Milestone: 1200 Art and Fine Art Photography Sales

Allow me to toot my own horn, as I can’t wait for others to do it. I sell my photography, design work and art on a variety of platforms from Rights Managed Stock via Arcangel to rental art via Turning Art as well as on Red Bubble and Society6 but by far my most successful selling platform to date has been Fine Art America and Pixels.com.

I have my largest portfolio on edward-fielding.pixels.com and this site offers the most combinations of museum quality prints in the form of framed and matted prints, canvas, metal, wood and more.  Plus decor products such as throw pillows, phone cases, bags and more.

In the past few months I’ve punched through the 1,000 sales mark and my collectors keep growing, discovering new, never sold before images from my portfolio of nearly 5,000 fine art photographs and artwork as well as repeat sales of fan favorite images.

Decorators have also discovered a few of my images for their clients and have received a professional discount for large volume buyers through Designer Prints which is a service to those in the trade who need to purchase in volume for their clients or for resale.

Here are some of my top sellers:

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

Photography Prints

Sell Art Online

Sell Art Online

If you want to sell your own artwork take a look at some of my advice on selling artwork articles:

About Fine Art America and Pixels

Selling Art – Search Engine Optimization SEO

5 Don’ts of Selling Artwork Online

Can I make a living at this?

Understanding Print On Demand – Part One

Want to sell your artwork online? Do some math first

Art Prints

I had to chuckle when a new artist on Pixels and Fine Art America was complaining about their lack of sales on the forum recently.  They couldn’t understand why they hadn’t made a sale yet despite having over 1,000+ views.

Really?  1,000 views and they expect the sales to come flooding in?  Think about how many people walk by an artwork at a gallery or even at a mall store window before something sells.

And that’s real people.  People in a retail environment.  People with a wallet in their pocket or cash in their purse.  People who are already in the mood to do a little shopping.

What is a 1,000 views on the Internet?  Most likely its bots.  Little software robots that index the internet every day.  They come to a page, scan the contents and report back to the search engine from which they came.  They are not buyers.  Bots are most likely 99% of the traffic that an internet page receives and bots are not buyers.

Then there are the lookers, tire kickers and browsers.  People looking for free clip art, people looking for free screen savers, people who are just curious, people who are simply at work – bored and playing around.  And perhaps a few are serious buyers.

So out of that 1,000 views, how many are valid potential buyers?  Perhaps three?

Sell Art Online

Now take that three and consider the competition.  Pixels and Fine Art America says they have upwards of 125,000 living artists who use their site to offer their artwork for sale.  125K artists who are uploading something like 6,000 new images on a daily basis.

So this is the kicker from this artist who can’t believe they haven’t sold anything yet.

“Granted, I only have 8-9 drawings posted” and only joined in 2016 and has zero followers.  In other words hasn’t done much at all.

Sell Art Online

POD means Print On Demand not ATM

Uploading images to a POD site and “offering” work is not the same as marketing, promoting and selling your artwork.  POD sites are not ATM machines.  They don’t spit out money without putting in some effort.

Despite what you might have heard, art does not sell itself.  It needs to be seen and it needs to be seen by a lot of people before the right buyer reaches into their pocket and parts with their hard-earned money to purchase said artwork.

Do you have any idea how many buyers there are in the world wanting to purchase your artwork?  Does it appeal to hundreds? Thousands? Millions? A few? Just one? No one?

Some of the work I offer in my portfolio of nearly 5,000 pieces of photography and artwork has never sold – perhaps yet or perhaps never.  Some have sold a few times and a few have sold nearly fifty times.  Some sold in as little as three days, others took three years to find a buyer.

Some have less than 100 views and have sold.  Other have thousands of views and haven’t sold once.

Photography Prints

What does it take to sell artwork on Pixels and Fine Art America and other Print On Demand or POD websites?

There really is not secret formula to selling artwork on POD sites.  Good work, that is in demand, lots of it plus marketing, promotion and time for people to find it is the secret.

  • Professional, top quality work
  • Unique work that sets you apart from the pack
  • Work that fits the audience of the website
  • Lots of inventory to choose from
  • Promotion
  • Social Media activity
  • Marketing
  • Good titles, keywording, descriptions
  • Time for the work to be found by search engines and potential buyers.

