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Submitted on
April 11


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The 101 Guide To Marketing For Artists

Journal Entry: Fri Apr 11, 2014, 12:04 AM

Slowly I get to catch up with deviations on here, now I just need to make use of the journals more often:)

There are some things I would be glad, someone would have told me earlier... 
Marketing is such a thing - since I´m freelancing 5 years now it is save to say that is no accident that I´m happily blessed with the "just right" clients and it all boils down to be due to authentic marketing. Honestly- I embrace everything that has to do with it, below you find my write up to get a better understanding of what it is all about.

I always found interest in psychology and marketing but when I jumped on the freelancing train 5 years ago I especially embraced anything that I could find to help me understand, use and practice marketing as a way to keep myself busy with work that I love to do and to collaborate with people who respect what I do.
In the process I learned much from many different experts and in this post I will forward what I´ve learned.

When starting out with any "Art business", It might be good to get a grasp of what marketing is and what it can do for you. For many artists marketing is something fuzzy or even a monster, I rather like to draw a picture of a cloud, when explaining marketing. Still fuzzy, but you can place it somewhere in your mind.

This cloud is full of different aspects such as psychology, communication, storytelling and research.
Marketing at its core is a combination of all these terms and practiced to achieve two main goals;to sell and to engage public relation.

When determining what we actually want to do, things tend to get a lot easier. This is especially true when breaking down our business and when we find that the business is about us, our personality and not just what we deliver.

Odds are that you learn to understand that Marketing is a steady companion even tho it looks like a monster in the infographic above, learn to embrace what marketing can do for you, and you have a reliable partner.

Begin With Why

Simon Sinek´s approach to communication is invaluable for inspiring communication that works. The key is to start any communication with answering the question "why". People often know whatthe do and how they do it, but most businesses fail to explain "why" they do it.

Know, Like and Trust

These three words are the pillars of any marketing effort. You can´t sell something so someone who doesn´t trust you, in order to gain trust, they have to like you, in order to like you, they have to know about you, simple as that. Online publishing and social media makes it easier than ever to get the word out, so do something with that power that is given to you.


The obvious part, communication, is clear in the Message of Marshall B. Rosenbergs method, but I´d even go further and try to implement that way to our thinking. Because thoughts lead to action and if the thought is free from "should", have-to´s", "good" or "bad", we begin to get more liberal and can create a fertile environment for our ideas to spread.

Embrace the Purple Cow

The first thing to note about a purple cow is that it is remarkable, one can make a remark about it.
Once we find the purple cow in or business we have found the essence of what is likely to be spread and shared by others.

Get rid of the Purple Cow

Once the purple cow is established a crowd of purple cows can dim the effect and when everyone has a purple cow, no one stands out anymore. It is invaluable to know when is the right time to go into the opposite direction. This is my personal opinion to the otherwise great concept from Seth Godin.

The Right Relationships

Relationships are valuable connections. It is better to strive for relationships than to harvest for a vast number of customers, because relationships can change a business, the right relationships can even transform a whole business.

Karma is a Bitch
"Be nice to everyone, everyone has a positive side, it just takes time to show. The guy that grabs the last special buy in front of you, for which you ran across the whole city, might be your next boss or a colleague you have to work with, so be cool, you, be cool."

Learning to be Valuable

This is a long-time-goal, a holistic approach. But once accepted it will lead to great results as it will also give potential clients a reason to work with you or buy from you. Seth Godin has written a book about the "Linchpin" who in his book is someone who is invaluable for any company, adapting this technique can make you indispensable and thrive on your own business as well.

Get to Know the Half-life of your (Online) Content

Everything has a half-life, books, music albums and even online content. Tweets live shorter than blog posts, blog posts live shorter than newspaper articles, newspaper articles live shorter than Magazine articles, and so on. What half-life has your content?

Use the CWS-Method (Content Worth Sharing)

Sharing is caring, but most of us don´t have the time to do so every so often. Content that is worth sharing is rare. So be on the a-list in creating content that resonates and that moves people to share, regardless what it is, try out, experiment and learn from that, the information is hidden in the numbers.

Curate Yourself

It is easy to judge a book by its cover, an artist from his body of work. But when was the last time you put a critical eye on your own work?
Curating and judging your work objectively is the key to build a strong portfolio and change value for your customer.

