The Emergency Christmas Marketing Guide for Visual Artists

The Emergency Christmas Marketing Guide for Visual Artists


the Emergency Christmas Marketing Guide for Visual Artists

Nearly Merry Christmas!

If you are reading this then it is because of one of two reasons. Reason one, you are ahead of the Christmas marketing game and just want to add a little extra marketing pizazz, or more likely you haven’t even given Christmas a thought just yet. Or it could be that you are the one person who actually reads this blog every week! Only kidding, you know I have at least two readers. 

If it is that you haven’t given Christmas marketing a thought then I think you might be busy this weekend getting your game together and playing catch up with the retailers who have been putting up Christmas trees in their stores since the end of summer. I think a few never took them down. 

If this sounds familiar then it’s ok because even the best laid plans to make sure you jump on the opportunity to run seasonal marketing campaigns in time for the day or an event can get delayed. You are not alone. I’m still preparing those Halloween artworks from last year, okay those Halloween artworks from 2012. 

If you are sat there with a smug grin thinking that you already have your marketing campaign in hand then you might also want to think about upping that campaign a little. Now is not the time for complacency, we really haven’t got much time left, and if things really do go belly up with all that talk of the end of the world, nukes, asteroids, comets, end of days, and Planet X, then you’ve got even less time to prepare and you might as well sell everything you can quickly just in case the conspiracy nuts are right. 

Selling art should be really easy on the lead up to the festive period but in reality it is just as tough as it is at any other time of the year, perhaps even more so for independent visual artists. We are having to compete with some pretty stiff discounts from the big box stores who just can’t give people the quality that we can produce. 

So this week I decided to go out and figure out what some of the best retailers were up to with their Christmas marketing campaigns in the hope that I could find something that we indies could apply to our own promotional campaigns, with one caveat, anything I found had to be quick and super easy to implement. 

One key theme seemed to stand out more than any other, many of the best known brands were upping their social media advertising campaigns and some are clearly spending big money. But what if you don’t have that kind of budget?

Worry not because I found a few useful marketing tips that will give you the edge, and especially if you are exhibiting at any number of the upcoming Christmas exhibitions or even if you are marketing your visual art through social media.

Branding…

Branding is something that is very different for visual artists than it is for the large retail giants. Our branding is essentially just us as people rather than a huge corporation. That doesn’t mean that we can’t brand ourselves in a similar way to how their products and organisations are branded. We are all a whole heap more unique than a pair of sneakers with a fancy logo so play on the fact that you are human, not a logo, and certainly not a faceless corporate giant. 

What you can’t do is start painting a festive logo on top of all of the art that you supply unless of course your art depicts Christmas scenes, but you can join the festivities by adding a seasonal flair to your social media profile and your website.

Incorporate festive elements into your profile photos and header images and if you have a website include some seasonal touches on there too. Don’t be tempted to make them too fussy, simple works so much better.

If you need to make branded images very quickly use an application such as Adobe Spark Post. This is a design program from Adobe that comes with hundreds of templates which you can remix and you can add text and overlays. 

Spark Post is available on the web so you can access it from PC and Mac, and there is also an iPhone and iPad app which you can download for free from the App Store. You can check out the web version here. https://spark.adobe.com/home/ For Android users don’t panic, if you visit the website you will be able to sign up for early beta access to the Android version.

This is where you will also find Adobe Spark Video for creating pretty stunning video in seconds also from templates or you can make your own, and Spark Page which allows you to create classy web pages, again you can use templates or start from scratch. 

You can also add your own branding to Spark Post graphics but to do this you do need to have an Adobe Creative Cloud account which starts at around $10 (£10 UK) per month and this will also give you access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC. 

You can use any of the Spark apps without a subscription but if you need to add a logo or branding and create branded templates you will need to do that after you have created your new images from another app or program unless you are a subscriber. If you have a set of branded templates it only takes minutes to produce professional and consistent graphics. 

Essentially this is a free suite of applications from Adobe and as you would expect, the quality is Adobe’s usual high standard. I became an Adobe Spark Insider back in the summer so I get to see what’s coming up ahead for Spark and I can tell you that it is shaping up to be one of the most useful Adobe packages ever. In fact all of this week’s blog graphics were created in Spark Post! I’m difficult to impress especially when it comes to graphics packages and apps, and even if I weren’t a Spark Insider this would always be my go to app. It’s so easy too. 

Just one more thing on creating web graphics, on Facebook try to keep any text to less than 20% of the real estate available within the image otherwise it will be viewed by that pesky algorithm as being an ad and will reach fewer people. Remember what I said last week about reach? Reach doesn’t really mean reach on Facebook.

