89 Cheap Ways to Promote Your Art Business

Discover easy cheap ways to promote your art business here.

Here are some useful suggestions for you to promote your art career. You will find links to other Art Print Issues posts in the list. I mention this to emphasize the amount of free art marketing and art business information and ideas you can find here. If you appreciate the content, the best compliment you can give me is to forward the link to this page to other artists, or share it on social media. Let us know in the comments what unique things you do to promote your art business.

89 Cheap Ways to Promote Your Art Business

      1. Press Releases – understand the many ways your business is press release worthy and frequently submit.
      2. Blogging – use blogging to allow your collectors, fans and friends get to know you and your work to give a personal voice to your brand. Share your knowledge, not just tidbits about you and your art.
      3. SEO – make sure your website pages and blog posts have proper headings, titles, descriptions and relevant keywords.
      4. Email list – use every method available to build a responsive email list. Send to it frequently to keep it fresh and your readers’ interest high.
      5. Email contests – spike reader participation with contests for recipes, ideas for travel, or travel photos. Get them involved showing your work in a creative way.
      6. Free downloads – offer small size high-resolution downloads and encourage them to be printed. Offer to sign the prints when sent with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
      7. Include a catalog – include portfolio or flyer with every purchase.
      8. Portfolio – create a MagCloud.com online and printable portfolio. Use it as a gift when networking, as well as in other promotional ways.
      9. Teach – create a class for a local university or community college. Setup a workshop to teach painting or other art marking techniques. People interested in learning to make art are great prospects to buy your art, or introduce you to important people.
      10. Surveys – create online surveys to name your artwork, or learn more about your followers’ interests.
      11. Influential people – find ways to write flattering content about influential people on your blog.
      12. Unconventional Direct Mail – send a small paintbrush or color swatch in an envelope. Invite recipient to come to your studio or website and use it in some way to claim a prize such as free shipping.
      13. Donate – offer your work for the appropriate charity. Use the donation as a wedge to get involved in other ways that can help you network.
      14. Art car – turn your vehicle into an art car. Paint it yourself.
      15. Vehicle wrap – create a design to graphic wrap your car with your art. This may not exactly be cheap, but it could be fun, dramatic and a cause for publicity and awareness.
      16. Gift certificates -  offer your customers the opportunity to purchase gift cards from you. Give them a discount. For instance, offer a $100 gift card for $85.
      17. Call – schedule a time to call all your customers and prospects once a quarter.
      18. Online galleries – create an online shop wherever possible. Get as much exposure on as many sites as possible. Use a few for heavy promotion, the rest for minimal presence.
      19. Submit – submit your site to all global, regional and local search engines.
      20. List your site – get your site listed in all the local and social sharing sites such as Yelp, YP, Judy’s Book, and more.
      21. Facebook – create a Facebook business page.
      22. Shortstack – use the many great, free ideas for Facebook promotion from Shortstack.
      23. Guest posts – seek chances to write guest posts on well-regarded and high-trafficked sites in the arts and entertainment niches.
      24. Pitch bloggers – Research to find bloggers to review your work, your new collection, your studio opening, or other related products.
      25. Vlog – create an ongoing video blog to share and illustrate your ideas, your work and experiences.
      26. Social Sharing Buttons – add social sharing icons site-wide (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to make sharing your content easy.
      27. Pinterest – you are in a visual business. Pinterest is a perfect visual platform with a massive female demographic. Use it to create broad exposure with high-quality images of your art.
      28. Cover top blogs – write a post about the best blogs and bloggers in the art business. Feature some of the top posts. This can open doors, builds relationships, and create social engagement where many you cover will in turn promote your article, and perhaps cover you, or offer a guest post opportunity.
      29. Solicit guest posts from other artists, industry bloggers, local media and local or national celebrities. Doing this will help you make friends and publish free user-generated content that will get reposted and noticed on social media elsewhere.
      30. Donate – Give to a local or national charity, (It doesn’t have to be artwork), and gain donor’s page exposure with the possibility for backlink to your site.
      31. Cross-promote – find jewelers, crafters, picture framers, galleries and other simpatico partners to cross-promote. You scratch their back and expect they will do likewise.
