Content Marketing 101 for Artists
What’s Content Marketing and Why Do You Need It?
If you’ve looked “content marketing” up online, you might think it’s just advertising and that it has nothing to do with being an artist. But you’d be missing a major opportunity.
Content marketing–sharing images, text, video, and interactive experiences, usually online–is more than “just selling.” Done right, it can spread the word about your art, get your work in front of a larger audience than you could reach in other ways, and yes—it can even generate sales. And at its best, it starts a conversation and helps you to build a broader community for it.
Best of all, content marketing is a creative channel all it’s own, giving you a chance to share your process and your creativity–one that doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to start.
If you want to do content marketing for your work, start by answering these questions:
Who do you want to communicate with?
This could be your fellow artists, buyers, critics, or curators. Knowing who you want to talk to can help you to figure out where you should focus your content marketing efforts (if, for example, you’re looking to speak with high-end gallery owners, a TIkTok channel might not be the way to go).
Action Step: Create an audience avatar (aka persona). This is a profile that describes your ideal audience—the person you hope will find you and your work. When you know who you’re talking to, it’s easier to create content that they’ll look for and enjoy. Write down:
- Who they are
- How old they are
- Their profession
- Their favorite artists, and why
- Who they share their interest in art with
- Their hobbies and interests beyond art (Are they foodies? Do they travel?)
- What sites they visit online (Do they use social media? Which channels?)
- What their favorite things to discover are
Treat this as a creative exercise and have fun with it–invent a character who feels like a real person: Give your ideal audience a name, think about their favorite music and websites, and find a stock photo that suits that person so you can put a face to your dream audience.
Post your audience avatar where you can see it when you’re creating content. It’ll help you focus your work when you begin creating content.
What do you want to communicate about?
Once you’ve established your ideal audience, it’s time to consider what you want to talk to that persona about: Are you interested in showcasing your work, promoting your shows, building a following, selling art online, or generating buzz and news about you?
Think about this as creating a two-way conversation. It’s important to remember that your audience won’t engage with you if all you’re doing is talking at them, without giving them a conversation they enjoy, or information they really want.
Where do you want to interact with your audience?
The online world offers a huge array of channels for you to share your work. Each has its own pros and cons:
Websites allow you to create the look-and-feel of your presence online, and to control who can participate in the conversation. They’re also a great place to gather emails if you’re interested in creating an email newsletter.
Websites require more work upfront than joining social channels but they offer you a permanent home for your information that can serve as your online portfolio or business card.
Action Step: Review the websites of artists you admire. How big and complex are they—are there many pages, or are the sites more straightforward portfolio styles?
Sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are easy to get started with, and they offer a built-in audience for you to share your work with.
But they’re busy, and making your presence known will require that you post often and engage with others regularly. Social media is definitely a devote-time-every-day activity.
A key to content marketing on social media is to choose your channels carefully. It’s tempting to take on all the social channels at once, but most success comes from engaging regularly with one or two at a time.
Action Step: Spend some time playing with a variety of social channels, and ask yourself where you might have something to contribute to an ongoing conversation.
Think about the channels you love to use, but be open to the places where you might have the most valuable information to share—what do you know that other people don’t that you’d be willing to share? Where would your art be most entertaining or inspirational?
When you outline what you want to say, and who you want to say it to, it’s much easier to get started with your content marketing. Next up, we’ll talk about artists, and whether or not you should think of yourself as a brand.