Follow a festive theme…


merry Christmas from Beechhouse Media

Only a tiny proportion of your social media presence should be related to direct marketing and I have discussed this throughout my series of articles about using Facebook to market your visual art. But the festive theme can be carried through all of your posts on your business page which will not only provide some visual consistency, it will tie everything you post to those few marketing posts that will appear in between. 

As it is Christmas it is also expected that your promotional materials and posts will increase slightly. If you are sticking to the not every post is a marketing post rule then you can reward yourself by adding in a few extra promotional posts without feeling guilty and just so long as you don’t overdo things!

Your posts should already be adding value to customers but you can also start to add a little festive value too and you can be light hearted. This can be anything from sharing your favourite Christmas recipe, or even create a retrospective of the art that you have completed over the past year. 

As artists we tend to be creative in all sorts of things. One of my favourite times each year is when I decorate the Christmas tree. If you have tips for interior decoration over the Christmas period not only will people find this type of content useful, but adding in some textual context will also help with your search engine optimisation. There are lots of keywords that can be included in your social media post that the search engines will find more relevant over the holiday period, so take advantage of this small window of opportunity to reach out to new clients.

At Christmas you will have lots of things going on and it is easy to forget that your social media presence should be aligned with your festive activity. If you have a blog then write about something that ties in to your social media activity, expand those blog posts on social media so that the blog doesn’t get forgotten a couple of days after you publish it. Take photos of your Christmas preparations and post them on Instagram, and follow the theme throughout all of your online presence. 

The Christmas Promotion…

Everyone is on the lookout for bargains on the lead up to the last day of shopping. Every year Christmas seems to get more and more expensive and more and more, people are using platforms like Facebook to plan their Christmas shopping. You can see my latest promotion towards the bottom of the page. 

All of the big brands will be running promotions on the lead up to the last shopping day and if you already have a Facebook Business/Fan page, you will find a range of tools that can help you promote your latest offer without spending a penny.

Using the ‘offers’ tab you can create a promotional campaign and offer customers a discount code. The customer will click on the offer and leave their email address and in return they will receive an email containing the offer. If you link this with a paid promotion, potentially you could reach out to a much wider audience.

Many of the Print on Demand sites will allow you to create discount codes which can run for a period of time defined by you. Offering 10% off a piece of artwork over a couple of weekends on the lead up to Christmas and then only giving the codes out through the offer on Facebook is a great way to offer an online discount code without any hassle and it might just bag you a few extra followers too. 

Make sure that you know as far in advance as possible what the latest pre-Christmas delivery cut off dates will be and publicise these dates to remind people that they have only very limited time available to make the purchase if they want those gifts under the tree. I have one at the bottom of the page for you to take advantage of too!

On the lead up to making the promotion available you could also stream a couple of Facebook Live events to let people know more about the offer. What you must do though is not fall into the “live in five” post trap. 

Let people know that you will be online at a specific time and give people enough notice. You could even set this up as a Facebook event so that the date can be added to a customer’s calendar without leaving the Facebook app. Facebook like that and it seems we do too. 

Broadcasting live is a scary experience for some people but it is a must do when it comes to marketing in the 21st Century. Practice in front of friends and family a few times before you go live, but once you do go live you will feel like you are chatting to old friends. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to your followers.

If offline marketing is your thing and you plan on exhibiting at Christmas art exhibitions and fairs then you can use the same code. Print off some labels with the code on and stick them down inside a greetings card with a handwritten note. 

Now if you really want to take the greetings card tactic to the next level, order yourself a set of greetings cards featuring your own art from your print on demand site or even make your own and use those. 

The idea of a twelve-days-of-Christmas campaign is little too clichéd for me because literally everybody does it. Think about using a similar concept as an advent calendar and this could give you the opportunity to run a different promotion each day. Dare to be a little different in how you run your promotions and you will stand out a little more.

Set each promotion for one day only if you are using print on demand services and then change it the next day. Make sure that you get all of your marketing materials prepared ahead of the first promotion. 

Don’t despair if on day one you fail to sell anything at all. There will still be eleven or however many days left and eleven new opportunities for people to find something that they like. 

Marketing this way can also add a sense of urgency to your campaign. It is also a great opportunity to showcase some of you more unique products and make a play on the fact that these are only available from a limited time and if they are only available through your online store, let people know that they are exclusive.

Consider paid campaigns…

Set yourself a small budget and create a marketing campaign with a call to action to visit your art sales page. Ultimately that is where we want people to visit so it makes sense to focus on getting people there instead of trying to build up page likes. 

If people find your art interesting they will more than likely follow your page anyway. Campaigns don’t have to run forever, they can be just over one or two days, but the more days you can afford the better the results will be. If you spend $10 and sell two pieces your commission could pay for this if you make those sales. 

Whilst there is never any guarantee that advertising campaigns will work at least people will know that you are there. If you are new to paid ads, try not to spend more than you would make as the commission for a single painting. So if you set commissions of $50 for a piece of art keep that as the budget and that way you will only need to sell one piece of work to cover your costs, everything else is a bonus.

It’s a Christmas wrap!

Not too convinced about going live in front of potentially thousands of people? Facebook has been favouring video posts for a while now so creating a non-live broadcast video might just be the way to go. 

Lots of people buy and gift art every year and one of the things I often get asked about is how should the art be transported and wrapped. When it comes to gifting a piece of your art this Christmas you could produce a video that shows people not only how to wrap and transport the art, but how to care for and store it too. 

As a print on demand artist we often make our art available on non-traditional art products too. Everything from beach towels to T-shirts, and some awkward shaped items too. Pick out some of those odd shaped products and show people how to wrap those. Don’t worry if you don’t have the first clue about gift wrapping, just visit to YouTube and there are literally a million plus ways to wrap a Yoga mat which you can adapt and add your own special pizazz too!

If you are selling art directly then you could also offer a gift wrapping service. If you plan on exhibiting you could always ask a friend to help if things get busy. It offers a value and the market for in-store gift wrapping has been growing considerably over the past few years as people become busier. 

Many of the retailers I have visited have been charging a little extra for the service and last week when I visited one retailer they literally had a queue of people waiting in line to get their products wrapped. It did seem a little odd because I am sure that it would have been quicker to take it home and wrap it instead of waiting in line for fifteen minutes, but when I saw the wrapped gifts with a few embellishments on I could certainly see the appeal.

Breakfast in the studio…

Those artists who are lucky enough to have a studio or gallery that is open to the public have a really good opportunity to invite people in to the studio or gallery to network. Depending on where you are located this could be the first port of call for those who plan on going shopping in your local area, immediately after they have had breakfast in your studio or gallery first. 

This means that you also get to the potential clients before any of the local retailers do and whilst they still have money to spend. Make sure that you have a range of products that would make great gifts available, or offer gift vouchers in various denominations so that recipients can put them towards a cost of a piece of your artwork in the new year. 

You can even make this an exclusive event where you open up an hour or two early to give private access earlier than you would for your regular customers. If you are stuck for ideas on how to keep people entertained, give them a behind the scenes tour, offer them a practical demonstration of an artistic technique, and get them involved in the creative process too. You could even do a Q&A session.

As for the breakfast, local catering companies can be used if you haven’t got the inclination/time/space/skills or facilities to prepare something yourself. It doesn’t have to be an early morning champagne affair but it can be. Just make sure you invite me if it is.

There is something that you might also want to consider when running an event such as this and that is to make sure the local press and TV stations have been invited too. Send out a press release along with an invite and any customer testimonials you have and you might just get some free publicity. On a slow news day or if they need god news stories to balance their copy out they will be there in a camera flash. 

If you haven’t got a physical space consider running a webinar. You could still encourage participant engagement by asking viewers to paint or draw something quick and fun along with you. You could even ask viewers to send in their creations and you could have them printed on a poster as a giveaway or as a paid for service. 

Collaborate…

Collaboration is something I have been championing of late with many of my artist friends. Collaborating with business can either be extremely positive or it can sometimes be a little one sided but if you have a good relationship with a small business that compliments your art such as a local framer, consider running a collaborative marketing effort between you. 

Not only will it reduce both of your costs it also has the potential to increase the audience for both businesses. You could even tie this into the breakfast event if you are located close enough to each other. 

Make your exhibition space festive!

Not that anyone needs reminding that Christmas is literally just around the corner but if you are planning on exhibiting make sure that you carry a Christmas theme too. Make it simple though because this is now something else that you would need to set up when you set up your main display, but adding just a few festive touches to your exhibition space to create a more festive atmosphere will remind people that it is gift buying season.

Those greetings cards…

Even if you don’t have a physical space available and only sell online make sure that your Christmas marketing includes the greetings cards that most print on demand artists will have tucked away in their portfolio.

Most artists marketing campaigns always heavily feature the big ticket items and yet those small ticket items can be really useful to your overall marketing strategy and your bottom line. People don’t buy big ticket canvases as stocking fillers generally, they keep those as the main presents but those smaller ticket items are affordable enough to be popped in a stocking.