      32. Logo – hire a graphic designer with logo experience to create your logo. Invest in the best because it should last you a long time, maybe even a lifetime. Use your logo on everything you create and produce.
      33. Business cards – although they are so 20th Century, they offer promotional value. Make yours standout with great design and add a call to action.
      34. Print material – make sure every postcard, brochure and every printed piece that carries you name is branded with your logo, color scheme, compelling images, and a reason to contact you now.
      35. Sponsor – get behind events with demographics that mirror your customers. Leverage your contribution to take advantage of every promotional offer provided to its supporters, including events, website, blog, email, and so forth.
      36. Endorse – make an unsolicited testimonial or endorsement for another artist, blogger, author, vendor or colleague on their website or blog.
      37. Authority – use your in-depth knowledge about a topic to become known as an authority on it. Are you steeped in local history? Do you know everything about Renaissance artists? Have you visited and written about all the arts scenes in your local and regional area? Do you have a natural way of connecting food and art? If you are an expert, or are willing to study to become one, then you can parlay that knowledge in many ways as the go-to authority surrounding it.
      38. Public speaking – get a 30-to-90 minute talk with slides on a topic sure to be of interest to your demographic.
      39. Slideshare - turn your public speaking slides into a SlideShare presentation.
      40. YouTube – have someone videotape your public speaking presentations and put them on a YouTube channel you create.
      41. Google Hangouts on Air – start a regular hangout on a topic of interest to you. Invite other artists and notables to join you.
      42. Video demos – film yourself at work and provide a dialog on how you do things as an artists. For example, talk about the importance of underpainting, or building an artwork in the proper sequence. People may never want to do it, but they like being entertained by watching how others create things. Don’t limit yourself to YouTube. Upload your videos to Vimeo, Daily Motion and the other video streaming sites.
      43. Art happening – create one day or weekend events where you invite a bunch of local artists to congregate and create work. It could be a plen air picnic, or something setup with pop-up tents, or in a temporary space in a building, business lobby, or at a local mall.
      44. Art car – paint your car with your art and have it clear coated.
      45. Vehicle wrap – create a graphic design based on your art and use it to vehicle wrap your car. This may not exactly qualify as cheap, but it could be fun and dramatic.
      46. Contribute – many local publications, and some online sites such as Huffington Post  accept or consider well written contributed articles, especially those with general or specific interest to its readers.
      47. Referral program – start a formal referral program. Offer a percentage of the sale, credit towards new art, a giclée print, free framing, or whatever you find works best to have your family, friends and colleagues refer new business to you. Post your offer to make it public so everyone understands how your program works.
      48. Thank you notes – create note cards with your art on them. Use them to send handwritten notes for new purchases, referrals, or just to say hello and thanks for past business.
      49. Open studio events – if your space accommodates it, have regular events there. Make it available for other small meetings such as book clubs, masterminds, planning committees, and other creative use of your space.
      50. 30-second speech – work on and refine your 30-second elevator speech. Practice until you sound natural and confident. Don’t rush what you are saying. Make eye contact while you are talking. Use a friendly, firm handshake. Smile while you are talking.
      51. Network – strategically seek events and targeted people you want to meet. Learn where your best demographics meets and become part of that scene. Attend social events, art openings, gallery openings and other arts scene events. Be ready to present yourself, (30-second speech), know what to ask about to get others talking, have a purpose for being there.
      52. Online presence – create online shops wherever possible. Some may not hold great value or need much of your time. Still use them to create online awareness for you and links to your website or blog. Focus on those that have top SEO results and quality in their products, such as FineArtAmerica.com.
      53. Virtual assistant – hire a VA to keep up your less often used online sites. The proper ones can do other marketing, sales, promotional writing and even make phone calls for you.
      54. Volunteer – get involved with an arts organization so you get to know influential people who are also involved.
      55. Recruit – provide printed promotional marketing materials to your family and friends for them to distribute.
      56. Sendout cards – join Sendout cards. Make your art available for other members to use on their cards and postcards.
      57. Local arts scene – be more than a hanger-on. Get involved. Promote your local arts scene. Not just visual arts, expand to dance, theater, music and beyond.
