How Do I Sell Myself As An Artist?
Believe it or not this topic is where most artists fail. I wish to dive into key 101 factors in knowing how to start marketing art.
This article is for entry level artists or those who are younger and have little to no experience. It is a foundation upon which to build.
Allow me to begin by advising you to focus on users of your platform, not buyers. In other words those who work with you, admire you, or use your material are critical to your life.
How do I sell myself as an artist? I use search engines more than any other tool. This is due to me being an introvert and really bad sales person as a result.
In short, if I can do this, then anyone can.
Nevertheless if you are not an introvert, trust me when I say that nothing beats in person public relations marketing your artwork. You cannot go wrong with that.
Ways To Start Marketing My Art
I began to try marketing my art like many others. The first place I turned to was social media and I also attempted to use Etsy. Yet I am very data driven.
I will give you actual data numbers in just a moment. Before I do allow me to explain the platforms I used.
Aside from Etsy, I began to use Twitter. Why Twitter? I knew I was going to build at blog at some point and it would work better with that concept.
I did begin to post my art to places like Instagram and Pinterest, yet if you look at these profiles I did not get very far. What is my point?
As I began to see numbers roll in from the data I immediately realized that flying solo on these platforms is a joke. It requires a lot of money or networking to get anywhere.
Worse it also required so much activity that it becomes a full time job marketing art. I needed something that would work for me, not me working for the art platform.
Factors such as this should be what determines which art platform is right for you.
Actual Data From Art Marketing
I am not worried about posting my numbers here. Anyone who really knows anything realizes this data is easy to find with something like Ahrefs.
More importantly, I want those who are new to this to really understand how algorithms work for you, or against you.
When I started marketing my art there was no where I could turn to in order to find these answers.
Below are two sets of numbers. One from Twitter, the other from the early days of my blog. I wish to compare “impression rates”.
Each of these “posts” were attempts to market my art, or specific pieces of art, or blog posts. None of these were paid marketing attempts, rather purely organic results.
Organic Twitter Art Marketing:
Post 1: 130 Impressions, 18 Engagements, 3 Detail Expansions
Time of Data: 7 days
Post 2: 56 Impressions, 1 Engagement, 0 Details Expansions, 1 Profile Visit
Time of Data: 7 Days
Allow me to go to an older Twitter post where I attempted to market art for a selected piece. Keep in mind this post is 1 ½ years old on Twitter as of this writing.
Post From Sept 2020: 1,148 Impressions, 94 Engagements, 12 Details Expansions
Time of Data: 1 ½ year old post.
Let’s break down what these numbers actually mean.
Twitter Art Marketing Numbers Breakdown
At the time of these posts I had somewhere just under 1000 followers. Keep in mind that when you post to Twitter its algorithm should show your post based on user searches as well.
As I began marketing my art I had no idea how Twitters algorithm worked. Let me just say, it sucks, really bad.
If you notice in the above numbers, the more engagements you have with a post the higher the impression rate. An impression rate is Twitter showing your post to someone.
Hold on, if I had 1000 followers shouldn’t all 1000 people see it? No. This is not how it works.
Rather Twitter will sample your artwork to a select number of followers. If the engagement is successful then this impression rate will increase sampling other people.
This will rinse and repeat until the post is effectively dead. In terms of marketing my art, this is unacceptable.
It is for this reason that I say the Twitter algorithm is horrible. It purely relies upon user interaction with little real search support.
Art Marketing Numbers From My Blog
Now let’s look at some marketing data from my blog. Why my blog and not my online gallery? Search uses words more than images with brief descriptions.
I will pull numbers from when my blog was near a year old. This is before things “took off” and it will give a decent comparison for a new artist trying to market art.
Daily Organic Average Impression Rate Over A Month: 1000 Impressions per day
Average Click Rate: 10 per Google, 7 per Bing, 6 per Yahoo, 6 Other Sources
I wish to point out that these numbers are very weak and a slow way to build an audience. Yet no website at near 1 year old will be strong. I chose this point in time to make a critical comparison.