If you are selling in a physical space then make sure greetings cards are near the point of purchase, and if you are selling online, promote the cards that you have forgotten to promote for the past 51 weeks. 

Ideally you will have some designs that will have a perfect fit with Christmas but remember that people do not stop having birthdays in December either! 

Whilst we are talking about physical spaces and point of sale, remember to keep a stock of gift wrap and tags near your sales point for impulse purchases. Even if you are exhibiting, carry a small stock of gift wrap and consider uploading your designs on to gift wrap over at a site like Zazzle and sell that. 

Many people really don’t enjoy going to multiple shops to buy everything they need to wrap up presents so if you are selling anything that can be a gift, stock the gift wrap too. It is even better when it is your design as well, and some print on demand sites will also create gift tags. If not consider making some handmade ones and either give them away as part of a promotion or sell them.

Say thank you!

If you have collectors already then Christmas is the perfect time to thank them. Again this is useful for print on demand artists but those who sell their art directly can join in with this idea too. 

Writing a personalised note to your existing collectors or getting in touch to say hi without any promotion can really be one of the best marketing tools that is available to you. It personalises the relationship between the seller and the customer and as the art world is filled with artists who people do really want to connect with, sending a personalised handwritten message is a really nice thing to do.

You can also use those other products to showcase a piece of your art, or a piece of art that someone has already purchased. Place the image on a coffee cup and gift the cup to your collector, or if the work that the collector has already purchased is part of a wider collection, place an image of a work on the cup that the collector does not already have.

This might just remind them that there are more paintings in the collection and every time they use the mug they will be reminded of this. 

If you are giving out gifts to clients and collectors make them useful gifts and not gifts that will be forever confined to the bottom of a drawer. I have lost count of the number of pens and USB sticks I have been handed over the years. I never trust a USB stick to not have a virus on so these are sort of wasted on me, but a coffee cup, well that is one very useful item given that I drink so much of it.

Whilst we are on the subject of thanking customers, send out greetings cards to your existing client base and maybe add a promotional code to use against the purchase of your art or offer existing collectors an opportunity to pre-order your artwork before it is released.

The only problem with this is that the print on demand sites never let you know who purchased your work. Create a social media post thanking those customers and some of them might just get in touch with you.

Email Campaigns…

If you have an email list then pre-Christmas is the time when you can take your marketing effort up a gear, but never to the point of appearing to be spammy. 

If you are sending out emails remember that just as you do with your social media marketing posts, not every email needs to be a hard sell. Some emails can be updates on how your latest creations are coming along or that you have published a new blog post. 

Those geared towards marketing should offer some value to the recipient otherwise the client will just click on the unsubscribe button or will banish them to the bin. 

When clients do click on your website they might not all complete the check-out process and this could be for a number of reasons. More often than not clients are put off by high shipping fees which can be a problem for some print on demand artists. If this is where you suspect you are losing out on customers then there are a couple of things that you can do to make it a little more affordable.

  1. Think about using local printer to produce prints of your work and ship them yourself.
  2. Offer a discount against your artists commission to help with those higher costs
  3. Try to find a print on demand service that offers lower shipping rates
  4. Look out for the offers run by the print on demand companies who occasionally offer free or heavily discounted shipping and make sure to pass the codes on in your marketing. Sometimes the POD sites will send these out at the last minute so using something like Adobe Spark Post will mean that you can have some pre-prepared marketing materials and all you will need to add is the new code as soon as you know it.
  5. Make sure you have a range of less expensive products available. Even galleries like the Tate sell pens in their gift shop.
  6. Make sure that the subject lines used in emails are not spammy but spark interest.
  7. If you haven’t got an email subscription service sign up for something like Mail Chimp which allows you to collect addresses and manage email campaigns with prices starting at free. 

Make sure you join the right POD service…

Some print on demand services will allow you to make a small commission on any accessories that are purchased along with your art. Some offer this through their premium services, others offer this to artists when an artist joins their affiliate marketing program. 

Make sure you are in the right program as the commission on a large frame could go towards any annual costs of being a member of the print on demand service, or make sure to sign up as an affiliate. 

Once you are in you can then upsell frames alongside your artwork. If you partner with a local framer you could also offer alternative options and maybe earn a little more in commission from the framer. 

Diversity…

Remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. There are many religions who do not celebrate Christmas in the same way if at all, so you have to be respectful of those people too and make sure that your marketing is diverse and appeals to a broad spectrum of faiths, beliefs and genders. Diversity isn’t something that should ever be seen as a marketing gimmick, it is something that should be the norm and done out of respect for everyone.  

