Planning A Marketing Strategy For Artists

Here are the basics that you will need to know when putting together a marketing plan for yourself.

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by Brenda Berg

In the business world, going forward with any new venture without a proper marketing plan is never a good idea. Similarly, just waiting around to be ‘discovered’ is not the best either, especially in today’s time, when there are thousands of talented artists just like you competing for exposure. You have to put in a lot of thought and – let’s face it – some work to reach your audience and build a successful career.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

– Yogi Berra

Having a proper marketing strategy plan for self-promotion will help guide you towards your ultimate goals, keeping you on a pathway towards the success you seek.

Creating this strategy is not a terribly difficult task. However, it does require some time and effort to put together. Here are the basics that you will need to know when putting together one for yourself.

marketing strategy artists Stivi in front of her work during an opening reception at Agora Gallery

Focus On Your Vision

This step is usually different for each and every artist. First and foremost, you’ve got to determine what your goals are, both short-term and in the long run. Are you looking to become a full-time artist, hoping to supplement an income, or content with this being a hobby? Each vision will lead you down different paths, so it is important to know where you eventually want to end up.

Of course, we all want to be successful, but what does success look like to you, as an artist? For some, it’s measured in financial prosperity, while for others recognition for their work gives them the feeling of accomplishment.

You will need to narrow down your ideas and establish what success means to you. Here are some examples of goals you could set for yourself. Remember, the more precise you are, the easier it is to achieve that goal.

  • Aim to sell a certain number of pieces every month. That number will depend on your previous sales, and how much you can create in a month.
  • Plan to take part in a certain number of exhibitions in a year. This one is good for more established artists.
  • Plan to enter a certain number of art competitions, in order to get your art seen by more people. This can work for those who are new to selling their work.

Now, your vision may very well change over time – don’t be worried if that happens. Artists, and people in general, are continually growing and changing, and so your priorities and vision for what you’re hoping to achieve are likely to be different a few years down the line. Changes happen, but what is important is that you recognize those changes and make the necessary adjustments to your plan in order to achieve them.

Setting Measurable Goals

marketing strategy artists
Sold! “Dada”, Oil on Canvas, by L. W. Shortridge

Once you have a clear vision of what you want, you can start setting your goals for getting there. It’s important that they be measurable and attainable, so you will know when you get there and can measure your progress along the way.
Extravagantly wild goals may seem exciting and tempting to strive for, but if they are truly unattainable in reality, you’ll only be setting yourself up for failure. Sure, every artist wants to be globally recognized, with their priceless artwork hanging in Louvre, but a goal like that should not be set if you’re just starting out.

Having said that, we don’t mean that you have to set them low. We are only trying to stress the importance of being realistic. Selling 10 pieces per month may be a little lofty, but 3 may be a great starting point. And, of course, as you achieve your goals, you can set new ones. Once you reach those 3 sales per month, set your next goal at 5, and so on until you reach that long-term goal of 10.

Related Article: How To Price Your Artwork

This also runs into the next component of a goal, which is that it needs to be measurable. Saying that you want to have a lot of sales each month really does not mean anything. Setting a specific number is a measurable way of knowing when you’ve reached that goal.

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Narrow Down Your Audience

It’s so incredibly vital that you discover your specific customers and target them directly. There will be an audience for each artist, and it’s up to that artist to identify those people in order to achieve their goals and bring their vision to life.

When you can pinpoint the people you need to target, you’ll be saving yourself an immeasurable amount of time, energy and money.

Helpful Article: Finding Art Collectors Through Social Media

Not only do you need to recognize who loves your art, but you also need to be realistic about who can actually afford to buy it. Sure, there may be a large number of people who find your artwork beautiful and would love to hang it in their homes, but if they can’t actually buy it, your efforts to market to them will be fruitless.

marketing artwork promotion
Ricardo Vivanco discussing his work during the opening reception at Agora Gallery.

Creating a Game Plan

Now that you have your goals in place and you know who your audience is, it’s time to create a game plan for how to achieve them. You’ll need to get your art in front of the people who matter and make sure that you’re hitting your targets. This sounds rather mercenary, but every artist is their own best salesperson. After all, no one else can explain your art to customers better than you.

Here are some pointers to help you get the results you want:

  • Don’t take shots in the dark. There are plenty of artists out there who will email and call institutions at random, trying to drum interest in what they’re selling. Don’t waste your time; instead, do your research. Don’t pitch to an institution or potential buyer unless you’ve done your homework and are sure they would be interested.
  • Talk to a professional. If you’re stuck as to how to get started, think about talking to an art consultant, advisor, or even a gallery. Such professionals have years of experience in the art world and their advice can be incredibly useful. They can take one look at your art and let you know what kind of buyers will be interested in your work.
  • Think like a marketer. Your aim is to tell the recipient why they’re interested in your art. What’s the benefit for them? Why would they want to buy it? Come up with the reasons before you even get in touch, and you’re much more likely to make a sale.

Related Article: Promoting Artwork: Context, Context, Context

When targeting your audience, it is also important that you’re not just trying to sell, sell, sell. What they will be looking for is what you have to offer to them that brings value to their life, besides artwork. Providing them with tutorials on different artistic techniques, insight into your creative process, and other informative content can give them that valuable information they’re seeking.

In short, you’ve got to be more to your audience than just someone trying to sell their art.

Having a map and a destination is the only way to know where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Take the time to create your marketing strategy for your artwork promotion in order to give yourself the best chance at reaching the success you envision for yourself.

Looking to enhance your career and build a presence in New York? Submit your portfolio to us and get the opportunity to present your work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers.

Share your story with other aspiring artists by commenting in the section below! Have questions? Write to us at blogs@agora-gallery.com


Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. She is a self-motivated, results driven individual who is encouraged to travel around the world and share gained experience.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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