What Is the Best Way for Artists to Get Found Online?

what is the best way for artist to get found online?

The myth of social media and marketing art online.

I talk with lots of artists through a variety of communication methods. Some of it is in person, but also via email and social media. Many of the conversations include questions about how to sell art and get found online.  A recent question via Twitter from @kylevthomas is an excellent example.

In his tweet to me, Kyle asked, “Barney, in this online culture, what do you say is the #1 way to get art seen by more potential collectors?” My reply was, “I think it is the wrong question. I would ask how can I find more collectors? Waiting and hoping to get discovered gets you stuck.”

Expecting to get found online and have success is a prescription for failure. Stay tuned. I will expand on that thought later in this post.

Thank you for your art marketing survey responses!

Nearly 100 of you were kind enough to complete a recent survey I conducted called, What Is Holding Your Career Back? I will be talking more about the results in a future post. You can still add your responses by clicking here.)

Respondents answered 22 questions. Two questions had the highest percentage responses in one level. For example, nearly 70% of respondents ranked the importance of selling art online as very important.

How to sell art online survey

The other question asked if respondents felt they needed help in creating a systematic way to find and keep collectors. It also had nearly 70% strongly agreeing they did.

Need a system to help you sell art

The first graph you see above echoes Kyle’s question. I believe we tend to think this way because so many of us spend more and more time involved with social media. Moreover, we see traditional media as either overly expensive, ineffective or both. Thus, a natural conclusion is we can get found online and become successful as a result. We then erroneously conclude the way to build long-term success and easy sales is to be get found online.

Social media and search engine rankings are not the answer.

I trust you can tell from my response to Kyle that I do not believe “getting found” online is an effective way to market and sell art. The truth is collectors are not hunting artists online. This is especially true of the ones you would like to cultivate for a lifetime. They are not browsing the Internet trying to “find” artists.

Art buyers are not the same as art collectors.

There are art buyers, who I think are the ones doing most of the buying online. They differ from art collectors in that they typically are filling a current need, usually for a design scheme. They don’t think of their online art purchase as “collecting art.” They don’t have plans to buy more art unless some other decorating need arises.

Art collectors, on the other hand, seek art and artists to engage, support and communicate with them. I believe you may encounter collectors online, but you will not get impulse sales from them. Selling art to collectors takes touching them with repeated reminders welcomed due to engaged, evolving relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean being BFF with art collectors, but it does require a lot more than just being strafrangers, too.

These are generalizations, of course, and you are free to disagree and prove me wrong. While it is great to get the occasional sale from an art buyer, it is not the way to make a long-term profitable career. Finding and developing art collectors is your ticket to your to sustained art career success.

What the heck is a “Strafranger?”

A few years ago, in a blog post, I coined the phrase, “Strafrangers.” Sadly, but not surprisingly, it didn’t go on to become a meme on the Internet. I made up the term as a mashup of strangers and friends. A perfect example is Facebook where I have nearly 3,000 friends . They are almost all artists who sent me an invitation to be their friend. Naturally, I rarely decline the invite as I value the opportunity to create relationships with artists online.

Just like you with your art, I rarely get impulse buys of my books and workshops from artists Facebook friends. If I want to turn that relationship into a selling opportunity, I have to work for it. That’s mostly because I don’t know much about most of my Facebook friends. They really are strafrangers to me. Furthermore, the way Facebook throttles news feeds these days; most of them unfortunately don’t see all my posts, nor do I get to see all of theirs either.

Real friends and relationships are where you find the real money!

In that post on strafrangers, I said something along the lines of I would take 100 real friends over 1,000 strafrangers every day. I was talking about marketing, and although it applies to me, I believe it is even truer for artists.

You hear stories about artists selling $10,000 on Instagram and thousands on Facebook. However, those are anomalies, and I don’t believe they are sustainable. And, I don’t hear about it on an ongoing basis. To me, you should not waste time trying to become a one-hit wonder.