      58. Marketing calendar – create an annual to five-year marketing calendar.
      59. Leave behind materials – check events in your area. When there are conferences, meetings and shows that relate to your business, leave your brochures or postcards in strategic spots like visitor registration, hotel lobbies and so forth.
      60. Grand re-opening – conjure a reason for a grand re-opening and promote the daylights out of it.
      61. Comment – find the blogs your fans regularly read  and leave intelligent comments that add to the discussion on them.
      62. Docent– become a docent at a local museum. This gives you opportunities to meet people on the staff at the museum, and you never know who will be in your tour group.
      63. Research social media – there is much useful information and insight from learning what groups your collectors belong to on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media. Use the information to decide which groups to join, participate, volunteer, market to and interact with.
      64. Be-back offer – not everyone buys the first time they see your work. Create a printed offer with all your contact information and reason for them to come back. Give a discount on their first purchase, such as a free mini print with the original, free local hanging or tax-free first order. Test to find the best offer to pull the potential buyer back to your site, shop or studio.
      65. Fund-raiser – if you see a need to raise money, you don’t have to wait for a local charity to get involved. Be pro-active and start a fund-raiser.
      66. Local contests – enter into local contests for artists, such as for airport installations. Even if you don’t win, you will be on the radar of those involved in the visual arts community in your area.
      67. Link – be both generous and judicious in providing links from your site.
      68. Email signature – create an email signature for all your emails. Links are better than images, which oftentimes are stripped from the email. Include a subtle call to action.
      69. Befriend – follow local journalists and media who can help you. Support the charities and other organizations that they also support. Send them juicy story ideas, use your blog and other means to promote their articles and publications.
      70. qrcode (1)QR Codes -  create a QR code to put on all your printed materials. Link it to a landing page with a unique offer and a link to subscribe to your mailing list.
      71. Packaging – design stickers or screen prints to use on all your packaging. Include your logo, your website address, your QR code on anything that goes out from your business.
      72. e-book – write an e-book on a topic of interest to you. It could be about your life experience, your world views, what is like to be an artist, how to create art using simple shapes.
      73. Promote e-book – use your e-book as an incentive to join your mail list, or send it to all your current subscribers. Encourage others to share it freely. Make sure you provide links throughout the book to your website and to your email sign up landing page
      74. Book reviews – write Amazon.com reviews about books you know your demographic audience will like. Provide book reviews for local media, or specialized blogs of interest to buyers you want to target.
      75. Giveaway – give small bundles of notecards, postcards or mini prints as lead magnets for email subscriptions, thank you for referrals, or door openers with strategic networking prospects.
      76. Creatively borrow – tap into the power of the internet to discover the promotional tools and techniques other marketers use and adapt them to your business.
      77. Google alerts – use Google alerts to monitor your prospects, collectors,  media contacts and others you want to stay in touch with.
      78.  About.me – create an About.me profile to create more digital content about yourself and backlinks to your blog and website.
      79. Promote packaging – create videos or a series of images to display on your e-commerce site to show your white glove packing and shipping techniques.
      80. Piggyback – create an insert to go into direct mail from non-competitors.
      81. Streamline – make your online ordering easy, understandable and quick.
      82. Installation services – offer free local art installation services for your buyers.
      83. Color consultations – offer your buyers and fans color coordination consultations for interior decor or clothing.
      84. Contact database – start a contact management system with Insight.ly.
      85. Voice mail – put a promotional announcement on your voice mail.
      86. Feedback – ask non-buyers for feedback. They decided not to buy today. Take the opportunity to ask why they did not buy. This feedback can ultimately be more valuable than knowing why others do buy from you.
      87. Buyers feedback – ask customers what they like about your art, what kind art they would like to see you make, or if they have ideas on ways to promote your art.
      88. LinkedIn – join appropriate LinkedIn groups and become an active participant.
      89. Be generous – share this post with your artist friends. Encourage them to sign up for to get their own weekly art marketing news at: http://x.co/Barney

