Marketing Art on Facebook – Should Artists Use Their Personal Profile or Create a Facebook Page?

As I’ve been researching and writing about marketing through social media over the last couple of weeks, it appears that there is a strong sense that Facebook is the best social platform for marketing and generating sales. I’ve conversed with artists who are generating a large portion of their income through Facebook sales, and many have commented on their experiences, successes and challenges using Facebook to market their work.

A frequent question that has come up is whether artists should share art on Facebook using their personal profile account, or whether it is necessary to set up a Facebook Business Page.

Many of you are aware of the difference between the two, but for those who aren’t, let’s briefly explore both options. Put simply, Facebook created two different kinds of accounts in order to allow businesses to interact with regular users on their platform.

In the early days of Facebook, business owners would set up a personal account and then begin advertising their businesses by posting through that account. There were several problems with this – the first being that users quickly became annoyed when their newsfeeds became clogged with ads from “friends” who were advertising their businesses. The other big problem was that Facebook couldn’t charge businesses when they advertised this way, since it had no way to distinguish between a promotional post and baby pictures.

Thus, the business page was born. Facebook created these accounts to allow business to set up a profile for the business itself. A business page allowed businesses to more accurately display information about their businesses, and it also allowed them to tap into the nascent advertising platform that was being built into Facebook.

Business pages were different than personal profiles in a number of important ways. When setting up a page, businesses could list important details, like their address, hours of operation, and other business details. Pages also made it possible for business owners to provide access to the administration features of the page to employees to help them manage the page.

Unlike personal profiles, where a Facebook user gains access to their friends’ posts when they “friend” each other, users who follow a business will see the business’ posts, but the business won’t see their followers’ posts. In other words, communication between a user and a business on Facebook only goes in one direction.

And this, it would seem, is the major drawback for an artist who would like to market her or his work on Facebook through a business page. Artists I’ve talked to, feel that one of the most important aspects of their ability to market their work on Facebook is their ability to interact with their followers directly. A Facebook friendship with a potential client provides much more opportunity to do so. If you are using your personal profile to share your art, and your potential collectors are creating friendships with you, not only will they see your art and personal posts, but you will see their posts as well.

This kind of access to one another provides major advantages for interaction, though it bears mentioning that some of your potential buyers might not wish you to have such intimate access to them. For those who are willing to accept a friend request, however, that access can be incredibly valuable if you respect the relationship and are careful about what you post and how you interact.

So Which Should You Use?

So, should an artist use their personal profile or a business page to market their artwork? It’s not an easy question to answer.

Because I think of what you do in marketing and selling your work as a business that is wholly seperate from your personal life, and because I want to offer the best professional practices, the easy answer would be that an artist should set up a business page. I suspect that if you could talk directly to Facebook, they would recommend the same.

They would point out that there are disadvantages to using your personal profile to share your art. For example, you may only have a total of 5000 friends on your personal profile. That seems like a large number, but if you become moderately famous for your art, you will be surprised how quickly you reach the 5,000 friend limit.

It’s also important to note that Facebook has a strict prohibition on representing a business through a personal profile. Their terms of service are very clear on this account, and their website states:

It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don’t convert it to a Page. (https://www.facebook.com/help/201994686510247)

So, for example, if I were to try to represent Xanadu Gallery through my personal profile and were to begin trying to sell art to my friends, I could run afoul of their terms of service and have my account shut down completely. I have heard second-hand anecdotes about artist having this happen to them because a “friend” reported them trying to conduct business through their personal page.

It’s also arguable that being able to access Facebook’s excellent advertising tools and thus present your artwork to completely new potential collectors is another factor in favor of using a business page for marketing your art.

Having laid out those arguments, however, my research over the last couple of weeks, and the comments that I’m seeing, lead me to believe that the artists who are seeing the most success on Facebook are doing so by leveraging personal accounts, not business pages. The two-way interaction seems to be the secret sauce for these artists.

Looking back at the warning from Facebook that your account might be shut down for using a personal account to represent something other than yourself, it seems arguable that an artist is a special case. As an artist, your art business is an integral part of yourself. Arguably, unless you’ve set up a corporation or LLC, you aren’t representing something other than yourself.

Those arguments may not fly with Facebook if they decide you are breaking their terms of service, and so there is a level of risk involved in posting your art through your personal profile. If Facebook decides to ban you, it can be very, very difficult to appeal their decision.

With that said, there also seems to be a large advantage to posting through a personal profile. Only you can decide if the benefit outweigh’s the risk.

Be Cautious About Your Posts

If you are sharing your art and building relationships with potential customers through your personal page, some cautions are in order.

