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How To Sell Art Online

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Many artists who want to start their businesses online have the same question: How to sell art online?

There are, actually, many ways to do this, although all of them share the same core marketing principles:

  • You have to have a target audience, the more specific the better
  • You need to promote your art to that audience through the right sales channels

How To Sell Art Online – Fully Detailed Infographic

How to Sell Art Online

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1. Set Your Target Audience

It is very important that you have a clear picture of who could be buying your art. The more you know your audience, the closer you will get to have your art sold. This is the seek for your what is called “customer persona“, your ideal buyer who will love your art. They are there, you just need to find them.

Once you have an initial idea of them, double check that:

A. They are reachable

  • Within your shipping range. Once the order is placed, you would need to send them your art quickly and at a good shipping cost.
  • They have access to the Internet (some groups of age or people who speak different languages might not).

B. They can afford your art, for example:

  • Young people do usually have less purchase power or depend on their parents to buy.
  • Adults with some medium or high level of income might be more likely to afford art.

2. Find Your Sales Channel

Depending on who your customers are, they might use slightly different sales channels. But, broadly speaking, you’ll have the below options:

A. Print On Demand (POD)

These are good places for testing how your art performs on the market without even spending a penny. No upfront costs. You can just upload your artwork and put it on many products for free, then see how people react to it, which products they tend to like better, etc. The more products you have listed, the more visibility you’ll get. These are some of the most popular ones:

These are some of the most popular art print-on-demand sites online:

And, additionally, companies who offer a service for the back end, so you create your storefront/online shop and they would produce the product once an order has been placed:

Pros

Moderate traffic
Moderate visibility
Easy to use
Dropshippers (they produce and ship for you)

Cons

Won't build your brand
Your business depends on others

B. Marketplaces

There are large websites dedicated to art, where many artists are showing their work, and also the well known, large general marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, etc. All of these places have the advantage that they already have a large audience, especially the latter ones. The difference between marketplaces and PODs is that, on the first ones, most of the times you will need to produce and ship your artwork by yourself.

These are some of the most popular art marketplaces online:

And, obviously, the big names – Etsy is especially art and design focused:

Pros

High traffic
High visibility
Relatively easy to use

Cons

Won't build your brand
Your business depends on others
You need to produce and ship

C. Your Own Website

This is definitely the best option for the long term. Having your own place will give you full control over how and when you show your art. Your artwork will be front and center.

But that’s not the only advantage.

With your own site, all your promotion efforts will revert back to you and will be adding up over time. This will be your platform for future growth. All links, mentions, social shares, all of that can be linked to your site one way or another. In my opinion, every artist should have their own place.

Obviously, this requires some more work and knowledge than just leaving the task to third-party websites like the ones above, but it’s still worthwhile. You can easily start your site with some of the below alternatives.

My open source choice if you really want to grow in the future – WordPress is great and lets you do almost anything you want on your website, including having a blog, set up your store, etc. It’s not the easiest of the options, but still worth trying. You’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

  • WordPress┬á– It’s free, although you’ll need to spend about 100-200 $ in premium plugins to make the most out of it.
  • Woocommerce – Free

The below are also good choices for you, more focused towards ecommerce – from easy to more difficult:

  • Shopify – Has a monthly cost of $29 plus commission costs but will save you a lot of time if you are not interested in dealing with website development.
  • Prestashop – Free, but you’ll need to purchase premium plugins (same as WordPress)
  • Magento – Free, but you’ll need to purchase premium plugins (same as WordPress)

If you feel uncomfortable about developing the site yourself, you may also hire someone to do that for you. WordPress developers might be your choice, in that case.

Pros

You will build a brand
Best for the long term

Cons

Involves more work
Low traffic at the beginning
Low visibility at the beginning
You need to produce and ship

Use A Channel Mix To Sell Your Art

You might want to start simple. Something easier to manage like a POD will help you understand what your audience likes, and, progressively, you’ll want to expand your reach.

You can maximize your sales by getting the most out of the different channels. You don’t need to stick to only one the above options, as they can be complementary.┬áSelecting carefully among the different alternatives and, once you have them set up, it’s quicker to keep them all up to date. By posting all your latest work on different places under the same brand name you can reach more potential customers.

3. Produce And Promote

OK. Now you have everything set up. You have the infrastructure. You also have some artwork stock that you have already put up online. It’s time to promote it and get the right people straight to your website or your alternative sales channel. How would you do that?

SEO: The Long Term Strategy

Search Engine Optimization. If you get some of the principles right, you might already have a good chance to last in the game. SEO is the core of digital marketing. The better SEO you have, the higher you will rank and the more visible your art will be. This might be a very long topic, but these are some of the key items of it:

  • Use relevant keywords to link your artwork to ideas people are already looking for. You may use Google Adwords for that.
  • Share your great art and content with others and try to get them link to your place.
  • Track your visitors and see what they do when they visit your site. You may want to have Google Analytics monitoring your site.
  • Make sure your site is very tidy and intuitive and visitors can navigate smoothly through the information.

Go Social

Your presence in social media is also a must. Here is where you will make people aware of who you are. For showing your art, you want to use the most visual-focused media networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest.

Keep your profiles up to date, with a link to your site, and make sure you post everything you do in there. Your main goal will be to gain followers, drive visits from your social accounts and understand better your audience.

4. First Sales

After all your hard work, there might be a moment where you are able to tell everybody that you are actually selling your art online. By this time, you might have learned a lot about what your audience likes and it’s a signal that thing are going on the right track.

Use some of those earnings to underpin your business by getting more assets, outsourcing non-creative stuff (like accounts, technical management of your site, etc.) and, most important, advertisement.

Always invest a percentage of what you earn on advertising your best work, so more people will know about you.

5. Growth

Growing your business means you are doing well. It’s good to draft out the possibility of growing early on, so once the moment comes you have already the basis to do it.

Growth on the art market might mean new product lines and an expanded target audience. These should be just a natural extension of what you are already doing, so your brand reads clearly throughout.

The Concept – How To Sell Art Online

Selling online is, once more, the art of dealing with people, just happens to be on a digital environment. You need to understand what the people you want to sell your art like, build relationships with your customers, with your peers and behave just as you would if this was an offline business.

In order to stand out of the crowd, build your own brand and look forward to the long term.

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