Top 10 ways to promote your art business this year

Learn My Craft | 4th July 2021

Top 10 ways to promote your art business this year Take your art business to the next level with these free marketing tips

Take your art business to the next level with these free marketing tips

If you’re running an art, craft or handmade business in 2021, you already know the challenges that come with marketing your business and getting noticed by collectors. The old saying of ‘if you build it they will come’ simply doesn’t apply, you need some creative strategies to make your art business successful and get more people to buy your art.

There is a big temptation to throw money at the problem by using paid advertising if you want to get your artwork noticed and get customers as an artist. When you see ads across social media platforms and search engines it seems like the obvious next step. Incredibly,  in 2020 Facebook generated over $84bn in ad revenue alone, so its big business. However, most creators don’t have an unlimited budget to promote their work and acquire new customers. So what do you do then?

We’ve put tother a list of the top 10 creative ways to promote your art, craft or handmade business. Notice the word creative, this list will require you to tap into your creativity and imagination. As an artist, you have a unique story to tell and an ability to make people feel something through your work. This is your greatest asset when trying to get noticed. Creative also means free in this case. There is so much you can do for free to promote your art business and find customers who are excited about your work.

There are four stages you must go through to make a sale. These are awareness of the product or service, customer interest in the product, decision to buy, and the sale itself. If you want to learn more about the sales funnel surrounding art sales, check out Chapter 4 of ‘Art is my career – How To Start An Art Business’ by Sema Martin, you can pick up a copy here. The chapter takes you through step by step, from attracting new enquiries to after sales care, in an easy to follow way. You can generate awareness by creating opportunities to be seen. Sitting at home and waiting for inquiries is not proactive enough to create recognition among your potential customers. Be bold, be creative, and get your name out there!

1. Use business cards, postcards and flyers.

Traditional printed materials are so often overlooked in favour of web based marketing, but they could just prove to be your secret weapon. When you market yourself online, you’re competing against everybody, everywhere. By distributing high quality business cards and flyers across your local community you have far less competition, and a much higher chance of converting people into customers. You’ll increase your number of referrals too, people love to hang on to business cards and share them with friends and family.

Using printed materials as part of your marketing is one of the most direct ways to get in front of the right people. Try talking to your local businesses, art galleries and any other establishments where your target customer would hang out. Ask if you can leave a stack of business cards with them, the worst they could say is no right? Remember your business card should look professional and include:

  • Your name/ Business name
  • Website/contact details
  • Tagline summarizing what you do.

There are lots of great places to get marketing materials printed like , VistaPrint and Moo.

2. Build a public relations strategy

Get the PR workbook link. Use trends and current events. Shout about what makes you special. Build a public persona known for something related to your business.

Public relations, or PR for short, is all about building your reputation and scoring valuable press coverage. All of the best known contemporary artists are masters of PR, and learning how to work the media is one of the most effective ways to gain free publicity. If you’re new to PR and want to get yourself featured in a newspaper or magazine for your art, check out the PR Workbook which will take you through the steps one by one. PR can also be used to build your reputation and personal brand too. Think about how you can turn what you do into a newsworthy story, and get in touch with relevant journalists to get started.

3. Attend industry events and shows

Shows and events are the lifeblood of many hobbies. Once or twice a year, thousands of people will get together to celebrate the thing they love, meet fellow enthusiasts and discover new products. Attending shows and events as an exhibitor or speaker will get you in front of the right people, fast. The right event will catapult your name into an industry and draw instant attention from engaged customers. For example, if your customers are dog owners, what better place to be than at the  World Dog Show, which attracts over 40,000 dog owners each year? Rather than sitting back and waiting for customers to come to you, take the initiative to go to them, they’ll thank you for it in sales.

4. Create social proof and engage with customers

The easiest sale will always be to someone who has already bought from you before. Your existing customers are a community who are proven fans of your business. This type of social proof is invaluable when marketing your brand to prospective new customers. People want what other people want, so collecting and sharing testimonials, customer stories and previous work is a very effective way to convert new followers into customers.

Being engaged with your customers is key for any artist trying to build a following of collectors, they become your best sales people as they are already passionate about your work. Laura Perkins from Social Media Week Magazine agrees, saying in 2015 “In addition to acting as ambassadors for your product or service, your community also gives you valuable market research insights, information for product development”.

Don’t neglect email marketing either, building an email list is a real asset, and allows you to build long term engagement and loyalty far beyond what can be achieved through social media alone. Customer loyalty is all about making people feel valued and part of the story in every interaction they have with your business. For this reason, many artists offer discounts and incentives for repeat clients or presale orders.

5. Post consistently on social media

Most of us have a social media account of one type or another. Your customers probably do too, so how do you make the most of that? Rather than posting randomly, your social media accounts should be used strategically. People love to follow accounts that have a clear personality and an engaged community of followers. This is your chance to shine and be creative, many artists market themselves exclusively through social media alone, and done well it can send your art viral overnight.

