Nowadays, being a successful artist means not only creating great art, but also creating a strong business—and unless you’re the next Thomas Kinkade, you will probably need to think of yourself as a typical small business owner.
With that in mind, I’ve researched some of the top websites for advice on small businesses and pulled together 7 helpful art marketing tips for 2010.
1. Build your brand
Brand identity is what helps set you apart from others. One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to build a solid brand identity that is passionate about commitment and quality to your customer.
Ask yourself these questions:
What can you offer your customer/collector or gallery? What makes you unique and collectable? Do you have a strong artist’s statement that builds your brand?
When you speak and write passionately about your art, and your mission, people will be drawn to your message.
2. Update your website & start a blog
It’s very important for artists to stay current, technologically, since art buyers are current as well. Has it been more than two years since you’ve updated your website? If so, it’s time to update it and/or consider a blog. After all, these days websites and blogs are practically interchangeable. Blogs are more user-friendly than conventional websites, and content and images can be easily updated without a webmaster.
Think of your website/blog as free or low-cost advertising to your collectors, clients and gallery prospects. Use the blog to tell them about your latest artwork, studio news, thoughts and ideas. Customers will enjoy the extra information and personal touch, and potential collectors will have reasons to choose your art rather than go elsewhere.
3. Market your art directly
Most of us have felt the pinch in this economy, and businesses everywhere are reducing their marketing budgets. Even so, continuing to invest in your business during a downturn is important.
Why? Competition increases during a recession. It is not a time for you to lay low. Maintain friendships with past buyers and save money on traditional advertising by reaching them personally and directly. If you know your customers’ contact information, you can contact them via email, newsletters or direct mailings. Experts say you will double your marketing ability by simply diverting your traditional advertising dollars into direct marketing.
Another trend for 2010 is to return yourself to the market place. Marketing literally began hundreds of years ago when people went to a marketplace to sell their goods. Artisans and craftsmen would engage buyers face to face. People buy from those they know, like and trust. Think of your art/craft as an extension of yourself and go meet people.
Consider websites like Esty.com and eBay.com which allow individuals to sell arts and crafts without having to operate a storefront business of their own.
And don’t forget to nurture your relationships with your galleries and their employees. If you have good connections there, your gallery will work harder for you!
After trying some of these ideas, if your marketing efforts have still not met your goals, you can always consider hiring a consultant to advise potential strategies.
4. Less may be more
Instead of focusing on finding new buyers for your art, your focus in 2010 needs to be on helping existing collectors in new ways. Be sure to address the needs and time demands of your customers, especially those who have commissioned art from you in the past.
The Pareto Principle affects the art market and your business: 80% or more of your income will come from 20% or less of your customers. Focus on repeat customers—they’re the key to your success.
5. Dive into social media
Social media is not just for teenagers and it’s not just a fad. Use the power of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube and other social media sites to reach beyond your niche.
Build a policy around social media, even if you’re only a one-person operation (which most of us are). Write down clear objectives for new posts, articles, videos, images, etc. to minimize problems and potential internet reputation nightmares. Remember, what you put online tends to stay online.
6. Take planned risks
Think big, but start small. Try something new—if it doesn’t work, you can easily change your strategy.
Your instincts will probably be to stay with what you know, but if you eliminate all risks, you will also eliminate the opportunity for growth.
7. Don’t be afraid to fail
There is no failure except in no longer trying. Failing can actually make us smarter. Expecting failure to happen occasionally reduces fear, and establishes a method for future successes.
Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
This idea is also illustrated in the following quote by Michael Jordan:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
2009 is long gone, and 2010 is straight ahead. Only you can make this year more successful than the last.
For more tips and resources from Lori McNee, please visit her blog, Fine Art Tips.