A professional website
The most important one is to have a website or a point where people can see your art. Let’s be honest when you only exhibit at galleries, you are not technology-minded (or you are just happy to sell a few pieces here and there). The fact is when you are trying to reach people to buy your work, it is of importance to have a shop window: a website. It creates a feeling of professionalism if you can send people to a site that is yours, helps to easily showcase the art you create, boosts your reach and eventually your sales.
Your website has to be good. Honestly, I can spend another blog on how your website should look. Good user experience is, therefore, essential. We all visit websites the whole day and know how annoying it is whenever it is not working as it should be.
Social media and qualitative content
I cannot stretch this enough: use social media. Platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (the list goes on) are a great tool to get your message out there and receive feedback.
I believe that social media is a great way to get feedback and it gives you a barometer on what’s hot and what is not. Your social media account is your shopping window and therefore, one word is essential: Quality. If you are going to use Instagram, it does not make sense when you are going to share pictures of your cat or pictures of your lunch. Your social media account should show qualitative content. However, if you like to share more of your personal life, I suggest creating two accounts — personal and professional.
Your personal account is to share more about yourself, what you like, your daily life and what inspires you. Content about what you have had for lunch and pictures of your cat work well, at least I would like it :-)!
Your professional account, on the other hand, is the spot you share about who you are and promoting your art brand and this should be professional as possible as you can make it. High-quality pictures and good quality copy will allow you to showcase yourself as best as possible. Involve people in what you are doing.
If you are painting or sculpting, show some of that work behind the scenes – show your process and the end result. Take a macro photo, some close-ups, some soft-focus shots. Involve everyone and everything in the process as well as the finished product. You can take quality pictures with your smartphone these days, but nothing beats an SLR camera. If this might be a too significant investment for you, try to borrow one. Because you can get the best reproduction of your work and when the quality is on point, your market will perceive it as professional and is more likely to follow you.
At the beginning of the blog, I already mentioned Etsy. However, there are more platforms like Fine Art America, Artmajeur, Artfinder and many more. The choice of what kind of media best fits you depends on what you plan to create with your art and what type of market you want to get into.
All the platforms are a great way of getting exposure. When you choose to get into those platforms, it is of high importance to page up correctly and trigger people to go to that platform. Next, keep in mind that these kinds of media cost dedication and energy. Try to get it updated and be regularly active on these platforms.
When creating a website, I suggest adding a spot where people can leave their email address to keep updated. I recommend doing a newsletter 4 times a year. Why 4 times a year? Because it should not become an overkill. Instead, send a personal email every month, ask what they think of your art, ask feedback, ask what is on their mind and send a quarterly newsletter. In this newsletter, you can share things likes: a new series, an invite to your art studio tour or your plans/projects for the coming period.
I can imagine that you can have the feeling of bragging. But hey! You are not bragging. You are giving and sharing your gifts with the world. You are sharing ideas, art pieces and stories than can influence or change a person’s perception of the world. People love to hear from you. Again, it is of high importance to try to be consistent. Schedule a moment to send a personal email to your followers every month and 4 times a year a “newsletter” mail.
Blogging is a big topic I could split down, but basically, even if you do not know what to share, start talking about what you are doing. Start writing blog posts of three to five hundred words. To give you an idea: if you are a sculptor, you may want to talk about the tools you are using. If you are working in clay, talk about why you are enjoying using it or share useful tips and tricks for other people. The great thing about these small blog posts is that you can recycle this. With recycling, you can also use these posts for your social media or for your emails. Again, this ensures that the people that follow you are connected to your process.
Be relentless and be consistent. Just show up every day, do something even if you feel terrible, get a coffee and go and do something. Go to your workplace, go either paint or do something or sit and think but do something every day. Because this makes sure that you will grow every day.
If you can not find the spirit one day, feel free to contact me via @fleurbravenboer. I am happy to be your partner in crime in regards to building your brand!
Partner up with your local community
Get connected to a local fair, café and restaurant – approach them all. Share your story and tell others why you do what you do and how you do it. Find ways to cooperate and create value for your local community. When building these local community relations, you can share these stories on your blog and social media. For instance, I know a woman that paints all kinds of animals that live in the forest. One day she asked to showcase a few of her paintings at a local restaurant located in her village’s woods, which the restaurant was pleased to do so.
Building your network
If you would like people to support your work, it does not matter if you have never had a gallery show or have had many. It begins with a letter, telling people what you do and introducing yourself. From there, start sending this letter to build a support network of fans. You can start sending this to (old) friends or your family, for example, basically, send it to everyone who enjoys your work. Building your network is also directly connected to the previous point, as knowing your local community adds immense value to your system. By understanding and being associated with many people, you can easily organise an art tour to showcase your work. This is a great way to host a little gathering and to get your art out there and continue to build relations.
Do not worry, cold calling is not the favourite one for most of us. You can do this in different ways, you can choose to pick up the phone, but you can also send an email to people you do not know to sparkle their interest. As mentioned in earlier, you have created a letter that helps to introduce yourself.
Take the time to prepare it well and think about what benefits them. Get yourself out there and try to send every week at least 5 emails to people you do not know.
For instance, look for a new curator at a museum or another company, someone who is probably young and handles something that might not even apply to you like booking performances or music. Write to that person directly and ask if you could meet with them to discuss a project that you would like their feedback on. You can ask if you can meet the curator at the museum café at lunchtime for about fifteen minutes. Usually, that is hard to say no to. It is also helpful to find something about that person that makes you connect with them and refer to in an email that you know who they are!
It keeps being a discussion. Is it reasonable to promote yourself via a gallery? I would say: yes! We cannot ignore that the gallery network is robust. If you can find a good one, that is fantastic. They open doors that boost your career. However, I do believe that it is essential to have various income streams and market places. The gallery should be one of your activities next to print on demand, commissions or workshops, for example.
Congrats—you’re on your way to mastering how to promote your art! If you apply those methods into practise, you’ll find your reputation growing and new opportunities arising.