Artist Goals 2014 – Developing and Placing an Ad for Your Art or Creative Business

Creatives and Business Advertising Chess vs Chance

A successful advertisement is a combination of research, planning, strategy and a bit of luck!

In the first article in this series on advertising for artists, Artist Goals 2014 – Places to Advertise Your Art Business the various mediums or venues to place an ad were discussed. These mediums ran the gamut from broadcast, print, outdoor to placing signs on telephone poles. If there is a place to put an advertising message then you can probably find someone has already done it!

The second article, Artist Goals 2014 – Creating Effective Advertisements the key ideas or concepts behind and effective ad were explored. In order for an ad to be effective you must have a purpose or objective behind your advertising and have carefully defined your target audience. The ad itself must have a strong headline, tell your story, offer the reader/viewer your proposition, have strong design elements to capture attention and finally an offer and call to action.

In this article I will take a look at some things you need to be aware of in developing and creating an advertisement for your art business. All media venues such as newspapers, magazines, web sites, and radio and television stations have specifications on the advertisements they run. These specifications will include the size of your ad, its resolution in terms of DPI or for video its bit rate as well a host of other factors. You need to be aware of these specifications and most likely you will have to design your ad to meet these specifications.

First things first!

Before you embark on developing or placing your ad there are a few things you need to have carefully thought out:

  • Understanding of your target audience and what appeals to them. You will have to do a bit of market research on your customers to find out what their hot buttons are. If you are not pushing the right buttons with your audience then your ad is not likely to be effective.
  • Understanding of the mediums (venues) that will reach your target audience. You need to advertise in the mediums or venues where your customers or prospects are likely to visit and see your advertisement.
  • The purpose of your advertisement and what results you expect to achieve. Have a purpose in mind when you advertise your art business. Your advertisement could be announcing an upcoming show, a new body of work, a sale or just about anything else that will help build your brand.
  • Your message, offer and call to action. These are the basic building blocks of an effective advertisement so always keep them in mind.
  • Your budget. Advertising is not free! Make sure the advertisements for your art business fit into your budget.

Developing and placing your advertisement

You produce your ad to fit within the parameters of the medium you are going to advertise in. Unless you are creating your own sign, business cards, or posters it is likely that you will present your idea or finished advertisement to others such as a magazine, newspaper, printer, audio or video producer etc. – and they have specifications.

Before you get too far down the line, request a rate card or media kit from the venue where you plan on advertising. A rate card contains two important things: technical specifications for an advertisement and equally important the rates (costs) to advertise – more on rates later.


Make sure you design your ad to the specifications of the specific advertising medium. You do not want to spend your time and money putting together an ad only to find out that you have the wrong dimensions, format or other specifications.

  • The specifications on the rate card will tell you things like:
  • The size or length of an ad that the publication will accept
  • Design specifications like colors, formats accepted, color spaces, file size, dpi etc.
  • Space reservation dates
  • Deadlines to have final art submitted

Rate cards

As the name suggests a Rate Card is all about the rates a publication or advertising venue charges to run your advertisement. Things to look for on a rate card:

  • Circulation, viewership, listenership, traffic passing by
  • Demographics of readers, listeners and viewers
  • Cost per size of ad – usually the larger the ad the less you pay per column inch or air time seconds. This could be the cost per direct mail pieces mailed, impressions served on a web page, size of a billboard etc.
  • Cost per color for print ads – in the old days a full color (four color process) ad was more expensive to print than a black and white advertisement. Today most things are printed on four or five color printing presses so there is no extra cost to produce color – many advertising mediums will throw it in for free.
  • Charges for placement – this could include a back cover, inside cover or special sections for print ads or time of day for broadcast ads. Remember advertising mediums will charge more when more people are likely to see or hear/view your advertisement.
  • Frequency discounts – generally the more times you run a particular ad the cheaper each insertion is. If you commit to a long term contract (generally 12 months) then you will receive the cheapest rate. Many advertising mediums will give you the 12 month rate if you agree to 3 or 4 months or maybe as a way to entice you to advertise with just one insertion – ask!
  • Deposits and payment terms – Unless you have established credit you will probably have to pay before your ad runs.

The last word(s)

Successful advertising involves understanding your audience, placing your ad in the proper venue and having a message that resonates with your audience. Advertising is something that you will need to budget for in your business. Think of advertising as an ongoing expense, that if done right will grow your business.

Experiment with different advertising approaches and venues. The chances of “hitting a homerun” the first time a probably not very great. Ok, these are the basics of developing and placing your advertisement – Good Luck!


Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto