How to Start Marketing Yourself – Today

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” - Seth Godin

While stories over stuff might sound crazy to someone who makes things for a living, Seth Godin’s statement above rings especially true for artists.

As an artist, you are your own best salesperson when it comes to spreading the word about your work. With promotion and exposure being so important to success in the internet age, finding a unique voice to accompany your artistic vision and forge new relationships is more critical than ever. That falls under – you guessed it – marketing.

Experts Maria Laboy-Perez and Suset Laboy of Lalaboy PR know a thing or two about marketing for creatives. We asked them for five simple tips on getting started with marketing yourself as an artist – from making time for online engagement to how much you should spend on advertising.

Superfine!: What is the number one mistake that artists and creatives make when starting to market themselves?

Maria & Suset: One of the biggest mistakes a lot of artists or brands make is not taking the time to step back and create a plan around what they want to achieve. Many creatives just focus on their craft and then they get lost in having their offering ready. Always have a plan!

S!: How much energy and time should be put into building a brand for an artist?

M&S: How many hours should you put into it depends on how soon you want to be seen. We recommend one hour a day or at least 5 hours per week. Artists who spend 5-6 hours a day on their art should plan for 1-2 hours creating relationships or on social: doing research and figuring out who their buyers are.

We recommend that artists start doing marketing efforts at a minimum 3 months in advance for art fairs or shows. Even if they don’t have the work. As an artist or creative, you should always be thinking ahead! Even if you’re not working towards a specific goal, you should be making efforts that are connected to promotion.

S!: What should creatives do if they don't have enough time or confidence to market their work?

M&S: The biggest myth is that they need to be as ready as possible before rolling out a campaign. That’s one of the things we go after in our workshop - you don’t have to be completely ready. Even if you’re in the process of finishing your next work or program, that moment is a great opportunity to establish a relationship with a media outlet. Social might be a great place to start hinting at behind the scenes work and more.

S!: Should artists have a budget set aside for social media and marketing help?

M&S: You can’t only rely on relationships with media anymore – you have to take ownership over your marketing efforts. Put some money into it, spend time on social media, Facebook etc. Even doing $1 a day on social media can make a difference!

If you’re doing any kind of paid advertisement on social, like Facebook Analytics, the first step is defining the audience – really writing it down and studying it. What have you earned organically in terms of the analytics you can find? Where do they live? What do they buy? Find 1-3 differentiators before creating an ad. That will give you an advantage.

The clearer your call to action, or ask, in your communications, the better the response will be. Sometimes creatives will skirt around the idea of having a specific ask. Don’t be afraid to be clear with your ask!

S!: What's the easiest thing artists and creatives can do to get started on marketing themselves today?

M&S: Create a plan! Accountability is hard. Even if you create a plan and you never put it into action, the action of creating the plan is ingrained in your memory. Define a goal: sell 3 pieces by X date, get into 3 media outlets by X date. Write the date down and make it happen!

The simplest tools are right at your reach. Your art is working at getting attention for you, but the fear of getting out there really keeps you from achieving things. Share news and updates regularly with your friends and family, your mailing list, etc. Use your network! The best way to market yourself is to create authentic connections.

With marketing demystified, the power to start growing your reach and engaging with new leads, collaborators and fans is right at your fingertips. As Maria and Suset put it, marketing yourself can be as easy as creating a plan – and not even sticking to it. Your work already speaks for itself, it just might need as little as $1 a day to reach the right audience for you to start seeing your hard marketing work pay off. It’s time to get your work out there – go forth and market!

Marketing works great on a large scale too. Exhibit in a Superfine! fair and reap the rewards of our marketing machine.