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When to Use Paid Ads to Sell Your Art

It’s a question that comes up a lot – when should I use paid ads to sell my art? Should I use Facebook ads to launch a new collection?

It can be hard to know when to market your art organically, ie using free marketing, or when it’s time to use paid ads like Facebook ads. First of all though, before you think about using paid ads to sell your art, you need to make sure you have a system in place for generating awareness, putting your work in front of a lot of people and for drawing some of those people onto your email list, where you can build up trust, show them more about how you work and help them connect with you and your artwork on a deeper level. You can then make offers to them, or present collections of new pieces and know that some of those will result in sales.

Let’s do some really round numbers. Imagine you get your artwork in front of 1000 people. 100 of those people decide to join your email list, and 10 people buy. That is a system you can test organically, and see if it works. There are many free ways to do this (and I talk about them in detail in the Passion to Profit course). Trying these systems organically means you can make sure they work without putting money into it. Don’t put money into something that you don’t know works. You need to make sure it works, check you have people coming in and it’s resulting in sales. When you know your system is working, only then is it time to put money behind ads.

People think that paid ads are the magical unicorn that will solve all their problems when they’re not making sales. Ads only amplify the results you’re already getting. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it – you can put as much water as you want into it but the water won’t stay there! If there’s a hole, it’s going to flow out.

It’s the same with your money and Facebook ads.

Check you have a system in place that works. Do you have a way of getting in front of customers, making offers to them and turning them into buyers? If you do, and you’re confident about it, then absolutely scale using Facebook ads because if you have something that works, you can go and put it out there. You can put money behind it and things can fly.

This is the advice I always give to my students in Passion to Profit (and we also go through how to run Facebook ads as well).

The only other time I think it’s appropriate to run paid ads is when you’re trying to raise awareness of your artwork and presence, and you’re not trying to get people to make a purchase right away. This is called a conversion. This works well if you’re a beginner and you’re trying to raise awareness.

For example, you can do a Page Likes campaign for your Facebook page to get more people to like it. You can do a campaign to increase your followers on Instagram. This is very different to buying followers – never, ever buy followers. Buying followers on Facebook or Instagram will skew any data that you need for Facebook ads. If you’ve bought followers, chances are they’ve got no interest in your artwork. They’ll never engage with you. They’re not the right customer profile. If you come to run ads later down the line, Facebook or Instagram will look at your following and amplify that. If you’ve got people with no interest in your artwork, you put money behind it and Facebook will show your work to similar people, ie people who might not be interested in your art and are irrelevant to your business. These are just vanity metrics as well.

Ads campaigns that raise awareness of your artwork can be really useful. You can put a small budget behind a Page Likes Campaign, and you tell Facebook or Instagram who you want them to show your ads to, eg people from X country, who are in X age range, who like this particular hobby etc. Facebook then uses the data it has on all of us (whether you like it or not) and finds the right people, and shows them your page. It shows them if you have presented your work beautifully and if you have given lots of value to your potential customers. Maybe you show them an amazing time lapse of your art, or you give them a great guide on how to create a gallery wall with your artwork – they’re likely to follow you, follow your page and like your art.

Facebook can only get you traffic – it’s up to you to make sure that traffic converts, so make sure you’re well presented. Make sure your work is good and well executed. That way when people land on your page, or Instagram account, they are way more likely to follow you. Instagram or Facebook can’t make people like or follow you. All they do is say “have you seen this artist and their work? It might be something you’re interested in”. It’s up to you to make sure it’s engaging enough for that person to want to follow you.

Image of a mobile phone with a blue screen and Facebook logo on a pink background, from a blog post about when to use paid ads to sell your artwork from Thriving Artists Business School
Photo by dlxmedia.hu on Unsplash

So absolutely, go ahead and use ad spend to really increase the eyeballs on your artwork. Don’t use ad spend to try and get people to purchase stuff initially until you know your systems work. You’ll be throwing good money after bad.

Sometimes people try Facebook ads and think they don’t work. It’s not that they don’t work – it’s just that they didn’t use the right strategy. It’s like anything in business – you can try something once and say it doesn’t work when actually you need to make sure you marry the product, the messaging and the audience.

I hope this blog post has been useful in terms of knowing when to use paid ads to sell your art. If you would like more information come and join my free masterclass. It is about the four simple steps to making consistent and profitable sales and also what the three biggest mistakes are you need to avoid if you want to make those consistent sales as an artist.

BUSINESS TIPS

  1. Michelle Roberts says:

    @Amanda heath, hello, this was very interesting and useful to read. As a beginner to Instagram, Facebook, computers and starting my own business i think the page likes campaign is a good idea. I have lots of artists liking my work and some other people but no one asks about buying any. I have in fact one person who has bought a canvas print, that’s it. I’m still on the prep for making my website…but am taking the time to do research. How would you go about doing a time lapse on Instagram and Facebook? Would it help me to find my Ideal customer doing this also? Thankyou in advance:-)

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