Here’s my artist marketing tips, a summary of what I’ve learned about selling art over the last few months. I don’t consider myself an expert but I have spent a look know time learning from my mistakes, so there’s a chance that I have accidentally stumbled on a few truths!
Websites are still essential.
Free websites, Facebook, Twitter and social media are always tempting for artists to start an online presence but remember, you can’t control them. Online art galleries, my space and even behemoths like Facebook and Google will come and go. If they fizzle out (myspace?), they will take your paintings with them. Even if they don’t go, they might chuck you off their platform, introduce charges, you might get trolled or get a bad review that you hate. That’s why all artists should invest in a domain name and website. Luckily a good Web hosting company will provide both these services for less than £10 per month, so my recommendation is to invest in a domain name and website.
Post to your own website first, then social media.
Once you have invested in your own domain name and website, make sure that you upload images of all your paintings to your website. Write an interesting blurb about the image, then share the link to your website via social media. This means that Facebook (or wherever) will share a link back to your website, a link that some people will follow and hence discover all the wonderful other images on your website. Social media gurus call this a ‘hub and spoke’ approach to social media – the hub is your website where the majority of your images will go, the spokes are Facebook, Twitter etc to which you will share your content that links back to your own website.
As an artist, you are a brand.
Many of us instinctively recoil for any notion that as artists we represent anything resembling a commercial brand. But I think it helps to understand ourselves in the way that our potential collectors see us. We may call them collectors (I certainly do) but in reality, they act like customers, talk like customers and spend like customers. Importantly, to those customers, the art we produce is just another product (high status, luxury and expensive) and they see us and respond to us in the same way they see Coke, Zara, Netflix. No need for us to sell out, but if we want to make sales remember that many collectors just want something decorative for the living room.
The story you tell is important.
When a potential customer is considering buying your work if you can tell a story about the creation if the work, a sale will usually follow. Potential customers love to have a sneak peek behind the scenes to get an insight into your inspirations and motivations. So give it to them. Whenever you post a tweet, post to Facebook or write a blog post, and most importantly, put up a new painting for sale, write about your art. Which brings me to my next point…
The internet doesn’t ‘get’ your images.
Always remember that Internet search engines can’t see your paintings. Even Google doesn’t have the technology to identify your images as art, and it certainly can’t tell what artists style you paint in, or the location for your paintings. You have to do that yourself by writing about your paintings, in as much depth as you can, as frequently as you can. So every time you post an image, post some text too. If you find writing about your art difficult, get over yourself.
You have to be where your collectors are.
Personally, I don’t like sharing on Facebook. Instagram seems vacuous and cold. Twitter is full of too many people all talking at once. But the people who actually buy my paintings, do like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so I have to be there too. So I’m there too, sharing and commenting, posting videos, joining in the conversation and tweeting.
It’s only about painting 50% of the time.
I guard my painting time jealousy. I’m a dad and a husband with another job, a job that actually pays the mortgage. So I have many demands on my time. When I do finally get time to paint though only about half of those hours actually see me in front of the easel because the rest of the time I’m packing up sold paintings (in a good month) or perhaps updating a website with new art, or running a Facebook advertising campaign or any one of a hundred art related but not painting activities.
Artfinder is still the best place to sell your art.
It has been a bit quieter than it was a few years ago, probably because it has grown so big now, but Artfinder is still where I make most of my sales. The commission is 33% but it’s worth it. I notice that they re-target ads for your paintings. For example, if a potential customer visits your painting on the Artfinder site, over the next few days they will see your painting pop up again (and again!) in a targeted advert within Facebook. So Artfinder is effectively paying for your adverts for which they deserve every credit.
Hopefully, this article has been useful to you – if it has please feel free to share and/or sign up to my newsletter. If you want me to help you design a website or set up a social media account, let me know.