If you feel overwhelmed by all the tasks that marketing requires of you for your art business, you are not alone! Here are five ways you can conquer overwhelm and stay on track.
Marketing is work that needs to be done consistently—it’s not a task that you can check off once a month and be done with it. It's a daily or weekly activity and so it’s completely understandable that as a small business owner, you once in a while (or regularly!) get to the point of feeling that you can’t keep up. Here are some things you can do to manage overwhelm:
1. Create a list of what marketing tasks you’re currently doing and see if you can simplify
Do you spend time every day wondering what to post on social media? Instead, shift that work to an hour at the beginning of the week: plan all of your posts, write the content, find the photos, and even schedule them ahead of time with Tailwind. That way you won’t have to shift gears in the middle of studio work or other tasks.
Are you writing a blog post AND writing email newsletters? You can write a blog post and use that content for your upcoming email newsletter (checking two marketing boxes at once). There are many ways you can do this: You can write a blog post and copy the first paragraph or two and drop them into your email newsletter, providing a link to the whole blog post for your readers. Or you can write a couple of new short paragraphs for your email newsletter as an introduction to the blog post, and then link to the post. You can even set up your email newsletter so that it automatically sends your new blog posts as an RSS feed.
Are you creating unique content for all of your marketing tools (Instagram, Facebook, your blog, your newsletter)? Repurpose that content! You may think that your audience will notice repeat content, but the truth is that no one is seeing EVERYTHING you share, and anyway, shaping the subject matter for each different platform just helps solidify the message for your audience.
You can also repurpose older content by re-posting it a few times. No one will notice your repeat content enough to be bothered by it, and everyone has different learning styles, so repurposing allows you to reach more people in a variety of ways.
2. Focus on the pieces of the marketing puzzle that are the most critical for you
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, allow yourself to narrow your focus to the parts of your marketing system that are the most critical for you: awareness, engagement, sales, and relationships.
For most artists, awareness is the biggest piece of the marketing puzzle that needs to be figured out. Without awareness, you haven’t got the opportunity to engage your audience with video or Instagram stories, invite them to subscribe to your email newsletter, or encourage them to buy your work.
Of course, you definitely want the other pieces of your system in place as well. You don’t want an ongoing focus on building awareness while neglecting to engage with people, build ongoing relationships with them, or seek sales. But during those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, let yourself narrow your focus down to the most critical piece for you.
3. Take a break from marketing for a while, but not too long
If you’re feeling SUPER overwhelmed, take a break. The world isn’t going to end if you’re not doing all the marketing things every day or every week! Sometimes I simply focus on learning, engaging with others (coffee with friends or business associates), or something else that isn’t even remotely marketing-focused—like taking a hike! Give your mind a rest and return to experiencing rather than doing.
But…don’t let a break turn into a sabbatical. You’re the one who needs to be out there promoting your work, so once you’ve had enough of a break, climb back on the horse.
4. Consider hiring someone to help you with some marketing work
There are plenty of marketing tasks that you don’t have to do yourself, such as updating your website, writing and sending emails, uploading your latest blog post to your website, and more.
I’m a single business owner. I don't have any full time employees, but I have several people who help me with my marketing work: one is an all-around marketing assistant, one is a writer who turns my videos into blog posts, and one manages all the technical aspects around my weekly content, such as creating the graphics for my blog posts and uploading them to my website, and uploading my videos to YouTube.
Consider what your time is worth, what tasks you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for, then look for ways to hire out that work. Start by considering how long it takes you to produce a piece of art and what price your art fetches, and you can come up with an approximation of what your time is worth.
Then, for the hour, or two hours, or even eight hours that you're spending on marketing per week, how much would that time be worth if you were using it to create art? If you can hire someone at a lower rate than that to help you with some of these marketing tasks, you’ll be helping your business because it's freeing you up to do higher paying work.
I’ve found help through posting on my personal Facebook page, being in a Facebook group for freelancers, and through onlinejobs.ph, which is an online job site for workers in the Philippines.
Yes, you will have to come up with a “job description,” interview a few people, and train people to help you, but that’s what business owners do. And if you’re working to make a living from your art, you are a small business owner. And in case you’re still holding out for a gallery that will do it all for you, that’s no longer the way it works, I’m sorry to say. Besides, if a gallery isn’t handling the business-end of things well, you can get into a bad situation, so be a smart business owner and handle your marketing yourself—with some hired help.
5. Have a marketing plan, but realize that a plan isn’t carved in stone
Developing a marketing plan is important because makes you take the time to think about what is right for your business and your ideal buyer. A marketing plan can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed in the future, but it isn’t completely foolproof.
You will still have a day or a week when you feel as if everything is too much. I wouldn’t recommend revising your marketing plan on those particular days because you’re likely to make less-than-strategic decisions. Instead, make a note (either a mental one or on an actual Post-It) so the next time you review your marketing plan, you can address some of those things.
Once you have the time to review your plan, feel free to adjust it. You’re the boss in your business, so change anything that isn’t working for you.
Your marketing plan is like a hand-drawn map. Once you get to a fork in the road, you may realize that there is another option that you weren’t aware of when you were drawing the map. Take the time to consider your options, make strategic decisions, and revise your plan to reflect your greater understanding of yourself and your ideal buyer.
Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business course
In my Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business course, I teach you how to build a marketing plan that works for you—and helps you avoid overwhelm. Registration is opening in mid-June.
Add your name to my waitlist to be the first to hear when registration opens—and receive a special offer that goes out to waitlist members only. Don’t worry, there’s no commitment to being on the waitlist—but there are benefits!
I hope these tips will help you on those days or weeks when you feel overwhelmed with marketing. If nothing else, remember that we all feel this way sometimes. Do you have other ways to conquer overwhelm in your business? Please comment below and share!
P.S. This post contains an affiliate link (Tailwind). If you visit this link and join Tailwind, I get a small commission, though your price doesn’t change. Thanks!