First, you have to realize that everything you post is potentially going to show up in your customers’ newsfeeds. This means that you need to be aware that, in addition to your art showing up, your post on your recent meal, or problem you are having with your car, will also show up. This can help make you more real and deepen the relationship with some clients, but it can also be off-putting if you’re not careful.

In his interview last week, Robert MacGinnis wisely warned that it’s important to be careful about what you post.

After I got going the Facebook I made a few rules for myself. They are: 1. Do not talk about politics or religion. 2. Do not use inappropriate language. 3. Do not talk about my troubles, illnesses or any negativity. I had to add one later on, *don’t take off my shirt! On a hot summer day I innocently posted a photograph from the sternum up without a shirt and it caused more of a sensation that I wanted. I knew I was in trouble when I got reprimanded by my daughter.

Do You Share Your Art on Your Personal Profile, or Have You Set Up a Business Page?

How are you sharing your art through Facebook? Have you set up a business page? Why or why not? If you are posting through your personal profile, what advantages do you see? Have you run into any problems with your personal profile? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

 

 

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50 Comments

  1. I am actually using both. I post my paintings on my personal FB page, but also on a business page where I can list details such as canvas size, price, etc. As I’m relatively young in the art industry, not much revenue has resulted from these, but I have had an increased number of views on both.

    If someone sees my art on my personal page they can choose to visit my business page if they have an interest in exploring the art further (I invite everyone in my friends list to like my business page).

  2. I am using my personal profile when I post my art. I just recently (November 2017) began my commitment to painting seriously. I always knew I would paint one day and the time was finally right. After finishing my second landscape, I put it on Facebook and got plenty of attention – the following day my chiropractor (who makes house calls when visiting Sedona) walked into my house asking, “ Where is my painting?” I didn’t understand what he was talking about until he told me he had seen it on Facebook and had to have it! As you can imagine after 2 weeks into painting, I was beyond elated!

  3. I do not have a business page on Facebook but do have a personal profile. I will post new work or upcoming events on my personal profile from time to time but I limit the details. Instead, I refer people to my website where I outline details pricing etc. I realize that many, if not most, friends will not go to my website but the ones who are interested will and they are the ones that count.

  4. I have both a personal and business page, and it’s like you said, my work inevitably also appears in the personal page because it is part of who I am. I have been considering the personal page a greater asset at the moment because my posts are reach more people. It’s been my understanding that the facebook business page is “pay for play”, and in order to engage I would have to buy ads. I would like to know what you think about using a facebook business page because maybe my lack of success there is due to my lack of understanding about how to use it. My biggest problem is that it’s not attracting people like an Instagram page would. Am I going about this wrong?

  5. I find the personal page most effective for generating buzz about my art. People are reluctant to “like” business pages these days, possibly out of fear of getting ad targeting? I don’t discuss pricing or my personal page, but I do link to my website or an event, etc. I get very little traffic on my business page. Likely because I don’t pay attention to it, like I should (It confuses me). What traffic I do receive on my business page is mostly Facebook trying to convince me to “boost” my post (for a cost), which I have done (with no translation to actual sales ever) – or buy an ad (which I have not done yet). I have responded to several Facebook ads, though, so I know they work. I seldom post personal stuff, but I have engaged in political discussions. I have likely driven away potential clients with those posts, but I’ve decided the discussion is too important to me to care about that.

  6. I have both and I post new paintings to both. I also have Instagram, so when I post a new painting on it, I share to my personal FB page and then I also post to my FB business page. It might be overkill but I feel one needs to get ones work out there. I haven’t gotten any pushback from anyone. Indeed most people are happy to see the new art. I link to my website from those pages also.

  7. I share almost every post from my business page to my personal timeline, allowing friends who haven’t followed me to see those posts as well. This seems like a good way to receive the benefits of both.

    1. I do the same thing, Laura. It has worked well. I also like to follow the rules Jason laid out and avoid certain subjects especially on my business page. I reserve that for my art and art news.

    2. This is exactly what I do also. Personally, I did not want strangers seeing my personal posts. Just because they like my art doesn’t mean it is someone I would want to have viewing my personal life and I didn’t want my friend’s posts shared with strangers either. I have a lot of interaction with people on my business page through messenger. I can always “friend” people that I establish a connection with.

  8. When I follow an artist, I care about the art. Sure, I may be interested in milestone events, but there is a huge difference between art and life. I would unfriend anyone who cluttered my Facebook with a bunch of personal stuff when we don’t have a personal relationship. Granted, I’m weird. I only friend people who are actual friends. I have blocked an artist who used their personal page for a watercolor society job–I never met her and I don’t want the clutter. I also wonder whether you would be cluttering up your collector’s page with posts from friends of friends.