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Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Nine Small Business Tools for Artist Entrepreneurs

What small business tools do you use an entrepreneur?

small business toolsAs an artist seeking to make a living, or at least generate income from selling your art and related products, you are a small business owner, and entrepreneur. This means you take on the tasks of organizing and managing your operation, and assume the risks inherent in running it. Effective use of small business tools is essential to your art career success.

You Are the Boss of You

Besides being the chief creative officer, you also are the chief marketing officer, the chief financial officer and more. It takes wearing many hats to run a successful small business. Fortunately, technological advancements allow semi-automation for many of the tasks you need to perform. We are not at the point where robots and artificial intelligence can fully manage your business operations, but we are probably closer than you think.

Just like you, I am an entrepreneur running a small business. My creative product is information presented in the form of books, e-books, blog posts, webinars, and workshops. I also provide consulting, but due to limited available time, I have never intently focused or marketed on that part of my business.

Here are nine of the small business tools I use daily.

Gmail logo1. Google Apps for email – my primary email address is barney@barneydavey.com, which is powered by Gmail. For the most part, it works flawlessly integrating with Google Drive, Google Hangout and other Google related programs. Oddly, one of the things that do not work as well as possible is the search. The point of archiving the email you wish to keep is that the search function will help you find it, quickly. Sometimes finding an email through the Gmail search is very frustrating. I label everything that is truly important.

As an alternative, I have seriously considered using Zoho Email, which is free and powerful. Microsoft Office 365, is another strong choice, which, while not free, comes with the option to have the entire MS Productivity Suite available in the cloud. That option may cause me to move to Office 365 at some future point. Google offers lightweight productivity programs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, but for me, the word processing, in particular, is not equal to using Word. I doubt it ever will.

Here is the last, but not least, word on email. If you have a domain for your website, then you should have an email address to associate with it. One way to scream amateur is to have gmail, yahoo, or aol as part of your email address. Even worse are the ones from your Internet Service Provider such as cox.net, comcast.net, sbcglobal.net, tampabay.rr.com, and so forth. You are seeking to present yourself as a professional businessperson. Your email address speaks volumes either positively or negatively. I agree, switching email addresses can be painful and somewhat laborious, but it is easily worth the effort in the long-range scheme of things.

google calendary2. Google Calendar – a calendar is necessary to run your business. You have to keep track of your appointments and activities. You can use your calendar as a stepped down project manager tool. I use Google Calendar because it works seamlessly with my email and my phone. If you need a project manager and customer manager (CRM) tool because you have a large database of buyers and prospects, and you have multiple projects with many moving parts running simultaneously, then look at Insight.ly, a free extension that works with Google Chrome.

ToDoIst to do list tool3. ToDoIst – the basic premise of David Allen’s bestselling Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity book is to get things off your mind. If you don’t need to worry about when something needs to be done because you are confident you will be reminded to do them at the appropriate time, then with less clutter and worry you become more efficient. I use ToDoist.com to keep track of things I need to do. I also use it for project management.

My co-author, Dick Harrison, and I are near the finish line on a new book, How to Sell Art to Interior Designers. As such, I am transitioning from the writing stage to the promotion stage in the sequence of getting the book written, published and marketed. This means picking up new tasks to do everything possible to get the word out about the book. With new tasks and challenges, I find getting everything committed to ToDoIst for my book project is the best way to keep things moving and on track. I just could not be as effective without this wonderful tool.

WordPress logo4. WordPress – if you have a website, I also hope you are blogging because it is the single best way to develop an email list and pull your collectors, fans, friends and followers closer to you. You can use a blog to show your business and your personality, and snippets of your life to your readers. They don’t care what you had for dinner, but they are interested if you attended a recent gallery opening, took a museum tour, or like listening to Beethoven or Muddy Waters while you work at making your art.