Comparing Online Art Marketing Methods
If you compare the numbers from Twitter and my blog you see something jump out at you. Any given post on Twitter will give between 50 to 100 impressions.
To achieve 1000 total impressions would require that you build at least 10 Twitter posts per day for your art marketing strategy. How long can you keep that up?
In other words, as the blog begins to improve over time it will be impossible for you to make social media compete with its impression rates. Why?
At just over a year old my blog was pulling near 1000 impressions per day with me doing absolutely nothing to it. Search engines did the lifting for me. Its purely organic.
As time goes by this impression rate increases. At near a 50,000 impression rate per day you would need 50 Twitter posts per day.
Those who love social media would say that I simply need more followers on Twitter. Okay that is a sound argument, yet I wish to toss you a bone to chew on.
If I can achieve 50 to 100,000 impressions from my blog doing absolutely nothing, why bother with Twitter at all? In fact why bother with any social media?
Note that using tools such as E Galleries can be dependent upon who the institution is. Some are good, others are bad.
I personally prefer owning my online gallery and refrained from those such as ArtPal. It is always better to control your own terms and conditions.
There Is Logic To My Art Marketing Numbers
If you are starting out as a self representing artist marketing art this may all sound like I am speaking a foreign language. I understand this. So let’s make this simple.
What is better? Spending your time creating more art, or spending your time building social media posts for your art? The answer should be simple.
It is always better when a machine works for you, rather than you working for the machine. With my past numbers, a 1 to 2% click through rate is historically between 500 to 2000 combined visits per day to my blog.
Each month this improves. All I do is write and post on topics I enjoy. Every post is just as relevant, searchable, and can be discovered today just like it was yesterday.
This is a far cry from Twitter, or any social media for that matter. As a post ages, ultimately it dies and is no longer of use or service. It is energy spent and wasted.
The important thing to notice is that with time it does not matter how “big”, or how many followers you can obtain. Search engines will ultimately prevail and give you more leads than social media ever can.
It does take time, but so does finding enough followers to make a dent in that world. A blog is evergreen, socials is not.
Marketing My Art In The Early Days
In the early days of marketing my art there is no question that in person public relations won the day. Knowing how to be seen and discovered locally is absolutely critical.
Unfortunately while I can do this, I hate it. By nature I am not a sales person. So this required me stepping outside of my box.
Nevertheless in those early days this was the only way to generate real income. It is in fact the best way to generate income. The key is to know where to sell your art.
It did not take long for me to see which path was more effective. In fact I knew this up front. This is not my first blog, nor my first “rodeo” as so to speak.
Yet it takes time to build an online art gallery and a blog. In turn it also requires time for engines to build your “equity” and value in their systems.
Should artists have an online gallery? Absolutely yes without question you need it!
This gave me time to develop some kind of following in the social media I chose. Today I merely use it for fun and general communication, not marketing.
Why did I try Etsy? This was more or less a curiosity. It was so horrible in fact I have written extensively on my experience with Etsy.
If I may describe that experience in a few words…. It felt like being stuck in a tiny row boat with no ores to paddle with.
Today there is no stronger art marketing platform than my blog and online art gallery. There is one exception, and that is if I decide to get involved locally at home and generate in person art sales.
How To Market Your Art?
There are two really critical things I believe any new artist needs to understand. First is the mindset or mentality of what competition really is.
What is competition to an artist? Once you can answer this then you must know your personal strengths and weaknesses.
Marketing art is not a machine. You must build your platform and policies to who you are. It will require growth and some stepping outside of the box.
You must also know your local market and explore those possibilities for an art business. Yet if your focus is in the online world, here is my suggestion.
With online art marketing you must own your platform. If you do not own your platform, website, art gallery, or blog, you are merely spinning your wheels.
Vain metrics will never help you. Creating a lot of activity with little impact will only frustrate you. Eventually the artist will either grow to see this reality, or burn out.