For long term success, build relationships with your buyers. - Barney Davey

If you investigate the stories about artists who are successful selling online, you will find nearly all of them spend an enormous amount of time and energy communicating with their fans, friends, and followers. None of them are just posting pretty pictures and sitting back watching the money roll in. They are “working it.”

The dark side of selling art through social media.

I agree it is possible at times to make some high figures selling online. However, I am betting most artists reading this are not equipped or willing to do all the work necessary to make it happen. Moreover, there are hard costs to selling online. Sales dollars are never free money. I believe the margins for online sales are about the same as selling through other channels.

With online sales through social media, you are not in control.

The real problem with selling online is you are not in control. You don’t own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. You are a user, and perhaps an advertiser. Either way, you have to play by the rules set by the owners of those platforms. They can kick you out for not adhering to their Terms of Service, or as often happens, they can arbitrarily change the rules, which can end up in you losing a big chunk of irretrievable sales.

When things like this happen, and invariably they always do, you cannot do a single thing about it except first have a tantrum, then calm down and read, Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life.

Every time you spend your money and effort to send traffic to Facebook, you are contributing to Facebook. According to Forbes magazine, as a user, you are worth about $128 to Facebook. Wouldn’t you like to collect $128 for each of your Facebook friends every year?

Digital Sharecropping

A sharecropper in the traditional term was someone who toiled on the farm owned by someone else. I use your pasture to grow some corn and make a little money, then I have to share part of the crop sales with you, the owner. At any time, you can decide to sell the farm, or kick me off to bring in someone who is willing to pay more to use your land. Additionally, all the while, as the owner, you are gaining value and equity as part of my payment helps decrease your mortgage.

Today, when you drive traffic to social media, you are digitally sharecropping for the management and stockholders of that platform. While it temporarily might, and the “IT” needs to be emphasized, pay some results for you to put all your eggs in the social media basket, it is a long-term risky proposition.

What should an artist do?

First, find and build lasting relationships with collectors offline. Second, search for and develop profitable relationships with galleries. Third, research, find and develop third-party distribution channels. Fourth, use social media only to support the first three points.

Too many artists are seeking the Holy Grail of art marketing trusting they can make a dent using social media. They think of social media as the means to an end, as the vehicle that – if they could only figure out how to use the secret decoder ring  – will solve all their marketing and art sales problems.

Social media is a tool that’s all.

It seems because so many of us have found Facebook, in particular, to be such a fun way to spend, (err waste), time. As such, we also tend to think it is an excellent way to “get found” and sell a bunch of art. That way of thinking, as I pointed out to @kylevthomas, is turned around and wrong. It’s potentially damaging to your career, your pocketbook and your psyche.

Take my free 90-minute 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery webinar?

I currently am running a Facebook advertising campaign to promote my free Art Marketing Mastery webinar. You, of course, are invited to take it.I am using the experience to learn more about how to use advertising on it effectively. The results will undoubtedly be included in future blog posts.

If you are ready to fully commit to your success in 2015, join my 4-week online workshop. It starts January 8.

Commit to your career! Join my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery program today.

Do You Know the True Nature of Your Business?

In last week’s How to Cure Your Art Career When It Needs a Kick in the Ass post, I asked readers if they knew what business they were in. I already knew most of them had no clue. That is not putting them down. It’s just the truth and something that plagues many businesses of all sizes. If you don’t know the answer, you need to read that post.

This week, I’m telling you that thinking about getting found online and building a successful career using social media is a way to harm your career. Alternatively, at the very least, it will throw you off doing the things you need to do to make a go of it for the long haul.

Put social media in perspective.

As I said, social media is a tool. Used properly, it can be very useful in helping you achieve your art career goals. If you don’t have goals, well that’s a completely different problem. I will digress briefly to say you have to have some idea of what you want from your art career. It’s an entirely unique choice to you. However, you just can’t make any smart decisions about your future without goals to guide you.

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. – Lewis Carroll

Do you need help in creating a systematic way to find and keep collectors?