 

 

 

WOW vs. HoHum Photography

Vintage Tractors artwork

WOW Photographs vs. HoHum Photographs

I had a recent discussion with some Fine Art America photographers about WOW photographs vs. HoHum photographs and if it made since only to upload your WOW photographs for sale to the public.

What’s a WOW photograph? Well, basically any photo that grabs peoples attention. Something that makes people stop and take a look in this modern world of image overload. A WOW photograph is  captured and of a subject matter that is interesting and unique.

  • HoHums are scenes that that have been shot a million times and don’t offer anything new.
  • HoHums are shot in 12 noon with harsh over head light while WOWs are shot at sunset.
  • WOWs look good as thumbnails and grab attention.
  • WOWs are a unique way of looking at a iconic subject.
  • HoHums are background noise, WOWs are the main event.
  • HoHums say “look I saw this”, WOWs take you there.
  • WOWs make you want to go somewhere and take the same shot.  HoHums make you wonder why the photographer even brought the camera to their eye.
  • WOWs are determined by the photographer and the buyers.  Not all WOWs are landscapes.  For someone looking for artwork for their diner, the gleam of bacon on a mouthwatering breakfast sandwich might be the WOW they are looking for.
  • HoHums have been seen a million times.  WOWs bring a different take on the subject.
  • WOWs favor the well prepared photographer and the busy photographer always looking for the next WOW subject.

The group concluded that while HoHum photographs might sell once in a while, usually because there is no other competition yet in the category but WOW photographs will sell over and over.

Sell Art Online

This sunset shot of a lobster pound in Clinton, Connecticut is a good example of a WOW shot. A great detailed subject with lots of interest to people who live near the ocean and shot during a beautiful summer sunset. It has sold multiple times.

Sell Art Online

This steam train dream concept shot is a created WOW because of its uniqueness and well crafted drama. It has sold multiple times.

Art Prints

Even food photography can be taken to the WOW level with good composition, preparation and lighting. This shot of balsamic roasted onions has sold over and over as a stock photography image.

Art Prints

WOW photography takes advantage of composition, lighting and subject to create a since of drama and intrigue.

To Get to WOW You Need to Shoot a lot of HoHums

I shoot a lot of HoHums. Every photographer does. Even Ansel Adams, who shot all the time considered 12 images to be a good crop for a year.

But the HoHums typically either get trashed, sit on the hard drive or maybe become stock photographs. The WOWs are the images that grab ones attention from just a thumbnail in Abobe Lightroom. They are the ones that get the extra attention of post processing in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and perhaps even OnOne Perfect Effects.

HoHums are practice.  HoHum photographs are for learning what not to do.  HoHums are experiments.  HoHums get you comfortable with your equipment.  HoHums are training.  HoHums are neccessary so that when a WOW opportunity presents itself you are ready to capture a WOW.

Now the Catch 22 on online selling is that you need enough product in your store  to attract buyers.  Online selling deals with the concept of Long Tail retail and marketing – i.e. having a deep inventory of products to appeal to a diverse market.

If you only upload the 10 WOWs you’ve achieved so far, you won’t have enough inventory to attract anyone to your portfolio, so you have to upload some photographs that are to exactly going to knock the socks off anyone.  But as long as they are not utter trash its ok.  Keep the quality consistent even if the subject matter might not be earth shattering.

The problem newbies have is they haven’t shot enough to pick out the best.  Probably they are not ready to sell to the public but they want to and thus start uploading utter crap that only turns off buyers.  Better to wait until you have a few WOWs under your belt before leaping into the world of selling your work.

Just keep in mind that you are not offering your work in a vacuum.   You are competing with all of the WOW photographer created by professional photographers.  You have to bring your A game if you want to WOW buyers.

Tornado by Edward M. Fielding
Once in a life time WOW moments like this can only be captured if you are prepared. Art Prints

Can I make a living at this?

Can I make a living selling my photographs online?

In danger of sounding like the overgrown fifth grader, PeeWee Herman, my response has to be “I don’t know, can you?”

