Many artists have a deep, internal resistance to social media, self-promotion, and marketing. Though it’s true that social media can be a massive productivity sucker, self-promotion can come off as tacky, and we’re all a little weary from the endless onslaught of marketing we’re hit with every day, that’s no reason to keep your art hidden away from potential fans who would love to support you.
When used the right way, social media is a valuable platform for creative people to reach a global audience, develop a loyal fanbase, and achieve that seemingly impossible dream of earning a living from your art.
It is possible to market in a way that’s genuine and not annoying, and you can promote yourself without being a shameless hack. The following tips will help you build a strong social media presence from which to present (and sell) your art to the world.
Choose your channels
There are many social media channels, with new ones rising and falling into obscurity each year. For artists, the best ones to consider for selling your art include:
- Instagram – Take advantage of the visual appeal and selling tools
- Facebook – Develop a fanbase, display and sell your art, create long-form posts
- Twitter – Useful for networking, announcements, competitions, and cross-posting content
- YouTube – Endless options for displaying your creations, offering tutorials, and connecting with your growing fanbase
- Twitch – Live-stream the creation of your art
- Patreon – Convert fans to patrons by offering special content in exchange for paid subscriptions
Though it’s worth being active on more than one channel, you don’t need to be across all of them. Trying to do so will suck up time you could be spending on your art. It will also scatter your attention too much, meaning you might be present on all channels but your pages won’t be as good as they could be if you picked just a couple and directed all your energy into making them shine.
Some things you might want to consider when selecting the channels you start out with include:
- Which of these social media channels are you already familiar and comfortable with?
- Do you have an existing following on one of these platforms which you can build on?
- Are you interested in creating live-streams or do you prefer solitude when working?
- How important is video as a medium? (A painter might prefer to stick to high-quality images, while an artist who makes organic clothing might want to post videos of people fire-twirling or doing gymnastics in their clothing, making YouTube an ideal platform)
- Do you wish to teach your artform to others or would you rather focus your attention entirely on creating your products?
Be thorough in building your presence
Once you’ve selected the channels you believe will suit you best, it’s time to construct your pages. Since you’re hoping to make an income out of this, it’s important to fill out every aspect of your profile. This includes writing up a bio for yourself (or having a talented freelance writer craft one for you) and ensuring your branding is eye-catching and consistent.
Don’t make the mistake of rushing this part, and never take a “that’ll do” attitude to your social media profiles. As an artist, you need to make sure everything you add to your page is captivating and on-brand.
Ensure your branding is the best it can be
Since we mentioned branding twice in the last section, it’s worth diving into it in a bit more detail. Your brand is like an amalgam of your personality and your art that’s been condensed into a simple yet powerful visual message designed to convey far more than meets the eye.
Dedicate time, effort, and perhaps some professional assistance into developing a killer logo, color scheme, and brand message, and you’ll have an instant drawcard that grabs people’s attention and pulls it towards your art.
Slap together something on the fly, and the message you’ll be sending people is that you’re happy with mediocrity – not exactly a quality they look for in a creator they were considering buying art from.
Remember, even the filters you use on your images and the way you write your posts will form part of your brand. An artist who paints skateboard decks and surfboards will use entirely different language to one who creates hand-made, eco-friendly homewares.
Post regularly and consistently
Whether it’s YouTube videos, tweets, or pics on Instagram, you need to make sure you have a consistent stream of content flowing out to your audience.
This works on a number of levels. First, it keeps you relevant by ensuring your name, your brand, and your art are always popping up in people’s feeds. Second, it offers a surprising amount of value to your loyal followers.
When people follow you, they’re giving you the gift of their time and attention (two things that are of premium value in the digital world). In exchange, they expect you to reliably deliver engaging and enjoyable content.
If a popular YouTuber is even a day later than usual uploading a video, fans notice immediately and will often hit said YouTuber with dozens of comments and messages asking what’s up. This speaks to just how much people appreciate consistency and regularity from the creators they follow.
Get creative with your content
Though you need to showcase your art and let people know what’s for sale, it’s equally important to share content that’s purely designed to entertain and engage.
Perhaps you want to give people a glimpse into an interesting part of your creative process. Or maybe you want to set yourself a crazy art challenge and post your progress every day. Do you have any pictures of art you created as a child? Throwback posts like this can garner a lot of engagement as they trigger people’s emotions.
The options are endless. However, the key is to show people the person behind the art. This is a great way to develop loyal fans who are happy to purchase your art and support your progress. It also makes life on social media far more enjoyable!
Engage with people
It’s important to remember the “social” side of the social media equation. It’s not just about pumping out content – you need to engage with your fans as well.
Take some time to react to comments and write replies where you can. This means a lot to people, and as with the last point, it makes the whole social media process more enjoyable for you.
Hype your releases
Rather than just uploading your artworks when they’re finished, build some hype around them and get fans excited by sharing progress shots or even written posts about how challenging the work is.
On an interpersonal level, this allows people to see how much hard work goes into your creations. They also get to watch each piece evolve, meaning they develop a personal connection to your art.
On a marketing level, hype is one of the best ways to motivated people to buy. If you take a look at the most successful brands and social media influencers, you’ll notice they never simply drop a new release cold. There are always sneak peeks at fashion lines, tutorials for how to use an about-to-be-released make-up collection, free sample workouts from new exercise programs, and the list could go on.
If you master the art of hyping releases, and create a sense of emotional connection and excitement about your creations, you’ll find the sales roll in a lot quicker.
Consider supporting a good cause
This is a fantastic way to share a bit more of your personality and make people feel good about supporting you. Choose a reputable charity or non-profit organization that does work you have a personal connection with, and pledge to donate a percentage of each sale to them.
This could be anything from an animal welfare or environmental group to organizations focused on education or humanitarian efforts. If your family has been touched by a particular illness or medical condition and you feel comfortable sharing it with your followers, then this can be a wonderful way to make a genuine connection with people while raising awareness and supporting those who are working towards a cure.
Create regular content detailing why you choose to work with this organization, and be sure to provide receipts to each buyer so that they have proof that you made the donation as promised.
Selling art on social media: final thoughts
You may have noticed we didn’t have a section on marketing or paying for Facebook or Instagram ads. Though you can do these things, the truth is, if you focus on creating high-quality, well-curated pages that are on-brand and filled with beautiful posts showcasing your art and your personality, then you don’t need to go hard-out with the marketing and self-promotion.
Your social media presence will take time and dedication to build, but if you focus on making it enjoyable for yourself and your followers, this will be a project that’s rewarding in terms of time well spent and sales made.
If you’d like some more guidance on the basics of setting up your pages, check out our guide to establishing a social media presence from scratch.