6 Simple Tips for Marketing and Selling Your Art: Learn why you need to start marketing BEFORE your artwork is complete.
It’s one thing to create beautiful art, it’s another thing to produce art that is selling in the marketplace. Selling, marketing and P.R. all need to be in place before you finish that large artwork or body of work.
Take control of your future art sales, by following these 6 simple tips for marketing and selling your art.
1. Create a Press Release
Press releases are an effective way to build your public relations and search out new collectors. You don’t need to wait for a major event, to send a press release—any news is news worth sharing”. The fact that you “are creating new work” is news. Get started today on writing and sending your release, because it could take months before you capture the attention of an editor.
A standard press release covers the who, what, where, when and why of your topic, in this case your art. Draw from your CV, artist’s statement and notes about what/where you find inspiration. Prepare your release using the AP style (see this “Wikihow” link for a step-by-step lesson). Writing using the AP format will ensure your written material arrives in a form that is easy to use by editors—although they will likely re-write your release, they will appreciate that is delivered in this profession manner.
Frequency is the key to successful press releases. Send out at least ten, online and/or print, press releases each month. If you have the time, send out the same release everyday until you are asked for an interview or written about. Perseverance pays!
Learn more about press releases from this Fidelis post: “What Every Artist Needs to Know About Press Releases”.
2. Submit to Online Galleries and Directories
Art listings are a free way to sprinkle your art (your brand) around the internet. Each art listing serves as a marker that will direct potential buyers to your website or artist blog. Art directories may not update their directory in real-time. Many sites rely on staff to preflight the material you upload. It may take an average of 30 days before you can expect to see your art listed. It will take Google spiders up to 90 days (sometimes longer) to archive your listing in their search database—can you really afford to put this off?
It is important to tackle this project sooner-than-later, because sites offering free listings may eventually close their doors to new listings and begin charging for the service, such as the popular www.thepainterskeys.com artist directory, hosted by Robert Genn.
Use your search engine to find artist/art directories or places to list your art. Spend day one taking a note of 10-20 sites, bookmark them in your browser. Day two, prepare 2-3 images (saved as low-res) and text to accompany each image. Text should include keywords, descriptive text/wording, locations, technique, style, genre, etc… Only when you have all your data and images ready, go back and join/share/or list your artwork. Be prepared and save time by doing this on a single visit.
Always read the fine print before submitting your images to directories. Look for hidden fees and review the details for usage or licensing. Submit low-res image files and include a line in your body text that states that the artist has copyright for the image. Most importantly include your contact information and website. Keep the list of directories in a journal, so that they can be updated or deleted quarterly.
3. Make 3 Telephone Calls a Day that Relate to Your Art Business
This will be tough for most artists, who prefer to be in the studio. However, becoming comfortable about discussing your work and building relationships within your industry is imperative to your success. Exposure is key here. Search out maximum exposure opportunities. Publications and fundraisers plan months in advance, don’t miss a killer opportunity because you didn’t pick up the phone.
Here are a few telephone call ideas:
• Contact a local non-profit and offer to donate an artwork. Learn more about Donating Art inside this Fidelis post.
• If you are a landscape artist, make contact with a tourism or hospitality publication editor and offer for them to use one of your images in their publication or as a cover image.
• Speak with artists groups about submission deadlines and up-and-coming group exhibition opportunities.
• Call a high-end gift shop and inquire about sending a sales package.
• Call your dentist or bank and ask about displaying your art on their foyer walls for a limited time.
• Call a gallery and ask for an interview to show our portfolio.
• Call a collegue and set-up a time for them to review your new artwork, plan an exhibition or studio sale together.
Remember, this is about using the phone! Yes, the phone. Don’t hide behind your email—get your answers today!
4. Enter Contests
There are unlimited opportunities for photographers to gain exposure by entering contests. This gets covered in more detail inside this Fidelis post “Hot Links and Tips for Submitting Your Artwork to Contests” . Learn why submitting to contests requires advance planning and can be very valuable to your marketing effort.
In comparison for painters, you have juried show opportunities to chase after. Take the time to investigate regional and national juried exhibitions that are available to you. For emerging Canadian artists set your sites high and submit to the RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Here’s a story from Canadian Art Magazine about their past winners, the last three years winners happen to be from British Columbia!
5. Build a Sales Letter
A sales letter is the perfect follow-up tool to your marketing initiatives—don’t get caught without one. A sales letter is a one-page sheet that introduces your artwork, why people love it and why a gallery or gift boutique would benefit from selling your work. Include several images, with some descriptive text. Include an overall description about your work in general, not a description of each piece.
Include pricing if you would like (I usually include the retail price) or make note that you have artworks available for consignment and others for purchase at wholesale pricing. Your contact information and website are a must. Prepare this in as professional layout, enlist a graphic artist for help if you don’t have the skills to produce it in InDesign, Photoshop or Word. Be sure to print on a very good quality paper that shows your art at its best.
Get double-duty from your sales letter. Recycle this letter’s framework and use as a one-sheet for your press releases or as handouts at exhibitions.
6. Build a Website or Artist Blog
In today’s marketplace, every artist needs a website. Web presence is needed to build credibility and to provide your interested and potential buyer with an opportunity to learn more about you, your artwork and finally make a purchase. Websites take time to create, whether you hire a designer or build your own blog, you can’t expect to have it done in a weekend. Start now!
Adding e-commerce to your website will allow out-of-town shoppers to easily make a purchase; so consider who and how wide your market will be. If you are selling out-of-town, include shipping details, payment options and your return policy. State these as clearly as possible to avoid returns and dissatisfied customers.
Your website should always include an email and contact telephone number. Personally, I won’t buy from a website that doesn’t have a phone contact. It’s a personal pet-peeve, “legitimate businesses have phones!”. Dedicate the funds to have a business phone, use your cell, get a like Skype number or at the very least make sure your home phone number has a business voice message to receive inquires. When a serious business call comes, make sure they are not listening to your child on the answering machine.
If your art is available at various retailers, be sure to provide a list of galleries and locations where your art can be found. If you have an art blog it will be easy to include a list of future art shows, craft shows or events you will be exhibiting and selling your work at. Use your website and blog to start building an email list for making announcements in the future.
You may be an artist, but you also became an art marketer the day you decide to sell your art.
To sell your art you need to be established in the market, this takes time and effort. Start building your brand early, so that when you are ready to sell your art the buyers will be there waiting.