I can’t predict people’s future or have any idea of someone drive to succeed.  When someone asks “can you make a living licensing stock photographs from microstock sites” or “can you make a living selling artwork or photographs from PODs or Print On Demand sites” the answer has to be – “maybe”.

Some people do very well on stock photography sites and fine art sites like Fine Art America, Pixels, Red Bubble and Society6.  Some sell  enough to make a living at it even if its a modest one.  Then again some sellers live in third world counties where the cost of living is low.  Or they have a very spartan existence and eat ramen noodle three times a day.

The idea of living off of one’s artwork or photography buy simply uploading a few images and then kicking back on the beach is a fantasy.  Any photographer I’ve seen that has been successful has had to really hustle to make a living – they shoot weddings, they shoot events, they teach workshops, they shoot non-stop.

Alamy recently had an interview with a photographer that reached $250,000 in sales but that was after 15 years and uploading 27,000 images into his portfolio.  27,000!  Imagine finding, creating, processing and uploading that many images.  Imagine the time and effort involved.  Its not easy!  It takes dedication and working at it every single day to find worthy subjects.

From what I’ve seen, most photographers starting out in the game thinking they are going to make some money with their camera tap out the depths of their imaginations with garden flower photographs.  If garden flowers are the best you can come up with, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Then there are the landscape photographers who dust off their cameras a few times a year when they are off on a holiday.  They stand in the National Parks next to hundreds of other vacationers getting the stale Kodak moment shot and then expecting to retire on the results.  Hate to break the news to you but very few people make a living as a landscape photographer.  Unless you have a sales force and chain of galleries in vacation spots like Peter Lik or magazine assignments from National Geographic and Outside Magazine, you probably will not be making a living as a landscape photographer.

To make any real money with your camera, you have to shoot people.  Learn to make people look good and you’ll make money with your camera doing portraits, senior portraits, weddings, fashion, etc.

Then there are the gadget hounds.  The guys with the latest and greatest cameras and lenses.  You know the guys who spend more time on the camera forums arguing about which lens is the sharpest than they spend actually taking pictures.  These guys spend all of their disposable income so they can have bragging rights the next time they are on vacation.  They are busier looking at people’s camera straps then the vistas before them. They are the ones who wander up to you while you are trying to compose a show with “I see you have the Canon X123” and try to get you to talk about camera gear.  The working photographer has no time for this, they are busy working!

If you decide to go professional with your photography, every purchase counts.  When you are in business for yourself every lens has to pay for itself.  The hobbist can buy a macro lens and play around shooting insects in the garden but the professional has to ask – what is the market for ugly bugs?  When will I make back the hundreds of dollars I just spent on this lens?

The best advice I can give is to do your research.  Here are a few books to get you started.


Five reasons people give away their art

Back in the day I was the Director of Market Research at BYTE magazine.  My job was to prove the value of our readership for the ad sales staff.  I used to cringe when the young, inexperienced sales people used to come back to the publisher with some truly awful deals that would basically be giving away ad space.  Any fool can give things away for less than their value.   A seasoned professional or informed amateur recognizes the value of their work and the market needs.

The Line Up
The Line Up – call in the usual suspects – http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/the-line-up-edward-fielding.html

Why do people give away their photographs and art?

The global art market achieved total sales of $63.8 billion in 2015.  People want to buy art and photography for their home and office.  They need to purchase art and photography for commercial purposes such as advertising, web pages, brochures, magazines, books, etc yet some people continue to give away their artwork and photographs or seriously undervalue their work.

Why is this?  I can think of five reasons:

Ignorance – They don’t understand the value of images in today’s marketplace and don’t realize the value of what they have. I recently sold an image for $360 profit a friend gave me. He didn’t understand the value of the image he had and I offered to sell it for him.  Images have value in the fine art market and commercial market.  It is just a matter of realizing it.

Exposure – Photographers and artists are often under the impression that giving away their images will somehow lead to future sales or recognition. The problem is that millions of images are given away every day on social media and there isn’t enough “exposure” to go around. What’s the value of this exposure? Perhaps 1 cent in today’s market. People value what they pay for – no one brags about art they got for free. And no one who has gotten something for free is going to pay for it the next time. They’ll just look for another free source the next time. And the value of someone looking for freebies as a “collector” is worthless. You want to cultivate a follow of people who value what you are offering, not people looking for freebies.