The Art of Storytelling

You are skilled at drawing, you are great at compositions your choice of color is unique, but what about storytelling? I don´t mean narrative illustration, I mean to illustrate a picture in the head of your client first. This can be done by using a visual language, shaping images and emotions instead of plain facts. This way expectations and outcome can be controlled and measured through the excitement of your opposite.

Mission Statement

Shape a mission statement out of your bio and tagline. This can be short as two words or long as five sentences, it should carry the essence of what you do. It is the purpose of a company or a person which reflects its reason for existing.

The Elevator Speech

This is in fact a very helpful technique, learn to get your "why", "how" and "what" of your business including goals, achievements and request down without hassle in under 3 minutes. It can also help to write that down in 160 characters for short biographies like they are used on twitter or facebook.
People tend to skip the long version of your bio either way, so it may be better to focus on the short version.

Turn Drawbacks into Assets

Everyone has drawbacks most of the time, someone isn´t good at doing the accounting stuff, go find someone who can. If you have no fun doing the online marketing regularly ask friends to help you or invite friends to help you, in return you make dinner, etc. And if you are not good at something, think about what else you can do to make it fun, if it is fun you´ve a less hard time to do things regularly.

Using Social Media Right

This seems like a no-brainer, but so many people get it wrong, Social Media, in other words, facebook, twitter and co, are not replacements for your website or blog, they are the shuttle to your content, nothing more and nothing less. If you build a tribe using social media that is OK, but don´t build your business on uncertain ground, especially in times where Terms Of Servicechange like we change underwear.

Define your Budget for Marketing

A common misconception is to have no need for a budget. That´s purely shortsightened. When beginning the year, it makes sense to calculate through and think about a volume that you can put aside every month that goes straight into marketing, website hosting, panels, exhibitions, advertising in magazines, etc.

Market Limitations

Every market has its limits. This might be due to some established costs and budgets for various goods or services, so the only way to charge more is to change the market.

Email Marketing Done Right

There is nothing that beats good old email marketing, if that is your thing. There are great ways to do cheapskates or to run campaigns using services like Mailchimp that is competitive cheap, even free for under 2000 subscriber.

Authentic Wealth

Wealth is something many artist struggle to show as they feel it makes them look anything than "artsy", but that is wrong. Looking at a freelance business as a business like every else, you find yourself having more trust in companies who invest in their appearance, equipment and anything else that matters. So showing some authentic wealth is good for your business as people see that you take yourself and your business serious.

The No-Price-Tactic

No price on your work, either on website or on artfairs, can be labelled as professional The most manufacturer of products have no prices on their websites, yo have to go to a retailer website to get price information. The same tactic works for artists, if someone want a price of an artwork, the have to inquire about this matter directly. You might think that would people turn of, but that is far from the truth, on a website you just have to make it easy to contact you, in live events you just have to be near and recognizable as the artist. If people truly want to buy something from you, they will let you know that. The consequences of bad pricing on your website can more harm than doing you a favor, because pricing constantly changes.

GTD and How to Use Email for Productivity

If you are not too much into email marketing, email may be still important to you. Because in my day complete commissions are processed through the means of email. The first plus-point is that it allows me to track any relevant information, if there is something the client hasn´t listed, it hasn´t have to be done. Gmail helps a great leap in filtering and making it easy to manage a huge email load on a daily basis. There are also add-ons like rapportive and GTD-inbox that makes it even a productivity tool. In fact channeling your business communication to email can also benefit time management.

Have an Opinion

It is a fact that you can´t reach everyone, but when you share an opinion publicly on your blog or in an interview, you definitely attract some and disappoint others. So concentrate on those that you like to attract can make sense if you know that a statement or opinion can resulting in such a consequence. But be careful, having a strong opinion is good if you´ve researched or know your field very good, otherwise a "not-so-thought through" statement can backfire.

Chose Clever Graphic-Design

Even if you are an artist and especially if you are one of those that have no interest in doing the graphical "stuff", please do yourself and the world a favor and ask someone professional to create your broshures, website and blog-design. There is so many that can be done wrong, prospective clients often can´t tell what is bothering them, but the trained graphic designer can spot that. It may be the 25 fonts you used on your homepage or the colors and borders that distract the viewer to concentrate on your blog´s content.

Chose Professional Photographs

If you are a traditional working artist, this is especially important. There is nothing that speaks gainst a smartphone shot from a work in progress on your "W.I.P." page or online sketchbook. But serious collectors can spot the difference of a quality shot from your work, versus a low quality selfmade photograph. If you are not sure, what you are doing, ask someone who knows.

