery, Saatchi Art and Artfinder, which specialise in selling art from independent artists directly to the public. There are also sites like Ipicasso which specialise in niche types of paintings, as well as more general ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Another option is to create your own website and sell your art through there. This option involves more work, both in terms of setting up and maintaining the website, and also in marketing in order to drive traffic to your site (compared to other platforms which already have potential customers using that site). However, the advantage of using your own site is that you will receive 100% of the profits rather than giving a percentage to an ecommerce platform, as well as having full control over the process.
Whether selling your art through an online art marketplace, a general ecommerce site, or your own website, you need to promote your work and yourself through marketing tactics in order to attract attention from potential customers. Social media marketing is a highly effective marketing technique for artists, especially Instagram. Because this is a visual medium, it is a great way to show your art to a whole new audience, and build a following which could turn into a customer base.
There are also a number of “ghost marketing” tactics which you can use to subtly drive traffic to your site or ecommerce listing. Ghost marketing’s strategies include SEO (search engine optimisation), digital PR and content marketing. It is a good idea to pick one marketing tactic to start and focus on this. From there, you can skill up in other areas and roll out additional strategies as your business grows.