They are amateurs or hobbyists – The amateur or hobbyist is not looking to make a living on their photography or artwork.  They simply enjoy producing images for fun and are happy enough for others to look at their images.  They don’t want to the pressure of having to ask for money and would rather just give away their images.  They live for likes and shares.   The problem with this mindset is that it brings down the over all market and prevents the amateur or hobbyist from ever becoming a professional.  After being conditioned with instant success from likes and shares of their freebies, they are unprepared with standing up for the true value of their work and asking for money for their time, skill and effort.  The advanced amateur or hobbyist is setting themselves up for being asked to shoot weddings, soccer games, portraits for free.

They want to build up a portfolio – This might be the best reason to actually giving away services for free.  If you need to create a portfolio and need access to models or locations or maybe even a good project idea.  But there is no reason to give your time and effort for nothing.  Barter and exchange services instead.  Trade headshots for modeling time.  Create a video for a local business in exchange to some free time at the gym or on the massage table.  Don’t work for free, instead exchange one valuable service for another.

They don’t know how easy it is to take their goods to market – Some artists and photographers simple don’t know how easy it is to participate in the art and photography markets.  In the old days perhaps the only way to sell your art and photography was to take your portfolio around to galleries or sell directly to the public.  But with the Internet there are countless markets amateurs and professional photographers and artists can participate .  Stock agencies cater to professional image buyers and online galleries and print on demand sites sell directly to the public.  I explain how to sell via POD sites in these blog posts:

How to Succeed in Fine Art Photography

How to Succeed in Fine Art Photography with Brooke Shaden plus further reading.

“Anyone can become a fine art photographer, but not everyone can become a gallery-represented artist.”

Talent alone will not bring you recognition as a fine art photographer. For that, you need exposure to collectors and museums. Galleries can give you that exposure, but first you need an effective marketing plan to reach the galleries. You will find that plan in From Photographer to Gallery Artist.

Author Kara Lane conducted hundreds of hours of research, and contacted over sixty galleries, to find the best strategies for getting your fine art photography into galleries. Now she is sharing the secrets she discovered with you.

In this complete guide to finding gallery representation, you will learn:

  • The criteria galleries use to evaluate fine art photography
  • Three primary resources for identifying the best galleries for you
  • The tools you need to showcase your images and experience
  • Six major marketing strategies for attracting gallery representation
  • Key issues to discuss with galleries before agreeing to representation
  • How eight famous fine art photographers achieved their success
  • Self-assessment questions to help clarify what you want from your life and art
  • Lists of recommended portfolio review events, art fairs, juried shows and competitions, art magazines and blogs, artist websites, and other resources to help you become a gallery-represented fine art photographer
  • With your talent, effort, and persistence…and the research and marketing strategies in From Photographer to Gallery Artist…you can achieve gallery representation!

Did you know? Fine Art Photography – Known also as “photographic art“, “artistic photography” and so on, the term “fine art photography” has no universally agreed meaning or definition: rather, it refers to an imprecise category of photographs, created in accordance with the creative vision of the cameraman.

“Fine art is about an idea, a message, or an emotion. The artist has something that they want to have conveyed in their work.

That idea or message may be something small, a single word such as abandon, or it may be a whole statement, like exploring the way the moon affects the tides. It is a start. It is like a hypothesis.”


In recent years as the field of photography has exploded, many photographers consider selling their work to make a profit and to help defray the high costs of equipment. But, many photographers don’t have the business and marketing knowledge required to successfully sell fine art photographs; and many of those who have tried have been met with disappointment. Until now, little information of value has been available.

In Marketing Fine Art Photography, Alain Briot offers practical, up-to-date and field-tested marketing techniques from the viewpoint of a fine art landscape photographer who earns a living from the sale of his fine art prints.

Briot teaches that by taking control of the selling process, you can increase your profits and, ultimately, direct your own destiny. Briot’s approach is based on offering quality not quantity; and offering something unique, rather than something that is mass-produced. Though directed toward selling fine art, this method can be applied to other products.

