If you promote and sell your art online, chances are that you update your site or online gallery on a regular basis, keeping it up to date with your latest works of art. But when managing your inventory, don’t delete your sold items just yet. You can reuse these past items to promote your newest artwork – and here’s how.
Show a good example
When you have a website on which you sell your art, create a separate ‘sold’ section to display the items that have been sold in the past. This way new visitors will get some social proof from your past buyers, see more of what your work is like and get a good example of what they ideally should do on your website – to actually purchase your art. It’s also a good way of showing that you’re serious about your work and you’re a bestselling artist with a track record of successful sales. You might know that you’ve been doing what you do for ages – but your visitors don’t, and they may get a better understanding of your professional pricing when they see how much you’ve sold in the past.
Ask your buyers for a testimonial
When you’ve sold a piece to someone, ask if you can follow up with them and ask for a short testimonial about you and your creative work. You can then publish these snippets of text on your website to have your customers speak for you, and again give new visitors some social proof. It will also provide you some insights on what people think of you and how you come across – is what they say the same as what you want the world to know about you?
Keep the SEO advantages
When you want Google to rank your website as high as possible for certain keywords, there’s no getting around optimizing your website for these search results (often referred to as ‘search engine optimization, or ‘SEO’. When you’re absolutely clueless about this, don’t worry, much more on this will be addressed in the awesome course coming up in April) (Sorry about the shameless plug) (I’m too enthusiastic about it). Now, the very least amount of optimization you should do is use the keywords you want to target in the title and description of your piece. For example, when you want people to find you when they look for ‘painting of a boat’, that’s what you should be using on that particular page. When you sell this piece, don’t delete the page, but adjust it so that it encourages your visitors to browse other boat-related paintings or click through to the rest of your website. You’ll keep the benefits of the targeted keywords and get a chance to redirect everyone to artwork still available on your site.
I’ve worked as a muralist for about fifteen years, but recently I’ve decided to pursue a medium that doesn’t require so much ladder-climbing. Pen and ink was something l really loved in art school, so it’s what I decided to take up more recently. I currently live in Central Indiana with my pets, my husband, and my fourteen-year-old daughter.
What are your goals and ambitions as an artist?
I really want to make enough money through my pen and inks to stay self-employed, and I’d also like to keep trying new things.
Do you see yourself as a successful artist?
I do see myself as being successful, but there’s always room for improvement. I’d like to keep expanding my horizons and trying new things.
Are you a full time artist?
I am definitely a full-time artist. I’ve painted in houses for most of my career and taken on more art related work.
How and where did you get the first buyers in your shop?
I originally started out by selling my pen and ink in a gallery near where I live. This was quite a while before I started my Etsy shop, although the shop is where I’ve definitely made the most sales.
What do you feel is the most effective way of getting visitors and buyers?
With my artwork, much as with my decorative painting, I started by doing work for free for friends and family. I would photograph it all as well, building a portfolio. That way, I could show photos of my work to potential clients or galleries and shops, while at the same time it was on display in the homes of my family and friends. Word of mouth takes care of the rest.
Why did you decide to work with ink and pencil? Did you do anything else before?
I’ve worked with many mediums over the years, but pen and ink has been by far my favorite. The type of work I like to do, employing a lot of fine detail, is a good fit with the rapidographs I use. I still do some fine art with acrylic paint, with which I have a lot of experience, but it’s not as commercial as my pen and ink. It’s mostly just for fun.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
I find inspiration all over the place. Sometimes I like to just go to a college, or an old neighborhood, or a historic area with cool architecture and take pictures of beautiful buildings. If I get some good pictures I might use them as reference for a drawing.What is your best-selling piece? Do you know why it’s so popular?
My bestseller by far is Nick’s English Hut. For one thing, the picture really lent itself to a good, aesthetic composition. But I think the real reason it’s so popular is that the place holds to many fond memories to anyone who went to school in Indiana University in Bloomington. I’ve had a lot of people buying it as an anniversary gift because that’s where they met their spouse!
Who do you look up to?
