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Monday, February 09, 2015

The Burning Question: How do I Market My Work Article 1 aka Don't Put The Cart Before The Horse

Up today--More from my series "The Burning Question"

"The Cul De Chick"  36 x 36

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I had a little respite from my normal surroundings by taking my work on the road for 2 days as my ReMe business partners and I worked on our 2015-2016 program.   TONS of exciting things coming up...which you will be hearing about over the next few months.  
  That leads me today's topic, which is another installment of my series, "The Burning Question".

Many of the things Jean, Penny and I talked about over and above our planning had a lot to do with marketing, so I thought it fitting to share this burning question:   One of my newsletter readers, Ellen, asked recently,  "How do you Market your artwork?"

Marketing is such a robust topic, I think I'd like to address this over several installments so be sure to check back periodically for more updates.  For today, I am going to just start with a larger overview and a few steps or questions for you to think about as you formulate (or tweak) your own marketing plan.

In the beginning:

When I first decided that I wanted to sell my artwork,  I pretty much had no idea what I was doing honestly. Most of what I did (and still am doing) is going by my gut instinct on what avenues to pursue or not to pursue.    One thing I want to suggest though before you worry to much about marketing, is to first and foremost, make sure you have a body of work to even market.  

It's kinda like not putting the cart before the horse kind of thing.   I've seen people fret for months and months about the perfect business card, perfect branding elements, go overboard on signage and those much needed business marketing materials before they really even have an identity or body of work to worry about selling.  In the mean time, they have lost a lot of needed time to produce work and hone their skills while chasing the marketing materials. But the plus side of it is that they have a bad ass business card. (heehee).

SO....rather than worry about the branding portion of your business if you are in the beginning stages of your creative business...worry about making art non stop.  Do it as much as you can.  Develop a body of work, a collection, and develop your skills. 

DO buy business cards but keep them simple for now, maybe use images of your work (like moo cards) or other simple formats that simply state your name and your contact information.

ALSO: I'm a big proponent of using social media to market your work, to tell your story, and to start understanding who exactly is your core customer that is drawn to your work.   (Note--who is drawn to your work isn't necessarily who you might think your core customer is in the beginning, and it may not even be who 'converts' to a paying customer, but it does give you insight as to where your marketing efforts should possibly be focused.

What? You don't use social media for your art?? 

Okay my friends....that's one of the first steps I might suggest at least starting with if you are wondering how to market your work:

1.  Establish a blog (I use blogger but there are others you could consider, some are free and some are not).  Think long and hard about your name for your blog.  I chose Sweet Repeats long before I started my art business as I was originally interested in re-purposing yard sale and thrift store finds. Those that don't know my blog or haven't had it linked somewhere to them along the line may have a hard time finding it.  Because I have had it for so many years (I started blogging around 2006), and have had my name linked to it and my artwork linked to it, you could search for me and find it but if I were to do it all over again, I'd just use my name since most people search for my art by name.

If you already have a blog but it's been long neglected.  Dust it off and get back in the rodeo! I know this post is rather long for a post in general, but remember, not everything you blog about needs to be a chapter in length.  Think twice about posting something on Facebook if it requires a paragraph of explanation...instead start posting things like that on your blog.  (This topic also deserves more in depth discussion!).

2.  Establish a Facebook account for yourself personally and for your business.   I know...I know...not everyone wants to be on Facebook or share everything about their life.  It is time consuming. It's also a great way to 'somewhat freely' connect with your audience and build a following. You are leaving 1000's, in fact potentially millions of connections on the table if you choose not to pursue this avenue of marketing and sales.  The other point is, YOU choose what to share.  Your customer base does want to know about YOU the artist.  YOUR STORY. They want to see a bit behind the scenes.  They want to be INSPIRED by you.  Your followers  may not care to see what you are having for breakfast everyday (but hey, if its drool worthy or promoting a local restaurant that you love..what have you..share that love if you are inclined to do so).

REMEMBER---for any social media outlet you choose...the way you present yourself has a lasting effect and impact on your clients and customer base. If you are Wendy Whiner because no one has signed up for your class or bought a piece of art in a week and your mortgage is coming due...honestly, no one wants to hear that. Not that you can't share the ups and downs of your creative life, just watch for your 'tone' and how professional or unprofessional you may come across.

