I have had many people over the years ask me, “How do you promote your artwork? How can you get people to see what you’re doing, and want to buy from you?”
This seems to be a pretty common question, so I decided to write a blog post about it. I hope it will be helpful to someone else who has the same questions.
Below are 5 things that you can do to promote your work:
1.) Create business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet.
When you go to the store, visit the gas station, stop by the coffee shop, pay your bills- or whatever you do during each day- each of these things is an opportunity to give out a business card. I like to strike up a conversation with someone (asking them something about themselves first, then secondly mentioning my work and what I do) and then hand them my business card. When I send letters or books or gifts in the mail, I like to include a business card. Sometimes I leave a business card in a magazine at the doctors office. You could put a card up on bulletins at grocery stores or other places that offer one. There are so many ways you can use a business card to promote your work.
The quality of the business card you use really makes a difference. When you create your business card, you need to be sure it is something that you find to be beautiful, and a reflection of you and your work. Since people do judge a book by its cover, it only makes sense that they would judge your work by the look of your card.
You can actually make a decent looking card at vistaprint.com for a low price ( think you can get 100 for about $16.00). That’s all I could afford for a long time. Finally, I was able to get some cards made at a site I heard about: moo.com. Their cards are AMAZING.
They work out to be about 25 cents per card or so (ouch! I have only purchased once, and give them out sparingly), but really seem worth the extra money. The feel of the card is almost like holding a drivers license … It’s thick and sturdy, glossy and beautiful.
They make a great impression when people see them. Because most of my work is drawings or paintings, I can put examples of my work on the front of the card, and my details on the back, creating a mini portfolio (since moo.com allows you to make several different fronts to your card in one order). These cards are so pretty that when I give one out to someone, I will sometimes have other people standing by requesting a card for themselves. That’s pretty cool.
2.) Give your stuff away!
It may seem counterintuitive when you’re wanting to make money, but I have found that giving stuff away is the BEST way to get your name out there and get exposure for your work. I have more commissions as a result of the gifts I have given than any other method I’ve tried. In 2010, I donated a 40 foot long mural to the city. The reasoning I had was that this would be a HUGE free advertisement for my work- and it worked. I have received many more commissioned murals as a result of that first free mural. It also is something I can point to if local people ask for an example of my artwork. Most of them have already seen it (or see it every day when driving through town).
It works well to donate drawings to raffles for charity events or other such things. This provides a lot of exposure, as well as helping a good cause.
You could also donate your work to a local business, hospital, or other public building for them to display. One drawing that I made of Truett Cathy (founder of Chick Fil A) is hanging up in our local Chick Fil A.
Sometimes I’ll give a portrait as a gift to someone who has lost a relative or who I know really could use lifting up. Not only does it make me feel good to be able to help bring someone a smile, the recipients of these portraits many times become my best non-paid advertisers, enthusiastically letting other people know about my work over and over. You can’t pay for advertisement like that.
3.) Create a Facebook business page
A Facebook business page is such a great tool to advertise your work! The key is to keep it updated often, with plenty of pictures and interesting tidbits of information that other people might find interesting. Every time you post a status update regarding your work, it will show up on your fans’ feed. (One great way to encourage more fans is to offer a giveaway, taking a drawing of the names of those who “like” and “share” your page. When you reach the number of fans that is your goal, you draw from the names to pick the winner).
One great feature about the Facebook business page is that you can pay to spread your posts to specific audiences. You can pay as little as $5.00 to have your post appear on a few thousand people’s page, or you can pay as much as $200.00 and reach over 23,000 people at once. Every time I’ve used this feature, I’ve gotten orders. Sometimes more orders than I can handle. It’s an incredible tool for getting word out about your work.
4.) Offer a reward for referrals
One thing that has worked for me in the past is offering a small cash reward to anyone who refers my work and actually gets me a sale. It works out for the referrer and me too…a real win-win. You could also offer a gift of some kind rather than money- whatever works for you.
5.) Care, really care, about your customers.
I know you have to keep business and friendship somewhat separate – at least, enough to actually make money- but I believe it is so important to care about your customers and let them see that you care.
I know that when I feel someone cares about me, I automatically want to buy from them more than I would if I felt it was “just a business transaction”. I believe the same is true of others.
I make an effort to take time to get to know my customers, and ask about their day. I try to remember all of their names as much as I can. Many of them become really good friends (and eventually bring me repeat business too). Because they are my friends, they are willing to tell others about my work for free…I’ve made many sales this way.
These are just a few of the ways that I promote my artwork. What are some tools that YOU have found useful in your work, whatever it may be? 🙂 Let me know in the comments below.