Marketing for Artists: Learn the Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Artists & Creatives Make | Mallory Whitfield | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Marketing for Artists: Learn the Top 5 Marketing Mistakes Artists & Creatives Make

teacher avatar Mallory Whitfield, Marketing Mentor for Makers

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Marketing Mistake #1: No specific ideal customer


    • 3.

      Marketing Mistake #2: Lack of branding


    • 4.

      Marketing Mistake #3: Poor photography


    • 5.

      Marketing Mistake #4: Not nurturing customers via email


    • 6.

      Marketing Mistake #5: No understanding of SEO


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

I’ve been working with artists and creatives to get the word out about their work for more than 12 years.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence, as a blogger, handmade shop owner, craft show vendor and digital marketing specialist. I created in 2006 as a place to spread the word about artists I loved. It's evolved since then, and I later ran my own e-commerce shop, where I sold my own handmade work alongside that of other artists. I also sold these products at many craft shows, art markets and festivals over the years:

More recently, I’ve worked full-time at a digital marketing agency, where I worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes to get the word out via social media and their websites.

I’ve seen people the same marketing mistakes again and again, whether it’s independent artists and creatives, small business owners or big companies. And I don’t want it to happen to you. In this free class, I’ll share the top 5 marketing mistakes that I see artists & creatives make that prevent them from selling more of their handmade products.

(Prefer to listen? I’ve also recorded a Badass Creatives podcast episode about this very topic, which includes some slightly different tips and resources than mentioned in the videos!)

Like this class? You might also like my Skillshare class DIY SEO for E-commerce:

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mallory Whitfield

Marketing Mentor for Makers


Hi, I'm Mallory Whitfield and I work with product-based creative business owners who want to learn how to strategically market their business so that they can reach more customers and be more profitable.

I started my first handmade business way back in 2004, and along the way, I taught myself all about digital marketing and how to run a business. I learned marketing the hard way, making a LOT of mistakes along the way.

