Five Tips for Selling Your Art on Your Website
Originally published on Boston Photography Focus, a blog from the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University
Did you think that if you hung out your online shingle (i.e., built your website) buyers would find it and you’d be successful selling your art online? Artist and arts marketing consultant Jessica Burko told me that the biggest mistake artists make about selling online is thinking “if you build it they will come.”
The truth is that selling art online through a personal website isn’t right for every artist. It involves confidence, marketing skill, and perseverance. And, even if you have all the “right stuff” to be successful selling online the time you devote to creating your artist presence is time you might prefer to spend creating new art.
See my related blog is selling your art online right for you?
If you’ve decided that selling art through your website is right for you then you’ll want a few pointers to jump-start your activities. After all, retailers like Amazon.com have made an art (pun intended!) of selling online. The best approach is to think like a buyer and his/her shopping experience.
Below are five tips that Jessica shared with me to help artists be successful selling online:
1. Mirror common online shopping practices
Tip #1: Mirror common online shopping practices
While it is important your website is well designed you don’t need to do something out of the box. According to Jessica, “Do what is expected by internet shoppers for the ecommerce portion of your site.” For example, she advocates that shopping carts should look like the familiar shopping carts you see on other sites.
If you re-invent something entirely unfamiliar you risk confusing your buyer.
“When someone goes to a show or your studio they might not immediately realize that they can buy the work online,” Jessica says. She adds that “You have to tell them that they can buy the work online and have marketing to point them towards an online shop with easy to use shopping cart features.” Having an online shop can lead to post-event sales. “It is a great tool for after an event,” she adds.
As a professional marketer I can tell you that any traditional wall between online shopping and offline shopping (those activities that do not take place on a website) has been torn down. Consider a TV commercial or program you saw recently that provided a hashtag or website address to visit.
Increasingly buyers move back-and-forth between offline and online experiences and our role as small business owners (i.e., artists) is to recognize that and make the most of it.
Tip #3: Have great photographs of your art
According to Jessica artists need to “Learn how to photograph their work in a good way, and have multiple views of the work.” This applies to photographers too. She says photographers may want to have one image that shows only the work, and another that shows what it looks like framed and hanging on a wall. “Showing your art in a different environment helps potential buyers imagine it in their homes.”
Tip #4: Tell your personal story
If you are interested in learning more about how to tell your personal story I recently recorded a 30-minute webinar on writing an effective artist statement that you might find useful. I give tips for using written descriptions of work as one element of an artistic brand; the do's and don'ts of writing artist statements; and the difference between an artist statement and a bio.
Listen to a 2-minute podcast preview of my 30-minute webinar: writing an effective artist statement [webinar preview]
Tip #5: Figure out how to pack and ship your art
In addition, she says it is extremely important to have accurate shipping costs (don’t forget to list shipping cost accurately in the shipping portion of your check-out process) and to work out kinks related to packing and shipping in advance. I agree. I sell through my personal website as well as an online gallery. Figuring out the sizes of the prints I wanted to make available online and what it would cost me to ship them took time but was very important.
As artists we often spend the most time learning our craft either from a creative or technical standpoint, or both. The business aspects of how to make a living at our craft are often an after-thought, and one reason why selling art online isn’t right for everyone. If you have decided to do it, take the time to learn from others. It can save you a lot of time – time you can devote to making art.
You might also be interested in: is selling your art online right for you?
Keywords: Cindy Stephens, Jessica Burko, arts marketing, selling art online
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I am a marketing professional and a fine art photographer. With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, I now educate creative professionals how to create their artistic presence in the changing art world.
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