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How much of a financial investment are you making in your art business?

By Carolyn Edlund, Guest Blogger –  There are so many free ways to share your art today, especially online. That’s great. You shouldn’t have to break the bank to get exposure for your artwork – but there are places where money is well spent:

Your Art Website. This is the most important place to invest your hard-earned money, in my opinion. There are many ways to build a website, to suit any number of budgets. Make your web presence a priority and spend as much as you can afford to make the best impression.

An outdated or barely functional website says you don’t really care that much, or perhaps you aren’t in business any longer. This turns off website visitors, rather than intrigue them.

Some website providers like Wix.com offer low-cost options, but it involves advertising. If your art website has these words scrolling across the bottom – “This site was created using Wix.com. Create your own for FREE” – then I strongly advise you to spend the extra $5.00 per month (literally!) and get that ad taken off your site. Every time I see one of these, I cringe. It screams “amateur” and looks like like you’re not serious.

Your Photographs. As a visual artist, you know how important it is to present incredible work with impact. Lousy photos are just not acceptable. Don’t ever scrimp on photography; it will get your work ignored and rejected. If you don’t take your work seriously enough to show it to its best advantage, why should jurors, galleries or collectors assign value to it? You work hard in the studio. Honor your art by giving it an incredible presentation through professional photographs. Definitely money well spent.

Your Shows. Doing fairs and festivals? If you are limiting yourself to the cheapest booth fees, or even free events, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Apply to the very best shows you can. Investing in fewer high-quality events that match you with the right audience is a far better bargain in the end that wasting your time and energy in the wrong venue, chosen for cost alone.

Your Marketing Materials. Are you looking to impress potential customers with your brand? Use quality images and content to share your art. Whether you are spending on postcards, elegant invitations, or even advertising, put your best foot forward. This is often the first contact you will have. Make it count by wowing your audience, and encouraging them to want to see more.

Have you noticed that the list in this article includes places where you interact with potential customers, or people who may have the power and influence to give you publicity or help your business? That is where professionalism is key. It can make all the difference in your results.

Where Can You Save Some Money? If you don’t have money to spend on services that automatically schedule social media posts, then do it yourself. Persistent and consistent outreach through social media drives website traffic, and can help build your list, and you can put in some “sweat equity” here.

If you can’t afford a virtual assistant, then learn strategies to approach prospects, do follow ups, or conduct marketing activities yourself. Learning how to do this effectively will serve you well, and keep you on top of the best methods to get exposure. Research, read free blog posts, and put those ideas into action.

If you don’t have the budget for a paid Email Service Provider, use one with a free level such as Mail Chimp or Vertical Response. You will still have professionally-looking email campaigns going out to the list you have built of customers and others who are interested in what you make.

Exhibiting your work or having an open studio? There is no reason that you can’t use upcycled materials creatively to make displays or signage. Check out these cheapskate ideas to get lots of bang for your buck. (Link www.artsbusinessinstitute.org/blog/20-cheapskate-trade-show-booth-ideas/ )

Every creative business person has different needs. Identify those areas where you must spend money to create the best impression and the most impact. And invest your money there with confidence.

Carolyn Edlund is an art business consultant and the founder of Artsy Shark, which features and promotes artists. Carolyn is also the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, frequently speaking at artist workshops throughout the U.S. http://www.artsbusinessinstitute.org.  

Her background includes owning a production studio for over 20 years, and representing art publishers to the retail market.  Carolyn’s website is http://www.ArtsyShark.com. Also don’t miss …. “Artsy Shark’s Success Guide to Email Marketing for Artists’ http://bit.ly/EmailCourse.

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