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You may not realise it, or think about yourself this way, but being a professional artist who sells their work means that you’re a small business. Yes, it’s a creative business, but a business nonetheless. If you want to be successful, standard business and marketing practices apply!
The basics of marketing for any business is to study and understand your competition. You may think this sounds unartsy, crass, or non-creative. Well, think again! If you want to succeed with your art sales, you need to start thinking like a businessperson. Experienced artists and creatives who sell in the same market as you do have found methods to successfully sell and grow – these artists are competing for the same customers as you are. This is not an adversarial relationship – “competitor” does not equate to “enemy.”
Here are a few ways you can improve your marketing by studying your competition (other artists):
Study Artists With Similar Work
Do your research! You need to know which artists in your market area are successful. These are usually the artists who have become recognised and known. Instead of seeing them as rivals, study their achievements to get an understanding of how they achieve their success.
Search for Internet articles about them. These can help give you an understanding about how they succeed. Many successful artists share their methods and marketing strategies in Podcast interviews – these are readily available.
View Other Artists’ Online Presence
Study the websites of other artists who are succeeding in your market. Ask yourself:
- Who are their customers, or who do they seem to be marketing to?
- Would this same type of client be a good fit for your art as well?
- Do they differentiate themselves in a way that makes them stand out?
- How do they rank in the market?
Also analyse their marketing. What are they doing to promote their art that inspires or even intrigues you? Try to adapt any of these promotional ideas or techniques that will work well with your art. Then use them to reinforce your art marketing plan.
Look at where these other artists are marketing (ads, posters, flyers), how often they market, and how they communicate with the market – what is their message? Try to find out what response they are getting from their marketing. If their message seems to work, why do you think it appeals to customers?
Don’t Forget Social Media
Social media is an excellent marketing platform that you should not overlook! You might be avoiding social media for many good reasons, but if you want to promote and market your art you need to have a presence there. Remember, apart from your art marketing efforts, you don’t need to use social media for anything else!
Studying the daily social media activities of successful artists in your market can give you tremendous insight into how to use these as marketing tools. Study the types of posts, where they post, and their posting schedule. This will give you a good idea of the rhythm of their promotional efforts, and might help you shape your own strategies.
You should post frequently about exhibitions, events you will be attending, or open studio projects. Don’t confine your posts to your own page. Find groups in your area, and share your posts on them. Think outside the box on this one! Don’t just find and join local art groups… also look for groups about local events in general to post your shows and exhibitions. Look for groups about home decor, redecorating or remodelling, or advice for first-time home buyers – these are all potential markets for your art!
Study Competitor’s Pricing
An often overlooked, but important, aspect of your competitor’s marketing is their pricing. Study how their pricing structure fits into your market. Maybe they’ve broadened their price range by selling different sizes of original work, or offering reproductions or other merchandise featuring their art. This might also work for you to expand your sales – especially by gaining entry into a lower price point than your art normally occupies.
You should also study how your competitors explain their pricing and the value of their work. You might want to fine-tune your own unique selling points, emphasising what makes your art special, inducing your customers to buy your art.
Be part of an Art Community
There are many types of art community. These might range from local artists guilds and art groups, salons and meetings, or even online forums. These are a huge benefit to any artist wanting to network and learn from other artists who have succeeded in your market. These groups usually attract a wide-range of artists with varying experience. Other members can often recommend vendors or resources, or provide introductions to possible mentors. When you join an arts group, also see if they offer professional development such as training seminars, or online courses or webinars.
Collaborate with Other Artists
Search for opportunities to collaborate with other artists such as collective or joint exhibitions, or partnerships with successful artists or art businesses. Moving beyond solo exhibitions or your own studio can increase your reach into new markets by taking part in synergistic events. These collaborations lead to an increased exposure and can vastly increase your network.
Acknowledging, accepting, and studying your competition in no way compromises your artistic integrity. On the contrary, it is good business, and could significantly expand your art sales!