After a series of trials and errors, Briot devised a marketing system that allowed him to get out of debt, pay for a state-of-the-art studio, and purchase his first home, all from the sale of his photography. Briot has taught fine art photography marketing to numerous students in seminars, through one-on-one consulting, and through his Marketing Mastery tutorial DVD.

Topics include:

Defining fine art photography
Wholesale, retail, and consignment
Knowing your customer
Where to sell and how to price fine art
Fundamentals of marketing and salesmanship
Profitability and honesty in business
Packing and shipping fine art
Common marketing mistakes
The unique selling proposition (USP)

Ideas for making money with your camera

The market for photography is $10 billion dollars in the United States and is expect to grow at a rate of 1.8 percent annually.

Still images and video are needed more than ever in the digital age in portraits, business promotion, product photography, food photography, event photography and editorial photography to illustrate articles, news sources and websites. While the costs of photographer and the fees paid to photographers have decreased due to easier to use and process digital photography the need for images is always increasing.

The Photography industry has experienced several changes as digital cameras and post-production technologies have increasingly affected operators. While photographers are benefiting from the changes by increasing their efficiency and availability, consumers are now able to take professional-quality images without the need of a specialist.

Revenue is expected to improve slightly in the next five years as photographer focus on niche markets, such as events, sports and church directory photography.

Common industry services include school and family portraits, special events photography and sports’ photography. As consumers make up the largest buyers of these services, photography studios tend to be concentrated in densely populated areas.

Cities, in addition to being densely populated, have the largest amount of business activity. This leads industry establishments that focus on commercial and industrial photography to also concentrate in densely populated areas although the web allows photographers to find International and Domestic markets.

Top Ways to Make Money With Your Camera

1 – Sell Prints – I talk about how to sell prints of your photographs in my series on Print On Demand sites – http://www.dogfordstudios.com/understanding-print-demand/

You can also sell prints locally at galleries and  arts and crafts fairs.

2 – Stock Photography – You can upload your images to a stock photography agency who will then offer them to image buyers and designers to be used in publications, on the web,  on products etc.

Example of a licensed image.
Example of a licensed image.

For example the above image title “Wash Day” and which I sell as prints has also been licensed for use on the cover of a pet magazine in Florida.  https://edwardfielding.me/2014/02/07/wash-day-makes-the-front-page/

A few things to remember about stock photography:

  • Fine art photographs are not always suitable for stock images and conversely not all stock images make great fine art photographs.
  • Stock photographs need to be useful for the business buyers/designers.  They need copyspace, they need images that will illustrate the products and services they are selling or support the editorial in a magazine or on a blog.
  • A stock portfolio needs to be diverse, constantly updated and have a very large number of unique images to get noticed.  If you think you’ll upload 40 images and then kick back and watch the money flow in, you will be disappointed.

Sell Art Online

3 – Event Photography – Capturing images for an event such as a wedding, party, club, or special occasion is a great way to make money with your camera.  Even though everyone has a camera these days on their smart phone, smart people and people with money to spend on the good things in life know that it better to leave important things like capturing the event in pictures to the pros with the good equipment.  The pro might be the only one not drunk and certainly the only one in the room fully concentrated on getting the job done.

4. Portraits – From Headshots to Mugshots – the ability to photograph people well is the ticket to success.  Landscapes are for the hobbyists and amateurs.  Professionally produced portaits are money in the bank for the professional photographer.  Learn how to make people look good and you will have a successful photography business.
Sell Art Online

About Fine Art America and Pixels

Fine Art America is privately held company that provides a market place for artists to sell their images.   Artists offer their images for sale, provide the mark up and Fine Art America and its sister site Pixels handles the sales transactions , printing and fulfillment.

Fine Art America started out as a popular artists forum in the early Internet days and then morphed into a marketplace over time.  Its  small company, mostly the brain child of computer engineer, Sean Broihier and a small support staff, but they manage to be the small business engine for thousands of artists and photographers.

There is currently two “flavors” of the Fine Art America POD marketplace.  One is the original Fine Art America that promotes fine art prints and original artwork.  The prints are handled by  Graphik Dimensions Ltd. of High Point NC who has been serving the artist community for over 50 years with printing and framing.

