After spending almost fifteen years in corporate marketing, I decided to start my own creative services business – offering content creation, copywriting, and campaign management and execution to small business owners in the DC metro area. I’ve recently had the honor of working with a number of clients in the arts – to include galleries, writers, illustrators, and designers, and have learned a lot about how marketing is different for creatives in this space than many other industries. Art is a hard sell because it’s so subjective. But it doesn’t have to be, as long as you know which tools are needed in today’s digital world to connect with your buyers.
Social media is without a doubt essential an essential tool in marketing – especially when it comes to selling artwork, and during these times of quarantine. That said, it seems like there is a new app or functionality that you must keep up with in order to stay ahead. Trying to figure out which platforms you should be utilizing as an artist and how to best optimize your content for each channel can be a challenge.
The good news is, there are really only a handful of key social media platforms you need to maintain in order to engage with prospective clients, art buyers, and students, because they are such a targeted niche group. In this post, I’ll cover some artists local to the DC metro area that have really upped their social media game, especially during this time of quarantine to connect. Here are the platforms some favorite DC-based artists are using today.
This is really a no-brainer. If you don’t have a Facebook page, you should stop reading this post right now and create one for it. For solopreneurs, it can take some time building a strong Facebook presence; but with over 2 billion active users on the platform, having a page setup for your business here is a must.
Jill Perla, an artist based out of Loudoun County who's received multiple accolades for her work, is a great example of someone who uses the platform in innovative ways to reach her clientele. Jill uses Facebook to announce new courses she's teaching, events she's leading, new works for sale, and something you can't keep your eyes off of - videos of her artistic process.
The opportunities are really endless with Facebook; you just need to be creative with it to stand out from the crowd. There are many other ways to engage customers and prospects through Facebook, either organically through contests and polls, or through email marketing campaigns, asking your customers to follow and like your page or write reviews for your business.
LinkedIn is the hidden gem of social media platforms. And while it's doesn't top the list you see above with billions of active users, it's still incredibly powerful especially if you're trying to reach commercial clients. LinkedIn originally began as an online networking platform for professionals to connect with colleagues and those in the same fields, then expanded as a place for companies to have their own pages, post jobs, and recruit employees.
Today, it has become a powerful platform for marketing. LinkedIn offers the capability to publish articles, post content to various groups, and conduct targeted advertising, helping artists and creative entrepreneurs build brand awareness and generate leads.
Anne Stine, an encaustic artist based out of Purcellville, whose work has been included in many publications including Elan, Middleburg Life, and Leesburg Lifestyle, is another local artist who uses a variety of social media outlets to engage with her clients, students, and buyers. Anne uses LinkedIn in an engaging way to share upcoming events, newsletters, and perhaps the most interesting news - her upcoming virtual exhibits which you can experience through her YouTube channel.
LinkedIn differs from these other platforms because content can be incredibly targeted towards professionals, which is especially beneficial when trying to reach commercial markets.
During quarantine, many artists have turned to YouTube as a way to not only exhibit their work but teach courses as well. Now, more than every before, YouTube has been an incredibly powerful tool for artists. As mentioned above, Anne Stine has used YouTube extensively for her virtual exhibits.
Jill Perla also uses YouTube to share content like speaking engagements, courses, and process videos. English-born oil painter Anthony Barham, a Loudoun County resident, posts amazing timelapse videos of his oil paintings here and then cross promotes them on his Facebook page. Like the other platforms, a little creativity goes a long way. Cross promoting content where you can is key to reaching your audience.
Instagram is the most a powerful visual platform available today. Creatives have built their careers off of Instagram, as they showcase their most beautiful work, teach courses, and offer tips to other creatives interested in learning new skills. It's a highly engaging way to connect with customers to get an idea of what they are interested in. You can do so by analyzing how many likes or comments one product may have versus another. You can also conduct polls on Instagram, and reach broader audiences using the right hashtags.
Internationally renowned plein-air artist Christine Lashley, based out of Reston, Virginia uses Instagram to showcase her artwork which she exhibits across the country and in plein-air competitions, to name a few. Christine is a popular artist with almost 15k followers so doesn't have to do much in the way of building followers, but consistently uses the proper hashtags and handles in her posts, which is another best practice for creative professionals to follow.
Instagram give you a place for a bio, including an area where you may link to your website and even email directly through the platform. Instagram is constantly coming out with new functionalities, like the "reels" function which was released this year, as another way to reach people through video. It'll be exciting to see what's in store for the future of Instagram, especially as we continue to view artwork from the comfort of our homes.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, social media can be overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. Pick three or four platforms that you believe are best for yourself as an artist and optimize them accordingly.