Besides being a blogging platform, WordPress has evolved into a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to create a website using it. It is estimated that nearly 20% of all new websites published in the U.S. are produced using WordPress. Because of its huge and growing user base, the platform attracts throngs of developers adding new themes and plugins to enhance its use. As such, small business owners and artists have a wealth of options when it comes to creating a unique website and blog with a plethora of available advanced features.

I use WordPress for both ArtPrintIssues.com and BarneyDavey.com. The former is purely for blogging; the latter is an informational-based website with a fully enabled e-commerce solution. I will let you in on a secret. If I could go back to 2005, when I started both of these sites, there would only be one site with a blog attached. With a do over, I would have kept BarneyDavey.com, but the blog would go by blog.BarneyDavey.com.

Back in the day, I only had one book, which was about the print market. So I focused on that in the URL and title of the blog. As years have progressed, I have found I have much more to offer than just advice on the art print market, and have found the name to have somewhat pigeonholed me. Not to the extent that I am willing to go through loss of Google rankings and other bother to rebrand the blog, but that remains a distinct possibility for a future project.

For the past ten years, I have built my small business while working at a variety of full-time jobs. The need for affordable, quality health care has kept me from jumping to full-time status. That is due to change this fall, and I could not be more excited to have more time to consider such things as overhauling and folding ArtPrintIssues.com into BarneyDavey.com

I cannot conceive of how taking on such a challenge would be possible if I were not using WordPress. In 2005, WordPress was only two years old. I chose then to use Typepad to publish ArtPrintIssues.com as a blog, and built BarneyDavey.com on an html template. The Typepad decision turned out to be a bad one because it does not allow its users an easy way to transport a large blog like mine easily. Getting posts and their associated images with them moved was a time-consuming nightmare. This helps further illustrate why having a WordPress site and/or blog is useful – you can move it to another host flawlessly and painlessly within a very short time.

StudioPress5. StudioPress.com - I use the Focus theme from StudioPress.com for both sites. StudioPress is part of the Copyblogger Media family. It is one of the best premium theme providers in the business. Many of its 42 themes are mobile responsive, including the Focus theme. This means the theme will respond to smaller screens without having to have special software or a different URL, such ArtPrintIssues.mobi, or m.ArtPrintIssues.com.

The growing use of smartphones and tablets for reading blogs, and surfing websites means you must make it easy for visitors to navigate your site. If your site is not responsive, or mobilized, then you are losing valuable traffic. It is too hard to work on driving traffic to your site to lose it because it is not convenient to read your information, or move around on it.

If you are using WordPress, then using a premium (paid) theme is important. Free theme developers have no incentive to keep pace with the ongoing upgrade to WordPress. They usually provide spottier, less effective support for their themes. When it comes to plugins, fewer is better. Each plugin you activate takes resources to run and slows your site down. Only use plugins that have been downloaded many times and have lots of 4 and 5 star ratings. Otherwise, you risk your site being hacked, or crashing due to poor scripting from inexperienced developers.

wp e-store plugin6. WP e-store – These days there is no reason you should not sell your art directly. Whether in-person, at a show or from your blog or website. You should have systems in place to make selling your work on the spot happen quickly and effortlessly. I use the WP e-store plugin to sell my books, e-books, downloads, webinars and other products right from my BarneyDavey.com/e-store page.

Given the physical size and shipping needs of selling art, it is probably not the best choice for your e-commerce solutions. If you want to keep your e-store as a plugin on your WordPress blog, I recommend looking at Woo Commerce. It is free, but has ongoing annual fees of approximately $300 for the various premium add-ons you will need to make it work for you.

If you are techie, or willing to hire a developer, then you should look at free, open-source programs such as OS Commerce and Zen Cart. I have not checked recent reviews to see if these providers are keeping pace with technological advances. As always, do your own research and careful due diligence before investing your time and money in any software. Getting expert advice is highly recommended. Chris Lema writes extensively about WordPress and has excellent information on e-commerce and other WordPress functions. He is also available for consultations if you are looking at a large-scale, expensive launch.

