If you're wanting to build a financially sustainable career as a studio artist, you will want to get your work in front of potential collectors as often as possible. And while social media is a great tool for building a following, it's typically not enough to keep sales coming in consistently. That's where paid advertising can help.
Now, you may immediately be thinking: I don't have money for that.
There are plenty of paid advertising options out there and not all of them are effective for artists. But using the list below, you can find ways to promote your work at every budget that can actually get your art in front of the right people. Here are several options to consider:
Advertising options for artists
Sponsored Social Media Content
Almost all social media platforms these days offer sponsored post options, allowing you to promote your work to a larger audience than you reach on your own. You can choose to target specific demographics, interests, and locations to ensure your ad reaches the right people. Make sure your ad is visually appealing and speaks to your target audience. We recommend testing a few combinations of images and copy to see which garners the most engagement and has the best traction overall. Yes, this type of advertising can go into the hundreds or thousands for large companies, but you can also start with much smaller amounts (i.e. under $100).
You can pay to promote your content via the social media platforms themselves, or partner with a larger influencer account to have them repost your content. If you choose the latter, ask them for data of the results they've had from previous campaigns. You can also ask around to see if any other artists or businesses have worked with them in the past to hear what their experience was like and what the results were.
Sponsored Blog Posts
Sponsored blog content can be an excellent way of funneling traffic directly to your artist website. Find blogs that are relevant to the art you create and inquire about sponsored post opportunities. This can usually be done by looking for or asking for their media kit. Some blogs may allow you to write your own post, while others may write it for you so that it stays in their brand voice. If you are particular about the visuals and copy, then ask about their policy for changes and feedback. Do research in advance to find a blog that has a decent reach and is a good fit for your target audience.
While print media may seem like a thing of the past, I'm here to tell you that it's alive and well! Create! is proud to be one of art-focused magazines that celebrate the work of talented contemporary artists. Besides features and interviews, if you look closely in each issue of these publications, you'll likely also see ads and advertorials. If you've always dreamed of seeing your work on glossy print pages, this could be a great match for you! Now, admittedly, the larger the publication, the larger the budget you'll need for a print ad. However, there are some publications that offer advertising at a significantly lower rate for artists - like Create! Magazine does!
Search Engine Ads
Search engine ads can be a powerful tool for reaching people who are actively searching for art or artists. Again, this can be a means of directing people to your website and hopefully getting people to sign up to your mailing list or buy artwork. Aim to target specific keywords and phrases that related to your work to ensure your ad appears in relevant search results. Write compelling ad copy and always include a clear call-to-action.
Email Newsletter Mentions
Many art-focused email newsletters offer sponsorships or mention opportunities. Paying for a mention in a niche newsletter means you're truly targeting those who are interested in art. Not to mention, depending on the size of the email list, you could be reaching thousands or tens of thousands of art lovers and collectors in one go. As such, your campaign should be strategic. Find a newsletter whose audience aligns with who your potential collectors are. Then, make sure your mention is visually appealing and offers value to the reader. This is probably best to consider if you have an upcoming launch of a new collection or an exhibition that you want more people to be aware of.
Due to it not being visual in nature, this one is likely not the best option for promoting visual art. However, I'm mentioning it here because it can be valuable for those who offer services or are marketing a workshop or conference-type event. If you choose this option, it's common to offer the podcast listeners a small discount with a code that relates to the podcast name. This works in two ways. One, it offers more of an incentive for people to join or register. And two, it helps you track how effective the ad was in that you can see how many people use that specific code.
If you're not familiar with the term, display advertising involves placing ads on other websites. I wouldn't suggest it necessarily for individual artists to sell their work, but you will likely see galleries doing this on art news websites with banners and graphics of their upcoming exhibitions. If this is an avenue you'd ilke to try out, perhaps you can partner with your gallery to ask if this is something they would be willing to consider.
When it comes to paid ads, please remember that not all options will work for every artist. Before you spend money on any type of advertising, you absolutely must know who is the audience you would be trying to reach. This way, you can focus on advertising options that will speak directly to them.
I also highly recommend having a budget in mind and tracking your results to measure your return on investment. It will likely take a bit of experimenting at the beginning, but once you see results, you can double down on what's most effective or even use those profits to hire experts to help maximize your reach. By considering the above paid advertising options and choosing the ones that work best for your art, you can reach new customers and potentially grow your art business faster than you would organically.
Wondering how to figure out who your audience is? We cover audience profiles, advertising, finding collectors and more in our new business course for emerging artists: The Smartist School. You can also learn about advertising with Create! Magazine by emailing Alicia for our current media kit.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017.