Sell Your Paintings Online: 5 FREE Tools to Successful Art Marketing
"Great art doesn't sell itself"
We've all probably heard that line before, and even though I totally agree, deep down inside it still stokes a little rebellious fire in my soul. Just feels like a bit of an insult, no?
"What do you mean, my art isn't good enough to be attractive to my audience?!"
But we have to quiet that baby temper tantrum that our ego is throwing, and remember that art is just that - art. It doesn't have a voice of its own, so in reality it is up to us as the artists to give it a megaphone and share the message, so you too can sell paintings online.
Sure, your recent abstract line may have been brewing inside for years before you put it into brushstrokes, culminating deep thoughts and theories that should impact the lives of many - but unless you actually tell people this, how are they supposed to know?
Learning to market yourself as an artist and your art is an essential tool that needs to be part of your arsenal (if you plan on having any success with selling your artwork, anyway). But it ain't easy at first, and especially if you don't have a marketing background (I'm with you, my background is filled with obscure plant details and diagrams of micro-structures within the human body - marketing was the last thing on my mind, next to calculus).
But I'm here to share a handful of essential tools to help you get started on this art business adventure. Enough babbling, let's get reading!
(And make sure you read to the end - #5 is my favorite!)
5 Essential Tools for Selling & Marketing Your Art Online (for FREE!)
So good marketing is essentially two things - finding the people who already NEED your product, and finding people who don't know they need your product yet, and convincing them that they do. Some people will never want your product, and that's totally fine - we aren't marketing to them.
These tools below will be the ace up your sleeve for turning that snoozing mini audience isn't a rip-roaring crowd that is dying to get their pretty little hands on your art.
Art Marketing Tool #1: Social Media Platforms
You probably have this one in the bag already, but it's far too obvious for me to ignore. You have to start somewhere when it comes to shouting your message from the hilltops (hey introverts, doesn't this sound like our nightmare?!), and social media platforms were built exactly for this. Plus, they're FREE (I can't be the only one that gets a little excited jolt every time I see that word).
Instagram is my thumb-scrollin' weapon of choice, but Facebook Pages, Twitter, and Behance are peachy options too. Play your cards right and you can find that happy tribe of followers that constantly shower you with praise and their hard-earned cash in exchange for a sparkly new painting.
Art Marketing Tool #2: Social Media Post Schedulers
Have you ever tried posting your art to Instagram every day? And not just quick grainy snaps with your smartphone paired with an obscure quote, emojis or song lyrics. Like, quality posts. Great photo, captivating captions. Every. Dang. Day.
I want to take a 10 hour nap just thinking about it.
The perfect recipe for burn-out.
So like, how on earth are we supposed to post regularly then? Welcome to the wonderful world of social media post schedulers!
There are a ton of great ones of there, with free options even, and these are serious game-changers. Spend an hour every few weeks getting things in order and then kick up your feet and chill while you rock your social media game.
HootSuite has been my scheduler of choice for a few years (guess my obsession with owls stretches farther than I realized), but there are a bunch that are great as well. Link 'em up to your platform of choice, upload a pretty photo, nail that caption and pick a time and date. Rinse and repeat.
Ready to up your social media game but already fretting about the overwhelm? I feel you!
I used to stress out about posting so much that I would psych myself out and end up ghosting social media for weeks at a time (and watched my engagement and follower count take a nose-dive). So purely out of my own need I created a Content Calendar for Artists to help me stay on track, and it has been a LIFESAVER. I figured that I would stop being greedy by keeping it all to myself :)
Grab your copy by dropping your email below!
Art Marketing Tool #3: Start a Blog
Yeah, I saw that eyeroll.
"I'm an artist, not a writer."
Oh, well my bad then! Carry onto the next tool in the list!
Except please wait and come back, this tool is too dang effective to breeze past with a flippant gesture.
Bear with me for a second and join me in class, welcome to How On Earth Does Google Work 101.
(Tuition is free because you have a cute smile)
In a nutshell, Google works by sending out little digital bots to crawl the web for keywords (this always brings up delightfully creepy mental images for me), and sites that have a lot of content with similar relevant keywords tend to show up higher in the search list.
Now if you just had a website with images of your art, maybe a few descriptions, some sizes...that really doesn't give the bots much to work with. They'll have virtually no idea what your content is about. So text is essential when it comes to being found cold on the web.
The words you publish to your blog will form a strengthened front for the bots to crawl and recognize, and will be huge for bringing in new folks from cold Google searches. If you are wildlife painter out of Alaska that focuses on local critters (think bears, caribou, wolves, etc.) in an impressionistic style with oils, you may mention these words a few times on your website. And likely, when someone searches for "oil painting wolf artist" in Google, you'll be so far down the page that you'll forever be buried under the metaphorical mountain of other content. But if you start writing frequently about your art, talking about that one time you watched a baby bear eating wild blueberries and it made your heart feel so full it wanted to burst, or why the proud majesty of wolves keeps you up at night, the Great Google Machine will start to put you on the front page, essentially saying "hey, this person writes a lot about wolf paintings done with oils, this might be what you are looking for!"
