In 2016 Forbes Magazine found that although art sales were down in galleries, "online sales were booming." Growth was 20% 2 years ago and up 24% last year. Researchers predict online art sales will take over the brick and mortar standards we see today...
In 2016 Forbes Magazine found that although art sales were down in galleries, "online sales were booming." I found that statistic about a year ago while researching locations to market my own art online. While I was making sales here and there and felt like I had a fairly good grip on my online marketing, I still wasn't seeing the return for my hard work.
Let me fill you in here, I wasn't only focusing on my art at the time. I was working about three other jobs. I was taking one on one clients as a personal trainer in the early mornings and evenings, I was teaching group fitness classes at noon, I had my real estate license so that I could act as a personal assistant to my mother for her real estate business and I worked sporadically as a hostess in a restaurant. Being busy made me feel like I was making money. But, by the end of the month I was always exhausted, broke and struggling to put any money into savings... much less pay my bills.
My art always took a backseat, even though it was my dream to paint ever since I was a little girl. I remember one afternoon, I was especially tired after my loonnnnggg day of teaching, working at a desk and scrambling to finish a custom piece for a client when I opened two of paychecks -- one from the gym and the other from my restaurant job. They couldn't even pay my car payment together! All of that hard work, getting up before the crack of dawn, staying past 10:00PM to bus late tables... and this is all I got?
It was that moment that I decided if I wanted to make a career of this art thing, I needed to focus. Laser sharp focus. And, I had to take the risk and trust that I would make it happen.
How did I get where I am today? How did I go full time and more than double what I was making with four jobs? I took a risk, I did research, I worked harder than ever, but not one of those days felt like work because I knew my heart was in it!
Remember, the right marketing and promotion are the key factors in a successful art business -- any business. What I had to understand when I went full time was these three key things:
1. Know and Understand Your Customers/Audience
This was a little bit of a learning curve for me and probably hurt me in the beginning. But that's OK, we live and we learn. Mistakes are what teach us the most valuable lessons. I wanted to market to EVERYONE under the sun... but what I realized, especially in the art market, everyone has very unique and differing tastes. You cannot aim to please everyone. Standing in a booth at an art festival I would try to engage with everyone that walked by and would be hurt if they didn't stop in. I finally learned to let them come to me. Once you know who your "best buyers" are, you can start to gather information (data) on them. Find out what they like, what their interests are and find "like-buyers" that may likely be into your art as well. This is what the late Chet Holmes refers to as the "best buyer strategy."
2. Don't Limit Yourself
Seek out online avenues to sell your work online. There are a number of valuable places other than Etsy to sell your work online. For example, Society6.com, Saatchi Art, and FineArtAmerica.com. You control what you sell and you have the option to sell a number of items other than just prints and originals. The great thing about Fine Art America is that you can connect their shopping cart to your website and sell prints and merchandise which will help expand your business with no upfront cost to you. It's worth checking out. Once you have extra capital, you will want to look into merchandising your work, if that is something you're not against. It is your bread and butter as an artist and gets your work out into the public. Don't finance anything in your business, the less debt, the better.
3. Be Consistent
I know it's frustrating to have to post online daily, and coming up with all of that content can be daunting, but it's necessary to create an online presence. Think of it as a business. Gaining new followers on Instagram and Facebook is important, they are potential new clients, so keeping up on these things is a must. Don't overdo it, though, just make sure you keep up. One thing to remember about posting on your social media pages -- GIVE your customers something, don't always ask something of them. You want them to visit your page and gain something -- maybe even learn something. You can't constantly sell to them... teach them something, give them a freebie, donate something... then gently ask them or offer something for sale. This is true for every business, not just art.