In 2014, I switched to a full-time career in digital marketing. Since then, I've worked with hundreds of artists, creative entrepreneurs, and small businesses, teaching workshops on SEO, e-commerce, blogging, social media & email marketing at events like Craftcation and New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. As Adjunct Professor at Tulane University's School... See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro: Hi. My name is Valerie, a k a. Miss Malaprop, and I've been working with artists and other handmade creators for more than 10 years. I started out myself in 2000 for selling my up cycled clothing creations and accessories at local craft shows here in New Orleans. And since then I also started a blawg, miss malaprop dot com, where I started out featuring artists and creators and their handmade work. And I later developed an online store where I sold the work of other artists as well as my own work and also still that work throughout festivals. Craft shows other events around New Orleans since then in 2014 a transition to a day job in digital marketing. That's search engine optimization, social media content, marketing, all that good stuff. So I work with businesses of all shapes and sizes to help them get found online and sell more of their stuff. But my passion is helping you artists and creators to sell more of your work so that whether you want to do it full time or you just want to make a little extra money on the side and be creative, you can do it and you can make some money and you can get your work out there because that's what's important. But there's a few problems that I see repeated again and again, and the big companies that I work with, those regular small businesses. They do this Justus much as artists and creators do a lot of times. So I want to let you know what those five really key sticking points are so that you can prevent them and you can get more of your work out there and sell more of your stuff, so let's get started. 2. Marketing Mistake #1: No specific ideal customer: now, the first mistake that I see a lot of artists, makers and even small businesses making is that they don't really have a clear target ideal customer in mind. And when they're trying to sell to everybody, you're selling to nobody, right, because there's not any brand that can appeal to every single person. Think about it. Even a brand is popular. Is Nike or Coca Cola? They don't always appeal to every single person. And, frankly, you as a small business don't have the marketing budget to try to appeal to every single person. Anyway. It's much easier to narrow in on a smaller group of people who are very in line with what you make and the types of things that you create the types of messages that you share. It's much easier to connect with those people on a smaller level than to try to appeal to every single person. So target market can include things like gender, Um, age. How much money a person makes in a year? Do they have kids, too? They have a dog, um, those source of things, basic demographics. Where do they live? Right? That stuff is really important. But also think about all of those softer skills, like what motivates them? What type two TV shows do they watch? What sorts of causes are they really passionate about? Do they give money to charity? And if so, what charities now? For a lot of artisan makers, I think that these people, these target customers, are often very similar. Tow us because the wild or not, maybe making the exact same things right? They don't feel like they're as creative. Perhaps, um, but they often are inspired by similar things. So if we're an artist that is very passionate about environmentalism, and that shows through in our work and we use recycled materials, that's something that your idol customers probably also equally passion about. They're looking to buy from manufacturers and companies that value the same things is them . So think about your values that are part of your work and think about the same types of people that align with those values. Think about the big companies where they shop. So taking the example of the environmentalist right, if you work with recycled materials, all of your customers are very. They care a lot about the environment. Maybe they also eat Ben and Jerry's ice cream because that company is famously involved in social responsibility and the environment and all that good stuff, right? Maybe they shot at Patagonia, which is a very ICO friendly brand, that it's aligned with all of those Christine causes. So at the more that you can get clear on who that person is your ideal customer and have them in your head, it's gonna make it so much easier to share your work on your website. On social media, you're gonna have a much clearer idea of who you're speaking to. And even better, if you do in person events like craft shows or art gallery openings or other events where you can actually see and meet your customers face to face, it's gonna help you even more because you're gonna literally have an idea of certain people in your mind that fit that ideal customer. And you can keep those people in your mind when you're writing product descriptions when you're creating content for social media. So first, that's the main thing that I want you to not make that mistake. I want you to get clear on who you're perfect people are and think about them and put them at the forefront of everything that you dio next up, Step two. 3. Marketing Mistake #2: Lack of branding: now the second mistake that I see a lot of artists are makers making is very much tied into that 1st 1 they don't have that ideal customer, and therefore they have no cohesive voice or visual brand. So visual brand is all of those aesthetic things the way that you take your photos of your products, the types of social media content you share your logo, the colors that use on your website, all of those things. But then there's also the written side of it and the voice. If you're doing videos like this, perhaps, um, are you casual with your audience? Are you very professional? And by the book, do you use Emojis when you're sharing instagram captions? All of that stuff has to have a clear and cohesive, consistent voice, and it's much easier to stay consistent and have that voice and have that visual brand when you know who your target customer is. Right about a lot of times, I will come across artists who maybe I've seen their work shared by one of those re Graham accounts. I have one. It's called badass creatives, and I'm constantly looking for new artists to show on instagram, right? And sometimes I'll see an artist. I'm scrolling through Hashtags and I see this one photo. I think this one photos great. And then I look at their entire instagram feed