Here are the type of articles I generally see that pass as "art marketing advice" these days:
- "Facebook for artists: 20 ways to get more fans"
- "How to use Pinterest to Promote your art"
- "Instagram for Artists - 5 Ways to Promote and Sell Art on Instagram"
- "Use pop-up forms to increase engagement with your art email newsletter list"
- "SEO for Artists: 7 Website Tips to Help you Rank Higher"
These articles . . . and thousands like them . . . all focus on quantity over quality. How to get more Facebook followers, how to get more traffic to your website. But few articles focus on the quality of these prospects.
This mentality is so ingrained in people that many confuse high growth in vanity metrics for true success. Conversely, it's easy for people to become dejected when they make this perceptual mistake and start to consider low growth in vanity metrics as a failure.
For example: while our cancellation rate is extremely low, we do survey the few artists who cancel their accounts with FASO Artist Websites. And we ask them why they cancel. A very common refrain is "I didn't get enough traffic to my website."
That common wording is very interesting. In all the surveys we've ever sent, nobody has ever defined what "enough" traffic is, but it's interesting that the vast majority of artists who cancel use the phrasing "traffic" rather than "customers" or "sales" or "fans."
The reality is that, even in the 21st century, selling art is a very personal one-on-one human endeavor. You're not a tech company, you're an artist. And to be successful you're going to have to get your hands "dirty" and get one-on-one with your prospects. No amount of Facebook likes, SEO traffic, Pinterest tricks, etc., is going to replace the personal and deep connections that you are going to have to make with real people. And you need to make those connections, because without them, you'll never develop any deeply committed, or true fans. And without true fans, you don't really have an art business. The great news is, that deeply connecting with people is interesting and fun.
Developing true fans requires doing things differently and doing different things. While most people are focusing on Facebook likes and SEO, you have a huge opportunity to do things differently. And, frankly, blow people's minds. Develop a relationship and personal connection with people. Fortunately, it's really pretty easy (although a lot of work): just go old school and be yourself. Everyone is so focused on doing things the new way, that nobody does things the old way.
Here are some ideas for shifting your perspective:
Instead of checking your website traffic numbers, do this: reach out personally to each person who signs up for your newsletter.
Instead of using an auto-responder, do this: call and write each person who purchases your artwork personally.
Instead of using an automated recommendation system, do this: take notes when you talk with people so you know what they like, then make personal recommendations.
Instead of considering how many likes you have as a sign of success, do this: use Facebook Messenger as a platform for personally connecting with, surprising, and delighting, your true fans.
Operating this way is a lot of work, but running a successful business is always a lot of work.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying you shouldn't ever do things to increase your following on social media, or to increase your website traffic. What I am saying is please, always realize that social media follower numbers and the website traffic are simply means to an end, not the end itself.
And that end goal is to acquire true fans who are deeply interested in you, connected with you, and ultimately, purchasers of your art.