That is the question posed in the second graph above. Overwhelmingly, artists say they need help in this area. That is not surprising. Building any small business into a thriving sustained successful operation  is not easy. You have to have the right product or saleable art in your case, and you have to have a dependable way to find buyers and keep them buying from you.

When it comes down to it, there are not that many ways to go about finding buyers. In last week’s post, I outlined the eight steps that you need to take to create a successful art career. There is no magic in any of the steps. They are just logical. What is important about them is you need to know what to use and how to organize yourself so you stay focused on the doing the most productive tasks.

Let me help you.

If you agree and have a buy-in that I have given you good advice in that post, you just need to do the research to understand the importance and impact potential of each of outlined points.

You can independently learn how to use the tools discussed. If you put your research and knowledge together with a plan of action, you are in business and on your way to success.

You have other options to get help with your art marketing — ways to make it easier and more thorough.

As I said above, you can go it alone and make it work. Some of you may just do that and more power to you. I know going it alone is the hardest way to achieve your goals.

My book is an affordable option.

An inexpensive way to gain a better understanding of what to do with those eight points outlined in last week’s post is to read my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Art Career book. It’s also available on Amazon and Kindle. So, for as little as $9.99 you can get all the wisdom and insights it contains.

The second option is to join me in my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop.

8-Steps to Art Marketing Master

I have an intensive 4-week workshop beginning on January 8. You will get four online sessions that run 90-minutes, or longer, each of four successive weeks. You will get a free copy of Guerrilla Marketing for Artists and a half-hour of private consultation with me. I’m throwing in two bonus e-books, How to Price Art Prints and The Zen of Selling Art.

Plus, you will be invited to join a private Facebook group where you can work with other artists who are also going through the program. I see it as a support group, sounding board, and an informal way for you to create accountability for yourself and your colleagues for getting things done.

New Bonus Material Added!

Speaking of Facebook, I have just added a free 20-part online video Facebook Traffic training course. You will be able to watch these 20 videos as often as you want. And, you will have the option to download full transcripts of each of the videos. You would pay at least $100, or more to purchase this training online.

Most importantly, I know if you put in the time and do the work outlined in the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop that you will come away with that thing that is most important to so many artists, which is something many of you need and want:

A Personalized Program for to Create Systematic Tools and Actions to Find and Keep Collectors.

Imagine something you have, a system to make your career insanely successful that you designed with my help. One in which you know will help you finally begin to enjoy the career you deserve.

If you are ready to work with me and to make 2015 the year your career takes flight, use the button below or click here, to sign up.

join the program

 Need More Information?

View my an instant replay of my 90-minute webinar. You gives viewers an in-depth discussion of my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery.

It provides a wealth of information and a preview of participants will learn in the 4-week workshop. I encourage you to watch this recorded free 90-minute webinar. It will help you decide to join me in the workshop.

Click here to register for the free webinar.



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How to Cure Your Art Career When It Needs a Kick in the Ass

Does your art career need a kick in the assAre You Repeating the Same Marketing Efforts and Getting the Same Results?

I regularly see artists, even established artists, making rookie-marketing mistakes. You can hardly blame them. Many are overwhelmed by feeling they have too much to do on all fronts. Not surprisingly, they find evaluating the volume of art marketing options and making decisions on what and how to implement them overwhelming. As the saying goes, “It is hard to remember your job is to clear the swamp when you are up to your ass in alligators.”

Is your art career stuck?

If your art marketing is not getting the results you want then you need to change things up. Answer the following question honestly—remember it is only you who will know the answer. Is your art saleable? That is, are you confident it sells well when exposed to enough qualified buyers?

If you answered yes, get started now on revamping your marketing plans for 2015. Work on tightening your focus on what is important, not urgent. Make it your goal to create and act on a sustainable marketing plan that will guide your most awesome career year ever.

Stop reading here if: (see sticky note)

if your art career

None of the items on the sticky note are career killers, but it makes sense to address them before you invest time and money into building demand with your marketing.

