Today’s question is on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn: are any of these worth joining for selling art?
I’ve been collecting questions from my Facebook group and email list and this is one several folks had.
And the short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just posting a painting and naming a price.
In this episode I’m covering
- why you should start using social media to promote your art,
- how to decide which social media platform to use, and
- the single most important thing you can do to make it work.
Got a question??
In the episode:
1:39 – How to decide which social media platform to use
2:37 – Pick the platform where you’re comfortable and your perfect clients hang out
3:41 – What social media can do for you
4:36 – The first stage, brand awareness because we are personal brands
5:17 – The second stage, relationship building and engagement
6:46 – The last stage, conversion
8:28 – The HOW
10:35 – Questions
Helping artists build their art business is a passion of mine. That’s why I’ve got plenty of helpful resources…
Wondering if you’re ready to take the plunge and start selling your work? I’ve got an episode on 3 Reasons You Should Start Selling Your Paintings that will help you decide if you’re ready. (Hint: you are! 😉)
Ready to start selling? I’ve got a guide on Selling Your Art: Where to Start that’ll get you moving!
I’ve been collecting questions in my free Facebook group, ART+WORK+LIVING, and from my email list recently and one question I’ve gotten is:
What about social media? Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn: are any of these worth joining for selling art? And the short answer is yes, but not in the way you may be thinking about it.
So, what do you do with these social media hubs? Can you use them to sell art? Yes, all of those can be effective, but not necessarily in the way most people think. Most people think about social media as having the potential to make direct art sales, but that’s not it’s most valuable use and that’s not the best approach to make. While you’re going to make some direct sales on social media, you’ll actually do much better if you think about it as a place where you grow your audience. You want to move people from not knowing who you are at all to having more familiarity with you.
Now which one do you choose? Well there’s two different parts to that answer.
Number one thing to think about is which one are the most comfortable with? Which one are you going to actually pick up your phone and use? Because if everybody you hear about is making sales on instagram and you hate instagram, that’s not going to work. So which of the social media platforms is one that you feel comfortable on and that you’ll actually use and interact with on a consistent basis. The second thing to consider is equally important. You need to know the one that your niche hangs out on. You need to pick the platform that’s the intersection of those two things. So, you need to be comfortable with the platform and it needs to be the same platform your perfect people hang out on. If your perfect people aren’t on the platform then it doesn’t make any sense to be on it, no matter how much you love being on that platform.
For example, I don’t think TikTok is going to be the place where most of our art collectors are going to be hanging out. I could be wrong, in fact someone go out there and prove me wrong, but I don’t think it’s there yet. You may love TikTok, but it’s probably not where you’re going to be growing your perfect collectors. So think about the intersection of those two things, which one do you enjoy, love, and actually participate in and where do your perfect people hang out.
No matter what platform you choose, do not use your personal profile. Whichever platform you’re on, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube, you want to have a business account because you get other tools that you don’t have with a personal account. All of those platforms have business accounts available and they’re free, you don’t have to pay for them. You have to pay for advertising, but you don’t have to pay for the account. You can actually start it up and accomplish an awful lot with organic traffic that you don’t pay for. But the key is to get started. So, pick out the platform you enjoy, start that business account, and get it up and running. The best time to have done it was 10 years ago, but the second best time to do it is today.
Some platforms can be linked together, so you can kind of kill two birds with one stone. However, it’s not the best long-term way to do it, but you can absolutely connect them together, it works beautifully. I don’t recommend my students do that when they’re first starting out, just so they don’t get too overwhelmed with trying to manage more than one platform at a time. Really focus on one and really get it up and running rather than trying to be everywhere. You cannot be all over the place everywhere at once and do it well. So, pick one platform, the one you enjoy the most, and do it well.
Once you’ve figured out which platform you want to use, I want you to think about what social media can do for you and why you actually should be using social media.
And yes, I do think you should be using social media. It’s a huge component of what I teach my students to do, how I teach them to move from having no sales, no hub online, and no real web platform to having an engaged audience and launching their own small collections of art. You have to think about what social media is going to do for you.
There are three stages of moving from the stage in which no one has a clue who you are to the stage where your audience feels comfortable purchasing art from you online or anywhere else for that matter.
The first stage is called brand awareness.
Newsflash artists, we are personal brands just like musicitions, so your name matters. People need to become familiar with you, not just your art, but you because they buy not just because of your work, but because of a relationship with the person who made the work. Social media is one of the best ways to move people from not having a clue who you are to becoming aware that you’re an artist and this is the kind of stuff you make.
The second stage is relationship building and engagement.
This is something that all human beings crave. If you don’t build relationships, I guarantee you will not make any sales. You can make the most spectacular artwork that there is available, but if you don’t build relationships, whether it’s with collectors directly or with gallerists, you’re not going to make a living at this or even cover your supplies. You’ve got to get good at relationship building. This doesn’t mean you need to go and meet every one of these people for coffee, but if you begin to think about social media as a coffee shop, as a place to meet and become familiar with people, it becomes a lot easier. Engagement is super crucial. Your audience goes from not having a clue who you are to becoming familiar with who you are and what you do, then beginning to actually build that relationship, but they’re still not ready to buy yet.
The last stage is called conversion.
Conversion is when your audience will make a decision. That conversion can be small or large. An example of a small conversion would be when they join your email list, which is something everyone needs to be building. An email list is a crucial part of being able to warm up your audience and build relationships. That small conversion could be inviting them to join your email list. The larger conversion isn’t going to happen until multiple smaller conversions have happened. It won’t happen until people have gotten comfortable with saying yes to the things that you’re asking them to do, yes to hanging out on a facebook live where you talk about your work and answer questions, yes to joining your email list, yes to sharing it with friends. All of those tiny conversions along the way lead up to the point where your audience feels comfortable enough to purchase your artwork. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever get the one off person who has never heard of you but immediately buys a painting on instagram directly, it can happen, but don’t wait around for this. It’s the exception rather than the rule.
Now, the last part I want to talk about is the how.
Actually, it’s the simplest part. The how has to do with consistency and the importance of consistency. The biggest problem I see most people have on social media is they’re terribly inconsistent. They don’t show up very often, maybe they post once a week or they forget to post for three weeks, then they come back and post for two days, then disappear again for another two weeks. That’s not going to work.
I got some great advice from a mentor once. I took a marketing and sales course from Seth Godin about six years ago, and I had a chance to ask him questions directly. I asked what would be one of the most effective ways to market and sell my artwork online, and he had a really simple answer. He said, “show up for your audience in some way everyday.” You know I tell people to paint everyday. Well, you need to show up for your audience in some way everyday too.
That doesn’t mean you’re sending them an email everyday, but it does mean that you need to do something to touch your audience’s lives in some way everyday. Because it works. You’ve got to show up. It doesn’t have to be that you’re making a long video or writing a long essay for your blog or having a complicated post on social media. It can be super simple. If you follow Seth, you know that his emails are short. They’re maybe 150 words, they’re really more like tweents, but he sends them everyday or you can follow him on his blog everyday. Because he has shown up everyday for years and years, his following is huge and tremendous. That could be you too, but you’ve got to be consistent.