  9. I know a few people who have two pages – one with their name and one with their name + -Artist. Seems to work well…..

  10. I have a business page and limit my artwork posts to that. I have posted my business page info to my personal page a few times just to direct people there. They can choose to follow me and get my posts. Business and personal should be kept separate.

  11. To me the best feature about using both accounts is that we are able to organize our ‘friends’ into categories. Every time I accept a new friend’s request I add them into a specific folder according to their location. When I create an event (show opening or workshop) on my business account I am able to ‘invite friends’ from my personal account to the event. With this feature I do not invite people from Canada to a show opening in France. You cannot do that if you only have a business account. When you invite someone to an event they get a notification which makes your event more visible that just posting it.
    I keep my personal account professional, sharing most posts from my business page on it (but not too many ‘selling’ posts’) and add a few selected ‘inside’ news of my personal life. Since I make a full time living from my art it is not difficult to make most of my personal posts around my art!

  12. I kept a personal FB page since 2011. I made all my posts public. The page was mostly about art and sciences especially visual phenomena such as the aurora borealis. I sold work from this personal page. It was good for marketing. However I no longer, in good conscience, participate in FB since their sloppy/criminal privacy violations. I have deleted my FB account. It has hurt my sales but I made the right decision for me and my sense of integrity. I gave my followers fair warning that I was leaving the platform without explanation. I gave them a number of choices to follow my work. Beside exhibits I have made sales from my website since.

  13. I’ve been able to sell a lot of work through connecting on Facebook and landed thousands of dollars worth of commissions. It’s been a great asset to me.

    I have both a personal and a business page. I run ads through my business page, but also post new work on my personal page. If I’m doing prints of the piece, I mention it and direct them to my business page.

    I used to include a link to my website, but while I’ve never been warned about being banned, the post doesn’t get seen by too many people. Facebook will cover keep those types of posts from being seen. They don’t want any links included that will take a viewer to another website.

  14. I use both a personal and business page. The posts that I make on each – are almost always identical and I post the same news/image on Instagram as well. This allows me to receive all kinds of feedback from viewers.

    Once in awhile I post something personal on just my personal page. In both places I have restricted who can post on my timeline…just me.

    On my business page I only post art related topics and avoid politics, religion and drama. This works well for me.

    When a purchase comes up I can private message a buyer or field questions through Messenger.

  15. I share my art on my personal Facebook page, links to my blog posts and gallery shows, and a few other art-related postings. I haven’t gotten any sales from it, but it may bring friends to my openings. When I do these posts, I choose the “public” option in the pull-down menu, and if I post anything more personal, I choose “friends only”.

  16. I use both, have a website but sell on ETSY. I’m most active on my personal page and will refer interest to my business page were there is a shop now button that goes to my etsy shop. I have every thing set up but honestly don’t use any enough. I started a Hootsuite account but also haven’t had time to figure it out yet but have grand plans to in the next few months. Just not enough hours in the day between commissions, personal work, shows, shipping orders, updating listings, personal hygiene and the necessity to eat.

  17. I keep a personal page strictly personal and use an arts and humanities FB page for my art contacts. I don’t try to conduct business through either site but use my art page (CharlotteMertzArt) just to remain in touch with Facebook contacts interested in my work (though it’s not currently up to date). From there they are referred to my website, which I do try to update regularly, and thence to my monthly newsletter, for those who want more in-depth background on me and my work.

  18. I’d never start a “business” account on Facebook because those are operated in a “pay-for-play” way. After building up your business audience, why be forced to pay Facebook to get your message out to a small percentage of your followers? Considering how Facebook ruined the timeline, there’s no guarantee that those served a post will see it. How can anybody trust Facebook these days? It’s morphed into a dying, uncool platform largely built on lies and exploitation of user data. People are abandoning it left and right. The younger generations want nothing to do with it. It may work for a small number of artists who have invested heavily in the platform, but let’s revisit their situation over the next few years.

    My opt-in email list doesn’t require me to pay to broadcast a message. I know if people are opening the email and clicking links. Since I keep a publishing schedule for my email newsletter, I know I’m not accidentally flooding core fans and turning them off. The same sort of thing applies to my YouTube channel.

    Artists should innovate when it comes to marketing, but I don’t see how hooking up with Facebook is innovative. In my observation, Facebook as a company just exploits. I choose to not participate in that.