and there's just no rhyme or visa now. That's not to say that everything that you share in line has to look exactly the same. But you can definitely see if you look at accounts on instagram that have 30,000 followers . Usually there is a very clear visual look. There's a clear visual brand. There's an aesthetic. There's maybe certain types of colors that they often use and certain types of colors that they never use or certain times of filters, or just types of photographs that work and don't work for their brand in their audience. And a lot of times with newer artists or makers Or, you know, people who haven't been that experience. That's one of the really big mistakes I see. No, it's not to say that you can't share, you know, the behind the scenes stuff right? I think a lot of people, especially on instagram social media and everything they're trying to kind of blend. Here's my art and Here's my family and here's my dog And here's the food I ate. And here's an inspirational quote and there's ways Teoh share more than one type of thing and still have it has some consistency and still have it make sense to that ideal customer that comes and stumbles along and sees your stuff. Because once that ideal customer finds you, you want to make sure that they get it and that they're in. They want to keep following you. They want to come back for more, right? So having a clear visual brand and a clear voice is part of how you bring them in and keep them coming back for more. So, for instance, on Instagram, if you look and you've got those top six or nine photos that they see on the grid, did those look like they all came from the same place and the same person? Like if you can kind of step back away from being yourself, maybe even ask um, a very unbiased friend. Don't ask the friend who is always gonna tell you Yes, yes, yes, and try to please you. Ask that friend who is always going to give you that tough love advice and say, Hey, does this look consistent? Does this look like something that if you didn't know me, you would want to follow? Or is this the kind of thing that you're only following me because we know each other in your life, right? Same thing with the voice like I want to know more about your story. The reason why people are willing to spend more money with handmade artist artwork handmade makers is because there's a special story behind that product behind that piece of art that separates it from stuff that you could just buy at pure one import imports or Wal Mart or whatever, right? If I just want some random thing to hang on my wall, I could just go toe one of those chain stores in the mall and find some crappy piece of artwork that you know has no meaning to me. Yeah, there was an artist that made it, but there's no connection to me. But when you're sharing the inspiration behind your work and your sharing this story, and you're letting people get a glimpse into what inspires you to create in the first place , all that stuff. That message starts making people conduct with you, and it makes them much more inclined to buy from you once and keep coming back for you more and more and more. 4. Marketing Mistake #3: Poor photography: So the third problem and mistake that I see a lot of artists, makers and just e commerce sellers making online is that they have bad photography. So this ties into the last point about having a clear visual brand right? If you have photos that look like they all came from lots of different places. Or maybe you have product photos and summer on light colored backgrounds and some room dark backgrounds, and some are taken outside and somehow really poor lighting. There's no cohesive visual message. But also, if you're selling online, photos are the main way that somebody figures out what this product is, What it looks like, is it right for me? It's a key part of selling lemon, and so you've got to get it right now. If you don't have any of the background in photography, there's definitely ways to learn photography. There's lots of free and paid tutorials online. You can also invest in somebody to do photos for you, even if it's just finding somebody at a local community college who's taking a photography class. And you know you don't have to spend like huge amounts of money when you're just starting out on a really awesome professional photographer, although definitely as you start to expand and grow, that is something worth investing in. But if you're just starting out, you could work with a photography student who just needs more stuff for the portfolio. You can experiment on your own. This was definitely one of the things when I was running my own e commerce shop way back in 2010 or so. I had to start practicing and looking up information and trying to get better at photography, because when I first started out, my photos were not cute and they got better and better the more he did it and the more I played around with learning the skills, learning about basic lighting and light boxes. If you're doing very small product shots that you can build a little at home D I Y light box so that you can get that really nice kind of natural light that's kind of filtered and diffused and makes products look really beautiful if you've got jewelry or some sort of other small product. Also, if you have products like clothing or jewelry or accessories or something that somebody would wear, it's really important to have photos of models of people wearing them, because otherwise it's hard to understand what that's gonna look like on a human body. Also, if you have really small products or maybe really big products photos that can put something in contacts, photos that can make me visualize how it would be in my life, how it would be in my home, how it would look on a person, I need to see all of that. Because otherwise I have no idea how big something is. Yes, you can and should put your product dimensions in your product description. But if I just read, you know, 36 inches that doesn't connect with me as the same as seeing a product in a place on a human body. Sing it in context. So if you sell artwork, it's great to have a photo, lots of photos of the actual artwork itself. But if you can even do a mock up of what that piece of art looks like on a wall, it's gonna be much easier for somebody to visualize what it would look like in their home and then order it and buy it. Um, same thing with sharing your images on social media. You've gotta have great images to get people to find you on social media in the first place and then get them back to your website and buy your products from this beautiful product photos and your product descriptions, so work on your photography. 