5 Ways to Grow Your Art Business

by guest blogger Gabe Nelson

Working as an artist and growing a successful business at the same time can feel overwhelming. Use these tips to stay focused, consistent and motivated.


Artist with a palette of paint


Being an independent artist comes with a lot of challenges. You aren’t always able to predict when something will sell and that can leave you frustrated when it comes time to pay the bills. That doesn’t mean your choice to be a professional artist was a mistake. I’s just an indication you need to step up your marketing game.

There are a lot of new tools available to artists now which we didn’t have decades ago. This means there is always a new way to market yourself and make your business grow. It’s just not always easy to know how to use these tools, and which options are best for you. It’s okay if you find this overwhelming at first. There are many resources to support you as a business person as well as an artist.

You can use everything from social media to a blog detailing your life as an artist. People are always more interested in the fine arts and how they’re created than you might think. Not sure what will help you grow your art business? These five tips will help you get started in the right direction:

1. Use Social Media Judiciously

It’s a huge mistake at this point to skip using social media altogether. People expect to be able to find your art online and learn more about you as they seek you out on those platforms. That’s not a bad thing, but you want to be judicious about what you’re doing on social media. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cater to every single platform out there.

If you aren’t careful about the social media you use, you’ll wind up with a full-time social media job and you won’t be able to get back to what you love, which is creating art. So, be picky about the social media platforms you’re going to use. Instagram is a great option for artists that combines user engagement with the ability to focus only on posting pictures or short videos.

Make sure the platforms you choose to use work for you personally. If you don’t understand how Pinterest works, skip that one. If you think your target audience is on Facebook more than Twitter, go for Facebook and take a pass on Twitter. The idea is to make sure you’re using social media, but not letting it become your only focus.


Artist working on a drawing


2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Live

Have you ever wondered how a famous artist in history made his work? It wasn’t possible to see how it was done then, but you have the chance to show your fans how you get things done now. Many platforms offer the chance to go live and show your audience how you’re working. If you’ve been hyping a painting for a long time, let them see you work for a while.

During your live show, you can answer questions the audience might have for you. They may want to know how you picked your colors, why you decided on that design, or even just something random about you as a person. Give them the chance to interact and see you create something amazing. It’s a connection they won’t forget, and it can translate to sales easily.

The only caveat with this particular strategy is that you’re going to want to advertise that you’ll be live, and where, before it happens. You can’t expect to just turn the camera on and get going. People need to know it’s happening and how to find it or you’ll be broadcasting to a camera and no one else. Set the date, spread the word, and get your audience talking about your upcoming live art presentation.

3. Know Your Brand and Present It Well

Curators for galleries are smart. They know artists are moving to social media and posting their works online for all to see. That means you can’t be posting your weakest paintings or works on Instagram. Your feeds need to be full of your best work at all times. It also needs to be consistent with your “brand” as an artist.

Don’t throw in a painting that doesn’t match your aesthetic without an explanation and expect curators or even your fans to get it. Stick with your branding when it comes to what you post on social media (especially Instagram) because it makes a difference. Curators what to know what they’re getting when they offer you gallery space.

If your art is a mess of styles and “art fails” they’re going to pass you by for an Instagram feed with cohesive art that makes sense for their gallery. Make it a priority to present your brand at it’s very best.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect. Just be cognizant of sharing your best work consistently on social sites as you work on growing your art business. Your social profile should be a collection of work you are proud to present that looks and feels professional.


Artist holding watercolor paint set


4. Be Flexible

What works for marketing your art and growing your business today might not work tomorrow. The advantage you have is that you’re an individual artist, not a gallery. If something changes, you can adjust easily and make your new plan work for your art. Your ability to change things up without risking losing everything is an asset in a world that changes quickly.

With this in mind, it’s important to keep an eye on trends and see where other artists are having the most success in selling their artwork. Is it online? Which websites? Are they creating their own pages, or using a site like Etsy? These are all questions you can ask yourself when you start to see a dip in sales. A small adjustment could mean you’re back to where you should be.

5. Be Persistent

Just because one method isn’t working for you right away doesn’t mean it won’t ever work at all. When you show up on a new platform, it takes time to get going. There’s always someone who’s been there longer than you and they will have a bigger following. As hard as it is, remember that this is not a personal thing.

The more persistent you are and the harder you work at getting your art out there, the more it will pay off. You won’t always be the newest artist on Instagram. You won’t always be the newest channel offering DIY classes on YouTube. It takes time to get established. Don’t give up just because you aren’t gaining thousands of followers in one day. It will happen. Be patient.



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  1. Thank you for some great info!

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