It is not enough to be creative in your paintings, in order to make a living as an artist, you also have to be good at marketing yourself. This is something artists generally find quite difficult. It is also important to know where and how to market yourself so that you are not wasting your valuable time.
I am going to list some ideas that have worked well for me and other artists I know both online and in the real world:
1. Submit your paintings to groups on Flickr
Flicker is a great place to publish any form of art and get a lot of attention. Check out groups that fit your type of art by theme or color. Ensure that you always create a link to your portfolio or website/shop in the description and tag your work carefully so it can be found through searches. Adding a link to your shop/website will also provide you with a valuable back link which will in turn help you with your rankings for search engine results.
2. Create your own shop/ecommerce site
If you have not already, it is now relatively easy to have an ecommerce site of your own and for free. http://www.shopify.com offers an easy to use online store builder which is fully customizable and provides a secure online shopping cart for your customers.
3. Create a time lapse video
Because selling art is all about visuals, making videos will stand you in good stead. You don't need a video recorder but by using a camera, you can take a whole series of images over a period of time. You could start with a blank canvas to a finished painting in a quick and interesting way. People love to watch artists at work and these kinds of videos always attract much traffic. Post it on YouTube and then share the link on other social media accounts you may have like Facebook and Twitter. You will soon find that it begins to go viral.
4. Use Pinterest to create a theme
Pinterest has gained incredible popularity and having boards here is an excellent way to create interest in what you're doing. Creating a board that has a theme within which your paintings fit is a wonderful way to create interest without the hard sell. You will soon see that people will repin your items on to their boards.
5. Team up with other Artists
A team of people often has more impact than just one person alone. You could create a page online where all of your work is pooled together. All of you can then drive traffic to this one page.
6. Write interesting blogs
If you are so inclined and you like writing, consider blogging. Blogs that offer interesting information that people want do best and traffic seems to just flood in. Tutorials for example are one of the best ways to get a massive amount of interest. Add your shop/website link at the bottom and you'll see traffic coming in. Step-by-step images are a must as the internet has really become image rich and less and less people are wanting to read much text since they have been bombarded for some time.
7. Organise a private show
It is not necessary to approach galleries or sell from shops. It is perfectly OK to organise your own show. If your house is not up to it, borrow a friend's or hire a venue, like a local school hall. Send out private invitations to those you feel will be interested and open for just a couple of hours. Offer a little wine and some nibbles and you'll see how enjoyable people will find this. Whenever I have done this, I have sold many paintings, more than at galleries and probably because it is more intimate and personal. For people to buy art, they often need to have a personal connection with the artist and this is a great way to achieve this.
8. Contact interior designers
Often, interior designers look for artwork to incorporate into their designs. Even if they do not have a project your work will fit in, they may do in the future. Ring them and make an appointment, or send them a professional looking portfolio with great images of your work.
9. Contact your local Tourist Office
Often, the local Tourist Board likes to organise events. This could be anything from a craft fair to art exhibitions. Make contact with them and see if they would be happy to stage such an event and whether you could be included. If you have a studio that you feel the public could come to, then also tell the Tourist Office that you would welcome people to come and visit and watch you work.
10. Run Art Classes
If you feel confident enough, run some classes. This is an excellent way to bring in some revenue but also get your name known in the community. If you don't feel good enough to teach at an advanced level, teach children and beginners. It is a wonderful way to stay connected and your pupils will talk about you and their classes to others. Word of mouth recommendations are the best type of advertising you can get.
These are just 10 ideas that have worked for me and I hope they may help some of you. Happy painting!