The Maker’s Marketing Basics

As an artist, you might feel daunted by the idea of marketing, especially after pouring yourself into creating a work of art. But know this: If you don’t market your work, few will find it.

Selling your art is one of the best ways to give you more space to make more art. And making it a profitable endeavor is even better! But it’s difficult to sell your goods when nobody knows what you’re selling. That’s where your marketing chops come in - and luckily, there are a whole bunch of tactics that work whether you’re a beginner or an expert.


Don’t ignore social media

You knew it was coming: Social media, the ever-changing behemoth of opportunity, is something you have to use if you want to have any chance of making a name for your business.

As a visual artist, you should be posting your work on Instagram or Pinterest, platforms entirely built on enticing visual imagery. If you’re a writer, you can post your well-written thoughts on Twitter, which could lead to some great connections. Older generations tend to use Facebook more and more, so if that demographic is your target market, you should be there. Do a little research to find the best outlet for your work.

After that, your main objective is to be diligent about updating your social media pages. These platforms have discerning (dare I say unfair?) algorithms that tend to support accounts that are gaining traction and posting often, and suppress those that are not. But if you play by these platform’s rules, the opportunities are endless.


Be true to yourself

For some folks, putting their opinions, inhibitions, and beliefs out in the open can be a little terrifying. The last thing you want to do, as an artist selling your work, is to scare potential paying customers off. But it’s important to remember that there is an upside to expressing yourself in your marketing. You get to stay true to what inspires you, you have the potential to attract customers to your work because of your beliefs, and you have the opportunity to educate people on your passions, worries, and joys. Incorporate these into your advertising.

As an extreme example, think of Banksy. Whoever they are, their success has come from their unabashed expressions of exactly what they’re thinking. People appreciate art that says something to them, resonates with them. Don’t risk connecting with your customers by stifling your inspiration. Tell them about it and be proud.


Be consistent

Here’s the thing about consumers: they’re incredibly forgetful. There’s that famous statistic called the “Seven Times Factor” that says a person needs to see an ad seven times before they’ll buy whatever is being advertised. So the technical piece of advice here is to be consistent. If you’re running paid ads on a website, or tacking flyers around town, or trying to grow your Twitter following, create a posting schedule and stick to it.

Consistency does two things. First, it keeps you and your work at the forefront of potential customer’s minds. And secondly, more subtly, if your work or images or business cards are at every turn, folks will start to think of you as ever-present. That translates to dependency and availability. When I see a business’s poster more than one time in a day, I take notice and am more likely to Google them when I get home because they’ve carved out space in my conscious brain.


Diversify your outlets

Diversification is really important for the self-employed person, just as it is in the stock market, because it softens the blow of any individual loss. It’s important to remember this in your marketing plan as well.

If you use only one mode of making connections, consider spreading out a bit more. Could you attend conferences or trade shows? Could you sell your products at a maker’s market? Would it make sense to join your local chamber of commerce? Maybe you should hang a couple pull-tab advertising posters around town?

Remember, marketing is so much more than good branding and paid advertisements. It has endless possibilities. It’s really easy to hit a marketing groove, gain some success, and stop there, so I get it. But you might be surprised just how much your horizons expand if you venture outside your autopilot marketing go-tos. Keep forging those connections. And that way, if one network goes away, you’ll still have a strong base of support to lean on in the future.

When you hit the right groove, all of these little acts in repetition start to snowball. Though it should, good work won’t always get noticed right away. To cut through the noise, you have to stay true to yourself and inspirations, put yourself out there for people to see, and keep on connecting. Go get ‘em!

Jillian Conner

Freelance writer living in Vermont. She’s an avid backyard birder, snack enthusiast, and aspiring shepherdess.

Make a store & sell your art with Big Cartel. It’s easy.

Sign up