Writing about your art also allows your audience to get to know you personally, and will be key for building that strong relationship (the kind where they love you so much that they start handing you buckets of cash in exchange for something pretty).
Have I convinced you yet?
Art Marketing Tool #4: Hashtags & Keywords
So art is mostly a visual medium, which is obviously awesome-sauce, except that our lovely little bots that crawl the web and deliver content to Google searchers don't really know how to read images. Guess they skipped that day in class. They don't know what the images contain, or how to categorize them, so that's up to us to ensure that we give them all the help they need in order to deliver our awesome content to those who will love it.
Instagram and Twitter are the primary users of hashtags. These are strings of words following a pound symbol that relate to your image. On Instagram they are essential for expanding your audience, so naturally they take a place on the podium.
For instance - imagine you just but the finishing brush stroke on a realistic oil painting of a bowl of fruit. You could use hashtags like #oilpainting, #realisticart, or #stilllifepainting. someone could then search for that hashtag, or already be following it, and see your art pop up on their feed. Bam, just like that you are expanding your audience thanks to hashtags!
Now keywords are more broadly used on the web, and they are an essential tool for nailing your marketing efforts. Hashtags are a type of keyword specifically designed for certain platforms, but keywords are found everywhere. Remember that artist above from Alaska? Suddenly their blog is filled with words like "oil painting" and "wolves", "caribou art" and "Alaskan artist". Those are all keywords (well technically anything is a keyword, but the effectiveness of keywords like is questionable) that can be used to help you get found by your ideal audience.
You might be thinking, "Oh man, I know *enter something trendy* is super popular right now, cant I throw that keyword or hashtag into my post and people will come pouring in?"
Uh no. Unless of course you just created a painting of that trendy thing, otherwise that hashtag will be completely irrelevant, and can actually hurt your marketing efforts. So brainstorm a list of relevant hashtags and get your art out there!
As a side note, I share my complete Hashtag Research System that I built that makes finding relevant hashtags while keeping things fresh and exciting a breeze in my art business for beginners course, Live Your Art Life (my reach literally tripled overnight when I first implemented this process, and kept skyrocketing). We open the doors again soon, so pop onto the waitlist to be notified of the opening if this sounds like something you need!
Join the Live Your Art Life waitlist
Art Marketing Tool #5: Starting an Email List
Leaving the best for last here - if you have spent any time at all researching online marketing, even not specifically for art, then you have undoubtedly heard them say "start a mailing list". Sure, it seems scary at first and like a ton of work but holy moly is it ever an amazing tool.
In a nutshell, you don't own your followers on social media (likely Mr. Mark Zuckerberg does), so what happens if things sink overnight and your account gets hacked, or the platform shuts down (remember Vine?)? You lose everyone - yes, the panic is justified.
And then there is that other little fun statistic of how less than 10% of your followers actually see your content - yikes, right?
Email marketing is the process of acquiring the email addresses of your followers so you can communicate with them directly. It is one of the absolute best ways to build a strong relationship with your audience, and they will reward you for it.
I'm not taking a deep dive into the nitty gritty of starting a mailing list right now, but just planting the mental seeds so you feel inspired enough to start.
There are quite a few incredible platforms for managing your mailing list, and my current weapon of choice is the free version of Mailchimp. The platform itself is pretty user friendly, and has a ton of great guides.
Build a few welcome sequences alongside some opt-in offers, and let the contacts start pouring in!
Bonus: Google Analytics
I couldn't resist a bonus marketing tool - Google Analytics.
Sure, Google Analytics won't do any marketing for you. But what it does do is let you analyze your view statistics to see if your marketing efforts are actually working. Without this data, you could be pouring a ton of energy into a certain marketing stream, only to be spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. Google Analytics allows you to take a deep dive and see what is working, and also see what is not working so you can make some adjustments.
Get out there and get marketing!
P.S. These are all awesome art marketing tools, and free to boot - wanna learn about some not so great art marketing tactics? I’ve failed, but you don’t have to! So check out my post all about art marketing failures!
Want to know the materials I use to create my paintings?
Mediums and other liquids
Winsor & Newton Liquin Original - https://amzn.to/2GmK87N
Mona Lisa Linseed Oil - https://amzn.to/2Tmh1F4
Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner - https://amzn.to/2SfH0kk
Gamblin Gamvar - https://amzn.to/2D2IlRW
Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Size Adhesive - https://amzn.to/2GfEeVH
Gold Leaf (Imitation) - https://amzn.to/2GeWAWZ
Gold Leaf (Genuine) - https://amzn.to/2t1Hlst
Liquitex White Gesso - https://amzn.to/2MM0gAy
* The above product links are affiliate links that allow me to make a small commission on each sale - every little bit helps!
Danielle Trudeau creates paintings that walk the line between dreams and reality, infusing magic into every day life.
Wildlife often graces her canvases, brought to life with a spark of magic and oil paint.