This is one of the hardest truths about owning an art business: marketing requires ongoing work—and it takes time to build momentum. It's more of a marathon than a sprint! That being said, there are things you can do to grow your audience quickly. Here are five ways to get things moving faster and give your business a quick boost.
1 | Get media coverage
You can expand your audience in a big way by getting media coverage—local or national. It’s not always easy to accomplish, but if you can get a story published, it can generate a lot of interest in your work.
How to go about it? Pitch your story to the media. Yes, you can write a standard press release, but that’s not all. Find out which reporters produce art-related pieces in the publications or radio stations you're interested in, and start following their work. Then call or email them and pitch a story that connects your work to current events or provides some other interesting angle.
This is one of the advantages of blogging: If you’ve already written up a story about your art on your blog, send it to the reporter. It gives them more background about you and it gives them a head start on producing the story. For more on the advantages of blogging, read my post, Why an Artist's Blog is the Most Efficient Marketing Tool.
2 | Launch a promotional campaign with a partner
Partnerships are a great way to broaden your horizons and grow your art business. Align yourself with an artistic partner and create a promo campaign together. You’ll each benefit by being exposed to each others’ audiences.
And who doesn’t love a partnership? By teaming up and creating an interesting project, the two of you will be in a stronger position to pitch your story to the media and get coverage for it. For a whole post on building partnerships, see How to Build Successful Partnerships to Sell Your Art.
3 | Get interviewed on podcasts or YouTube series
This is exploding at the moment! There are countless video and podcast series on the internet—and you can get in front of the podcaster’s audience by being interviewed as a guest.
How? Search for podcasts that interest you on YouTube or iTunes and find out if they interview artists. Put out a message on Facebook, “Looking for a good podcast; any suggestions?” Ask your own audience what podcasts or video series they listen to or watch and check them out.
Then see if the podcasts interview artists, and listen to a couple of episodes. If they’re good, send the owner an email and pitch yourself as a guest. You could talk about your work, your creative inspiration, or your unique process. It's actually quite easy to do and it can bring a significant audience gain pretty quickly.
Tip: Podcasts that are targeted to artists are probably not the best choice. Instead, choose broader creative podcasts or general interview podcasts to reach a wider audience. If you only speak to artists, you probably won’t reach your ideal buyers.
Podcast or YouTube exposure can build your audience immediately and over the long term. Podcast listeners don't necessarily listen every week. They browse for episodes that sound interesting, or they look through a curated list and make new discoveries. I gain a few followers every month from just a couple of podcast interviews that I've done in the past. The podcasts remain online, and people stumble upon them.
4 | Get yourself featured on an influencer website or social media outlet
There’s one in every crowd: an “influencer” who has all the connections.
Influencers are personalities on the web and social media who have large followings, and they post daily about their topic or about people who have caught their attention. They sometimes use their influence to champion their favorite artist or region.
Influencers are always on the hunt for good content, and they often feature artists because it appeals to their audience.
- My Modern Met is a Facebook page (and website) with several million followers. They’re always looking for articles on art, design, and photography.
- George Takei, who played Sulu in the original Star Trek series, shares a lot of artists’ material through his Facebook page
- Huffington Post does artist profiles in their “living” section
- Fine Art America's Pixels YouTube Series
- Submit your story to be featured on Instagram
Here's something that will help you get started with influencers: Download my own curated List of Visibility Opportunities for Artists >>
Note: You don’t necessarily have to get the attention of giants in your industry. Instead, you could think of people in your circle—or just on the edge of your circle (one degree of separation)—who hold sway. Perhaps they’d be interested in collaborating.
5 | Advertise
Paid advertising can grow your audience significantly. In a recent blog post, When and How to Use Advertising to Skyrocket Your Art Sales, I delve into this topic. But for now:
When galleries take a commission for the sale of your work, the intent is to use part of that money to advertise your show. These days, the same holds true for artists promoting and selling their work outside of galleries—which I highly recommend.
If you think that you can organically build a large audience on Facebook or Instagram and sell to them easily, you might be in for a surprise.
Ten years ago when Facebook and Instagram were newer that might have worked, but social media are more saturated now, making it harder and slower-going to build organic audiences.
If you’ve got the right marketing pieces in place already, paid advertising might be a good option for you. Not sure if you have the right pieces in place? Read this post.
For more ideas on boosting awareness of your art, read this post.
If you're ready for a boost in your audience, try these tips—and let me know how it goes in the comments!
P.S. In my Create a Marketing Plan for Your Thriving Art Business course, I teach you how to build awareness of your art business. Add your name to the waitlist and I'll let you know when registration opens.