5. Marketing Mistake #4: Not nurturing customers via email: the fourth mistake that I see a lot of artist makers and e commerce sellers making is not capturing the information of their potential and existing customers and not nurturing those repeat customers. So this kind of boils down to mostly email marketing. But there's other ways to do it to via social media and in person events and v i p clubs and all sorts of things. But if somebody visits your website or finds you via Social Media, chances are they're not gonna buy from you that very first time. They're just not. That's not the way that we work as people we like to shop around, like to get familiar. We don't always make just got impulse purchases. Sometimes we dio. But a lot of people shop in very different ways, and especially for art, especially for something that is maybe price a little higher. Very nice, expensive piece of handmade work that's gonna take somebody a little bit more getting used to before they give you their money, right, for they whip out their wallet. But if you can keep marketing to that same person over and over again, if their potential customer, or if somebody has already bought something from you. They are so much more likely to buy something from you again because they already know that they can trust. You already know what that experience is like. So it's going to be much easier to keep sharing your new work with somebody who's already purchased from you or interacted with you before than it is to seek new customers all the time. It's churn and burn. You don't want to do, turn and burn. You wanna keep nurturing those people those ideal customers and keeping them in the fold with you, so email marketing is really awesome. If you haven't been collecting your customers email addresses, you really got to get on that. There's lots of different tools and platforms you can do to send out email messages. Mail Chimp is a really great one that offers some free, um, free packages, and that's really great one to start out with have used that for many years. I've also recently started using Convert Kit, which is a little fancier. If you've been doing the email thing for a while and you want to do segmentation where you split off different groups of your customers based on their interest and what they fought before, maybe what they might be more inclined to buy in the future. You could do something like Convert, Kid answered segmenting, but that's just starts getting really advanced. So if you're just starting out, just make sure that you're starting to collect your customers. Email addresses. Male Trump's a great one. There's also plenty of other sites, Um, but you want to make sure that your customers are okay and have opted in to getting emails from you, right? So just because somebody one time bought something on your website but didn't check some sort of box or say explicitly that they want to get emails from you in the future, they haven't said that they want to get emails from you in the future, so you need to ask explicitly and get them to opt in. Now there's actual laws about this. If you're in the United States, there's a lot of can spam laws, is what they're called to try to prevent spammers from jamming up your in box with all sort of stuff that you don't want. I'm sure you've ordered something from some really big company and then all of a sudden you're getting like, five emails a day from them, and it's really annoying. You don't wanna create that experience for your customers, so you want to make sure that they really want what you're sending out and you want to speak to make sure that you're sending them stuff of value, right? You're communicating with them, but they're giving stuff back to them now. If you're an artist or maker, maybe that's something like a free wallpaper download. If you make art, you could take a version of your art and make like a computer background wallpaper or a wallpaper for their phone, or like a principal yearly calendar that they could hang upon their refrigerator or something. There's lots of ideas I've seen people do cool like paper doll, printable Z and things like that. So get creative and think about what kind of value you could give to your customers. It might also be a discount. There's plenty of companies that do this, so maybe if somebody goes to upstate for the first time they found your website, but maybe they're probably not going to buy something that very, very first time offer them to sign up for your email list, and they can get 15% off their first purchase or their next purchase, right, so that gets them signed up. You have their contact information. You can keep sharing when you have new products and stuff come out. Or if you have an upcoming craft show and you want to let your audience know that you're gonna be at this event at this date at this time, maybe you could tell them if they are already on your email list there already in your email club. If they print out a copy of that, they bring in this coupon to the craft show that you're at. They can get a special freebie like you have a sampler product that you wanna test out. The people in your email less can redeem that coupon and get a special freebie. There's lots of different ways that you could do it, but start thinking about the ways that you can give back and keep nurturing those potential and existing customers because again it is so much easier and cheaper to keep marketing and nurturing those existing customers than it is to find new ones all the time. 6. Marketing Mistake #5: No understanding of SEO: and the fifth mistake that I see a lot of artists makers in e commerce sellers making is they don't understand the basics of S e O that search engine optimization. And they don't use the same types of language, the same types of words one, their websites or their Etsy shop listings that their customers use when their customers are searching for the same types of things that they make. Now your customers are using search engines. They're going on Google. They're going on Amazon or Etsy's internal search engines and looking for things to buy when they're in the mood to buy something through turning to search. But if you don't understand the basics of CEO, you're not going to show up high in the search results, and they're never gonna find you Now. S CEO is basically free marketing. It's a long game. It's not overnight. It is ongoing. It's very much a marathon. But that's why it's so important for you to understand the basics so that you can stay competitive because here's the thing. A lot of artists and makers I don't understand this stuff right. It's a problem. It's a mistake that I see a lot of artists and makers making. But if you do understand the basics, it's gonna be much easier for you to compete against all the other people trying to rank for the same thing in the search engines.