We want to be successful and start getting commissions in, right? So do we fully utilise what is on our own doorstep, or are we so focused with building an online client list, that we’re completely oblivious to what is potentially under our own noses?
In this article I will be talking about various methods of marketing your art locally, because with a little savvy on your side, you could be building your business far more quickly via your local community, than your clients around the globe! The postage is cheaper or even free in some cases!
Get Found Locally on Google for Your Art
Are you being found on Google for your local area? This will be far more likely to happen if you have your business listed with Google, which is a completely free service that many people don’t even know about. So make sure you register your website address and business details to claim your listing.
You can add a link to your website, your opening hours for business, contact details and so on. You can even add posts and pictures and receive customer reviews for your service. So why not make the most of your free listing within the worlds largest search engine? It’s a no-brainer.
And contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have premises where customers or clients can visit. If you work from home and do not have any face to face contact with clients there, it doesn’t matter. You can still register that address as your business address, because it is!
Register with Other Directories
Make sure you get listed with Yell.com, it’s a really good one to be on. Plus it has a high authority factor, so people searching for a ‘pet portrait artists in Liverpool’ may find you through Yelp rather than your own website. It’s also free although you do have the option to go premium whereby they will roll your listing out to a whole load of other directories. However, you can see all of the other directories from your Yelp customer area, so you can actually submit to them all manually yourself for free if you have the time (and the inclination).
Get Involved with your Community
Not only does this warm the cockles of the soul, create new friendships and get you out to breathe some fresh air for a bit, it also strengthens your authority as a local artist within a community. Local fayres where people gather is a good pace for you to showcase your art, handing out some business cards and chatting to the locals. One or two commissions from a day like this can snowball to many more once you get a testimonial, ask for referrals and have a little word of mouth help. Popular raffles is a good one to keep an ear out for, because they get good press coverage and you want to generate as much free publicity as you can.
Creating your Own Press Release
There is no shame in contacting a newspaper yourself to highlight some important event that you might be attending, or contributing to or exhibiting at etc. Local rags are normally grateful for the chance to report on local news anyway, but it always helps to write something cohesive that is going to catch a journalists eye. If you help them picture your story in the right way, you may become a feature rather than a footnote.
Have a read of this article from The Guardian newspaper which gives some good pointers on how to construct your own press release.
Choosing a charity that you can make a contribution to works two-fold, because everyone’s a winner out of it. Yes, it will cost you some time, but that could pale into insignificance from the eventual return from the free publicity. And before people shake their heads and think that that is not what a charity is for – believe me when I say that the charities are not too fussed how the donation makes it there, just that they receive it. So if you can help someone else and it happens to also do you a favour, there is no harm in it at all.
I’m not suggesting you get t-shirts printed of whatever good deed it is that you come up with, I’m just saying that by making the gesture, it will generate its own natural publicity that could help you down the line. And if it doesn’t – well, you donated to a charity anyway, so you’ll def see fluffy clouds and not hell fires!
Some ideas for this could be raffling off one of your pieces or a voucher to commission a piece from you, or even using your artistic talents for a community group project. There’s often a youth hall somewhere needing a mural and a tribe of enthusiastic people to get creative with it!
Find Local Influencers
By this, I mean, hunt down some people within your niche and local area who you could maybe partner with to do a cross promotion. So as an example, let’s say that I paint horses and I want to build my client portfolio but I am having trouble finding local clients.
I go to Google and type in ‘horse riding centres near me’ and it will bring up a map of local centres. I focus on the one with the biggest social media presence and contact the owner to see if they would consider promoting my services to their clients. They can offer their clients a special 10% discount, which makes it a good promotion for them to want to offer their customers. You can also offer to add a link to their website from your own from your ‘local partners page’.
Do this with a few local services and soon you will be reaching a huge, local audience.
Set Up Google Alerts
Staying ahead of the game is a good idea, so set up alerts on Google for anything that you feel could benefit you and your business locally. Google will let you know daily if any of your specified alerts have been found, so you can act accordingly. Maybe you want news on local events, or know if your name has been mentioned anywhere, or any art exhibitions or competitions that might be on the horizon. Get Google to shuffle through for you so that you don’t have to!
Take Your Materials and Go Paint
Whaaaaat? Outside? Around the actual….. public?
Yes! What better way to attract some local interest than by positioning yourself in such a way as to attract attention. Parks are great places to set up on sunshiny days. You can draw from your reference photo (or your imagination or surroundings) on a cheap board that’s light to carry. You don’t need much, just a few materials, some snacks and the all important business cards, because people will come and talk to you and likely ask for one. It’s a really lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Might I suggest that you don’t work on your latest commission piece, just a practice piece or something you work on specifically for these jaunts out. You don’t want to learn the hard way how frustrating it is to see your beautiful commission to be the recipient of a bird poop. Trust me!
Exhibit Where You Can
Whether that is local galleries or local cafes, there is often a blank wall crying out for a beautiful painting to adorn it, and if it is in a place that you know your target market frequents, then why can’t this beautiful piece of art be yours?!
Start to keep an eye out for local businesses who you think might want to support and exhibit a local artists work. What’s the worst that can happen? They might say no, but they may well say yes! Some small piece of art that you have buried in your portfolio, could suddenly be framed, placed on a wall in a local bistro and be working for you as you concentrate on other things.
That wonderful moment when someone calls to enquire about a commission, and they tell you they saw your art in the local bistro and copied your contact details down. And let’s not forget, the piece itself will also be for sale, just make sure you arrange a suitable commission % for the business owner who is kindly displaying your work.
Retail Stores, Gift Shops and Framers
A couple of different ways to approach this. You can either go with the same as above and ask if you can sell some original pieces, or you can look at selling prints, which would likely be the better option. You could approach a retailer and see if they would consider selling a run of prints, this could be anything from postcards to posters. If it proves to be popular, you may end up with a lucrative little sideline. But get the agreement and prices down first because printing can be expensive and you don’t want to be left with a pile of prints gathering dust, so do your market research before you start ordering prints.
Your local framers however, might be more than happy to display some of your original art, as they normally showcase various art so that people can see all their different frames.
There are other avenues to consider, whereby you may get some free advertising just because you asked nicely. I have a few stacks of business cards in various outlets where I know my target market flows through and it was simply by me asking – would you mind if I gave you some business cards to have on hand or pop by the til? Better to have a few cards out there reaching people I couldn’t, than have them stuffed in a drawer doing absolutely nothing.
Also, think about yourself and your own surroundings. Your car is a perfect place to advertise your business, whether you have it professionally done or you buy some magnetic promotional material that you can place on your car and remove at any time.
If you drive around and park a lot in local areas, it makes sense to use your car as a marketing tool to the locals.
Be Really Nice
This is just common sense and good practice, because if you go the extra mile for someone, and you’re just really nice, then nice things will happen for you too. Don’t go at everything with an ulterior motive, just do the right thing at the right time.
Reputation both on and offline can mean the difference between a successful business and one that is destined to fail.
So there are just a few ways on how you can start to think about creating some offline, local sales. It’s something that all artists should be doing, regardless of any online success they may be having. A local, supportive community could be a far stronger long term prospects for your art sales than any business online. Either way, it’s certainly a pipeline that shouldn’t be ignored.
How do you market your art offline? I’d love to hear your different ways.
You may also find this article on using Google maps to find new business leads helpful.