Artist Tip – Marketing

As we discussed previously, an artist’s website is their number one marketing tool. What else is there that can potentially reach the entire world? That being said the website needs to be simple, comprehensive, and updated to reflect what is happening every day.

Content marketing is all the rage these days and artists have a great opportunity to provide consistent content to their followers. The website blog is where it should all start and posts should be made weekly to reflect any news, events, works in progress, thoughts, or ideas that will influence how people see you as a professional artist. The types of posts are endless and can really get people to follow you because you can let them see inside your daily life as you think and create.

You can connect your web blog to all social media outlets you use as well (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) so that the content spreads through your network. Research shows these platforms are good for up to 6 posts per day before followers start to ignore the content. The posts should also be shared in as many groups as possible (where appropriate) to increase the footprint and visibility of each post in a feed. Encouraging your followers to share also increases the visibility so make the content valuable!

Many businesses have gone away from email marketing but it is still a proven marketing tool, with research showing that people who are engaged with a business prefer weekly or bi-weekly email marketing over daily or monthly. Make sure to capture email addresses for anyone interested in your art and have a working email list. Services such as Mailchimp allow you to upload an entire list, put sign up forms on your website and social media, maintain subscriptions, and connect to social media for sharing purposes.

Direct mail marketing has also seemed to go the way of the buffalo, but is still very effective if used correctly. Keep an address list of loyal clients and send out postcards for special events or extraordinary exhibitions on your schedule. A minimum of 2-3 mailings a year will give your clients a tangible reminder of you.

Online event pages/sites are all over the internet, from the local news station website to Craigslist, there are a plethora of places to post your events. We suggest finding as many as possible to post events, exhibition openings—this gets the word out to a broader base and also helps in search (SEO) if you post a link to your website.

Press releases can yield some free advertising. A local reporter stated that the reason he doesn’t write about a lot of the galleries is because he doesn’t get any pitches from them. Now PR is a very different monster than simply emailing your media contact list, it takes some media savvy… Press releases should be written clearly and include the “When, What, Where, Why” along with something unique that catches attention. We do not recommend building a list of reporters from every media outlet and mass emailing them press releases, there may be some initial interest but it will fade due to repetition. Search for local reporters who write about the arts, culture, nightlife, events, things-to-do, and business. Create individual lists for each and start by emailing or calling them directly to introduce yourself and ask if they would like to receive press releases from you.

When you write a press release send it individually to a few reporters as a pitch, ask them if they would like to interview you for a story about the event or news, then allow time for follow up. If a day or so goes by try the next group. Make sure the releases are about things that each group specializes in, don’t send a release about an exhibition to a business writer. A major factor in getting coverage is finding out a timeline on when reporters need the information—magazine writers usually have longer publication times so need information a lot sooner than newspaper or TV, which focus on short term news.

The most critical part of marketing is your strategy, know what you want to do ahead of time and plan ahead. Creating a monthly and yearly marketing plan is the key to effectiveness. The most effective strategy is to have a weekly marketing schedule that you do one outreach task each day or so, then it becomes consistent!

Written materials for artists

I know, I know, the work should sell itself right?  Not realistic… unfortunately.  It is imperative now more than ever that an artist have clear, concise written materials that explain and engage the viewer.  With the massive amount of art on the market you have to convince a potential buyer that your work is important and they need it, this means they have to have an emotional connection to it.  Therefore, the more they can learn about the work, and you, the better your sales will be.

Artist Statement/ Biography/ CV

These are the three staples that I believe every artist must have—and they are not one document they are all completely separate and very different.

Your artist statement is your explanation of your oeuvre, a body of work, or an individual piece.  Some artists will have one umbrella statement, while others have many crafted for specific uses.  I recommend having one explaining your work as a whole, one for each body of work or series you create, maybe one for each piece you make.  The more you have prepared the better off you will be.

You may have multiple versions of each too, directed to specific groups, but the most important is the one directed at potential clients so there are some keys to remember:

  • Use the first person, this is your statement so do not speak about yourself in the third person. It is impersonal and honestly kind of annoying.
  • Keep it short, at the most 2-3 paragraphs totaling a maximum of 250-300 words. Your statements do not need to explain everything, they must engage and start a conversation.
  • Keep it simple—do not use artspeak that only museum curators understand. It needs to be clear to everyone who comes across it, if they don’t understand the words you use they will not buy it, and if they do buy it they will want to be able to explain it to others.
  • Have multiple versions—be flexible with it so you can adapt it to exhibition needs.
  • Discuss what the work is, how you make it, and why.
  • Use your artist statement to develop your “elevator statement,” a pointed explanation of your work in 2 or 3 sentences that you commit to memory used when you are asked, “Oh you are an artist, what do you make?”
  • If you are not comfortable with your writing or want it to be better, work with a professional, the cost will be much more affordable than missing out on sales.

Your biography is where you get to write about yourself and give the reader some insight into who you are and how that is reflected in your art.  This can be written from the outside perspective so I definitely recommend working with a professional art writer to craft your bio and tell your story.  Most importantly, remember this is about you, not necessarily your art, but you can discuss your background with the arts, it’s kind of like a narrative of your resume with more detail about your life.  I once heard a great comment about this, “people buy from people” so let them know who you are.

Your C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) is your art resume, and should look similar to your professional resume.  It should include:

  • Your elevator statement
  • Contact information
  • Education
  • Exhibition History (solo and group shows can be separate)
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Media
  • Collections
  • Gallery Representation

These are the basic written materials that will make up your portfolio and your website.  If you have all of these materials prepared you will easily be able to build your marketing materials.  Better so, you will be able to engage people with your work and hopefully turn them into clients.

Remember, I have many years of experience writing for artists and since I have offered this service my clients have been very satisfied, but more importantly they are more confident and using the materials more often.  Contact me if you can use some help crafting your written materials.