With over 8,500 sales of my artwork through online art marketplaces, I’ve learned a few thing about selling artwork directly from artist to buyer. Offering artwork for sale online has never been easier. But competing with millions of other artists from around the world trying to sell their own artwork, the challenges of actually selling your work is extremely difficult.
Here are a few tips of what not to do:
- Don’t upload and wait for sales to pour in.
- Don’t think a small number of artwork will be noticed.
- Don’t create for a limited audience (like yourself).
- Don’t assume the website will be showing your work.
- Don’t lose touch with your audience.
Don’t upload and wait for sales to pour in
Unless you have an established name and following, you can’t expect to just upload your artwork and head for the beach. Art buyers are not just sitting their waiting at the end of a hose with a bucket waiting for your work to pour out.
Don’t think a small number of artwork will be noticed.
Every hour thousands of new images are uploaded to stock sites, online art site, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and social network sites. The Internet is a numbers game. To be noticed you have to have good work and a lot of it. Don’t think you’ll be noticed in a sea of great artwork with a few drops. The Internet is long tail – lots and lots of niche products that appeal to few but the sales add up. If you only cover a certain niche with your work, be sure that its large enough to substain the sales that you desire.
The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
Don’t create for a limited audience
Art for art’s sakes is noble and all but limited in the ability to sell it. This type of artwork is usually sold to the investor market and is backed by auction results. If your art has a very limited market then you might want to stick to the traditional galleries and sell originals. Much better to find that one buyer out there who appreciates your work and pays big bucks for it then try to sell something on a mass scale to people who don’t get it. If your work has a mass appeal and you can see it selling multiple times, then by all means, sell it online.
Don’t assume the website will actually show your work
The only guarantee that an art web site will actually show your work to visitors is if you start making sales. Work that doesn’t get anointed as something special by the staff or sells will be hidden way down in the bottom of search. Every art sales web sites has their own way of controlling this so the visitors see the very best and the most sellable work. If you are lucky, you’ll move up in search when you sell or be highlighted in their store or collections. Or maybe even make it into one of their promotional emails or ads. But the only way to insure that your work is being seen is to market it yourself. Take control of your own marketing and don’t worry about what the site is doing.
Don’t lose touch with your audience
The unsuccessful artist will upload, wait, fail to sell and then move on to something else. The successful artist will engage with the community at large by consistently uploading new work and announcing it via social media. They will blog about their process. They will send out press releases. They will attend shows. They will show their work in shows. Stay active, stay in the game.