Note this post The Routine Difficulties In Selling Artwork Online is a guest post by Christopher T. Cooper. You can learn more about Christopher at the end of this post.
The Routine Difficulties In Selling Artwork Online
Selling art is difficult, just ask an artist. In the mushy, subjective, populist/anti-populist world of art, persuading an individual to part way with money for a piece of art is a complex, multi-layered process that leaves most people, even in gallery contexts, completely baffled. In fact, when an artist does sell a work you’ll often find that it was something spontaneous, unpredictable. Someone might just have taken a shine to something and purchased it straight away. The internet is now the largest marketplace in the world on all fronts, with people engaged in the buying and selling of products, services and everything in between 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This also applies to art. The internet has opened up a big opportunity for artists all around the world to showcase and sell their work, but its influence is just as complicated as it is positive, and it certainly carries with it a lot of common challenges, that aren’t going away anytime soon. So, without further ado, let’s look at the routine difficulties in online art selling.
Doing website design for an art website is really difficult, but it’s likely one of the first things that you will be thinking about when you start trying to sell online. “There are plenty of templates on sites like Squarespace or Wix that are aiming to appeal to artists, but the truth is that you have to develop your own very specific website, that neither clashes with your work, nor distracts from it. A website is a piece of art in itself in a lot of ways, so just like a top-tier art curator, you have to be working very hard indeed to curate your digital space correctly”, says Martic Klaspietz, art blogger at Brit Student and WriteMyx. This is likely the first challenge you’ll face as you start pushing for online art sales, and it’s a big one.
Navigating Social Media
Social media is a haven for a lot of individual artists striving to get their name out there, or even to just get a single piece of art known in the art community and beyond. It’s a strange thing but social media actually has a real affinity for art, with so many more people likely to look at art that’s come on their timeline or explore page than would ever open the door to a gallery on a high street. The problem with social media is that it is complicated. Knowing who is looking at what, and why some of your art will be viewed by 12 people and other pieces by 12,000 people is all caught up in an algorithm that it’s impossible to wrap your head around. Similarly, paying for marketing on social media can be really effective. But it seems counter-intuitive, particularly if your piece is a one-off. The way to solve all these complications is to always set goals and stick fast to them. Maybe you want to grow ‘your community’, meaning followers who will stick around for your art specifically? Or maybe you want to market a piece of art very widely that you can sell multiple copies of?
Choosing A Platform
“There are lots of websites out there that market themselves specifically as platforms for artists, from Etsy to Redbubble, there are always platform options. Actually deciding which to go with is a more difficult task, that can require lots of research”, explains Zoe Sagan, a journalist at Australia2Write and Next Coursework. You’ll find different results with each platform and you’ll also be surprised at how effective some unorthodox options are. Setting yourself up as a freelance artist on Fiverr, for example, is something that can be surprisingly effective at boosting sales. This means you need to experiment with different platforms as you go.
Pricing Your Art
Art that is sitting in a gallery can have any price tag on it, from a few dollars to a million dollars you won’t ever get doubted and you can actually make sales. The problem with selling art on the internet is that people don’t get an opportunity to actually see the art physically, which makes it very difficult to persuade them to part ways with a few hundred dollars let alone the $20,000 you know that you could get at auction. Some art just won’t find a home online.
Selling art is hard enough as it is, without needing all of the added stress and complication of trying to do it online. However, selling art online also represents an incredible opportunity to make sales in a marketplace that is competitive and abnormal, so it can’t be passed over.
Christopher T. Cooper is a museum curator and critic who writes for PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits. In his spare time he contributes articles to Origin Writings, about all the professional practices that he believes breed success in the art world.
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