3.  Pinterest for me has been another great way to promote my art, and to really start showing people what it is that I like or am drawn to.   If you see a board called  "My Style"  in Pinterest you'll see that I really like cowboy boots, casual but bohemian style clothes, industrial  type of home decor.   If you check out my color collections, you'll see some of the colors that make my heart sing!   Sharing your artwork on a board you create is a must.  Every time I do  a blog post or list something on Etsy, I also share on Pinterest one or two things that coordinate with those posts.  

When I look at the stats  for my blog and Etsy account,  tons of referrals and readers come from Pinterest.  Many of those referrals have converted into sales, in fact, some of my biggest sales over the last 12 months have come from Pinterest.  Just sayin.  

I have a lot of room improvement in all of these areas, but at the same time, I try not to get too wrapped up in how many followers I have even though I want to see those numbers go up. Rather, I hope I am reaching the RIGHT customers who are truly, truly, interested in what I'm creating, teaching, or writing about (or all the above).   That's my goal right now---to reach the right customers while increasing my reach across the board over time.

4. Other social media outlets to consider joining or using to start developing your brand identity and connecting with your 'peeps' :  Instagram (especially popular with a younger market but increasingly popular because of it's 'mobility' and ease of use),  Google Plus (I'm still figuring that out), and LinkedIn (not for me but you may find it useful), Twitter--I am liking that format more and more since you can now share pictures pretty easily.

5. What do you do first or do you have to do it all? You may not want to work with all of these platforms and frankly you may not  have the time to use all of these outlets, so choose a couple for now or look into a program that can share or schedule posts across multiple platforms.  The key to any of these outlets is to not just post and run. You must be engaging. You need to share content that is interesting to your readers or followers. Commenting and following others in the industry is important, too. Don't be 'one sided' in the 'conversation and sharing'. You also need to be regular with your postings because for you to be effective in this type of marketing,  it can't be a once a month update and expect your reach to be wide enough to see much difference in anything you are trying to accomplish.

6.  Newsletters: If you don't have a newsletter platform, I'd also suggest developing one.  I use Mailchimp for my service and it's totally free up to 2000 subscribers.  I'm not at that number yet so for me, doesn't cost anything to use the service other than the time it takes to create a newsletter. It's fairly user friendly to create a newsletter, too.  (This was another question that I intend to address more in depth down in this Burning Question series..stay tuned for that!)     One of the reasons I highly recommend having an email list (especially if you do shows or already have a blog established) is because those that those that sign  for your newsletter have REALLY established that they are one of your peeps and want to hear from you on a regular basis.  Think of yourself, if you sign up for an email newsletter somewhere, it's definitely a business you care about or enjoy shopping with (or if it's more of an educational publication, you are saying you want to hear what they say about topic xyz) on a regular basis.   This list of readers is also YOURS.  If Facebook or Twitter go away still have your newsletter list to communicate to your core customer with. 
If you solely count on any one platform for your entire social marketing are putting all your eggs in one basket and that's a little scary to think about....remember "My Space"??????

If you are wondering what to  focus on growing or are wondering what to do first...I say REALLY focus your energy on growing your newsletter as one of the top 2-3 areas of marketing. 

While we are on the topic...have you signed up for mine? :)

If not,  here's a quick link for you to do so:

See how easy was that?  

Making it easy for your customers or potential customers to find you and follow you is half the battle! :)

Let's circle back around for a moment----don't get so caught up into any marketing campaign or growing your followers in addition to establishing your brand before....before what:

You have a body of work  (or at least a few pieces and know that you are constantly creating so that more are on the way) to showcase.

You don't want to be a 'one hit wonder' do you???  People forget real quick if you are here to day but gone  tomorrow (or for that  matter, gone over the next year to 10 years) while you create your next creative endeavor (painting, jewelry collection, song,  poem, article,writing,  baby clothes,  or like in my last essay..the best chocolate chip cookie). Again, keep creating and keep communicating!

7.  The last thing I'm going to touch on for the web based marketing section of this list is You Tube.  If you have the gumption to start video taping even a part of your process, you would be surprised at how important You Tube can be to establishing your identity as an artist.   

Yes, it's not the easiest thing in the world to video tape yourself or your project.

It's not impossible either.

You could also do slide shows of your work.

Little clips promoting your work, your classes, your next show...whatever...can have a HUGE impact on your overall sales and marketing. They are also fun to do once you get the hang of it.

