In this electronic era, developing and maintaining a strong online presence is not only crucial for your marketing strategy but also very important for your art business. Here, we discuss why an online presence is important for the purpose of gaining notoriety and selling more work. In this article, we’ll provide you with an overview of consumer behavior, discuss the tools available to you in order to reach your audience, explain how to use them from a macro perspective.
What Art Buyers Want
There are many traits common to all art buyers. For example, buyers generally do not know the value of art. Buyers like to be knowledgeable about their purchases, but they need cues such as friends, likes, sales, and exhibition history, before making a purchase. It is important to also remember that the artist is an important consideration in a purchasing decision, not just the work. People have short attention spans, so timing is everything and being an expert in the field adds value to the art. In addition, art buyers like to know the story behind works of art, because stories keep them interested and engaged.
As consumers are so focused on understanding the story behind an artist’s work, artists must think critically about how they’ll present that story to their audience. Having an online presence that communicates your message and aligns your vision is one is the most effective way to bring that message to a large audience.
Focus on Your Brand When Building an Online Presence
Three key steps to building an online presence include branding, content creation, and engagement. According to Entrepreneur, “Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.” Your brand centers around you, not your art. It should be developed around your uniqueness and expertise, and should have a consistent and recognizable voice that reflects your interests. The brand you create should be targeted to an audience with similar interests, and every action should be made with your audience and brand in mind.
When developing your online presence, remember to tag things and tag them correctly, and look for non-competitive tags and keywords. Knowing your target market is crucial to building an online presence. Your target customers are those who are most likely to buy from you, become fans, or act as promoters. You can use a platform’s search tools to discover targets and find other work like yours to see who is buying it, and friend or follow these people and review friend and follow lists of target members. You can also look at comments and posts to understand the latest topics, interests and needs of your targets, and look for people that engage in a personal way, not generically. Joining online groups and meet-ups and engaging with art critics and editors who work within your field is helpful because you should always be networking and marketing yourself.
Remember that people are more likely to value your work if they think you are an expert. Therefore, you need to build your expert persona by educating your audience on the things you know well and are passionate about. The content you create should focus on a theme that is high-value with low competition. You can use Google Adwords to discover topics and show-off your expertise with articles, tutorials, behind-the-scenes images of your process, participate in panel discussions, and review gallery shows. You can generate and distribute your content using content platforms that are either your own website, managed sites, or blogging sites. Some of these content platforms include: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Adobe Portfolio, Cargo Collective, Orangenius, and Behance, among many others. You can sell your work on websites such as Orangenius, Saatchi Art, eBay, Shopify, or Artsy. Sharing your work can be done using content platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Medium, or YouTube. Newsletters are also a good way to distribute your content which can be created using content platforms like MailChimp, MadMimi, or Constant Contact.
Understand Social Media Do’s and Dont’s
There are many factors that influence the release of successful content on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. In order to get yourself noticed, follow people with similar interests and backgrounds, and they will likely follow you – remember, you can always unfollow those who did not follow you back. To build a following, you should post daily and focus on not just posting your own content. Rather, you should post other people’s artwork, articles that you like, and anything that interests your target market. to build engagement, questions are better than statements and you can do this through your own captions and by commenting on other people’s posts. Be sure to acknowledge those that comment on your posts, and re-post people to show your support of other artists. Finally, don’t forget to consider your brand when choosing what to post and re-post – this is one of the cardinal rules when developing your online presence.
When creating a Facebook, first, build an artist or company page. Then, engage potential buyers by inviting your ‘friends’ to ‘like’ your page, sharing the page on your own personal timeline, inviting people to share your content, and including a call to action to increase the likelihood of your posts being shared. You can use Facebook Audience Insights to see the age and gender breakdowns, education levels, job titles, relationship statuses and more of the people viewing your page. Facebook Audience Insights is also helpful for learning about people’s interests and hobbies, relationship status, income, family size, and location which are wonderful tools to understand the types of people interested in your artwork. Lastly, in your email signature, add a link to your Facebook page.
On Twitter, the number of followers you have is not as important as the quality of the followers. Use the search bar to find artists with similar backgrounds and interests and follow all of your local arts-related Twitter accounts and major art accounts like @MuseumModernArt, @hyperallergic, @designtaxi, @nytimesarts, and @blick_art. You can check out their followers and follow anyone who looks interesting, has posted regularly, and reposts. Replying directly to a tweet almost always sparks a conversation, and using hashtags make topics searchable on Twitter. You can always include hashtags like #art, #craft, #ceramics, #woodworking in your tweets and use around two of them per tweet. When reporters and bloggers look for local events to write about, they search for hashtags. The most important part of any social media account, especially Twitter, is to keep your account active because people will not follow an inactive account.
For Pinterest, which is an online pinboard or a visual take on the social bookmarking site, you should first set up a business account so you can get the analytics. The analytics will show you the average daily impressions, daily and monthly viewers, monthly engaged followers and the most popular pins among your audience so you learn what people are interested in. You need to pin your own work and those of your favorite artists or influencers. Users can then “re-pin” or “like” them, which is beneficial because repins show on multiple boards for more exposure. Pinterest is searchable, so make sure to include description with title, description, and relevant keywords to your pins. Add prices to your work so that your work will be added to the “gift” section. You can organize your boards by themes, such as medium, style, theme, or color and you can make your boards personal and unique. Making your Pinterest board personal helps create visual narratives and tell a story.
Instagram is another popular content platform for building an online presence. Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately. It is an excellent platform for artists, especially under-the-radar types because it generates a lot of art sales. The platform is focused on mobile devices, so it is difficult to upload non-mobile photos. On Instagram, you cannot post URLs, and, similar to other platforms regarding followers and audience building, viewers gravitate toward personal brands that are thematic and tell stories rather than stand-alone work. When posting on Instagram, you should always use captions or narrative that will stimulate your followers to engage. The Instagram crowd loves interacting and will gladly comment, like, and report an all-around interesting post. Don’t post bad mobile phone images – every image should be artistic and promote your brand. You should post frequently enough so that people are engaged, but remember that this audience prefers quality over quantity. Hashtags can be used on Instagram as well, and it is recommended to use 5-10 hashtags that are relevant to the work per image.
Building your online presence can be done using multiple different platforms. It is important to remember that you do not have to use every single one. Experiment first and then choose the platform/s that work best for you. Following the information we have provided above will ensure that you successfully engage your audience and create a stellar online presence.
As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art, law, and business. He is currently serving as the Chief Product Officer at Artrepreneur. You can find his photography at artrepreneur.com or through Fremin Gallery in NYC.