I am definitely a fan of Edward Gorey and I am really moved by the work of Van Gogh.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Love what you do, doodle in the margins of whatever you’re working on, and never give up. My attitude is that as long as I keep trying, I’ll get where I want to be eventually.one response
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When it comes to marketing and selling art, there is still a lot to learn from the greatest artists in history. One of these inspiring artists is, of course, Andy Warhol. Not only was he an amazing artist, he was also famous for his methods of (re)production used in ‘The Factory’, his studio, where a skilled staff produced silkscreens according to Warhol’s ideas and instructions. Copy these business tactics from Andy Warhol and see if it can positively influence your creative business as well.
Using ‘upselling’ to get more business from one customer
At some point, everyone was able to own a portrait painted by Warhol for twenty-five thousand U.S. dollars. In most cases, a non-refundable deposit of ten thousand dollars was enough. If Andy thought he could sell a client more canvases, he made several portraits. The second piece would cost fifteen thousand dollars, the third ten thousand, and the fourth five thousand. These cheaper portraits were very popular amongst collectors; it was a great way to own a Warhol for a relatively cheap price.
How you can use this: Offer new fans the possibility of buying your pieces with a bulk discount to stimulate repeated orders and the possibility of becoming a collector.
Organizing meetups to get customers in
Andy usually came in the office around noon to ask one of the most important questions of the day: who’s coming for lunch?
Warhol and his staff organized ritual lunches on a daily basis, ensuring that the following characters never lacked:
- two-society figures,
- an aspiring Hollywood star,
- a European title of nobility,
- and the victim.
The latter was a potential customer. Andy’s employees knew exactly who were in town and performed endless phone calls to invite people for lunch. If the lunch generated no immediate results, the clients were invited again, and they then ensured that there were even bigger celebrities present.
How you can use this: Throw regular events at your studio or at a public place to have your current customers convince new customers of how great your work is, and to connect the people you care about with people you’ve recently met.
Using Affiliate Marketing to generate word of mouth
Andy paid his employees low wages, but gave them a commission whenever they personally brought in new customers. Most of his assistants were quick and efficient workers; they wanted to go out as soon as possible to promote Andy and his work.
How you can use this: Give your customers a discount on their next purchase whenever they bring a friend into your shop, or hand out two discount coupons with every order; one for the buyer, and one for one of their friends.3 responses
My name is Whitney Coleman. I’m a graphic designer, wife, and mom from Oklahoma. I specialize in illustration, spending most of time drawing cute and fluffy animals.
Are you a full-time artist? If not, what do you do next to working on your art?
I consider myself a work-at-home mom. My Etsy business can definitely be just like a full-time job – especially during the holidays. But since my son is about to turn 2, I try to limit my working hours per day so I can spend plenty of time chasing him around just being a mom. When I’m not working, I love interior decorating. I am obsessed with patterns and color. I’m constantly changing my decor with pillows, rugs, and curtains. I also love to travel. A few months ago we took a trip to Maine just because we wanted a change of scenery.
At what point did you make the decision to sell your artwork?
In 2008 I was working in the corporate world as a designer/marketer, and I just felt stuck. Once I stumbled upon Etsy through a design blog, I thought maybe I should try to sell a few of my greeting card designs. What’s the worst that could happen? I started my Etsy business while I was still working my full-time job, with only a handful of greeting cards listed in my shop. A few months later, I left my corporate job to pursue my business full time.
Is there a common thread in your work? Why did your collection take this direction?
A lot of people tell me I have a very distinct style. My illustrations are colorful, friendly, and cute. They are cartoonish yet realistic. My style really blossomed when I started doing custom pet portraits. Now most of my work has the same look.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
My customers have been fantastic inspirations. I get a lot of recommendations from people who are looking for something specific, and I will do my best to create that for them. They may have an idea that I don’t have, so it’s very important to be open-minded. I also love flipping through magazines and looking at fabrics for color ideas.
How and where did you get your first sales?
My big break happened in late 2009 when Coastal Living Magazine featured my Nautical Calendar in their “$10 or Less” holiday page. My sales exploded. Since then, I’ve been featured in dozens of magazines, but I’ve never paid for advertising. Editors will contact me online asking if they can feature my designs in their publications free of charge. I add new items constantly, which also keeps me at the top of the searches within Etsy.