In fact, adding diversity shouldn’t just be over the festive period or Easter it should be throughout the year and it should never be seen as being something that you do differently only when it’s convenient.This is just as important to you as an independent visual artist as it is to the large brands and organisations. 

This is also where you can focus on niche holidays. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fine but your audience for art is often more engaged in the smaller events and there is less competition. It’s not just holidays but things like Small Business Saturday. Even Green Monday managed to pull in $1.4 billion in online sales back in 2015. Those are potential markets that we as independent visual artists can’t afford to ignore. 

Remarket your older products…

I see this so often and it is a mistake that many artists make. You spend months creating the most wonderful work, you post it in every group and on every social media channel on the day you upload it to a print on demand site and then you never do anything with it again.

Notice how only your new work sells? This could be the reason. Remarketing old work by dressing it up in a festive post reminds people that the work is still available. Those who might have abandoned their shopping cart on your page might now come back if there is an offer on. 

I have been a huge fan of remarketing and using evergreen content and if you are doing it right then you should never have to think about what to post ever again. 

So go and get your campaign underway!

Even when you set yourself goals and intentions to prepare and start marketing campaigns early things can slip. That’s just the way life is sometimes. Even if you didn’t start thinking about a Christmas marketing campaign back in the summer, there is at least still a little time left to do something that brings a little cheer to your marketing. 

As I said earlier, the art world is pretty unforgiving and challenging at times and just because we are now in a gift buying season doesn’t mean to say that it will get any easier. Christmas is the time for doing your marketing differently and it can bring in new collectors which is ultimately what we all want. 

There is something else that we can all do to help each other and that is to visit each artists print on demand by clicking on the links on social media, and we need to do this before we click the like button. 

This will help with boosting the visits on the POD sites so that the artwork is ranked a little higher, and secondly the Facebook algorithm will know that we truly do like the post so engagement will also grow.

Whilst you are on the POD site and so long as you have an account, consider leaving positive comments too, and when an artist does this remember to reciprocate the gesture for your fellow artists in return. It doesn’t take long at all to do this and I get that any time is important, but think of this as giving a gift to all of those artists who support you throughout the year when they share and comment on your posts. Without each other all of our engagement by now would be at rock bottom. 

If any of these ideas come in handy and you have found that they have been working for you, leave a comment below and let us all know. If you have any other ideas, leave a comment with those too, we could all do with a little help! Most of all, I sincerely hope you all have a successful and merry Christmas!


Black Friday art sale Mark Taylor Fine art America

Stop the press! Black Friday has arrived!

I thought about Black Friday long and hard this year and whether I should offer any discounts and I decided that I would! I have never offered this level of discount on my art before, but I know how tough it is when you’re looking for Christmas gifts and you want something that is different, is of great quality, and is affordable. There will however be no more discounts like this!

It’s also challenging to maintain a site like this and the associated activity that goes with it, so any sales of my art go towards the upkeep of the site to make sure that I can continue bringing you hopefully useful information week after week. Unlike some other art sites that ask for sign ups and sell training and marketing courses, I want to keep this site open and free to use for every independent and local visual artist. No sign up, no fee. 

So I have taken 80% off my artists commission until the 30th November and the discount applies to every product on my Pixels site. That means you can save big time and if you order now, you will get guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery and a 30-day money back guarantee. What’s more, there’s no minimum spend!

Visit https://10-Mark-taylor.pixels.com or https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/10-mark-taylor select your favourite artwork, choose your product including greetings cards, prints, Yoga mats, and those beautiful new fleece blankets, and enter the code PHYGRR at checkout. 

The discount will be applied and will come out of the commission usually paid to me. Think of it as my Christmas gift to you! The full range of print mediums and other products is only available on my Pixels site though, but all orders are fulfilled by Fine Art America to a very high standard and delivered from your closest distribution centre to keep shipping costs low. You can also order from around the world!


Black Friday art sale from Mark Taylor Fine Art America and Pixels

ABOUT M.A


Mark A. Taylor is a British artist and blogger who specialises in abstract and landscape work and also produces art to be used within TV, film, and as book covers. You can see and purchase Mark’s artwork on a wide range of print mediums and other products right here.  and you can follow Mark on Facebook here.  

Mark not only produces artwork which is available in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada, he is committed to helping independent visual artists gain exposure. Any sales of his art go towards maintaining this site. Supporting local and independent visual artists over the upcoming holiday season really is a very special thing to do. Mark’s superpower is Crohn’s Disease, and making coffee. He makes great coffee.

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