****NOTE--Having a website is VERY important but I'm not going to touch on that right now because it's an area that I haven't fully integrated into what I do...I have one, but it's just in the beginning stages of development and may change soon.  In other words, it's a work in progress and needs to be tidied up.  If you want to see what I have so far....take a look here.  It's dusty though :))

See what I mean...this is a robust topic, isn't it?
There's so much more to cover than just what are your options (online) to start your marketing, and I recognize that it's not a one size fit all type of answer. I'm basically trying to address those that resonate with what I do because, chances are, some if not all of these points will be helpful to you.

Let's close today's Burning Question Answer with this recap:

1.  Before you start worrying about marketing in general...create your heart out so you have something to market with and a direction you want to go in.

2.  Do have communication tools ( such as basic business cards or moo cards)  available to hand out to those that want to know about your work or have your contact information for future reference.

3.  Research a variety of social media platforms and decide on a few that you are most comfortable with and start at the very least building your following by sharing what you are working on now (people love seeing the behind the scenes work), and what inspires you and your art.
Leave the very deep and dark personal stuff out of the mix along with the drama.  Don't start it and don't  partake in it.

4.  Figure our a way to start or grow your Newsletter list.  Those are your core customers and where you will find the  most success at converting  readers to sales, or reader to followers..all of which are important to you as an artist and a business. If Facebook closed tomorrow, you'd still have your newsletter list to reach out to and connect with.

5.  Take the time to find your own groove and what works for you, but be regular about your interactions no matter what you do.  Don't post and run, or post and disappear...or everything you are working on developing will fade away.  


My last ask of you is to write your story: 

Why do you do what you do?

What's important to you? 

Who are you hoping to impact by your creativity and why?

What inspires you?

Who do you think is your ideal customer/student/reader?

Answering these questions may help you identify key points of your marketing plan and your reason most of all of why you are in this creative business in the first place.

Don't put the cart before the horse.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's easy. It's not hard just takes time to develop.

It took me 2 hours today to write this post today, another 6 hours before this post even happened to write my newsletter whereby I had a reader ask this question. I spent another  hour setting up a spread sheet to keep track of my readers questions, and several hours just thinking about my answer before I wrote this post today.
It's marketing time that may go unseen from the surface but hopefully in addition to reaching those of you who are interested in starting your own art biz (or enhance what you already do), I hope to reach even more people that have yet to find me to me, it's time well spent. I love sharing ideas and helping others so it's a win win situation for us all :)

I hope you have gained some insight from today's burning question!   I have plenty more to share so be sure to follow my blog.  An easy way to follow if you aren't already is to join this service:

Do you have a Burning Question you'd like to ask? I'm seeking questions of all sorts from YOU! (Art Biz,  Living the Creative Life,  Art technique questions, Inspiration, How To...just to name a few of the categories)

Leave a comment here or feel free to email me privately at:

Until we meet again!



Don't forget,  just a few more days left to take advantage of my online class sale over at Creative Workshops!! (This includes my newest class, "Podtastic!"

Get your art on with me! :)


Gail Brule' said...

Great advice Jodi! Thank you...:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your advice and insights. I've not been brave enough to sell anything yet, but it is a dream, and this info helps put legs on the dream. :). Question: How do you photograph your art for Facebook or your blog or Etsy? What kind of camera do you use? Do you need special lighting or a special set up to keep colors accurate? Thanks very much. Liz Dotterer

Zoe Nelson said...

I have such a hard time with my blog. I was diligent about posting for several years, but I got burned out. It was like pulling teeth to actually write the posts and I didn't feel like anyone was reading what I struggled to put up there. If they were, I wasn't getting any feedback about it. I still post once in a blue moon, like I did after ReMe, but it has to be something I'm excited about. Tooting my own horn is not exciting and I find it very difficult.

Liz-Anna said...

Great post! Generous information.

Carol said...

THANKS so much for all of your suggestions. I have been contemplating selling my art and really needed a push to get things going. You've given me lots to consider and get me motivated.

Beth S Macre said...

Thank you for sharing your marketing tips. I've been trying to figure out what direction that I should go to grow my creative business. So, I look forward to reading more tips. I love your work!

Traci Holt said...

That's the thing. I think you should really look at as many avenues for selling as possible. If you can make them function simultaneously, the better. More avenues means bigger exposure, which translate to more impact, and eventually, more sales. This is something that has been made easy and extremely doable by social media. Anyways, good luck on your future endeavors!

Traci Holt @ Wilson Digital Marketing

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic article!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience so generously Jodi!