What is the bestseller in your collection? Do you know why this is your best selling piece?
During the holidays, my mini calendars are by far my bestsellers – especially the Boston Terrier version. My “Keep Calm” dog prints outsell any of my other designs. I think these items sell fast because they make wonderful yet afforable gifts. They are under $20 and work well for various spaces. They can hang in a cubicle or a nursery.
What do you think are the characteristics any successful artist should have?
I think every artist has to have their own style. It should be recognizable and different. It’s important to pay attention to trends, but to know when to do your own thing. You also have to put in the hours. I joke that my design business is my second baby because it keeps me up late and wakes me up early. Once you decide to be an artist, you have to be dedicated to your work. This also means coming up with new designs constantly.
What tools are you using to market your work? Do you engage in social media?
Right now I do have a Facebook page, a blog, and a Twitter account. I don’t update daily, but I try to update as much as I can (usually when my son is napping). Relisting “sold” items within Etsy (or listing new ones) has been my strongest marketing technique.
Do you track how your customers are finding you? Where do they usually find you?
Most of my customers find me through the internet, either through blogs, Pinterest, or just by browsing listings within Etsy. Some customers will visit my shop after receiving one of my items as a gift. This is especially true for my pet portraits. It’s amazing how many sales you can make just through word of mouth. Customers also tend to come back and check my shop for new items, so I make a lot of sales through repeat customers.
What are your goals and ambitions for the future?
I’ve been so blessed to be where I am today, and I am hoping the future will be filled with more of the success I’ve experienced these past couple of years. One day I may look into printing my designs on other items – like t-shirts or pillows. I’m currently working on a fictional novel that I hope to finish the next year or two. There’s also a growing list of cards and prints I’m working on for my Etsy shop. I keep a notepad next to my computer so I can scribble down ideas as they come to me.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Take the plunge! You never know how far you’ll go unless you put your work out there. Believe in yourself and keep pushing yourself. I don’t think we ever stop growing as artists.
As creatives, we absolutely love what we do. Part of the reason we started a journey of becoming a professional artist, is being able to do what we love day in day out. But when starting out as an artist, pricing can be very tricky, and fearing it can easily keep you away from getting the results you desire. We’ve all had to struggle with it, but with keeping in mind the factors listed below, you should be well on your way to realistically pricing your artwork.
Print or original?
Creating prints from original artwork is a very good idea when marketing to an audience with a smaller budget. The pricing of a print can be way less than the pricing of an original work of art; because of the latter there is only one, and prints can be reproduced. The average price of a high quality print usually runs around $15 to $25 a piece. Create prints from your originals to market your art to a different audience than you normally would and get the word of mouth going.
Most artworks require the heavy use of professional materials. When creating a piece for the purpose of being sold, you should aim for high quality materials and add the use of them to your prices. How many times a week, month or year are you buying new materials? Calculate the use of them and spread the costs out on your pricetags.
Make sure to give yourself an hourly wage, just as any other freelancer would when determining their price for professional services. Remember: you are a professional and people are not only buying the product, but they’re buying your time as well. When first starting out, pay yourself a wage of around $20 an hour, but quickly raise your prices as you gain experience and popularity.
The amount of years you have been practicing your profession should greatly affect the prices you set for your artwork. Also consider degrees you’ve earned and courses you’ve taken, as well as press mentions, exhibitions and publications. You are your own boss, so allow yourself raises as you accomplish great results throughout your artistic journey.
When determining the value for your artwork, consider how unique it is. Are you using techniques that you invented yourself? Could anyone else be doing this? Chances are that when you are the only person in the world using your methods, buyers will be willing to pay you a lot more for owning this unique piece of art.
Your emotional connection
Don’t let pieces you emotionally connect with go too easily. Price a piece you greatly love in a way you wouldn’t feel too bad when selling it to someone else. Tag it with a price you could use to invest in something you love or you have been desiring for a long time – replacing letting go of the piece with something else you emotionally connect with.
To learn about how to increase the value of your work and sell your creations for more than you are currently doing, make sure to check out the launch of the Work Your Art academy in the get started section and claim your earlybird discount before we launch in a couple of weeks. Good luck!7 responses