Creating the success you want is all about prioritizing what to do when. If you have the items listed on the sticky note under control, then I recommend you begin working in earnest on the eight steps outlined below

Success is subjective.

Since the first step is about setting clear goals, let’s take a moment to talk about success. Only you can define your success. While you can allow others to inform you with their opinion, ultimately it’s up to you to decide what you want from your art career.

Your success is as distinctively personal and unique to you as your art is to you. Therefore, what you deem truly important for your career will never match another artist’s career goals. As such, you cannot take a cookie-cutter approach to marketing your art.

What you can do is apply the art marketing tools and techniques best suited to achieve your unique career goals. You can develop an achievable, believable marketing strategy that will allow you to become successful on your terms.

How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful

They don’t teach this in art school.

You won’t find this concept covered in other art marketing books, blogs, courses, and websites. Here is the crux. While making art that connects with art buyers is unquestionably crucial to your art career; it is not the actual nature of your art business.

Do you know what business you are in?

what business are you inA prevalent problem for artists and many other businesses, both large and small, is they don’t know what business they are in. You need to know the true nature of your business. Not knowing the right answer is a common and often costly mistake.

You are not in the business of making art.

Making art is the creation side of your career. It is a multi-layered and complicated process where you blend your creativity and personal vision to create art desirable to you and to others. The art creation process also involves perfecting your production methods so you can make enough work to meet demand, which will allow you to make a living from it.

Building a network of collectors and galleries and distribution channels is your business.

You will succeed in the art business side of your career by taking effective, repetitive actions designed to:build nourish replenish

  1. Build new buyer, gallery and other distribution channel relationships.
  2. Nurture your existing relationships.
  3. Replenish the buyers, galleries and distro channels you lose along the way.

When you fully understand and accept these points as the exact nature of your art business, and begin to act decisively on them, your career will take flight. As with so many other things in life, this is easier to say and harder to do.

Breaking down needed actions to easy steps leads to success.

In my humble experience, the only way to get a grip on turning a desire to grow your business with an effective marketing program is to first determine what you need to do and how to do it, and then break everything down into manageable increments.

I believe if you do well on eight steps outlined below that you can create your unique marketing program and career success.

How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful

Here is your 8-step program to move your career in the right direction:

1. Set realistic goals – you must know what you want from your career. Full-time, part-time, museum bound, a comfortable retirement, fame, or fortune. It does not matter; the only poor choice is no choice. Having clear art career goals allows you to make smart, informed decisions.

2. Assess your resources – knowing what you have to put into your art career is essential. No two artists are the same. Some have more money; some are more productive; some have qualified family members helping them. Some are more motivated, and some are more business savvy. When you accurately know what your resources are, you can work on fixing weak spots, or enlist help to shore them up. Resources and goals work closely together. Knowing what is achievable on a stretch is comforting. A feasible plan is only possible through an honest self-assessment of your available resources for the necessary tasks.

3. Branding – artists and all small businesses have brands. While they may not be iconic, they still are brands. People buy from people they know, respect and admire. Like it or not, most of your collectors are buying the artist as much as the art. Don’t believe that? Imagine that Herman’s Hermits released “Satisfaction” instead of The Rolling Stones. Would that tune still rank as the number-one  rock n’ roll song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine?

Want a more modern example? Let’s pretend Vanilla Ice recorded “8 Mile.” Would it have become a movie and one of the most influential rap albums of all time? You already know the answer. In most cases, you cannot separate the two. When you understand the power of branding and work on making it important to your business activities, you add potency and punch to your marketing? Part of branding includes creating powerful back stories about you and your art that will sell much more art for you.

4. Local Marketing and Networking – too many artists ignore the potential sales in their backyard. They somehow have gotten the misguided notion that it is easier to sell art to complete strangers who often are thousands of miles away. In doing so, they look right past their local/regional market. And as a result, they also avoid networking their warm market. These are epic career mistakes.

people buy from people they likeHere is an often overlooked but a simple truth about how many things get bought. People buy first from people they know and like. 