Here are some top tips for making the most of your social media presence:

  • Be authentic and real
  • Remember to add a call to action – what do you want to people to do after seeing your post?
  • Use the social media platforms that show your work at its best, not every platform will suit every artist.
  • Have a plan and be consistent.
  • Track your performance using analytics, and adjust what you post accordingly.

6. Make and share video content

The last year has proven again and again that video content is king. Not only does it keep viewers engaged for longer, it allows you to express yourself and your business in a way that no other medium can ever achieve. Did you know for example, videos on social media achieved 1200% more shares than images or text based content combined. Video is your chance to share with the world your creative process, your brand values, your personality and your customer stories. If you’re new to video production, keep it simple. You can easily create high quality videos using a simple smartphone and a free editing app like inShot or Adobe Premier Rush and share them for free on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and on video hosting websites like YouTube and DailyMotion.

7. Write authoritatively about your subject

People like to do business with people who are experts in their field, passionate about their subject and ready to talk enthusiastically about their creative process. Writing authoritatively about what you do as an artist and creator will attract an audience of new fans who are drawn in by your passion and craftsmanship. Become a thought leader for your medium and put out written content regularly by way of blogs, by liners and articles in relevant media outlets. If you have a passion for painting wild birds, write a piece about that passion and share your incredible unique perspective. We all have a story to tell and experience to share. Moreover, writing is good for marketing too. Good written content will boost your website on search engines and gain you a host of shares and backlinks, which over time should turn into enquiries.

8. Run a competition

Photo contest, giveaway, captions contest, get people involved and invested.

This is a real chance to be creative and come up with something a little bit different. Competitions are a fun way to draw attention to your art and engage your followers for a chance to win. Some artists run giveaways, encouraging followers to share content or submit an email address for the chance to win a free piece of art. Always have a goal for the competition that will further your business goals. Collecting email addresses, encouraging social media shares and engagement and prompting referrals are all good places to start.

Top tip: Always make sure you are following the competition rules of your local country and that you aren’t violating the terms of service of your social media platforms.

9. Collaborate with relevant influencers

Two heads are better than one, and collaboration might just open you up to a whole new audience. Social media makes this really easy to do. From guest posting on other peoples blogs, to social media takeovers to reactions and reviews of other peoples work. Collaborating will allow you to work with another creator to benefit from each others audiences. Try to collaborate with people who have shared long term goals but different strengths. Find people or organisations with whom you have a shared mission, eg conservation, and together you can make a bigger splash than as individuals. Get creative and think about innovative ways to build communities and drive forward a sense of mission. Art is a really effective medium for this because its visual, exciting and generates feeling in people.

10. Have a brand that sticks in peoples minds

The worlds biggest brands all have something in common. They have a memorable image and a clear vision for the future. Would you mistake Coca Cola branding for any other company? Can the same be said for your art and your art business in general? It is no different for the most famous artists from throughout history. When you see a picture of Salvador Dali and his work, it is unrecognisable as anyone but him. The same for Van Gogh or in more recent times Damien Hirst. Their personal brand shines through in everything they create and all of the marketing they do around it.

Story telling is the essence of all great marketing, and its no different for artists and creatives. Every brand uses story telling in their marketing materials, it’s the most effective way to connect with new people.  If you’re struggling to work out what your story is, grab The Story Telling Workbook For Artists, which take you through the whole process, something that will transform the way you think about your art and your marketing.

Spend some time thinking about your own personal brand as a creator. What do you want to be known for? How do you want people to feel when they encounter your work? What values do you stand for? How does your style and your image come through consistently again and again? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, spend some time thinking about brand and how you can use it to stick in peoples minds.

A summary of the top 10 creative ways to promote your art business

  1. Use business cards, post cards and flyers
  2. Build a public relations strategy
  3. Attend industry events and shows
  4. Create social proof and engage with customers
  5. Post consistently on social media
  6. Make and share video content
  7. Write authoritatively about your subject
  8. Run a competition
  9. Collaborate with relevant influencers
  10. Have a brand that sticks in people’s minds

Common mistakes when promoting your art business

These are the most common mistakes artists make when trying to promote their handmade business. You can increase your chance of success if you avoid these common errors.

  • Failing to communicate what sets you apart
    • You need to shout about what makes you unique, don’t be part of the crowd
  • Not being patient enough
    • Most people give up far too early and lack consistency. Keep at it for months or years, not days.
  • Not resonating with your target customers
    • If you aren’t getting the response you want but people are seeing what you do, something is wrong. Go back to trying to understand your customers better.
  • Trying to sell to everyone
    • This is a classic mistake made by so many first time business owners. You cant be everything to everyone. Pick a niche and be the best at that, before ever thinking about expanding.
  • Not being authentic enough
    • People can tell if you’re not being authentic a mile off. Always be honest and real if you want to attract genuine fans.
  • Poor quality content

The standard of content people are putting out rises every day and you need to compete. There’s no excuse for bad quality photography or sloppy attention to detail when promoting your business. An eye for quality goes a long way in marketing.

Download your free to-do list and start promoting your art business today

We’ve put together a simple to do list that you can download to get started. Sign up to get this free download and many more!

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