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Five Ways To Boost Your Art Career

This post reprinted by permission of the author Barney Davey, art marketing expert.

Five ways to help your art career.

Sell direct to collectors.

Build a network of fans, friends and followers.

Become slightly famous.

Be known for your work.

Maximize your marketing.

Let’s break them down and discover why and how these things are essential to promote your art career.

Sell Direct to Collectors.

Selling direct and building a collector base is a good thing today. In the past, artists were discouraged from selling direct if they hoped to have success working with galleries. Back then, it just was bad form and bad karma to compete with galleries. They had the marketing; they had the collector base and the power. Galleries did not want artists competing with them.

Most artists who chose to buck the gallery system were Sunshine Artists working the show and fair circuits. They didn’t have the resources and tools to build a clientele the way galleries could do. Traditional marketing resources such as advertising and direct mail were too expensive and difficult to get reasonable returns.

In 2014, things have changed. Galleries and virtually all other small businesses have had to deal with a myriad of disruptive forces. These include the ubiquity of the Internet, the rise of e-commerce, the growing influence of social media and noticeable changes in consumer buying habits.

These days, enlightened, and compassionate gallerists not only see it is not a smart thing to stand in the way of artists selling direct. They realize it is necessary for artists to earn a decent living. Moreover, they know artists now have the tools to build their own loyal following, which makes them stronger marketing partners. An artist with faithful fans and a responsive email list can help stimulate gallery sales.

Build a Network Of Fans, Friends and Followers.

Equally important to the success of your art career are the relatively inexpensive and easy to use digital marketing tools available to artists. With them, artists can make an affordable e-commerce enabled website, a blog, an email marketing system, and use effective social media platforms to help drive traffic, grow email lists and appreciation for the artist’s work.

Artists can use these tools to help them find new direct buying prospects and convert them to buyers and collectors. Artists can use online print-on-demand art sales sites such as FineArtAmerica.com to be able to expand their product line. Having a place to drive traffic to a one-stop site for selling canvas and paper prints and postcards is a fantastic way to get work in the hands of those fans who love an artist’s work, but do not have the budget for original works. This seems particularly beneficial for converting social media friends and followers into buyers. Another goal for building a network is to foster a residual strong word of mouth effect. Referrals are your best opportunities for making new sales.

Become Slightly Famous.

I have blogged about the many ways there are to become a minor celebrity. Although I appreciate public speaking is not for every artist, it is arguably the quickest way to gain slight celebrity.

While public speaking is powerful, it is not the only way to become well known. In my books and on this blog, I have encouraged artists to use publicity to gain exposure in other ways.

Some suggestions to create slight celebrity are:

Becoming the founder and driving force behind an art happening.

Writing books.

Do something noteworthy, outrageous and effective for a charity you love.

Become an expert on your local/regional/state art history.

Become an authority on the life of famous artists.

Be Known for Your Work in Your Art Career.

Telling artists they need to stick to a single genre or style sounds understandably confining. It is after all your art career. As such, you are accountable first to yourself. I have been as guilty of offering this advice as have a myriad of other art career advisers.

There is a rationale behind the advice. That is because collectors and galleries have expectations. They need to know if they like your work that they will find more like it as you continue your art career. This situation is never going to go away. For some artists, it is not a problem. They love painting wildlife, for instance, and have no plans to do other genres that would be foreign to their established buyers.

For those of you who chafe at the suggestion of continuing to paint in the same vein, there is hope. You can ditch the genre or style tips and just work on making sure you are known for your work in your art career.

What does that mean? Simply, if you are going to put energy into working your art in new ways that you pay equal energy into being known for making it. The other way to approach making work not recognizable to your collectors and galleries is to think of it as your personal stash. You are making it for your own pleasure. If you are doing well enough with your other work, then there is no pressure to turn other creative forays into commercial success.

Maximize Your Marketing

You only have 168 hours each week to eat, sleep, work, and enjoy your life. In the work component, your time for marketing is both crucial and limited. The only way to make your marketing payoff is to focus it on what is essential and what is effective.

In my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book, I suggest an artist focus on two or three significant events a year, (More only if you have staff to help.) Then arrange all your marketing around those events. It takes multiple touches to get buyer motivation, even from existing buyers. Coordinated marketing is how you achieve those touches and drive sales.

If you start far enough in advance, you can create an avalanche of marketing messages, all pointed toward one event. Imagine having press releases, publicity, advertising, direct mail, blog posts, guest blog posts, social media and more pouring in the weeks up to an event.

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is. The way to master making this overwhelming is through planning and scheduling. Break your tasks down to the smallest component. Schedule just enough every day to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Working this way, you can do as much as if you had a large marketing staff.

There Is Always More to Make Your Art Career Successful.

Sure, you can do much more than suggested here to promote your art career. That said, I encourage to focus on turning these ideas into actions. When you do, I know you will see improved results in recognition and sales of your work. Unless you are volunteering your art career, those kinds of results are both necessary and rewarding.