With these guys as the principal framing and print shop, FAA offers the most framing, printing and mounting options of any online POD outfit.  You can choose from thousands of framing options including metal, acrylic and new wood prints.

Pixels on the other hand is more of the gift shop to FAA’s gallery or museum experience.  In the Pixels store you will find an expanded collection of gift items like t-shirts, mugs and throw pillows.

Sample Artists Storefront

http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/
http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/

Fine Art America in the Press

Sean Broihier the owner of Fine Art America seems to have done a round of press back in 2012.  More recently he’s kept more tight lipped about the business maybe because of all the competition that has entered the POD market place over the last few years.

Here is some of the press on Fine Art America and Pixels from past articles.  Note that the sales figures certainly have increased from the 2012 numbers.

Doing $5 Million A Year With Three Employees: FineArtAmerica CEO Sean Broihier (Part 1)

http://www.sramanamitra.com/2012/03/22/doing-5m-a-year-with-3-employees-fineartamerica-ceo-sean-broihier-part-1/

Sramana: What is the business model behind FineArtAmerica?

Sean Broihier: The business model is to create a marketplace of buyers and sellers. We allow artist and photographers to upload their images to our site. We then offer them for sale as framed prints, stretched canvases, acrylic prints, greeting cards, and so on. We have a print-on-demand business model. Independent artists and photographers all over the world can open an account on our site and upload their images, and our software will determine what sizes and products we can sell based on the size of the image. The artist or photographer gets to name exactly how much they want to charge for each product or size of the print that is made available.

When a buyer comes along, he or she can pick the print and size. We allow buyers to choose additional features such as colored mats and frames. They can customize the entire picture via our website and place the order. FineArtAmerica takes care of the entire transaction for the artist. We print, frame, package, ship, collect payment, and send the profits to the artist.

How Fine Art America Built Its Business by Bootstrapping

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222670

So how does Broihier do it? Here are his five tips on how to bootstrap a business:

  1. Be lean. He started out by keeping the overhead low — working alone on nights and weekends. He generated a $500 profit his first month in business. In 2010, he hired his first employee, and in 2011 he added another — both of whom work remotely.
  2. Generate buzz. Fine Art America didn’t advertise until late 2010. Instead, it took advantage of word-of-mouth through its artists via email, Facebook, Twitter and more. Customers, it turns out, are your best lead generators.
  3. Outsource. Fine Art America builds great online software and outsources everything else. ADP handles payroll. Amazon manages its web servers. WebmasterChecks.com pays the artists. A company out of North Carolina handles its printing, framing, matting, packaging and shipping.
  4. Don’t follow the leaders. Small firms often compete against well-funded corporations with millions of investment capital that can afford to throw money at bad ideas. Don’t copycat all of their decisions.
  5. Resist taking on investors. Once you accept investment capital, you’re no longer the boss and you’re on a path to sell your business or go public. Unless you’re struggling with cash flow or preparing for an exit, accepting outside money makes no sense.

 

Keywording 101 for Art Sellers

Selling Online Requires Keywording

What if you had a great product to sell but it was invisible?  How would you describe it to potential buyers?  How about you get them to see how the wonderful qualities of the product?  How would you attract potential buyers to said invisible product?

Selling products like artwork and fine art photographs online is much like selling an invisible product, because people search the Internet by using text based search engines.  Sure there are image search features on search engines like Google but for the most part buyers search using text.

Even within an online gallery like Fine Art America, text searches are used to bring up a selection of artwork and fine art photographs from the massive database.

If a buyer can’t find your art, they can’t buy it.  It’s as simple as that.

Keywords are the key to buyers finding your work

One of the most basic ways for your artwork and fine art photography to be found is via keywords.  Keywords are descriptive words used to describe the image.

In essence  you are trying to guess what word or words a potential buyer would use to find your artwork.

Another word for it:  Index term, a term used as a keyword to retrieve documents in an information system such as a catalog or a search engine

Usually online art galleries or databases require anywhere from 10 to 50 keywords.  You should start off with the first words that come to mind when looking at an image.  What words would you used to classify the image on your computer to find it again in the future?

