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  • Writer's picturerahul sriskanthan

Online Advertising in Art : How to turn Adds into Relationships

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Anyone ever tell you not to waste money on online adds, to sell art and build your career! They are totally right!

So how is it that Facebook. Google and other online advertisers made $300+ billion last year! The answer is, online advertising is a great way to win new clients, but success doesn’t start with advertising.

Success is about making and maintaining real connections with followers online by building a digital bridge to them. Then over time bringing your followers closer to you. How you do that online really depends on what you are selling. If you are an artist, photographer or gallery, there are a few simple things to focus on.

The great news, is you can get started for FREE!!!

Art is about relationships

Your goal is to grow your network to build your career and make sales.

Whether you are selling art, or developing a career as an artist, it is always about networking and developing long term relationships. It can take years before a gallery decides they will take you on as an artist, or a collector decides to buy a piece of art, or a client decides they want to commission work from a photographer or artist.

Galleries, curators and artists who are successful, encourage clients to buy from them by having repeated conversations with their clients over days, weeks, months, years and decades.

The great news is, this a business model that is proven online. Companies such as Groupon, AppSumo and Fab have made millions in sales using adds to send customers to their websites, where they encourage users to sign up to mailing lists, where they can be re-targeted with information and products.

Facebook and Instagram are game changers

Facebook & Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) are the most important marketing tools ever invented for small businesses and individuals, because they allow you to accurately target the right handful of people who you know will buy your products.

The targeting tools you have are insane. You can use Facebooks algorithms to automatically create a client list that matches the characteristics of people that already buy from you!. You can target users by their interests, age, gender, education, location and also their previous online behavior.

For a few dollars/euros you have access to tools major corporation paid millions of pounds for before Facebook was invented. I know, because I used to help major multinational corporations get the data they needed to target their clients. We would spend months, with teams of MBAs and our own software creating the tools you now have at your fingertips for free.

If you are a gallery, you may also want to spend some money on Google adds (more on that here) and if you are active on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Snapchat, TikTok, stick at it (there is no harm in having a broad footprint). Just make sure you get smart about Facebook and Instagram fast.

Your mailing list is your secret weapon

Your key goal is to grow your following. It’s also great to have larger network on Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so you can keep people engaged with your work. In many ways messaging and social networks are better than e-mail because the response and engagement rate is better.


  1. e-mail marketing works because your are focusing on people who you know want to hear from you. If you understand your followers and deliver what they want, they will open you e-mails and engage with you

  2. You can use your e-mail list to attract follower to your social network accounts - encouraging them to follow you on you latest Instagram account etc.

  3. While Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Twitter could block you or delete your account or page or group. No one can take your e-mail list away from you. If you have it you can rebuild your following whatever the social media companies do.

Your website is vital to growing your e-mail list

Your website needs be amazing. It communicates who you are, what you do, why you do it and give people a reason to care, BUT, if it doesn't encourage people to also follow you, and sign up to your mailing list, then all that effort to make your website amazing is wasted!!!

There are lots of great tools to naturally encourage users to get in touch with you and sign up to your mailing list, chat with your, or sign up to make an appointment to see you. There are multiple way to use Contact Forms, Messenger, Pop-Ups, Welcome Pages, Content Locking and appointment engines, such as Eventbrite, to turn your website into a lead magnet that brings people closer to you.

Turn followers into supporters, supporters into advocates, and advocates into clients

It's vital to talk to your followers about things you are both passionate about, and make sure you are offering "products/ services" they can afford and are interested in.

Your e-mail list is perfect for this. All you need to do is organize new followers around their interests and budgets.

Followers who aren't ready to buy yet can still help you. They can be advocates for you, like your work online, share your work with their friends and come to your events.

As followers become stronger supporters, you can re-organize your mailing list to change what you ask from them - offer them higher value artworks and different ways of supporting you.

If people become really close, then you can use your common sense. Contact them on Messenger, Whatsapp or call them.

The important thing is to use different approaches for different groups of people. Someone over 75 might want something physically posted to them, someone in they 20s may prefer a direct message on Instagram.

Get Started for FREE!!!

Before you start spending money, try out free options, in particular technologies that scale with you - so your paying for technology you are making heavy use of.

Instead of advertising on Facebook ad Instagram, start by posting to relevant Hashtags and Facebook groups to test what sort of posts work (Facebook adds and Instagram adds are very different).

If your looking to turn your website into a lead magnet, there are some great free sign up forms, contact locking forms, messenger chats and event booking systems that will help you grow your following.

There are also e-mail mailing list management systems that only start charging once you become a power user, and that allows you to get started for free.

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