What does it take to sell your photographs and artwork on the top print on demand (POD) websites such as Fine Art America, Pixels.com, Crated, Red Bubble and the others? Its like any worthwhile endeavor, it requires understanding of the buying process, the print on demand customer, the artwork search process, the differences between the sites, their strengths, weaknesses and the type of buyer they attract with their own mix of artists, promotion and products as well as they look, easy of use and customer service. But it all starts with having a great product.
The number one rule for success selling art online: Have something worth buying
Success in the art world always starts with the quality of your artwork and plenty of it. You can’t go anywhere until you have something worthy of buying. If what you are offering doesn’t match up to the quality of the professionals who sell on these sites, then you need to go back to square one and put more time and effort into your work to get it ready for prime time. People see art every day online as well as in magazines, in galleries and in museums. They know what to expect and what they are willing to spend hard earned money on. If your work looks like something their teenager could do on a cell phone, then its probably not ready to compete with the professional artist who do this for a living.
Second rule for selling artwork online – Stock your store with plenty of choices
A brick and mortar gallery or a tent at weekend art festival is limited wall space but the Internet has endless storage and endless display space. To get noticed online, you are going to have quality work and lots of it to choose from – its called “long tail marketing”. Consider the endless offerings from a retailer such as Amazon. People want choices and they can easily view lots of images in a short amount of time. Either you will be providing these choices or your competition will be.
Third rule of selling art and photography online – It takes time!
Selling artwork online and creating a successful online presence and business selling your photography or paintings takes a lot of work, a lot of consistent work, over a long period of time. They say that any business takes three years to get established and most people bail out before the first year. Consider that your business, and you should approach it with all the seriousness of being a business because your competition certainly is, will take time to squeeze out a niche among all of the other millions of photographers and artists – professional and hobbyists, trying to sell their work.
Consider that they got there before you. They may have had years of working to establish themselves and now you come along and want a piece of the pie. No one is just going to move over and let you skate to the top of the list. Creating a following and getting your work seen can take years. It requires consistent effort of sharing, promoting, marketing and thinking outside of the box to get noticed among the thousands of images that are uploaded every single hour.
Most online print on demand and art galleries promote the artists who have sold well in the past. These artists will get the top search spots, they will get the special promotions, they will get even more sales. When you start at the bottom of the pack, you have to work even harder to claw your way up to the top. It took me about three years of working every single day – shooting, designing, uploading, blogging, marketing etc to get to a good spot where I started to see regular sales. Upload and kick back and wait for the sales to flow in? Hardly. I’ve put more time in my online art business then I would have at a regular job.
Fourth rule of selling your artwork and photography online – Be seen!
Assuming that you have great work and lots of it, in order to make sales of your artwork online, it needs to be seen and be seen by a lot of people. Especially people who are in the market to purchase artwork such as the work you are offering for sale. View from friends, family and fellow artists is nice and all, maybe a bit of an ego boost, but in order to sell your work you need it to be seen by potential buyers.
To be seen, make it easy to be found! Fill out the keywords, fill in the description fields, talk about your art on forums, in your town, online, in blogs. Let the potential buyers know more about you and your artwork. The more interesting you are, the more people will be interested in your artwork.