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This is a featured guest post by Yury Becker.
As an artist, you may feel pressured to have gallery representation if you want to “make it” but the truth is in this digital world you don’t need it.
Gallery representation may give you approval as an artist but approval doesn’t equal sales. And in art, sales is what allows you to progress as an artist.
In this article, I will take a look at 8 different ways you can sell your art in 2019 to not only keep the lights on but to turn an impressive profit too. I will take a look at some obvious choices like selling on market places to obscure avenues like working with estate agents and interior designers.
If you want to make art more than just a hobby and start making a career of it keep on reading.
8 different ways to sell your art in 2019
1) Art Fairs
Art fairs can be difficult to sell your art at due to there being a lot of competition there, with that said the competition is there for a reason and that reason is there are many buyers looking to pick up the next unique item from an up and coming artist, your job is to capture their eye.
You may be the best unknown artist in the world but at an art fair that won’t matter much if you don’t attract the customers. To improve your chances your booth will need to look presentable, professional and be well laid out.
If you do are considering going to an art fair you will need to invest in a quality sign which highlights your name or business name and your art should be well laid out to capture potential buyers attention. Your sign should do enough to make your artwork memorable, as most buyers will look round the fair before circling back to buy a piece.
When working at your stall you should act professionally at all times as you never know when a sale is going to walk by. Don’t eat at your stand, don’t read, don’t be on your phone and don’t be talking to a friend that you managed to drag along to the event. All of these don’ts are to ensure you don’t miss any sales as each of them are off-putting to different types of buyers.
If you do get visitors that don’t buy right away don’t be disappointed or pushy, instead have them to sign up to a newsletter which I will discuss later in this article.
2) Market Places
Online market places can be the quickest way of building interest in your work and making sales, but it won’t be easy out of the gate.
When I talk about online marketplaces I don’t mean websites like eBay or Craigslist, I’m talking more about websites like Etsy, Artfire or Artsy. These websites are centered around creative people and as a result, your potential customers are already there, all you need to do is create work that appeals to them and gets it in front of their eyes.
The biggest challenge you are going to face as a new artist on one of these market places is that you will have no customer feedback or testimonials, this can sometimes put doubt in the mind of a potential buyer and make you lose the sale. This is going to happen so we need to get feedback right away, the easiest way to do so and you might not like it is to lower your prices initially.
By selling at lower than you usually would you can usually get some initial buyers. When they have purchased from you and are happy with the quality of the artwork be sure to ask them for online feedback. When you get the feedback you can then raise your prices.
3) Custom Website
A custom website is a great way to sell your own art. However, it’s not one of the first methods I would recommend as getting traffic to a brand new website is very difficult and it takes time. If you’re a starving artist and need to sell your art to eat this month, a custom website is not the first place I would start.
When you have an audience, that is when I would recommend creating your own website as you can send that audience to your website either via social media (more on this later) or by linking from the market places you should already be on.
When it comes to creating a website you could go with a free solution like Wix but I would advise against this as a site built on WordPress in my experience is more search friendly and is easier to use. WordPress also integrates with something called Woocommerce which handles all of the sales processes for you. All you have to do is link it up to your PayPal or Stripe account and you can start accepting payments right away.
4) Build a newsletter
If you have read any marketing blogs you may have heard the saying “the money is in the list” and it’s true. The bigger your email marketing list the better chance you have of selling your art, as long as the list of subscribers is relevant.
To build a newsletter I would recommend software like MailChimp which is free to use up to 2000 users. There are many other options out there but I’ve found that MailChimp is simple to integrate with most websites (including WordPress).
The biggest mistake I see artists make when creating a newsletter is by adding it to their website and expecting users to sign up without any value added. No one will sign up to your newsletter unless you are already established. To get around that problem you will need to be creative and come up with something that you can trade with your users for their email address, maybe it could be something like 10% off their first order.
The better the offer the more chance of your potential buyers signing up to your email list. The reason why building a list is so important is that once they are on that list you can send them offers on your paintings and other relevant information which may push them closer to purchasing from you.
Just don’t overdo it, if you constantly mail your email list you could risk them unsubscribing.
5) Print on demand websites
Print on demand websites is becoming popular with artists looking to make money out of their passion. As an artist your job is simple, upload your art and then potential buyers can use your art on canvases, T-shirts, pencil cases, mugs and much more.
The best part of the print on demand websites is that you don’t have to do much other than upload your art and promote your page to drive traffic to it. The website will then handle the printing, postage and customer service.
Not every artist is going to be suitable for print on demand websites, in my opinion, they are more suitable for illustrators, but don’t let me put you off, you don’t have much to lose and it can be rewarding not only financially but seeing your artwork on a T-shirt worn by someone else is an amazing experience. Society6 is a website that I have used in the past.
6) Social Media
Social media can be an artist’s best friend if used correctly.
The biggest mistakes I see artists make on social media is they are constantly trying to sell with every post. Granted that’s the ultimate goal of your account but no one likes to be sold to.
Instead of screaming “buy my art” in every post, start to build a following. Collectors don’t just buy art based on the art alone, many of them buy a painting because they like the artist, because of this you should use your social media to let them get to know you.
You could think of your social media as a behind the scenes look into you as an artist. What makes you create the art that you do, what techniques do you use, what other activities outside of art shape you as a person? By being genuine you are giving people a backstage pass to your life as an artist and in return, people are far more likely to purchase your work than from some other artist who they barely know.
Some of the main social media platforms you should be using as an artist are:
A final tip for using social media is to link to your marketplace or website from the bio of your account, that way you can push additional visitors to your work.
7) Estate agents and interior designers
Estate agents and interior designers are everywhere, I would even go as far as saying there are probably 10 times as many of them as there are artists and every single one of them will do whatever it takes to sell the homes in their possession, because of this the need for new and unique art is at an all-time high.
As an artist, if you have a style that’s in “fashion” you have the potential for repeat business. The best part is you don’t have to be a renowned artist with years of experience. Interior designers and estate agents are not going to care if your techniques are not perfect or if you lack years of experience, all your art needs to do is fit in with their style.
Some tips to sell your art to interior designers and estate agents would be to keep up with current trends, have many pieces to show them as you will never know how many pieces of work they may need and finally use your social media accounts to look for interior designers that use similar work to yours and send them a message to see if their on the lookout for new art.
8) Use pay per click marketing
Pay per click marketing for those unaware is a method of advertising which charges you the artist every time someone clicks on your advert. The cost per click can be anything from a few cents to a few dollars depending on the advertising platform.
You can combine pay per click marketing with your own website to start to drive potential sales right away. Pay per click marketing is a quick way of getting started but it can get costly and sometimes you could spend money and not make any sales at all.
The cheapest form of pay per click is Facebook’s advertising platform, often you can target people for a few cents a click, and the Facebook platform is very good for targeting people, so if you know your past customers are women in their 30’s who like musicals and coffee, Facebook can target them. It’s surprising and frightening at the same time.
On the other hand, you have Google ads which allow you to show ads to your work every time someone searches for a term like “fine artist in London” or “Artists near me” and so much more. Google ads are often more expensive than Facebook but the person searching for the query is far more likely to buy as that is the term they are actually searching for.
If you do think this route could be for you keep your eye out for Googles free ad credits as they often have deals where you can get free credit if you deposit 25 bucks.
Yury Becker is an artist and a blogger for Art in a sec, a website that allows it’s users to create art in the style of their favorite artists with the help of artificial intelligence. When not writing about art, Yury spends time at home with his family and enjoys reading and cooking.
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