Art Career Hot Streaks and How to Keep Them Hot

by Carolyn Edlund

Most artists would welcome the chance for their work to go viral or get massive publicity. What happens then? And how can artists make the most of the wave?


Art Career Hot Streaks and How to Keep them Hot. How artists can make the most of work that goes viral, and use instant success to build their businesses further. Read about it at


A craftsman who produced handmade kitchen utensils and tableware was surprised to learn that a celebrity chef praised one of his products as a “favorite item” on the Oprah Winfrey Show in front of millions of viewers, giving him massive publicity. The resulting torrent of orders from that publicity crashed his site and virtually turned his business upside down. Fortunately, he had a production studio and staff who could scramble. They worked many overtime hours to fill the sudden demand, and he was able to monetize most of this exposure.

Another artist found herself the darling of Instagram overnight. Without notice, the platform promoted her illustrations extensively. The result? Hundreds of thousands of followers and a high profile social media presence within weeks. Major brands moved in, hiring her to promote their lines, and she consequently earned a lot of money in a very short period of time. But she knew she was riding a wave that would eventually crash. She needed a strategy to continue to build her business that would make the most of her sudden celebrity.

A third artist found it hard to believe his good fortune when a viral post on Reddit resulted in six-figure sales of a gift item featuring his designs. Thousands of orders poured in from all over the world, requiring him to ramp up production quickly. He was able to produce and ship to customers in order to take advantage of the windfall. After the publicity died down, he needed a plan to take advantage of his success, and build on it to enter new markets.

Instant success can pose instant problems.

Unpredictably, and often fueled by viral posts on social media, an artist’s work can become a trending topic. As a result, publicity may soar, at least temporarily. It might sound like a good thing to experience this type of success, but it can be overwhelming. Stress levels can go off the chart.

Consequently, artists are often unprepared to ramp up and leverage massive publicity into sales and convert it into ongoing business. They may not have the ability to take advantage of the situation. Popularity comes and goes quickly in our fast-paced, fickle world. It takes a solid strategy to keep the momentum going while also staying sane.

What can you do if you hit a career hot streak? And how can you maintain momentum?

Convert followers to subscribers.

If a social media platform is the cause of your instant success, convert that following to your email list–immediately. Your mailing list is one of the greatest assets your small business has, and it’s one that you control, whereas you have no control over social media providers. Never, never build your whole business on a third party site that can shut you down for any reason. Facebook and Instagram have algorithms that cut back on how often you can reach fans, and they become more ineffective over time. Use your profile link on Instagram to lead to an email subscription form. Place a subscription form on your Facebook page, too. Give followers a reason to click links in your social media posts and visit your website, where you can capture their email addresses.

Start a marketing campaign through social media and email.

Consistent outreach is central to marketing, and regular email blasts to your list will keep you in front of them. If you made a lot of sales when your work went viral, many of those on your list may already be customers. Reach out regularly through email and social media campaigns to sell to them again. Others will be fans and prospects, but have not purchased. Through ongoing marketing, you will be able to convert many into customers over time.

Create products for your new audience.

As an entrepreneur, you can build out collections for your brand and niche that make sense as the “next purchase” by people who bought during your hot streak. Repeat customers are always easier to sell than new customers, so think in terms of series and collections that can be created for those who bought your viral product. If your work was an original, consider whether it would be appropriate to have reproductions made in the form of prints, and also look at other formats. Could that hot image also work on notecards, t-shirts, tote bags, cell phone cases and much more?

Become an influencer.

If you achieve immense popularity as a personality, what can you offer the people who follow your brand? Do they want to do what you do, and follow your every career move? Are your opinions and suggestions valuable to your followers? This is where artists and others can take advantage of becoming an influencer. Influencer marketing is huge, and endorsements can lead to big bucks. Check out this list of platforms to help you establish yourself as an influencer. They can help you connect with brands who may pay to leverage your fame and popularity to increase their own sales.

Seek more press.

A hot story that made big headlines can be sustained if you look for more coverage from newspapers, magazines, television and bloggers who want to learn more as a result of your success. There are multiple ways to tell your story. Why did you design the piece that went viral? How did your sudden fame happen? What effect did it have on your life? Have other opportunities opened up for you? What will you be doing next that people will want to know about? Since press begets press, that hot streak will let reporters and editors know you are newsworthy. Take advantage of it! As new press exposure drives more traffic to your art website, continue to capture emails of visitors, and build your list.

Make that viral success part of your brand.

Should the massive publicity you received be part of your presentation and pitch? Sure! Share about your viral success on your website, and on your social media profiles. People love success, and want to buy from successful people. If you received overnight fame for your artwork, embrace the fact that people love what you’re doing and make the most of it.

Leverage your network.

When things go viral and your art career heats up, you may hear from people who can have an important influence on your forward trajectory. Thus, you should keep track of the people you meet while your hot streak is still going. Likewise, stay in touch with reporters, art world insiders, important collectors, curators or others who have been in touch with you. As you build and reach out to your business network on a regular basis, seek (or offer) opportunities and ways to collaborate. After all, it’s often who you know that matters most. The right contacts can provide new opportunities for another hot streak, or ways to build on your current success.


Have you ever had an art career hot streak? How were you able to take advantage of it?


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