• Kara Maddox

7 Inventive Ways to Promote Your Art


For artists and musicians, finding extra time in the day to promote your work can be challenging and even frustrating. We are not alone in this feeling, but artists have more tricks and resources than you may realize.

We are musicians, visual artists, dancers, crafters, film-makers and so much more. Creativity is our game and we are awesome at thinking outside of the box when it comes to our work. But applying that disruptive innovation in other areas may not always happen.

The good news is once you decide on a course, you may actually discover that promoting your work is fun. Creativity is your biggest asset, so why not use it to market your craft?

In this post, we will check out seven ways to promote your art that you may not have considered.

Blah, blah, blogging!

#1 Blogs: From soccer moms to huge corporations, blogs are considered a solid tactic for engaging one’s audience. If creating long-form content appeals to you, this may be your ideal promotion tactic. If not, then skip ahead to item number two!

The key here is to find a niche that offers valuable content to your target audience. Don’t preach about your product; focus instead on offering something your audience wants or needs. For example:

  • Behind-the-scenes at a rehearsal or session or process

  • Collaboration connecting you with one of your partners

  • Feature stories, reviews, or how-to's

  • VLOGs showcasing your personality and your art in motion

Easy for me to say. But HOW does a busy artist or musician pull off effective blogging?

  • Front load…You will want to stock up on content so that you are not constantly cramming and interrupting your work or sales to make something new. Have at least 4 blogs or vlogs ready to go.

  • Determine your schedule. Once a week, twice a month, or once a month. Evaluate both your time availability and how often your target audiences are open to receiving.

  • Get acquainted with SEO tactics. This blog is about ideas, not tactics, so I won’t go into detail. Just make sure you do some research on this or your blogging will be fruitless!

  • Look beyond your website and find forums and article directories such as Medium where you can tag your blog under keywords and categories that already have followers.

  • Get inspired. Smartblogger: Promote Your Art will help you get started. Follow blogs like the Gaping Void for inspiration and motivation...

Above and Beyond Facebook!

#2 Social networking: Everyone knows that social media is a popular (and vital) way to build a following. But let’s look beyond Facebook and Instagram…

☛ Launch a YouTube channel.

⁃ With over 1.5 billion users, YouTube offers you the opportunity to show your work in motion, your creative process, and the person behind the art.

⁃ Get creative; offer “HOW TO” content for your audience. This engages the 86% of YouTube users wanting to learn something new or solve a problem.

⁃ Lori McNee shares artist-specific tips for making video work for your promotion: Why Artists Should Use Video

☛ Live stream.

There are so many options here, including Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and a smorgasbord of streaming platforms like Twitch.

Ditto Music created an awesome guide to live streaming that will definitely get you started. Here are a few of their recommendations--

  • Have a plan: Think creatively to engage your audience. Q&As or streaming a rehearsal or painting session are standard. What creative content would your fans enjoy?

  • Set a time limit: Perhaps your first efforts are shorter and you work up to 30 minutes or more. Remember to engage with audience comments as you go.

  • Be a tease: Be sure to let your social networks know in advance that you’ll be going live at a certain time.

  • Don’t overthink it: Getting started is hard if you are worried about perfection. Just have a general plan and time limit and go for it!

  • Measure impact: Facebook has the easiest analytics to see how effectively your live stream engaged with fans. Whatever the platform, post-stream research will show what worked and what didn’t.

Let me hook you up with a few sweet live-streaming resources available specifically for us artistic-types:

Twitch Creative: a community for artists that provides a platform to share creative processes.

Sara Burns Studio blog: intro to creative streaming for artists.

☛ Participate in online forums.

Here's a few to inspire you...

A Singular Creation promotes art and photography through a community forum. Here you can share your art, receive critiques, discuss all sorts of artsy things, and access resources and tutorials.

The Artists Forum website offers a community and innovative multimedia platform of choice for artists across disciplines. It is a premiere gathering place where collaborations are born, funding is found and audiences are developed.

WetCanvas helps visual artists exchange information and network. With over 900,000 members, the artists are all levels. There are six content areas, including the Critique Center, Discussion Forums, and Partner Directory. The Art Project System offers an opportunity to participate in projects sponsored by other community members. Best of all, it’s totally free. What are you waiting for?

Think LOCAL

Communities love to support their local artists. Herein lies a great opportunity to market your art within your local area to folks who already want to help you. What follows are a few options you may not have considered…

#3 Local arts community: Become involved with your local art council. Investigate any public art programs such as this one in San Antonio, TX. Stay active in your local art scene by supporting and participating in art events such as art walks and exhibitions. Finally, arts nonprofits not only need you, but they are a wealth of great connections.

