Use these mindset tips to stay resilient and adaptable as you test and analyze your marketing methods, consistently share with your audience in an authentic way, keep up your stamina for the long term—oh, and don’t forget to sell your art!
Because every business is different—and yours is unique—it’s important to test the marketing methods you’re using to make sure that they’re working for you and your audience. Regular testing of your marketing ideas and analysis of the results gives you a way to understand what’s working and where you need to adapt. Then you can do more of the things that work, and less of the things that don't.
Another reason to cultivate a testing mindset is that what’s working now will undoubtedly change, and testing will help you stay on top of trends. What if you were relying heavily on one particular social media platform, and suddenly their algorithm changed and your client flow slowed to a snail’s pace? Testing lets you avoid being caught flat-footed.
One more thing about testing: Your artwork is going to evolve, and the analysis of your results will help you make future decisions about your work and your business.
No matter how much advice and coaching you receive, the bottom line is that you have the final say about what works for you. If you’ve taken an experimental approach and recorded your findings, you’ll be in a much better position to make good decisions. Which leads us to . . .
It’s crucial to track metrics in your business so that you have an objective means of measuring what does or doesn't work. Track data like website visits (through Google Analytics), social media followers and engagement, the number of sales and the amount of revenue from each source, and email marketing metrics. An example: track how much traffic each social media platform brings to your website because their effectiveness is revealed in how many people click through to your website (and how long they stay, whether they opt in to your mailing list, and whether they eventually make a purchase).
If you're not analyzing the data, it's too easy to make decisions about your marketing based on your personal feelings—whether you like or dislike the work—rather than whether it is actually benefiting your business. So having that data and analyzing what works will help you make smart decisions rather than relying solely on your preferences or your gut instinct. Gut instinct + data = a winning combination.
I think a lot of artists understand that if you're not being authentic with your marketing and in your business overall, you're not being true to yourself. And you won’t feel good about promoting your work if you’re not being true to yourself (also, people will be able to tell if you're forcing it). If you have an honest approach and are straightforward about what you’re offering, your audience will respond well, because people love to see authenticity, especially these days when the world is overrun by advertising. When you’re being authentic in your marketing and business, it is obvious and it will be attractive to your ideal buyer and to new audiences.
Share some stories about your personal and professional life. This goes hand in hand with authenticity. We’re living in such an oversaturated environment, with so many choices about who to follow and where to make purchases, it’s to your advantage to let your audience know something about who you are and what makes you stand out from the crowd.
I’m not suggesting that you take photos of your every meal and post them on your art businesses Instagram account—it’s more about being a storyteller. And it doesn’t have to be that personal. It's just a matter of sharing enough about yourself that people can get to know you a little bit. Think of it this way: if you wanted to make new friends, what would you share about yourself at the beginning of the relationship? Do this through social media, through your email newsletter, and on your website. Rather than simply presenting your artwork, give people some insight into the process behind it, and what inspires you.
It can be uncomfortable to share personal stories, so start gradually and build your sharing mindset over time. The more you do it, the more comfortable you'll feel, and it won't feel so foreign to you—and who knows? You might enjoy it!
Unless you really enjoy marketing, you’re probably not doing it for the fun of it. You're doing it because it's what's required to make sales in your business. Remember, making sales is the main goal of marketing your work. So don't be afraid to talk about the fact that your work is for sale and mention that you're looking for buyers. Tell people directly how they can buy from you, whether it's through your website, email, social media, or a visit to the studio.
Of course, you don't want to be too salesy, right? A lot of artists fear that they’ll come across as pushy. Luckily, the first step to not being pushy is to be aware of it, which you are, so don’t be concerned. It’s your job to communicate with people that your work is for sale, so consistently mention to your audience how they can buy from you and you’ll be keeping your selling mindset alive.
6. Marathon vs. Sprint
If you talk to anyone who is successful, they will tell you that they have been working on their business consistently for five, 10, 12 years to get to this point. So thinking that you're going to find the silver bullet, the one thing that's going to explode your art business and turn you into an overnight success, is sadly not a reality.
You need to approach this as a marathon, not a sprint, and commit yourself to the long game if you want to be successful. Everyone gets discouraged now and then, but don't let that hang around for too long. Get yourself back in the game and remind yourself that you’re in it for the long run. You need to put in the effort and play the game. Which leads to . . .
Imagine you’re running a marathon and for the first mile you sprint as hard as you possibly can, and then you come to a sidewalk café and decide to sit down for a cold drink. You’re probably not going to make it to the finish line! And it's the same thing with your art business and your marketing work: building your brand and your business requires consistency and long-term effort. Create a marketing plan that is thorough and well thought out and execute it for a year. At the end of that year, take a look at your plan and make adjustments for the next year.
As I said earlier, things will definitely change—and so will your marketing plan—but don’t make too many changes every month or every quarter. Give yourself the chance to be consistent and then test to see what works.
Be thoughtful about how much work you commit yourself to so you don’t excitedly start something new only to abandon it a month later. If you start out to do all the things, you’re likely to become overwhelmed, and some things may fall by the wayside. Make sure that your marketing plan is one you can be consistent with so that you can do what you set out to do and reap the benefits of your efforts.
Create a marketing plan for your thriving art business
My Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business course will be launching in mid-June. Within the seven modules of the course, I help you go from overwhelmed and confused to having a clear marketing plan.
If there are topics that you'd like me to speak about, please comment below and let me know what’s on your mind. I am always excited to share marketing tips and tactics with you.