In this challenging economy, being a successful artist not only consists of creating great art, but it is also about creating a strong business. Unless you are the next coming of artist/business mogul, Thomas Kinkade, artists should think of themselves as small business owners. Small businesses that succeeded in 2009 were based on trust, longevity, and personal branding. With that in mind, I’ve researched some of the top websites for advice on small businesses and pulled together 7 helpful art marketing tips for 2010.

1. Build Your Brand: Brand identity will help set you apart from the others. Build a solid brand identity that is passionate about commitment and quality to your customer. What can you offer your customer/collector or gallery? What makes you unique and collectable? Do you have a strong artist’s statement? Speak and write passionately about your art and your clients will be drawn to your message.

2. Update Your Website & Start a blog: It is important for artists to stay current. Technology in your client’s life is increasing in importance. Has it been more than 2 years since you’ve updated your website? Well then– it is time to update and consider a blog. Nowadays websites and blogs are practically interchangeable. Blogs are more user friendly than conventional websites and content and images can be easily updated without a webmaster. Think of your website/blog as free or low-cost advertising to your collectors, clients and gallery prospects. Use the blog to tell them about your latest artwork, studio news, thoughts and ideas. Customers will enjoy the extra information and personal touch. Potential collectors will have reasons to choose you.

3. Market Directly: Most of us have felt the pinch in this economy. Many have drastically reduced marketing budgets. Even so, continuing to invest in your business during a downturn is important.

  • Competition increases during a recession which generates talent and innovation. It is not a time for you to lay low. Maintain friendships with customers.
  • Save money on traditional advertising and reach out to your clients personally and directly. If you know your customers’ contact information, you can contact them personally and directly via email, newsletters or direct mailings. The experts say you will find your marketing power double by simply diverting your traditional advertising dollars into direct marketing.
  • Another trend for 2010 is to return to the market place. Marketing literally began hundreds of years ago by going to a marketplace to sell a good. Artisans and craftsmen would engage buyers face to face. People buy from those they know, like and trust. Today, think of your art/craft as an extension of yourself.
  • Don’t forget to nurture your relationships with your galleries and their employees. If you have a good connection, your gallery will work harder for you!
  • Stop thinking of your potential clients as dollar bills and understand them as real people whose lives are positively affected by what you can do and provide for them.
  • Consider websites like and which allow individuals to sell arts and crafts without having to operate a storefront business of their own.
  • If your marketing efforts have not met your goals, consider hiring a consultant to advise potential strategies.

4. Less Is More: Instead of focusing on finding new customers for the same product you offer, your focus in 2010 needs to be on helping existing customers in additional ways. Be sure to address the needs and time demands of your customers, especially for successful commissioned art.

  • Remember, The Pareto Principle affects the art market and your business: That means, 80% or more of your income will come from 20% or less of your customers. The 20% will be excited about being in that elite group!
  • Focus on repeat customers; they are the key to your success.

5. Use Social Media: Social media is not just for teenagers and it is not a fad. Use the power of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, You Tube and other social media sites and begin to create your social media strategy and reach beyond your niche. Build a policy around social media, even if you’re only a one-person operation (which most of us are). Understand your objectives for new posts, articles, videos, images, etc. to minimize problems and potential internet reputation nightmares.

6. Take Planned Risks: Think big, start small. If you try something new and it doesn’t work, you can easily change your strategy. People like to stay with what they know. But, if we eliminate risks, we eliminate the opportunity for growth in business and in our craft.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: There is no failure except in no longer trying. Failing can actually make us smarter. Accounting for failure reduces the risk of failure and establishes a method for future successes.

  • Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • This idea is also illustrated in the following quote by Michael Jordan, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

  I hope these suggestions are helpful. Here’s to a prosperous 2010! Lori

For more small business success tips &  information, check out:

Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Artist Ambassador to Arches/Canson/Royal Talens. As the owner of, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses. Lori is also a member of the CBS Entertainment Tonight & The Insider Tweet Team.

21 thoughts on “Art Marketing Success Tips for 2010

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  3. Leslie Saeta says:

    Great advice! My background is in marketing so probably spend too much time on my computer and not enough in the studio! One of my goals for 2010 is to create an Art Alliance of about 5 – 10 local artists. We will meet monthly and share ideas about marketing, upcoming shows, new trends, blogging and any other great ideas! I also created a year long “client appreciation program” for all of my existing clients that includes special mailings and personal touches for my most important asset – my art buyers!

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  6. Cagney says:

    Great article! I have the advantage of working at a marketing firm, so I’m trying to put all into practice that you mentioned! Thanks for sharing such great information all around! It’s inspiring…

    • Lori McNee says:

      Thanks for the comment. Lucky you, working at a marketing firm…if you ever find something of value for readers, please submit a guest post! I like to keep artists informed about marketing trends. Come back again – Lori 🙂

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    • Lori McNee says:

      Hi Marie…thanks for stopping by and commenting. I tend to agree with what you stated about eBay – especially for established artists. Although, I have seen some good results for ‘Daily Painters’ who have used eBay and also for new artists. This hasn’t seem to hurt their careers.
      I will check out your website.

  9. Anthony Sesack says:

    Hi Lori,
    Great articles!! I’m always looking for new ways to get my art/business noticed. I’m an airbrush artist working in the retail side of my artform. But I also offer fine art services on items other than just clothing.

    I’m on FB, Twitter, Myspace, Google places, my website, etc. But my connections on FB and Twitter are people in the art industry. Not the general public who would be my customer base.

    Should I open up to my customers? “Come join me on FaceBook” and have my name posted on my card so they can fine me on FB?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks 😉

    • Lori McNee says:

      Hi Anthony. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I would start a fan page geared toward your niche and make announcements on Facebook, Twitter, your website and newsletter. This way, you will start to build a loyal following within your targeted niche. Facebook also offers ads at an inexpensive rate where you can promote your new fan page.

      I hope this helps you. Thanks again and good luck!
      Lori 🙂

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