Artists want their art to sell and reach as many people as they can. As with all things pertaining to business, you need to know how to effectively market your artwork, which in this case is your ‘product’ or ‘brand’, in order to get more customers and ensure that your business is successful. After all, we don’t like spending so much time and money on a piece only for it to flop.
While fixating only on the numbers can be bad for plenty of artists, artists do still need to eat — be clothed and sheltered, and buy more supplies to keep up with the industry.
As such, if you intend on making money out of your art, you need to be able to market yourself and your art to your chosen audience. Don’t know how to start? Here are five ways you can market yourself:
Have a social media presence
Plenty of independent digital artists start out by sharing their work on their social media. Indeed, sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and even Instagram have become great channels where artists can show off their work and get some good old validation from their followers. The first step to getting yourself out there is just, well, to get yourself out there.
If you don’t have one already (whcih is highly doubtful), create a social media account solely for your art, where you can post all your finished artwork and maybe even some rough sketches and outlines. Just don’t forget to use the appropriate hashtags.
Most artists post fan art of their favorite shows or characters on their social media and that is one good way to start and get noticed. Plenty of people tend to flock more towards fan art than original art since they know the characters and the series they’re from and share the same interests. And don’t believe anything your snobby old art teacher taught you — you can get paid by drawing fan art! Or at least, it’s one way you can show off your interests and get yourself noticed by some big names in the industry. So don’t be afraid to put yourself and your work out there for the world to see!
Do your research
If you plan to make merchandise out of your fan art or work, it helps to do some research. Find out what kind of shows, movies or games are popular and try catering to that audience. It might seem disingenuous at first, especially if you yourself aren’t a big fan of the thing you’re making fan art of, but if you intend to make this a business, then it pays to know what sells and what doesn’t.
This doesn’t mean that you should abandon all the things that don’t sell. There’s a niche for everything, and we’re sure someone out there will be interested to buy fan art of that one very specific and very obscure show that you like. It’s all just a matter of finding the right audience.
Be active in the community and make connections
And speaking of finding the right audience. If you’d much rather cater to a specific niche, you need to make sure that you have the right audience for it. Having a social media account or two is all well and good, but you need to be active on it as well. The good thing about social media is that you can tailor your experience of it however you want, which means you get to choose the communities you’d rather be associated with.
Finding a good community can not only get your art noticed by the people who’d appreciate it the most, but you get to build lasting connections between potential clients and even other artists that could be very beneficial in the long run. Who better than other artists to help you carve out a foothold in the industry and lift you up when you need it the most? Other than offering resources and support, it just feels good to be part of a community that you like and are proud of.
Have a portfolio of your best work
Every artist needs a place where they can display their work proudly and show off all their best talent and skills. Make sure that you have a website with all your best work on it. Just as artists would have galleries where they can display their work and hold shows, you can do the same by having an online gallery that can be visited and accessed by people from all over the world at any time.
Tailor your online portfolio to fit your art’s specific ‘brand’ and style. For example, if you’re a merch artist who mostly makes merchandise, you can create a responsive e-commerce site instead and have a separate gallery for all the products you offer. It helps to have a portfolio ready that you can easily link in any message or post so that potential employers, interested clients, and other people who can offer you opportunities to grow can see your best art and evaluate it themselves.
Word of mouth works great among the artist community, especially if you’re in a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. You can take commissions from clients, whether it’s of fan art or original content, and share it online with the client’s consent. This is one way you can build a network and get your name out there. Clients who have had a good experience with you and are pleased with your output are more likely to recommend you to their friends or followers, thus winning you even more clients. They get the illustration of their dreams, you get money and a better reputation. It’s a win-win situation.
At the end of the day, the success of your art career all depends on your willingness to put yourself out there and chase after opportunities. So don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith and get your money’s worth for all the time and effort you spent on each piece.