The Secret to Selling Your Paintings Online and Building a Tribe

The Secret to Selling Your Paintings Online and Building a Tribe

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The internet has changed the visual arts market, big time. Today, artists no longer have to depend solely on exhibition space or pay for the privilege of showcasing their work on large, popular artists’ websites. There are plenty of opportunities to create your own, independent online presence to connect with new buyers, maintain your existing clientele, network and grow your art business organically and exponentially.

Every week I’m asked by artists several times on social media how they can sell more paintings. In my digital agency this is an area we know a lot about. So, here’s how to start selling your art online and build a loyal tribe of buyers and supporters:

Your online presence: The website

The first step to marketing your art and branding yourself as an artist is having your own website. An independent online portfolio. A virtual gallery. Most artists believe that the answer to selling more paintings is to list their art on third party platforms. This is not a long term solution and the majority of artists struggle with this approach. Unlike third party art platforms, a website puts you in control of your art and the type of audience you want to build a relationship with.

Your website is your gallery, so keep it simple and make it easy for professional art collectors and amateurs alike to find the art they like on your site.

Selling art online is quite a different experience from selling art in a classic, bricks and mortar gallery. It is important to create an online gallery that is vibrant, expresses your personality, clearly showcases your work, and more importantly, is easily accessible to all visitors. Also, ensure that the site is high quality, has great user experience and is professional. After all, would you buy from somebody who has a poorly designed free website?

Your Brand: Be known for what you do

As an artist, you are probably not concerned about branding. You might think that your work alone is enough. Yet, in an increasingly competitive visual arts marketplace, branding yourself is the number one step to gaining a competitive edge and standing out.

Branding entails being very specific about what you do—the kind of work you produce that makes you a unique artist so that prospective and existing customers can recognize your style, all the time, any time.

To create a strong brand, identify what makes you unique, create a phrase that captures this uniqueness and then design a tangible expression of this uniqueness in the form of a brand logo or symbol. Please, don’t create it on a free program!

Promote your brand to create a lasting impression. You potentially have one chance to make an impression with potential customers, influencers or gallery owners. Make it the right impression and show that you are serious. A bad brand will make you look amateur. All your online (and offline) properties must showcase your brand—email, social media, your website and other online profiles you may have are great places to promote your brand. Make this brand so conspicuous that art collectors will always identify your work.

Your thought leadership: Blogging

Content marketing is not for just for the non-artistic businesses; artists too need to invest in content marketing as part of building an online presence, establishing credibility and engaging with ideal collectors.

You could share content across many different platforms including social media, video platforms and guest blogs. But, your blog is the best and perhaps the simplest place to start sharing content with your target audience.

Before writing or doing a video for your blog, you really need to understand the type of audience you want to attract. Many artists make their blogs too academic by talking about art theories. But this type of content will likely not interest the greater majority of art collectors who stumble upon your blog.

The rule of thumb is to use your blog to tell interesting stories about your artwork. Art collectors buy art based on the narratives that these pieces elicit and convey.

Your thought leadership: Video marketing

Video is the new frontier in online marketing—small and big brands are leveraging the visual power of video, and so should you as an artist. It is possible to create high quality videos without spending a fortune.

The proliferation and popularity of video sharing platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Vine and others offers you a wide array of channels to share your content.

Examples of suitable video content to share and create include interviews with other artists, simple how-to videos, behind-the-scenes videos etc. The content you produce will largely depend on your target audience. What’s really important is to keep the videos short, simple and optimized so they can be found easily.

Also, bring out your brand in every video. This includes your logo, brand phrase and your artist name—weave all these together to create a coherent and professional branded video.

Your tribe: Building your network with social media

Images are the most shared content type on social media and this is good news for visual artists. The inherent characteristic of social media platforms offers artists an opportunity to showcase their work, build a community, allow people to comment and share your work.

Social media is also excellent for sharing your knowledge, announcing and inviting people to your events and, the best part, attracting potential buyers. Use social media to promote work that is up for sale, and to give your tribe an easy way to access and buy their favorite pieces.

Remember to brand all your web properties with your logo, brand colors, and brand/artist name to create a virtual gallery and a space where your tribe members can identify you and come back to you all the time. If you need any help with branding or site design, just get in touch.

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