How to find your target audience for paintings

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Many of us create art because it makes us feel good. But most artists don't spend much time thinking about their target market or art business. Then again, most artists can't make money selling art.

A successful artist is a business minded artist. Today I want to talk about the market for paintings. As you know, collectors pay big money for original art by well-known artists. But what about the rest of us? Do we have a target audience? Even with the modern art obsession, it can be hard to find your target audience online.

The art world is big, and art marketing is your way to cut through the noise and get some real business growth with your target audience. Art buyers want to buy your art – they just can't find it. So let's talk about how to find your target audience for your art, whatever it might be.

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Developing a buyer persona

Let's get into some mind games. I promise I won't use psychology extensively, but it's useful in this moment. A buyer persona is a fake buyer with enough detail to give you insight into your potential customers. It represents your target audience.

You don't actually need to use your imagination here if you've sold art. What were your customers like? Were they twenty, child free, and vegan? Or were they soccer moms? Hoteliers? Your target audience can be found in your past buyers.

Make a persona out of it. Give them a name. Find a picture online that is representative of what you think that target audience would look like. Figure out their wants, and needs, and fears, and likes – and how all of those things relate to your art. Are people interested in your art because it gives them comfort? Does it make them feel edgy? Are they conservative? Punk scene abound?

Develop a marketing strategy from your personas

After you've made a few personas, you can really begin to understand your emerging art marketing strategy and your target audience. Use your personas to guide you in what to post, and on which social media platforms.

For example: if your target audience was a middle-aged woman who likes abstract art, what kind of art would she like? Who else does she admire? What websites does she read for news and trends? What hashtags is she using on Instagram? Does she respond to digital marketing, or d you need to reach her offline?

Art buyers are a diverse target audience, and selling art is about meeting them where they are. But you can't have effective audience targeting without knowing what it is about your artistic style that your buyers like. So, get inside their heads. Art business is about being successful in a sea of many artists, and finding your target audience.

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Build your artist website

An artist website is incredibly important. Social media is fine, but when people talk about your art, they'll say, “I found it on social” – they might not even mention you by name. A website for your art business helps build your brand and connect you to your target audience. You can bring your existing customers over, and use it to attract your target market.

Art galleries often have websites, too, so take advantage. Get involved in your local art gallery, and then get that backlink to your website. Art marketing is equal parts strategy and patience.

Tweak, monitor, and experiment

Just because you're an artist, doesn't mean that you have to avoid science. Develop your target market through trial and error. You can find your target audience by monitoring how well your art marketing efforts are going.

If you get a big return on social media, then invest more in that medium to connect to your target audience. But if it's lagging, pick something else. Maybe your target market responds well to ads or a review from an art critic.

Keep a journal of your progress, so that you can refer back to it and be sure that doing X for art marketing yielded better results than when you did Y or Z. Eventually, you'll find the target audience that loves your artistic style.

Ask for help

Sometimes, it can be hard to be our own art critics. Friends and family can help. They may not have studied art, but chances are, they can help you identify your target audience.

They will share your same passion for art sales, because what makes you happy, makes them happy. So go ahead and ask your spouse: what do you think my target audience is for my art? The answer might surprise you.

Want even more intel?

My upcoming book, "Bulletproof Marketing for Digital Artists" will have everything you want - and more - on digital art and building your digital business. Preorder today, and be the first to get your copy in January 2024!

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