This quick, top of mind words are going to be the most valuable.  For example, this photograph of a dog taking a photograph in the studios.

Art Prints

Right off the top of my head I’m going to think: dog, camera

Then I’m going to start getting more detailed and try to describe the image further with more detailed description words like:

studio, Westie, press camera, vintage

Then I’ll start to think about the mood of the image – funny, humor, photographer

And I’ll use descriptive words about the medium: photograph, black and white

I might add framed, print, fine art, poster and other more generic descriptors.

Basically you want to cover the who, what, where, when, why and how of the image.

Pho Dog Grapher Coffee Mug
Pho Dog Grapher Coffee Mug

If the product was a coffee mug I might include: ceramic, coffee, java, mug, tea, beverage, gift, household.

Keywording is an essential component of selling online so be sure to take the time and effort to do so!

 

Selling artwork to friends and family

Quick make a list of 500 friends and family connections

Back in college during career days, I recall the Insurance Companies sniffing around for potential sales position hires.  If you interviewed  for one of these insurance sales positions,  the first thing they have you do is write down a list of 500 people you know. Seriously 500 hundred people!

Coincidentally I’ve heard it said that 500 people is the most anyone can seriously maintain as a social circle.  People with over 500 people on their Facebook accounts can not really know all of those people.  Or at least in any meaningful way.  Try selling insurance or Amway to some distant cousin twice removed or someone who you only know because they like to share funny cat photos.

Photography Prints

Anyway, the insurance companies  expect you to sell people you know to get started.   Your friends and family will be your base pool of sales leads.  In other words, by hiring you, the insurance company gets 500 leads.

Its not unlike the modern art world.  In the old days, the artist just needed to get into the gallery world and then the gallery staff would sell to their carefully cultivated list of buyers.

That is the fantasy world that a lot of today’s artists still cling too – if only I could get into a gallery all my troubles would be over and I wouldn’t have to market myself.  I could just create all day long….

But nowadays, galleries and even art shows expect the artist to provide the bodies.  They expect the artist to pull in the connections and bring in a following.

New Limited Edition Release Vintage Typewriter
New Limited Edition Release Vintage Typewriter

Friend and Family – Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold

Everyone needs and understands the basic value of life insurance or home owners insurance – but do they need or understand art?

This where the idea of selling to friends and family falls short of the goal of becoming a successful artist.

  • Friends and family are a finite market
  • Family and friends may or may not be your market
  • F&F get annoyed

Your closest friends might be a nice way to get a few sales in pocket to start you off, but come on, you will need to sell a ton of artwork over your career to survive as an artist.  You are not going to do it by selling to friends and family.  Unless you are developing an ever increasing, dynamical expanding universe of friends.

But this will probably only occur after you become more successful and everyone wants to get in on your success.  Suddenly when your artwork becomes valuable, then you’ll find relatives that you never knew existed and friends coming out of the woodwork trying to get some deals on investment quality artwork.

Photography Prints

A better strategy is to make your work and you as an artist and individual creative person more accessible.   Let people get to know you as a person and as an artist.  It doesn’t require friendship just a bit of access to how you think, your process and your mindset.

Selling Artwork Online  – Cultivate a new family around your artwork

Online you have to do things to connect with people online. That means getting out there in cyberspace and communicating. Not just spamming people with “look at this” stuff over and over.

I wrote about this on my blog – Don’t Become Human Spam – http://www.dogfordstudios.com/dont-become-human-spam/

For the record, I ran a t-shirt business with an artist friend for 10 years.  I don’t think any friend or family member of ours ever bought anything.   It was funny fishing related line with crass humor.  We sold mostly to bass fishermen in the south.  Our friends and family are mostly non-fishermen living in the north.  Or fly fishermen, not bass fisherman.  Would be try to push our products on friends and family? Nope.

 
Art Prints

With my artwork and photography, I have only sold a few items to friends and family.  The other folks haven’t bought any art since the 1970s and even then they bought it at Sears.  Not exactly the market I’m striving for – I’d rather try to cultivate a following online consisting of people who understand and appreciate fine art photography.