Optimize Your Workflow

Optimizing workflow and regularly contemplating steady changes on your workplace can lead to a more ergonomic and healthy work environment. Sometimes the simple things are those that cost much time when summed up. Embracing change means also embracing a certain kind of openness, that kind of openness that makes us sensible to business opportunities as well.

Work Smart and Harder

Many say "Work smarter, not harder" but if that is true and many are following that statement, you need to work smart and harder than others to compete with the top people in your field. In general it can be said that working harder get´s you better at something, working smarter gets you the more interesting jobs in which working harder than others may result in better paid jobs as well, pretty smart, eh?

Be Memorable

Being memorable is important to define your future. People often change positions and if you treat them well and also be memorable with your own unique kind, people have an easy time to remember you once they are in a position to support you or to claim your services.

The Pareto Principle

Using the pareto principle right, means that 20% of the clients bring in 80% of your income. Concentrating on those 20% is crucial. This is also part of the "Work Smart and Harder" method.

Know your Market

This list does work well if you are after getting jobs as freelance artist, designer, illustrator or else. However, the "fine-art-market" is something different, it is unlikely that a great gallery will approach you, this guide will however help you to sell your work all by yourself without the middle-man, at least that is what it does for me.

Last but not least there are some keywords I want to add to his important list, knowing them means to know how to open the doors.

Resonating - Resonating content is the new purple cow, know how to resonate and you know how to inspire

Authenticity - Authenticity in marketing is like being true to yourself, deliver what you promise

Shipping - Shipping is the most important aspect of any service or product. It has to get to the client on time, otherwise it is worthless

Authority - Authority rules, it is about how you dress and how you show up, if you want people to accept you as an authority wear an uniform and act like expected

Holistic - Life is holistic, traditional Chinese medicine is holistic and so should your marketing approach be, not for today and not for tomorrow, but forever

Tribe - Build a tribe, a group of loyal followers and colleagues that stick together like glue or a family

Empathy - If we have empathy, we neither need "religion" nor "good" or "bad" in our dictionaries

Connections - Having the right connections can be very helpful in establishing a business, although relationships are better than weak ties, the latter has value that shouldn´t be underestimated tho

Affirmation - Having a daily routine such as a positive affirmation is comparable to programming the mind, with the right syntax it is possible to program even the unconsciousness.

Consistency - Consistency is the thing that works against creativity, but is important to get you jobs

Repetition - Business is all about repetition. But it is important to know when to break the mold and when sticking to the rule

Goals - It is crucial to have goals. Some easy to achieve goals, some medium-difficult ones and some that seem impossible to reach. The impossible goals are the most important ones, because through these you can grow into that person who is able to achieve them

Timeless - Timeless content wins in the long run, ask yourself if your work can compete with time

Opportunity - If opportunity doesn´t knock, build a door. (Milton Berle)

Revolution - Every now and then we need a revolution either within our tiny little ecosystem or one that shakes the whole world until its core

Pricing - The more people know of your work, the higher the price, don´t work for people who don´t even know your work close enough

Time-management - Time is money, wasting time means wasting money, but it isn´t that easy, for artists, time used for chilling can be useful for reenergize creative spirits and therefore be healthy. But using several methods to manage tasks that usually are time consuming (changing from phone to email for example) can help.

Measurement - Today everything can be measured. Learn to measure, how to read statistics and which numbers are important and you are one step ahead of your competition.

I just went through my list of related websites and thought it might be useful to add some of the great links here, that helped me through this marketing endeavours:…

Visit my blog for more::

Add a Comment:
nickybeats Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Professional Digital Artist
wow this is incredibly helpful! thank you so much!!
FlyQueen Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014   Digital Artist
Woa. That's what I call a useful journal entry. Thank you very much for this :>
But I guess first I have to learn how to paint ^^; Gnuh.
fantasio Featured By Owner May 1, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thank you, glad you find it useful 
nFeel Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
great article! thanks!
fantasio Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thank you for reading!
SineSquared Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014
This has been really informative.  Thanks for all the information and links!
fantasio Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thanks, glad you think so!
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad that a great artist like to now stresses the importance of marketing yourself.
For some reason, many artist tend to think marketing is something 'dirty' that should be avoided at all costs... while it's so damned important for a freelancer to get out there.

Anyway; great advice :)
fantasio Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for your comment. I had the same observation and thatīs the reason I started my blog about that matter. 
Liketheisland Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Really insightful and informative. Thanks for sharing!
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