One would think the most important thing for any artist is to produce great work. And, while this is obviously number one, it is also important to get your story out there and resonating, in order to achieve any tangible success. Here are some handy tips to ensure you tell your story effectively and boost your business so that you can maximise what you love to do - create!
Tip #1 Create your story
Covid-19 brought the artworld we knew to a crashing halt. The cancellation of art events such as fairs and exhibitions had a huge impact on art sales worldwide. According to a Statistica report, ‘the global art market was valued at 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, dropping by roughly 14 billion over the previous year, due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.’ For the full article read here. Adding to the crisis was the fact that art had always been an in-person and sensory purchase - collectors, and buyers wanted to be in the room to view the art before they made a decision to purchase an artwork. With the chaos 2020 brought with it, the artworld had no option but to reinvent itself and seek new opportunities to navigate the constraints and disruptions caused by the pandemic. Online art sales started increasing at a rapid rate and this trend is expected to continue.
Art is different from other things people buy, and it’s much more reliant on relationships and trust. Just having an online presence is not enough to connect with potential clients, and boost and sustain art sales. Never has there been a more important time for artists to get online and run their art business effectively.
Here are a few pointers to consider when building or updating your website:
Create your story, both visually and in your words. Collectors and buyers want to find out more about the artists, their thought processes, their raison d’etre, and their inspiration. They want to get a peek into your world. An extensive bio does not convey the necessary emotion that creates a connection. Your artworks start the story and the website is one of the conduits to getting the story out there. Use emotive words to create excitement, anticipation, and a deep connection with the viewer.
Decide on a look and feel for your website that ties in with your particular art form. If you are a contemporary artist, your website should definitely have a sense of modernity about it. Conversely, if your art form is more traditional and classic, your website should depict that.
Define who your collectors/buyers are or who you like to attract and speak in their language. If you do not know who your buyers are, create an image in your mind of your perfect buyer/collector and make sure that your website and social media campaigns are designed in a way that will attract them.
Showcase your art in the best possible way by ensuring the images are of the right quality and standard. Include all necessary information like price, size, year created, medium, courier costs, etc. so that the potential buyer does not have to look for the information as they may get frustrated and move away. A ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Enquire’ button should be next to each artwork.
Implement SEO ie. Search Engine Optimisation. Improving your website’s SEO can lead to increased sales as it improves your Google ranking ie. if a buyer/collector searches for a particular artform and your SEO is not good, you will be ranked much lower than artists who have websites with good SEO. Finding out how your target market searches is vital, as you can then include those keywords in your website and social media marketing. There are a number of SEO sites that offer a free version of their software eg. Ubersuggest.
Everything you do either on the website or on social media should tie in with your overall look and feel and form part of your story.
Tip #2 Speed up your time at the proverbial office
Keeping track of your artworks, their prices, where they are located, who they were sold to, etc used to be so time-consuming - and many artists didn’t keep track of it all.
This is the beautiful moment where art and technology meet and the magic happens. There are great art business software platforms specifically designed for the artworld and its huge inventory management requirements that will take the tediousness and repetitiveness out of these must-do chores. For example, you can easily upload all your works, their details, editions, locations, sales, provenance, etc. and that information will always be readily available to you - at a click of a button. Added to this, in less than 5 minutes you can create and print consistently designed catalogues, certificates of authenticity, consignment lists etc. for galleries and collectors. Some platforms also include built-in websites making updates easy for you to do yourself, and instant.
You can access your entire art business, artworks, and related information from anywhere in the world by clicking a button. Imagine the time you’d save?
Most art business software packages offer various pricing packages, are subscription-based, and offer a free trial. So, unless you are planning to spend all your time at the office instead of in the studio, now’s the time to get on board. Try Artfundi as an example.
