“I am already posting images of my artworks. What else can I do to sell them?”
When starting to sell art online, we often think we simply need to post images of artworks online and hope for a sale. But deeper, we know this can’t be it… Otherwise, everyone would be selling art really easily. Good news though, it’s possible to sell artworks consistently online, and there is no competition to have with other artists (unless you try to sell to another artist’s audience, which would be pointless).
Imagine having this freedom: you can now stop imagining that this other artist is selling artworks without any effort, and you can start believing that you can do this too.
The reason artists tend to post only images of artworks is that we follow the way museums, institutions, and art galleries tend to take care of their social media accounts. The issue with this is that we decide to follow this model without making sure this format actually brings results online.
Having worked in art galleries for five years, and has helped more than 100 artists sell their artworks online, I know that this way of posting is not sufficient to bring sales inconsistently. In order to sell artworks, we need to put more of ourselves in the game. This means showing yourself more and giving a face to your business.
The reason you need to give a face to your business is that your clients are smart. They can see you are not a multinational company or they would already know you. They know there is one person behind this business, and they will want to make sure they can trust you before getting their credit cards out of their wallet. So get more honest with your online clients and let them learn more about you. The more they can trust you, the bigger your chances of selling to them are.
Moreover, in order for you to sell, you have to start thinking like a business owner. This means that the results of your sales are between your hands. Not in the hands of social media, and not in the hands of the gallery you collaborate with, nor in the hands of your artworks (so many times I’ve heard “my artworks will catch the eyes of the buyer, so I shouldn’t have anything to do with the sales process”). That’s not true. If you want your artworks to catch any pair of eyes, online or in the physical world, you will have to find these eyes and make them aware of the existence of your artworks.
You should also consider involving the buyer as a person, and not only consider the money. By this, I don’t mean that you are only thinking about money. What I mean is that in order to create this exchange of artwork against money, you first have to build a relationship between two human beings: you and your client.
Where can I find clients to build relationships with?
If the first step in order to sell artworks is to build relationships, you have to know how to do this.
The question I get the most asked about is where can I find clients?
The answer is: you decide. You first have to choose a social media platform where you feel comfortable. Once you have decided, you will have to become consistent posting in this place, and understanding the way to have actual conversations with people.
But here is a list of options:
Just pick the one you like more (yes I know some people like Twitter and it works well for them – weird) and start posting there consistently and interact with people you want to sell to.
Let’s take Instagram as an example. If you choose to sell art on Instagram, start planning your week of posts in advance. Take the decision to post every day, and plan in advance (it will also help with ideas for content). Make sure you introduce yourself to people from time to time, in your feed or in your stories. Finally, use the different avenues where you can interact with people who already follow you (like, comment, share, and introduce yourself via message), but also with the ones who don’t follow you yet (using hashtags and collaborations).
Do you see a bit better what I mean by not only posting images of artworks now?
Start building a mailing list
Not in a year, not in a month, now!
You should not be relying on social media only. Once you have started growing an audience on social media, start a mailing list and invite people who are following you on social media or who visit your website to join your mailing list. You can also – actually that’s the most efficient way – grow your mailing list via Facebook and Instagram ads.
The reason you should not rely on social media is that social media are just like you, businesses. Sometimes, online platforms have bugs. Imagine Instagram has a huge problem and deletes all your contacts. Then you have lost all the hard work you put in.
However, if you spent time building your mailing list, you will still have the contact of your clients and their email address.
Because social media are companies, they can also decide from a day to the next that your use of social media should not be free anymore. You do not own your connections on social media, while you have more control over your contacts when having their email address.
Finally, the reason you should have a mailing list is that when sending emails, your content is not surrounded by other people’s content like on social media. You get more focus from the reader.
I could go on forever on having a mailing list, why, and how. My point is: start building one now!
You can read more about building an email list that converts to sales here
Gavriella Abekassis, founder of the Artist Entrepreneur Club
Gavriella runs The Artist Entrepreneur Club, a dynamic community of artists, for you to learn how to market and sell your artworks online, getting support from experienced business-minded artists.