Successful artpreneurs do a lot of research to find out where they can best position themselves in a market. In a recent interview with superstar artist Matt Leblanc, he talks about how he spent a fair amount of time researching his market to find out what kind of art was out there, who was doing it, how much they were charging, and how much they were selling.
Using this research, Matt was able to position his art at a certain price point that fell right in the sweet spot between various other artists, and he took over an entire local market. You can do the same, and the research isn't that hard.
Good Artists Copy…
Research is a good foundation for all marketing campaigns. You want to make sure that you are reaching the right people, at the right time, in the right place, especially if you want your art to stand out online. You need to think about who your ideal collectors are, where they spend their time on the internet, what their hobbies are, and even perhaps what their income is. In addition, you'll want to know what your competition is doing so that you can find opportunities in the online art marketplace. (on a side note, there are so few artists doing a good job of selling their art on the Internet right now, that there are tons of opportunities - tons)
How to Look
There are lots of interesting tools for doing online research. I'll give you here a run down of some basic tools to get you started.
Finding other artist websites/blogs
- Use the SEO Book Keyword Tool - Aaron Wall has put out an easy to use tool that will show you how popular some artist sites are. This is a good indicator who you should imitate or learn from.
- Google Blog Search - just type in the style of art that you do (as specifically as possible), and you'll find a host of blogs and artist sites who are in the same genre. Most of them will be really awful. Use them as an example of what not to do, stealing a few examples of designs you like and marketing tactics you like.
- Artist blogrolls - most bloggers have a list of blogs that they read on their their site. Looks for long lists with titles like "blogroll," "blogs I read," or "great people." You'll start to notice patterns. Who gets listed a lot? Think about why they get listed.
- Twitter Search - Twitter produces 1 Billion Tweets per week! That's a LOT of real-time data about what's happening on the Internet and in the real world. People update Twitter from their smartphones all the time. Spend a little time there to see what artists are tweeting about, and who is responding to them. It could be enlightening.
- Google Keyword Tool - Google advertising program, Adwords, provides a free keyword research tool. Use it to see how many people are searching for your style of painting. Be sure to get really specific. "Portrait Art" is way too general. Think "Original Pet Portrait Art," or "Portrait Artist Portland, Oregon." The numbers can be enlightening, but don't let these numbers alone dictate what you do with your work. Even if there's not a lot of search traffic for it, that doesn't mean you can't make a living as an artist doing what you love to do.
- Facebook search - Want to see which artists have large followings online? Look at Facebook Fan Pages. Just do a search on Facebook for the kind of art that you want to do and see who comes up. It might surprise you to see that there are already a bunch of artists who have substantial Facebook followings, and that they are making sales off of those Facebook fans.
Trust Your Muse
Finally, I'll say that while research is important, the final decision on what to do and how to do it comes down to you as the artist. It's your work and your life. Artists remake new markets and forge ahead into areas that others can't see. That's what makes artists unique and interesting. Once you've done your research, set it aside and think about your artistic vision and then do what you know will take you down the right path.
You have the vision.