Tip #3 Tell your story
You’ve created the perfect website and you’re just not getting the traffic to your site. It’s time to understand how to do this. Before you do any marketing,
First, assess WHO you most want to market to. Consider galleries, curators, or interior decorators as potential target markets. Noting the difference in buying behavior between for example a buyer and a collector is a key to understanding the WHO as they have different needs.
Buyers generally buy for a specific space, their buying behavior will be based on the size of the area they need to fill, the statement the piece will make in the space, their personal or clients’ preferences in terms of genre and medium, and ultimately the price. As they buy for specific and immediate requirements, they may not be open to buying more art for several years after a particular purchase. If you’re targeting buyers you need volume, so it helps to work with interior designers and decorators who may be an ongoing source of clients at the moment when they are in the market for art.
Collectors, on the other hand, are motivated by other factors such as who the artist is, their position in the art market, rarity, the provenance attached to a particular artwork, and the investment value of a particular artwork and artist. They will work closely with the top galleries and art advisors and look for familiar patterns and signals in an artist’s CV as a way of reducing risk. They often collect numerous works by the same artist. If you want to appeal to collectors you need to understand what reassures them, and your best bet would be getting a good gallery to represent you.
More millennials are purported to be collecting art than any other generation. This is important to note as millennials’ social media consumption is different from other generations.
The next most important thing to establish is WHAT you want to say to them. Since art is a visual and sensory experience, showing artwork images and showing how your art is created are easy ways to get your work out there. This is about Your story, Your artwork, Your life. People in the artworld want to see your work beautifully presented, hear and see how it was created, and be present when you are making it. Tell and show your work - give them a glimpse into your studio. Your WHAT helps them appreciate the artwork.
One level deeper than what you do is WHY you do it. A big part of connecting with your audience is sharing your WHY. That’s usually the part of the story that threads all your projects together and it helps them buy into YOU overall as an artist.
Once you have defined the who and what, it is time to move on to the WHERE ie. which vehicles will you use to convey your story. Social Media is an easy, effective and affordable way to communicate with your audience. Competition in and around social media is tough out there - according to an Oberlo report, it is estimated there are 3.78 billion daily social media users - almost half of the world’s population. Facebook is still the most widely used social media platform, with over 2.32 billion active monthly users.
So, which social media platform is the best for artists? According to a 2020 study by Statistica, Instagram was more popular than Facebook for art and 68% of respondents used Instagram for art-related purposes. Since Instagram was created for visual media and is the social media platform most associated with the artworld, this is the best platform to start with. Here are a couple of tips for your Instagram journey:
Plan your Instagram grid (the 3x3 image grid which will become your page) before you post so that your posts form part of a bigger and coherent picture. For more information on how to create grids, here is an article on Hootsuite Instagram Grid layouts.
In order to get the most out of your posts, you have to be constantly and consistently active. Use and experiment with various hashtags the hashtags with larger audiences don’t always bring engagement. Use hashtags with small, medium, and large followings. Here is a list of artworld hashtags to refer to. (lead magnet)
Link to known artworld influencers - here is a list of Trendhero’s 25 top art influencers to follow on Instagram.
Like and follow artists, galleries, and collectors with large audiences.
Create a Live Broadcast. Here’s how. Ensure you let people know beforehand.
Like comment and share posts to your stories. Remember Social media is about engagement.
Use stories and reels for snippets into your studio and your creative process.
Keep track of your insights. Check which posts get more engagement, likes, follows, and clicks to bio than other posts and use similar posts more frequently. How to use Instagram Insights
WORKING WITH GALLERIES
If you’re represented by a gallery, you’ve effectively entered into a partnership where each party has its role to play and together you’re able to achieve more. Usually, the gallery is responsible for marketing and sales, so what does that mean for the artist in terms of social media - you can help by providing content to use in marketing you and your work. Don’t leave it all up to them, work with them.
There is a lot of information on the web, and some of it is contradictory. With all the changes in our lives and in the artworld in particular in the last two years, one thing is for sure, you need to create, tell and share your story… the world is waiting to hear it.