As an artist, it can be intimidating to see a world full of opportunity yet not know how to navigate through it to reach potential clients.

Digital marketing has been used in every industry and plays a key role in expanding businesses, even in the art world.  

It isn’t surprising then how powerful it can be to have a strong presence as an artist online. Social media, in particular, is bridging the gap between artists and buyers.

The way you go about marketing your artwork to an audience determines their success in maintaining a fan base and establishing new ones.  

Here are six tips to help artists get started in the rapidly expanding online visual art market.

Test Your Options, But Narrow Your Focus.

Social media is a powerful instrument to gain popularity for your work.  You have probably heard that you should be setting up accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and staying active by interacting with fans.

The only problem with this is that it often turns into a full-time job. And, what’s worse is that unanswered messages and abandoned accounts can often have a negative impact on your art business.

If you aren’t sure which channel is right for you, commit to one or two and do them well. Instagram has become the top choice for many artists as it is the easiest way to post progress photos, show a glimpse into your life as an artist and connect with collectors.

Setting up a professional portfolio of your work online is also a great way to share a polished and comprehensive body of work with your social audiences. You can do this at the click of a button on sites like Artwork Archive. You should be showcasing your professionalism as well as connecting with your fans.

Encourage User-Generated Content

User-generated content is defined as content that has been created by a customer of your product that is publicly available to other potential customers. In this context, it can mean clients promoting your artwork through pictures, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, hashtags etc. to encourage prospective clients into browsing through your art.

According to Easil, 92% of customers worldwide say they trust word of mouth more than advertising.

With this in mind, try asking clients to write reviews of your work and share them on your site or social media accounts. You can also run a contest on Instagram that requires users to repost an image of your artwork with one lucky winner getting to take home that piece. This is a great and low-cost way of getting fans to genuinely interact with your brand and share your artwork in their networks.

You may see other ways that people do this online. Alex Pardee is a hugely popular artist on Instagram. In one of his posts, he mentions fellow artist Greg Aronowitz’s work and speaks very highly of his creation. So, don’t just make it all about you all the time! Participate in the community and give a little back. You have to give a little to get a little. Good karma goes a long way.

Plus, it’s a fun way to engage with other artists and take some of the pressure off of always feeling the marketing stress of having to post “on brand.”

Share Special Offers and Promotions

Special offers and promotions are a tried and true way to ramp up your sales and acquire new artwork enthusiasts. Doing something out of the ordinary, for example, posting a limited discount code, having a one-day online auction for a new piece, or asking people to share a screenshot of your work for sweepstakes, is a fresh and attractive way to draw in clients.

The key is to sprinkle these into your regular mix. You don’t want to diminish the value of your work by constantly discounting it. But, finding fun ways to get people excited about a deal or a new limited edition print or product.

Use Live Features

If you are going to an event, sharing your process, or doing an artwork reveal, it helps to post content updates of a live event. This allows you to start conversations around the event and provides a response to your work.

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat all have live options for creating instant content. This type of interaction is seen as authentic and behind the scenes and helps you can stay connected with your virtual audience.

Make Tutorials on YouTube

If you aren’t into using the live features and want something that will have a longer shelf life, consider making YouTube tutorials. This can be an especially good option if you have a highly developed skill or unique technique.

A short tutorial on how to make an intricate piece of art, with the processes you use to create it, will keep your audience involved and curious about the final outcome. This raises the bar for you as an artist as you are willing to share your creativity with a wide variety of people.

The video about how to draw a realistic eye by illustrator Mark Crilley has been viewed over 24 million times and viewers keep coming back to see what he has made.

Share Your Blogs

Another great way to share techniques and your experiences as an artist is through a blog. Just like videos, you will get the attention of people online looking for tutorials, art advice, and anything else related to your art practice.

If a reader is able to connect with the story behind the piece of art he is more likely to purchase it. A story always makes art more relatable and popular.

Need inspiration? Janice Tanton and Kristen Kieffer are two examples of artists who take their art to their audience through the written word.  

You don’t need to do it all. You do need to do it well.

Use these ideas as a jumping off point for building your audience online. If you feel more excited about one platform than another, start thereit's a good measure of how dedicated you will be to the process.  Don't feel like you need to do everything, but rather focus on what you think you can do well. 

Looking for a place to not only showcase your online portfolio but keep your art business organized? Try Artwork Archive, free for 30 days.