  19. If you don’t do any work that offends people, then artists should use all tools available to generate sales… Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever.
    .
    Now for me, FB banned me after a few weeks.
    .
    LinkedIn gave me the boot after I had built up over 2,000 contacts.
    .
    YouTube is another venue for getting your work out there….they banned me after 6 uploads.
    .
    Flickr banned me after 7 days.
    .
    Even if you put your stuff out there for free you are not safe…
    .
    Wiki Commons trashed all my work after a year of uploads…what a waste of time.
    .
    For me, the internet has been very impermanent.

    1. Great article. I’ve had a business fb page for several years, and initially (before they made it hard to reach people via pages) sold more art there than through my website. Although it’s much, much more difficult to gain exposure via the page than it used to be, I find it much better than having a bunch of “friends” I don’t know at all. Plus, you’re limited in your # of fb “friends.”

      I do post art on my personal page, more of a snapshot of my daily life as an artist than as any advertisement. I think it’s important that as a business, your posts be about your life as an artist than to try to woo sales. When artists use their business page as a sales flyer, it’s a bit of a turn-off, as people would rather just see your art, or learn where, why, or how you make your art. Social media is a great place to interest people into checking out your website, or the galleries who represent you, or the causes you champion on your business page. If we think of our fb business pages as PR vehicles, they will gain more positive feedback.

  20. I have a personal page for family and friends only, plus a business page for my art. The PM format works well enough and if followers have a question or comment I can address it in the next post. I get considerable feedback via PM rather than comments.
    The one artist I know who sold random work through FB did so through her personal page. She considers herself a hobbyist, and sold to old college buddies, neighbors, or former coworkers … not what I’m after. I might add if you don’t have a business page you may be perceived as such.
    The danger of “boosting” or buying ad space on FB is the barrage of unsavory characters that surface. For every legitimate admirer a few dozen oddballs will pop up.
    If I have a show or am at a market I will post an invitation on my personal page … or, something art – related I think would be of interest beyond those on my business page. I use my paintings or drawings as the identity image I’m posting as.
    I’ve wondered in reading these posts about the extraordinary amount of time invested in social media. One hopes they convert to sales but I’m not convinced the time is well spent, or your advertising dollar.

  21. One more hitch in the git-along of Facebook: is it so fast-paced that a participant needs to be on a smartphone, interacting every day, all day? Or, put another way, has anyone experienced success when simply using a computer and checking in only every few days?

  22. I have both a business and personal FB page. I do have a problem from time to time with my posts being confused between the business and personal one. Sometimes they go to the wrong one, and I don’t understand how to rectify it. This happens when I am sharing a blog for instance.

  23. The other thing to remember is that legally corporations are considered as “people”, so the idea that you are your art should fit well into the current view of businesses. The supreme court agrees, look at their recent decision regarding selling a wedding cake to a gay couple. Facebook should follow along, unless they prefer some legal action when one’s personal page is blocked for selling art.

  24. I began using my personal page as business page, in that I only post my art, and art related activities and events on it. I have made sales through my friends on the page. But I also began using Instagram for posting my artwork, and wanted to link it to my Facebook page, but it only let me link it to a Facebook business page, so I opened one up. I use Instagram a lot which now automatically posts to my business page, and I separately post my art to my personal page. Regardless of where I post I always have a link to my website on whatever platform I am using.

  25. I have both a personal and business page. In the past few years, my business page is completely dead. I have boosted my posts, paid for ads with very little effect. Sometime, less than 5 people may respond. When I post to my personal page, at least people are responding, liking, and even inquiring to go to my website. I find that the business page has become useless.

  26. I don’t have a business page and wouldn’t consider one… All artists generally post on their business page and then share it to their personal page… Its an overshare and I don’t want to see the same posting twice… I follow artists but never their business pages… I’m more interested in them personally… Their art, I can see on instagram, their blogs or their website (and even google)…

  27. It’s not quite right that from a professional page communication goes only one way. When I post on my Artist (professional) page, people can comment, and I can return their comments. Several times I”ve gotten into lengthy chats with Followers; so far (about a year now) this has resulted in one significant sale and a major commission in the process of negotiation.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Helen. There are definitely opportunities for interaction on a professional page – what I was getting at was that conversation initiation is one-sided. Yes, your followers can converse with you after they see your post, but you won’t be seeing any of their posts to start a conversation from your end. Those kinds of conversations are what can help lead to deeper relationships, but they’re just not possible from a business page unless your clients are making their posts public.

  28. I do not have a personal FB page, nor do I want one. I have been contemplating a business page but someone told me that you can’t get a business page unless you also have a personal page. Is that true?

