As an artist, you have a limited amount of time that you can spend on your business. You can’t spend too much time creating and no time marketing or your business won’t thrive. You also can’t spend all of your time marketing, or you won’t be creating any art! How do you strike that balance, and what is the most efficient way to spend your limited marketing time? Today I have 5 tips for you about how to spend your limited marketing time:
1. Figure out how much time you have for marketing (and when you’re going to do it)
Calculate how much time you can make available for marketing and outline your ideal week. Start by reserving studio time, time with friends and family, and time for the other necessities of life. Be sure to give yourself time for learning and play so that you have the space to be creative, and then schedule time for marketing and business tasks at times that work for you.
I do business activities on Mondays and Fridays, and I reserve Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for content creation and other creative work.
I know that I am better at marketing tasks on Mondays and Fridays and it works better for me if I reserve an entire day to work on those things. This may or may not be the same for you: can you go back and forth between creative work and marketing work, or do you need to devote a whole day to business? Understand what works for you and then block out your ideal week.
Here’s an idea of how you can map out your ideal week:
Want this as a PDF? Download it here –> My Ideal Week Worksheet
2. Get your marketing fundamentals in place first
There are two things to have in place before you can really focus your time on the actual marketing of your business and your work.
First, you need to have a functional website, because while you’re growing as an artist and building your audience, people will want to find out more about you and your work. If they can’t find you online and get up-to-date information, they may lose interest.
Make sure your website is functional, with current information on it, and it does all the things that you need it to do as an artist’s website. Use my website self-review checklist for artists to make sure your site is working for you.
The other fundamental thing you need in place is a way to sell your work. This can be as simple as a link on your website that leads to your PayPal account. When you share your work in social media you can ask interested buyers to send you a direct message, and from there you can send them your PayPal link.
You can also set up an e-commerce platform on your website and sell directly from there, or you could sell from a third party site such as Society6 or Etsy, but in that case you’d need to have a plan and tools in place to be successful at it. Once you have your website and methods of payment in place, you can focus on your weekly marketing tasks.
3. Use your marketing time for high-value activities
Now you can decide what to slot into those hours that you’ve allocated. I recommend spending your time on high-value marketing activities that will benefit several aspects of your business. The parts of a successful marketing system are: Awareness, Engagement, Sales, and Relationships. I suggest that you spend time on activities that can help with all parts of the system. Here are some ways to do that:
Building Your Network
I don’t like to call it networking because that brings up images of handing your business cards to random people. I’m talking about strategically building a network. You can read my recent blog post about how it’s done.
Building your network is one marketing tactic that can be great for awareness as well as relationship building. And it can really help you get in touch with the right people and make the connections you need to get your art in front of your ideal buyer.
Social media works across your whole marketing system so that you can increase awareness and build an audience, engage with that audience, build relationships, and sell your art.
A word of caution—make sure that you focus on only one or two social media outlets until you’re really on a roll. Choose a platform that you’re comfortable with, and where your ideal buyer hangs out. Then really commit your time and effort there until you’ve got the resources to expand.
Another tool that can help you market across multiple parts of your system is live video. The thought of live video can be overwhelming and a little bit frightening for some people, but—as an artist you don’t need to be personally seen on video if you don’t want to. I appear on camera because I’m speaking to you and giving you advice about marketing. So you need to see my face because it’s me and my expertise that I’m selling.
But as an artist, what you’re selling is your work. You can definitely talk on camera if you’re comfortable with it, and of course your audience would like to get to know you, but you don’t have to. You can easily do live video from your studio, talking from off camera while showing a piece that you’re working on, or something that has inspired you, or giving a glimpse behind the scenes at an event that you’re participating in.
There are lots of options.
Live video is one of those things that is really beneficial to all parts of your marketing system, so consider it if you haven’t done so already.
I am a big fan of blogging, and not just because it’s a way to gain traffic to your website. Writing for your blog once or twice a month helps focus your thinking and the story you’re telling, and it gives you something to post on social media and send to your subscribers.
Plus, blogging can help you keep the homepage on your website updated if you have it set up to show your most recent posts.
Want to read more about blogging for artists? Check out my blog post on that topic, 7 Reasons Why You Need an Artist’s Blog. Also, grab my free download, 15 Creative Ideas for Your Next Artist’s Blog Post.
Email is probably still the best tactic available as far as marketing goes, and along with your website, it’s something that you own and have control over (unlike social media platforms). With an email newsletter you can engage with your subscribers, sell your art, and build ongoing relationships. With all of the popular email service providers, you can personalize your newsletters so that the receiver feels like it’s a personal message to them. Meanwhile, you’re reaching everyone on your list by writing one message and clicking send.
Remember too that sending an email newsletter that introduces your latest blog post works very well. Whether you simply include a paragraph of the blog post in the newsletter, or write a new introduction and link to your blog post, you’re checking off two things from your list at once.
Another way to touch multiple parts of your marketing system is by engaging personally with your audience. You can do this via Instagram or Facebook comments, direct messages on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and via personal emails (sending an actual personal email to one person, like a thank you note)—or you can send thank you notes or gifts through the mail as an extra personal touch.
4. Be prepared to put in some extra marketing time
There will be times when it will become necessary to do more marketing work than your weekly allotment. Perhaps you’re running a promotion to sell your art, or you’ve got a show or festival coming up and you need to reach out to your own audience and invite them to come and see you in person.
Maybe there are certain holidays or seasons when your art sells best. Depending on the work that you sell, your audience, and your ideal buyer, you’ll know what time of year is best for you to do that kind of promotional push to sell your work.
At those times you’re going to have to commit more marketing time. When you get too busy with creating in the studio and marketing, it can be tempting to say, “Oh well, that I’ve hit my maximum and this is all the marketing that I can do.” But when you’ve got an event or a great partnership opportunity, don’t turn them down because you don’t have the time in your schedule to handle the marketing. Carve out some more marketing time, or hire some help.
5. Consider hiring some help rather than limiting your business growth
When things are going well and you don’t want to limit your growth or the opportunities that you can enjoy, consider what marketing tasks you could pass onto someone else. You can plan for those extra busy times of year and find someone to help you with those tasks. Get them on board and trained ahead of time, and then when you have more marketing work than you can handle, you’ve already got help standing by and you won’t get bogged down or overwhelmed.
I hope these tips help you when you’re wondering where to spend your time. Post a comment below and let me know what you think!