This is a question I frequently ask and, surely, I’m not the only one to ask it. I’m confident in most of my business skills. With my background as a freelance designer, I’m familiar with maximizing tax deductions, getting paid (relatively) on time, and having the discipline to meet deadlines. However, where I get woefully bogged down is the marketing of my paintings and drawings—how to find my audience. Which is best: a shotgun marketing strategy or a precise scalpel approach?
Caveat: Let’s assume I’m completely satisfied my work is moving in the right direction and I have found my voice. (I don’t know any artist who is completely satisfied with everything relating to their work, so I think it is a fair statement to make.) The issue becomes how to find the right audience. Translation: collectors, buyers, and art lovers.
I’ve read many articles, blogs, and books about art marketing. The common thread throughout all of them is “do something!” Put your self out there. Use venues that fit your long-term goals. That would be the shotgun approach. I know many artists who use this strategy to great success. The balancing act is to stay focused on your work while you are writing, posting, and managing Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, and third party websites that sell your art for you! That doesn’t even take into account managing your website and working to find appropriate brick and mortar venues for exhibition opportunities to build your reputation. Whew!!
The scalpel approach is tricky as well. Researching and deciding which combination of tools to use to effectively pinpoint your audience requires greater depth of strategic thinking and research in my opinion. The assumption is you already know your audience and which tools will reach them.
I work with my website—along with my blog—and Facebook to build an exposure base and to give a more complete snapshot of me as an artist. I’m also fortunate to have a gallery to help market the work. Recently, I’ve begun familiarizing myself with Instagram’s potential. Twitter is not for me right now nor is Etsy or Pinterest. I’m researching third party sites that sell art which is a very humbling experience when you consider the hundreds of thousands of artists who are competing online. The strategy is to add tools I’m able to manage efficiently and ones that make sense for my long-term goals.
So, shotgun or scalpel? Or both?
I’m still working to maximize the tools I currently use. That would make my strategy more of a shotgun. I still have a lot of questions but making progress as I go. I’m just trying to ponder the possibilities out loud in order to better understand them. And like I say, I’m just tryin’ to make small talk.