Other options are standalone e-commerce sites such as Volusion, 3DCart, Shopify. There are many other such platforms to consider. Check around with other artists. They can be your greatest source of reliable, insightful information.

Mailchimp7. Mailchimp - The whole point of a website, blog, and e-commerce is to get found, get customers and create sales. Building an email list is an integral, foundational part of the process. A responsive email list is a bottom line asset to your business. Working to build an email list is critical to your long-term online success. Facebook may lose favor; YouTube may cancel your account or delete your videos, and galleries will come and go. Throughout all such predictable turmoil, your email list will remain your most valuable marketing tool.

I use Mailchimp and recommend it to artists because they offer it free for your first 2,000 subscribers. You don’t get some of the advanced features with the free version, such as auto-responders, but you can’t beat free for starting out. Other recommended email service providers are Aweber and Get Response. I see these three most often included by developers building marketing tools, software and plugins that require email integration.

There are many other email service providers for you to research and investigate. While the platform is important, it pales when compared to the task of working diligently to gain qualified, opted-in email subscribers.

For the past several years, I have championed the idea of artists solidifying their careers by finding sustainable ways to sell direct to collectors. It is the entire premise of my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Build a Bulletproof Career. Email marketing is one of the key components to making this a reality. Networking, warm and local marketing and online marketing are all funnels to help you collect names and establish personal relationships with collectors.

Email marketing is central to achieving this goal of a self-sustained career. Find the fans, friends and followers and convert them to buyers. Keep them informed, interested and entertained through social media and especially email marketing. Focus your marketing on making this happen, and you give yourself the best shot to have the career you want and deserve.

Grammarly8. Grammar.ly – Most of us, including me, don’t have the time and extra income to afford a full-time copywriter. Having seen what a good one can do to polish good copy into extraordinary copy makes me wish I could. As my business grows into a full-time occupation, it might just happen.

This copy and every post I have written in the past two years have been run through Grammarly. It is an online copywriting software program that works pretty darn good. It is not perfect, but it catches many common errors, overuse of words, and helps make one’s copy shine a bit more.

If you want to use a live service, then look at Gramlee.com. I have used it many times and have never been disappointed. Its prices are quite reasonable. You can bank words. For instance, you might buy 1,000 words and use it to have several 300- 400 pages blog posts or web pages professionally edited. If you are writing a proposal, resume cover letter, or other crucial document, then turning to Gramlee.com is highly advisable.

Go Daddy Bookkeeping9. Go Daddy Bookkeeping – I started using Go Daddy Online Bookkeeping before it was bought by GoDaddy.com when it was called Outright. If you are using PayPal, then I don’t need to tell you when it comes to tax time that extracting the data you need for your Schedule C and other tax reports is a monstrous pain in the patootie.

Now, I can get a Schedule C report in a matter of a few minutes. You can add your credit cards, PayPal and checking accounts to the service. It will keep track of your expenses. You can train it automatically to file certain expenses in a chosen category. For instance, it recognizes all PayPal credit card transaction fees and appropriately files them, same for purchase from my Stamps.com account. This service saves me hours of time and headaches. I recommend it without hesitation. On the other hand, if you have more sophisticated bookkeeping needs then look at Quickbooks or Freshdesk.

This is far from a comprehensive list of every tool I use to manage my business. These are among the most important. I use them personally and have great confidence when you use them you will get the highly satisfactory results I experience, or better.

Art Marketing e-store


Some links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Selling Art with a Back Story

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What Makes People Buy Your Art?

Artist John Colley at work in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza

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How to Improve Your Art Business

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Top Ten Art Marketing Tools to Transform Your Career

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Robert Laduke - giclee for the art print market

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Boost your success by learning why art careers fail. Art careers can fail for many reasons. Here are five common fails you need to avoid. Fail to choose success - Success never just happens. It is a result of choosing to be successful. As … [Continue reading]

Art Career Clarity | Successful Art Careers | Part Twelve

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Do you have art career clarity? Gaining clarity can make the difference between a marginally and a highly successful result for your art career. Can you easily describe how your career will look in one year? What about in five years, or oh my … [Continue reading]