You’ve got a small art business and you just want to sell more art. I know you hear the word “brand” and you think it probably doesn’t apply to you and your work. Today I’m giving you four reasons why you need an artist’s brand, which is at the core of being successful at marketing and selling your work. One hint: your brand IS NOT your logo, your tagline, the colors you choose, your business name, or your website. Let’s dive into what your brand IS and why you need one.
1 | Be clear on WHAT you want to be known for
As an artist, yours is a personal brand, which means that YOU are the foundation of your brand. Your business is designed around who you are as an artist and as a person, kind of the way [insert name of your favorite big-name artist]—the person and the business—are tied together. But don’t worry, you don’t need to grow your brand that big to successfully sell your art!
Your brand is what you're known for, so ask yourself what you want to be known for in the minds of others. You don’t want to let anyone else define that for you, so be sure to purposefully create your brand.
Is your brand about the medium you use, or the type of work you create? In my opinion, no, your brand is more about where your work comes from and the values and creativity behind it, and not as much about the work itself.
A good place to start is to identify your brand traits, or brand pillars.
To come up with your brand traits, brainstorm a page full of terms you think might describe the values of you and your business, and then narrow them down to three to five terms. These are your brand traits, or pillars. They describe what you stand for.
What terms or phrases best describe you and your work? After doing the exercise, you might end up with “Color,” “Adventure” and “Travel.” Or “Spirituality,” “Authenticity” and “Urban.”
In your marketing, address your themes consistently while sharing what you’re working on in the studio, what inspired the work you’re doing now, the latest adventure you've been on. Show your process, tell a funny story. Give your audience a peek behind the scenes so that they get to know your work and your life as a small business owner.
Taking the time to understand this foundation will help you make business and marketing decisions that are suited to you and it will help you identify your ideal buyer (see below).
2 | Know WHO would be attracted to your work
Speaking about yourself and your work in a clearly defined and consistent way helps you attract the people most likely to connect with you and eventually buy your art.
Once you’re clear on your brand, it’s easier to decide who your ideal buyer is. You’ll know what their interests are, what benefit your artwork brings to their lives, and why your work matters in their world.
This is the foundation of a strong marketing plan. Identifying your ideal buyer helps you focus on speaking to one person rather than trying to speak to a vague “target market” that could be intimidating.
Think of your ideal buyer as one person, a person who best represents someone who would buy your work. Then write a profile for that person. Need help writing your ideal buyer profile? Download my free ideal buyer worksheet:
Once you've defined your brand, thought about who would be attracted to that brand, and written your ideal buyer profile, you’ve got real clarity about what to say in your marketing.
Not convinced that it’s a good idea to narrow down your ideal buyer? Read this post.
3 | Tell the story of WHY you create the work you do
What’s your “why?” Telling the story of your own journey as an artist will help your potential buyers feel an emotional connection to you and your work.
We’re drawn to people’s stories about their life’s work, their deep experiences. You can start by telling your backstory—the story of where you came from, why you do what you do, who you do it for. But you can go farther than that.
Use questions like this to generate stories that engage your audience: What obstacles have you encountered, who are your mentors and allies, what hard times have you gone through, what strengths have you gained, and what gifts have you brought to the world?
Describe what it’s like to be in the flow when you’re creating. When have you had the courage to seek the depths? What are your sources of inspiration? What are you working on now? What projects are you planning?
It’s hard to write about yourself and your work, I know. Maybe you don’t even know what your “why” is—yet. But with practice you’ll develop your story and your voice over time.
Your “why” helps you convey your personality (your brand), helps you and your art stand out in the market, helps you connect emotionally with your audience, and keeps your buyers coming back for more.
4 | Know HOW to describe your art
Once you’re clear on the personality you want to put out in the world and the core messages that go with that, you’ll know what to say in your artist’s bio and statement, your website copy, your blog, your newsletter, and your social media posts.
When you're pitching to the media or being interviewed, you’ll have your story ready to tell. And next time you’re in an elevator, you’ll be so ready with your pitch!
You can tell your story over and over again in different ways with a variety of media: You can incorporate it in video, photos, snippets of text, short newsletters, long-form writing, and when speaking in person.
Imagine how much easier it will be to express yourself well in an interview when your marketing efforts pay off and you are being featured on air or in a print story. It feels great to get more clear and confident in describing your work to others.
Getting clear on WHAT you want to be known for, WHO your work is for, WHY you do what you do, and HOW to describe your work will help you so much in your marketing. Take the time to work on these foundations, and your efforts will pay off, I promise!
How do you describe your art business? Let me know in the comments!
Want help getting clear on your brand and your marketing plan?
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