  29. I manage several Facebook “business pages” for art groups (nonprofits), and have found that Facebook has changed its approach to the “business pages” in the last year or so. Now, unless you can generate a lot of likes, shares, and (especially) comments on every “business page” post, your posts are not seen! Facebook users must actively go look for your posts, and almost no one does that. Even popular pages disappear from an individual’s news feed if they don’t like-share-comment often enough. You should think about that before investing much time in a Facebook “business page”.

  30. I have both a business and personal Facebook page. I seldom post to my personal page anymore and as a result my business page has taken the forefront. I boost some of my posts especially when I’m introducing a new sculpture. I have purchased a couple of ads but what is most useful is engaging people by asking them a question and opening a conversation. I do plan on increasing my presence on Instagram as I prefer the platform over Facebook and will in time close that account as I transition over.

  31. I have a personal & business pages. I post art on personal pages because friends actually scold me if they havn’t seen any of my art for week or so. I don’t try to push sales on it. Thanks for the info on rules, this is an ongoing process, still lots to learn! I had a tattoo artist who wanted to friend me, since she lived in my town I accepted her. She decided to flood my page with about 30 pic’s of her work, all at the same time, she posts a lot so I finally had to “hide her posts” . I try to not do more than 1 post at a time & do so about 3 or less times a week, don’t want to irritate people like she did to me. Also post some other things in personal page, try to not keep posting the same stuff, like politic’s, all negative or depressing things. People should enjoy what you post, good news, great art, jokes & cute animals too, try to be likable!

  32. I have a personal Facebook page, however some local artists and I have started a co-op gallery. The members want me to set up a Facebook page for the gallery but not one that is linked to my page.
    I cannot figure out how to create an account which is separate from my account. In other words we need an account that is specific to the gallery, so that when someone googles our gallery they don’t have to go through my website to access it. Can anyone help?

    1. Create an private FB group with the name you want to call it and invite people from email list or also create FB ad to invite them;
      You will be the administrator and you can determine who can join you can make your group free or charge an membership fee.

  33. I have a personal page and a business page. I post artwork on the business page because all the artwork is for sale. Artwork is part of my life but if I’m selling it I agree with Facebook that that constitutes a business, even if it’s more like a hobby for me.

  34. Since I started marketing my artwork on Facebook it has been done on a separate business page. Here are my reasons for doing that:

    1. I wanted to keep my personal life and my business life separate just like real life. Why would I want my customers to see photos of my family and friends or personal information about them or myself?

    2. Why would I want to clutter my personal posts with marketing and calls for selling my artwork so that my family and friends get a barrage of that business stuff? I realized early on that, although it is great and often helpful, to sell artwork to my family and friends, to really make it as an artist one has to branch out beyond them as a major source of income. Instead of posting marketing information on my personal page, I selectively Share a post from my business page to my personal page or I simply direct my family and friends with a link to a post on my business page. That way I can pick and choose what they see so as not to constantly bombard them with my business posts.

    3. I sometimes post political comments on my personal page. I would never want my customer base to be exposed to such posts. By doing that, one cannot avoid turning off half of their customer base.

    4. Part of my marketing materials include my social media links. I do not like the idea of galleries, foundations, schools and businesses browsing through my personal page. Not only is that too much personal information for them, but it also can allow them to invade my family and friends privacy.

    Personally, I just find it easier to keep everything straight when I keep the two pages separate.

  35. I have a personal and a business page on FB and the personal one helped me to grow my income significantly over the past two-three years, but still it is less than I generate through sales in the galleries representing me. It is much easier to contact and talk with possible buyers or my art collectors through the personal page. I post only art there, never posted any other personal events, as I don’t like to reveal my personal life.. images if my works, photos from the receptions or solo shows, awards, but nothing really personal.. the business page allows more people to view my art, from other countries, but had no sales yet

  36. First, full disclosure: I hate FB (management professor reasons), and resisted joining until I became an artist. They make you have a personal page; you can’t just get a business page. OK, so I have one, but rarely post (to either, frankly; I am an Instagram person–and yes, I know FB owns Instagram), and when I do I try to direct traffic to my business page, as in “Pleased to have had my painting accepted at….full information at>>>(my business page with link). It seems to work. I completely ignore the personal posts of artists I follow on FB or Instagram, and those personal posts annoy the hell out of me. But of course, I am not that nice :-).

  37. I have both pages . One is for business and one is more of a personal level. I am also on Instagram. Social media can be a powerful tool used in a constructive way to promote your art. I live in a remote location so a lot of my learning and my sales have been online. It is win\win to me.

  38. Create an private FB group with the name you want to call it and invite people from email list or also create FB ad to invite them;
    You will be the administrator and you can determine who can join you can make your group free or charge an membership fee.

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