Check out these online resources:

5 Ways to Market Your Art in Your Community

Top 40 Most Vibrant Arts Communities in America

25 Most Amazing Community Arts Projects

#4 Local businesses: You’ve likely considered your local art galleries and/or performing venues as viable options for your art or music. Now let's consider some less-conventional options...

Look into locally-owned restaurants and cafes, schools and universities, office spaces, libraries, banks, convention centers and so on. Depending on your medium, displaying your art or offering a free performance has the potential to be lucrative for the business owners and for you!

Get creative—consider providing artwork or music for imaging, packaging, promotion materials, websites, commercials, public spaces, etc.

One final idea: consider attending local business mixers or networking events. Have artful business cards on hand and stay open to opportunities and collaborations.

#5 Local media: Are you a character? Maybe you don't think so, but journalists and news writers love to feature stories of local personality and charm. As an artist or musician, you are part of the local color, for better or worse. So why not make it work for you?

The first step to promoting oneself with the local media is to develop relationships. Attend events, reach out to news anchors and journalists, and network at every opportunity.

Step two, when you have something to talk about, make sure the local media knows about it. For example, when you:

  • Win recognition

  • Host an open studio event

  • Partner with a local business or event

  • Complete something truly interesting or unique

The final step is getting that info to the media through press releases, phone calls, and emails. Don't be shy! Remember, your local community wants to know about the interesting things happening in their art scene.

Do Something Great!

#6 Local Charity: Here's where you can do well by doing good. Giving back to your community will reap rewards beyond that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also help you make lasting (potentially lucrative) connections, expose large groups of people outside your network to your work, and provide free promotion through the charity's connections.

A few tips for this endeavor:

  • Partner with a group that inspires you and aligns with your vision and target audience.

  • Donate to galas, fundraisers, and other charitable events

  • Offer services such as teaching classes, painting murals, providing entertainment, and so on.

  • Provide artwork or music for imaging, promotions, advertisements, websites, commercials, etc.

At KJMdigital, we support art as a core tenet of our mission. We applied for two grants earlier this year to launch ABC Connect, a platform designed to bring together Artists, Businesses, and Communities (ABC). These one-year pilots are ready to strengthen the Macon, GA arts community in 2019.

At the end of the day, what's the worst thing that comes from donating to charity? You make the world better. It's a win-win.

#7 Get involved with a movement: Arts are what make human culture meaningful. They are pivotal for creating human connection and strengthening relationships. As an artist, you are poised to make a difference. Promoting your art or music stands to bring people together in celebration of our differences and commonalities.

Don't be shy about your merits and don't feel like you are selling out by promoting them.

I was deployed to Southwest Asia as a military musician in 2007. While there, a diplomatic mission to Djibouti Africa really brought this final point home to me. Art, especially music, transcends language and culture. It creates commonality where there has been only conflict.

Surveyed by a distant herd of camels, I shared music with native African people whose lives were so vastly different than mine that I couldn't begin to comprehend it. We danced and laughed and hugged and cried. Nothing mattered but that beautiful moment of sharing.

This is your legacy. Art matters. So promote yourself and be proud of your cultural role. In my opinion, the future of humanity depends upon it.

Here are a few motivating (as well as practical) websites to get you started. If you know of others, please share in the comments below.

Partnership Movement

Americans for the Arts

Parting tips

A few last reminders to help you promote your art.

  • Know your target audience. Develop personas that describe an individual representative of each target group of fans, supporters, and patrons.

  • Don’t try everything all at once. Look at the list above and choose something that appeals to you. Try it for a set amount of time, then add on.

  • Set goals and measure them. It is impossible to know if your efforts are effective without this step. It may seem like you don't have time, but in reality, you don't have time not to...

  • Ask for help. There is a plethora of help and advice and even mentoring available for artists trying to market their work. We often work alone, but someone out there has the answer to your burning question. Find them.

At KJMdigital, we want to help by connecting artists to businesses through our online landscape. And the KJM Team works because our mission and values align with what we value - radical transparency, autonomy and flexibility.

We connect your business to your local art communities through our cohesive digital branding strategies. Our Community Art Campaigns, Ambassador Programs and Thought Leadership Teams help you reach your business needs today.

Interested in learning more? Get our weekly post sent straight to your inbox by reaching out! We are always here to help!

Sherry Wynn is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University where she received her Master's of Arts degree in Communications. She is retired from the United States Air Force and is a regular contributor to the Digital Millennial. Visit her on LinkedIn to connect!

#Promoteyourart #ArtMarketing

Copyright © 2020 KJMdigital