By Carolyn Edlund
1. Create a signature body of work. What makes your art different? Do you have a unique style, with that “extra something”? When people see your art, do they recognize it as yours? You make an impact when your body of work stands alone and is memorable.
2. Make a plan. Carefully craft a vision for your art business, and set viable goals. Focus on just a few things, because going in too many directions will waste your time and drive you crazy. When you start a new project, think, “Does this advance me towards my goal? What results do I want from this? What contacts will I make – and how will I follow up with them?” When you pursue your business plan with focused intent, you will break out from the large group of artists who don’t have focus, and won’t get noticed.
3. Do some networking. Most galleries find artists through referral from artists, curators, and others. Attend openings and other art events. Join a guild or arts group, or start your own artist salon, but make friends and build relationships with people. As you help others whom you network with, they will help you also. And quite often it’s true that it’s who you know that matters.
4. Design a professional website. Use professional photography that shows your art to its best advantage, including in situ photos, and even videos. Make your website “About” page compelling to read, and your site easily navigable. Most artists don’t have exceptional websites, so when your website makes people say “Wow!” you immediately stand out and make an impression. Check out examples here, here and here.
5. Brand yourself. Some people hate this term, but it’s true that if you have a consistent look to your presentation – marketing materials, website, etc. and you have a consistent voice, it will make an impression on others.
6. Act professionally. This is a no-brainer, right? But it doesn’t always happen. Set yourself apart from your competition with a totally professional approach – which has a direct effect on how seriously you are taken. Respond promptly to your emails. Give excellent customer service at all times. Be prepared to give a presentation designed to impress – and you will.
7. Keep track of your progress. Install Google Analytics on your website. Note your follow ups to networking contacts. Measure progress you’ve made with your SMART goals. And keep your strategy flexible enough to incorporate new markets or opportunities as they arise, so you can take advantage of them.
8. Shine on social media. You can’t do it all. Choose one or two that work for you. If you like LinkedIn for instance, proactively make contacts there and start conversations. Join discussion groups, ask questions, and search for connections you can work with. As you build relationships there, approach others about collaborating, becoming strategic partners, or doing business together.
9. Become a leader. Quite often, artists who get noticed and respected have gotten there because they take the initiative. As you work with intent on your business, you can come up with creative ideas for innovative projects to spearhead or groups that you can inspire. The energy and the buzz created by leaders and innovators draws notice, followers, and business visibility.
10. Stay open to new ideas. Artists with vibrant businesses that stand out stay on top of new trends and techniques to share their work. They remain relevant to their customer base, open to feedback and ways to innovate even further. You probably know some of these artists, because their names show up in the press and their ideas get noticed.
Author Carolyn Edlund is the founder of Artsy Shark and a business consultant, helping artists and creative entrepreneurs market and sell their work more effectively. Find out more here.