People who know you are your easiest sales. The next easiest are they people they know. You don’t want to miss any easy sales—ever!

Becoming known locally is so much easier and affordable than marketing nationally or internationally. Plus, you can use becoming slightly famous locally as a springboard to greater career recognition. This is the obvious and within your means way to lay the foundation for a successful, viable long-term art career. You gotta grow where you’re planted.

5. Traditional Marketing – I break marketing into two broad categories:  Traditional and online. While traditional and online marketing work beautifully together, it is easier to compartmentalize them when making plans on how to use them in building your art career. Traditional marketing consists of such things as publicity, press releases, advertising, direct mail, and more. Learning to use these tools selectively and efficiently will have a profound positive impact on your art career.

6. Online Marketing – businesses of all sizes have had to adopt and use the vast, evolving and growing range of online marketing tools. These include email marketing, websites, blogs, online galleries and social media. It can be quite a challenge to master using these tools, especially social media because the platforms are constantly evolving. Social media often change how to use their services for both users and marketers. Despite the ongoing changes, challenges, and drawbacks, the benefits of a successful online marketing program simply are worth the effort to use them.

7. Project Planning & Synergistic Marketing – when it comes to marketing an art career, I think many artists are either doing too little or too much of the wrong things. More importantly, too many are unfocused with their art marketing efforts. The best results come by simplifying your efforts. Tighten the focus to get maximum benefits from fewer targets. When you put the synergized power of all your art marketing on a particular function or event, you increase the effectiveness of each message you send.

Sending a steady drip of consistent and branded marketing messages from a variety of sources to a highly targeted audience is how you break through the noise, get found and get your work sold.

8.Develop Direct Buying Collectors – today, the roadblocks and stigma to sell direct to collectors are gone. In fact, when it comes to successfully marketing your art career, it is vital you make selling direct your most important art-marketing goal. While your mileage may vary, a typical artist creates 1,000 original works in a lifetime. That math works out to 33 originals for 30 years. If an artist, throughout  a lifetime, develops 100 or more direct buying collectors, those collectors most likely will buy as much as one-third of the artist’s work. Additionally, there is a high probability at least a few will provide powerful introductions or have positive influences in other ways on the artist’s career.

You can do these things. You can reach the top.

I am assuming you have a buy-in to my eight-step process to art career success listed above. As I see it, you have three options to incorporate them into your art business.

Your three options for incorporating these eight-steps into your art marketing plans:

  1. Take the DIY path and use the outline to figure out how to incorporate the eight steps on your own.
  2. Order my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book to get detailed insider information on the eight steps and more.
  3. Join a select group of other like-minded artists and me for 6 hours of intensive training, hands-on help, worksheets, private session online consulting, private group sharing, encouragement and accountability, and much more.

How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful

If only building art career success was simple and easy—but, then everyone would be doing it!

The reality for most artists is that implementing a successful marketing strategy is not easy without help. If you recognize you are one of those, here are your options that offer more help.

1. Read my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book. It provides In-depth details for each of these eight steps listed above and much more valuable art marketing information. For some of you, the information in the book may be all the help you need to rocket your career.

Buy book from author
buy on amazon/ kindle


2. Join other artists and me in my How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful program.

join the program


From experience, I know many artists will dive deep into my art marketing ideas by reading my books and blog posts, perhaps consult with me, or by taking a workshop or webinar presented by me. Sadly, I also know when it comes to taking sustained, appropriate action—the kind that leads to great success—the number of artists who successfully follow through is dismally small.

I love this quote from Constantin Brancusi because it sums up the difference between seeking and absorbing knowledge and getting the process down to profit from it.

To see far is one thing, to go there is another. ~ Constantin Brancusi

I want to help you go there because I know you can—it’s what I do!

How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful

Would you like to learn more about how you can work with me and a select group of other like-minded artists? The goal is to create a workable plan and marketing synergy that will lift your career to new heights. Click the button below to discover the details on my How to Make Your Art Career Insanely Successful program.

click here to learn more


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.

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