Setting up as an online artist is surprisingly difficult. There is a lot of competition and there are a lot of ways to go about it. The main issue is finding your audience, or rather making sure they can find you. In this article I will be giving you some pointers to help get yourself out there and build up your audience as an online artist.
These days there are few resources as important for publicity as social media. And beyond sharing your work with the people you know, a dedicated account for your artwork / business can be a great way to spread the word about your work!
Social media algorithms are designed to keep people engaged. As such, they are designed to show people what they are likely to enjoy and something that is similar to what they’ve liked already. So, if you establish what style or genre your art is and ingrain it into that field of similar posts, it’ll begin to suggest your art to the people that like those kinds of posts already. To achieve this, use plenty of relevant hashtags and similar tags so your posts are tagged to as many possible relevant searches or similar interests as you can. If in doubt, search what you’d want people to search to find your piece and go by your chosen platform’s suggested searches to find the similar hashtags you should use on your post.
Social media wants to keep people engaged and you want to be seen so playing to these algorithms is important. Each social media platform will have their own quirks to play to so make sure to look closely at the trending and recommendations that you see as this will tell you how you need to format your posts for the best results.
It may take a while for the platform to begin to recommend you when you start out as you will have less likes and less views and a high like to view ratio posts is what the algorithm prefers to recommend as it is more likely to be enjoyed by new viewers and keep them engaged.
You should also decide the best times to post to make sure your post gets as much traffic as possible. There are certain times that people are more likely to be on social media. For example: before 9 am as people get up, lunchbreaks mid-day, or around 5pm as people are finishing work and commuting home. Note: be aware of time zone differences so consider your audience in this. You want to be one of the most recent posts on their timeline, so people are more likely to see your post as they scroll. I’ve linked an article that takes a much more in-depth look into posting times on Lifewire.com that may be helpful.
Finally, the consistency of your posts will also work in your favour. Posting daily will not only maximise your chances of being seen by new people every day, but the platform will push your posts as daily posts keep people coming back. This is why animation is more difficult to succeed with thanks to the time animating takes making it more difficult to play to algorithms that favour more frequent content. Another good tip for maintaining a consistent schedule is to keep a backlog of work so if something stops you working for a short time, you still have posts lined up for each day.
Building an audience
Aside from playing to the algorithm, community interaction; both on and offline, will allow you to get your art seen by more people. Get your name out there, from friends to the local community, let people know what you do. Book a place at any relevant live events or art markets and sell your products. You could also post business cards or put them in local shops. Give them your social media, the more visits and likes you get early on the faster you’ll grow. Also, collaborating and interacting with other artists will get the attention of their audience and you may pick up a few new fans and customers from them.
Selling your art
When you’ve begun to put your artwork out there and you’ve decided to begin trying to sell your art via an online store, make sure you’ve put a “call to action” in the description of your posts. What do you want the viewer to do next? Where can they go to get your art? Do you do commissions? Do you have a website of your own? Make the information accessible, utilise your bio and link all your webpages together.
When choosing what products to make and sell, if you don’t already know, look at what sells, and what you’d buy. Market research is always important when setting up. But most importantly, sell what you’re good at. Make a product you’re proud of and that you’re confident in.
Find a store space that’s right for you: Etsy is usually where people go for unique and home-made products and its name has brand power behind it. People are more likely to trust a website they’ve heard of. Again, don’t be afraid to look at what other artists have done. If you found their art and their store than you know it works.
Prioritise prompt postage and reliability on orders: don’t over promise and be realistic about how much you can make to sell. You don’t want to appear dishonest when you can’t fulfil an order. A bad review is far more impactful for an independent seller. People will understand low stock numbers and slower turn arounds from an independent seller so don’t try to out-deliver Amazon Prime all by yourself.
Finally, when setting prices don’t undercut yourself. Pay for the materials in the price and the labour / work time. Don’t go too high but make it worthwhile. If a product takes more time and effort, a fair price will reflect that.
Have a business plan
Create a business plan for both your posts and products. When to release a piece / issue, preparing posts in advance and scheduling posts for maximum effect. Stay on top of things. use your time well, doing things like market research, setting up a website to connect all your pages together, and most importantly to someone starting out, keep improving!
The product is the most important part. You’ve gotten far enough in your art to decide to start selling and that’s no small feat! Keep working on your art, getting better as you go! Don’t let setbacks demoralise you. It will be slow progress at first but have fun and create!
Find our social media pages over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! We’d love to be among the people you share your stuff with!
Thanks for reading and Good luck!
Oliver is a writer and journalist who loves fantasy fiction and table top gaming, with a bit of acting on the side!