Monday, August 13, 2018

tips for marketing a creative business

In my opinion marketing and promotion is one of the most important ways to grow your creative business. And if I am keeping it really honest, I didn't actually figure this out until I got a job in marketing. You see, I spent years thinking that I would make art, upload it to my online shop or get a wholesale opportunity or show my art in a gallery and things would just sell. I spent years, putting most of my energy into making art and whatever time I had left was spent on (minimal) marketing. It wasn't until I got a job in marketing at a university that I saw how important time, effort and a marketing plan was. I remember sitting in a staff meeting where we were all brainstorming ideas for a marketing campaign and a light bulb went off! I remember thinking, why in the world am I not thinking about this stuff with my art and my creative business?!?! Why don't I have a plan or a marketing approach when it comes to my art? For some reason (probably because I am an artist), I thought that a business minded approach to my art would ruin things or would take away from the creativity. But what I didn't realize was that any type of business (even a creative one) requires time and attention to marketing and getting the word out. I am here to tell you that the minute I realized how important marketing was, was the minute my business evolved and great into what it is today- a full time gig that supports our family! 

Today I thought I would share some really simple and easy things to think about when it comes to marketing your creativity business.


1. It really helps to begin by identifying your brand- in other words- identify the things that make you unique! Take time to ask yourself questions like:
What makes me unique?
Who is my audience or customers?
What makes me different from everyone else out there?
What do I want my life and business to look like?
What do I want customers to feel when they see my art or visit my website?
Getting honest with yourself and your brand will help you to begin making decisions about how and where you want to market your work.

2. Take some time to really figure out your goals. Do you want more customers coming to your online shop? Do you want to fill up your classes? Do you need to spread the word about your freelance services. Answering these big questions  before you launch into a marketing plan will help you take on an approach that works for your longterm goals.

3. Take time to do your research. What might work for one business may not be right for you. Spend time searching for marketing inspiration. I like to look for business and marketing resources online and the best part is that it's free. A quick search can offer up some resource and information that you can use in your own marketing approach. Doing your research and really understanding all the different ways to market and promote will help you decide what works best for you.

4. Decide if you want or need to spend money on marketing. It's ok if you don't have a budget for professional help (I never did). Try reaching out to fellow artists, crafters and small business owners. Ask for marketing opinions and advice to see what has worked for other people. I knew early on that I wanted to do it myself but not everyone wants to operate this way. If you need help or if you want to invest a little money into marketing, make yourself a budget that matches your goals.

5. Give yourself a time frame to experiment and try a handful of things. As I have mentioned, nothing it going to work over night- a marketing plan is like a long term investment of time and energy. Often you need months and months of trying, testing and putting information out there to really see results.

EXAMPLE: These days I actually give myself a 6 months to 1 year to test things out and then at the end of the year, when we sit down to crunch number and plan I can really see if my marketing has been working.

6. Creating a marketing plan can take time and a lot of trial and error. Give yourself permission and time to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Also keep in mind that it's totally normal to fail or not get things right. This stuff takes time to figure out and it can look different for everyone. Things not working or even failing can actually be a great way to make decisions moving forward.


1. Trade advertising with fellow artists
2. Post your work on Instagram or Facebook
3. Use Instagram to share photos from your life and business
4. Offer contests
5. Start a blog
6. Sponsor an event- either live or virtual
7. Create a video series YouTube
8. Build an email list or newsletter list
9. Offer coupons and discounts for products and services
10. Share a free tutorial
11. Plan giveaways for customers
12. Offer a deal or discount to specific social media followers (instragram, twitter, etc)
13. Team up with fellow artists and bloggers to offer giveaways, organize blog hops, etc
14. Create a hashtag for your products and services that can be shared on social media
15. Send inspiring information to your email list
16. Challenge yourself to share on social media 3 times a day
17. Interact with other artists and crafters through social media
18. Guest post for fellow artists

Looking for more art business tips and advice?

how to start selling your artwork- HERE

jump start a creative career- HERE

taking a leap into full time artist- HERE

coping with creative burnout- HERE

coping with failure- HERE

how to keep your work authentic- HERE

the art of chasing a dream- HERE

managing life and a creative business- HERE

the art of setting goals- HERE 

the art of blogging- HERE and HERE

the things I haven't shared- HERE

stronger than I ever knew- HERE


Shemi Dixon said...

Great ideas Alisa !thank you so much for sharing all of this wonderful information you are so generous.

Angie vourtsi said...

Thank you so much. Everything is so helpful!!

Angela said...

This could not have come at a better time! All the wishing and wanting I'm doing won't make me a full-time artist, so I came here to revisit your post on your 5 year plan... and here this is! Thankyou for generously sharing so much relevant information. I love our community of creatives.


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