If you are reading this blog, chances are you are someone in a creative field looking for the best strategies to thrive in your career. Past posts have covered a lot of ground when it comes to living the life of a working artist, but it’s time to get down to some brass tacks. The internet makes it easier than ever to find outlets to sell your art, but just as with everything in life, there are dos and don’ts when it comes to selling your art online, if that is something you are interested in. Here are seven tips to get you on the path to success today. And keep a lookout for an upcoming course about how to sell art online which will go into further detail about these topics.
1. Find your niche. Know your audience. No matter how you say it, this point cannot be stressed enough. Just like in every other business, it is critical that you, the artist, identify your market niche and play to them. Every successful business operates this way. The owner of a tractor supply store doesn’t waste time and money setting up at a bridal show. Be honest about your work, if it translates to fairs and craft websites, target them. If it needs a very specific audience, leave no stone unturned until you find them and then market directly to them. Before you use any other tips offered here, be sure you know exactly who you are selling to. Landscape painter, conceptual artist, sculptor, etc., all have specific audiences, know your type of collector.
2. Define your brand. It may sound like marketing speak, but if you want to sell art (or anything) it is a good idea to consider your brand. In other words, narrow it down. Define, for potential buyers, who you are and what you offer. This does not mean that you can’t expand your brand over time, it just means offering a clear description of you as an artist from the get-go. From ethereal art to portraits, you have a brand, or one line that articulates who you are. If you ever read about the recipients of the McArthur genius grants, their work is usually summed up in a sentence or two, and that, in effect, is their brand.
3. Don’t be afraid to market your art. There is often a perception that making money from your art is tantamount to “selling out.” In order to be a successful, working artist, you must let go of any stigma you may be holding onto in this regard. While it is important to maintain the integrity of your work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting yourself as an artist. Once you have identified your niche, seek out websites that cater to this sort of buyer. Again, be honest about your work. If you create savvy political cartoons that would look great on tee shirts, coffee mugs, and calendars, seek out sites that can make this happen. If you wish to sell original works or prints, but not merchandise your art further, that’s a whole other market. The bottom line is, no artist was ever successful who didn’t accept that it’s ok to market.
4. Make smart decisions about the value of your art. Of course, to you every piece you create is priceless, but in the real world of the art market, there needs to be an actual, realistic value placed on your work. There are ways in which you can increase the value of your art (which will be covered in our upcoming course) but being honest about the value of your art to potential buyers will help you avoid frustration.
5. Build your own website. I repeat, build your own website. There are countless sites out there today that make it easy and inexpensive to build your own website with your own domain name. It’s a great idea (as mentioned in tips #2 & #3) to seek out other sites where your art could sell, but it is also important that you claim your own little corner of the internet. Here you can tell your whole story, link to other sites where you art may be available, and even begin your own blog to stay connected to your audience.
6. Social media is a big piece of the puzzle for thriving businesses today. Whether or not you have a personal account at one of the major social media outlets, you need one as a professional. In a previous post we discussed specific social media platforms and even an app that allows you to turn your social media account into a virtual storefront. No matter how you feel about social media, as a working artist you will need to make it part of your life. At the least, use Instagram, its a great forum for visual artists.
7. Consistency is key. Through all of the tips here, and as you continue on your journey toward becoming a thriving artist, you need to remain consistent in your message, your work, and your quality of customer relationships. Art is different from other fields in many, significant ways, but business is business. Customers are more likely to return and to give positive feedback if they have a consistent, positive experience when purchasing your work.
There you have it. Seven ways you can enhance your online art sales. Again, be sure to check back for our upcoming course about selling art online. More blog posts will also be gettinginto more depth on this.