Hey there artist entrepreneur!
I’m sure you’ve heard about this and it’s the dream of so many artists (and maybe yours too): selling your art while you sleep!
Although it might seem too good to be true (and many blogs out there will try to make you believe that it’s easy… hint: it isn’t), it IS possible – with a large dose of drive, creativity, and follow-through – to build an art business and sell your work online.
This is especially true right now, when the art market is in its infancy when it comes to selling online. Artists and art merchants are just starting to figure out how to do it properly and collectors are still figuring out how to choose and purchase art on the internet. That means that if you jump on the bandwagon now, you will be way ahead of the curve when buying art online becomes a mainstream practice.
There are many tools, resources, and apps that can help you grow and scale your online art business, but before you start researching and investing in all of these tools there are some basic steps you should be taking. They all start and end with the same goal: building your online presence.
Oh I know, it’s scary to put yourself out there! But if you want to sell online, it’s not enough to post images of your work on Facebook with a price tag on it.
Sorry, but that just won’t cut it.
Selling your art online means building a brand and being visible, while also using basic (yet essential) best practices for digital marketing.
So, here are three things you can start working on today if you’re planning to sell your work online:
1) Have an easy-to-navigate, responsive website
These days there’s just no excuse for having a poorly designed website. There are plenty of “done for you” options (like Squarespace) where the only thing you really have to do is upload a logo, customize the colors, and set up your products page.
You need to make sure that your site is clean, crisp, and easy to navigate with clear calls to action on each page. Include an artist bio and artist statement, use bright, clean photos, and above all – make it easy for someone to purchase your work!
You already have a website? That’s great! Is it responsive? (Responsive means that it looks good on phones and tablets too!) It’s essential that your website is responsive for two reasons. First, we know that more than 50% of online shopping is now done from phones or tablets, and; second, Google gives SEO priority to responsive websites when showing search results.
2) Build your SEO and attract traffic
Having a website is all well and good, but if you want to sell online, you need to attract visitors to make it truly useful. “Build it and they will come” is not a strategy that works anymore. (Has it ever???)
Spend the time to research keywords that are relevant to you and your artwork and use them in your art descriptions, your blogs, and in the rest of your web copy. Also make the most of your website’s built in SEO capabilities (or install Yoast and use their suggestions, if you’re using a self-hosted Wordpress site).
You can also attract traffic by getting press coverage for you and your work, or simply by being yourself and commenting on other blogs, websites, groups, or on social media posts.
You don’t need to be “salesy,” but if what you have to say is interesting, people will start checking you out!
3) Grow a healthy email list
If your website crashes and can’t be recovered, Facebook shuts down your business page, or Instagram continues to reduce the amount of people who see your posts due to their fancy algorithms, what’s going to happen to all your followers? They’re not going to know what happened, and chances are you’ll never hear from or see them again. All your hard work growing your audience would be lost.
That’s not a situation I want to see you in (and unfortunately, I’ve seen some similar, very sad social media stories happen to artists). That’s why I highly, highly recommend that you start an email list as soon as possible. There are plenty of options out there for free or at very low cost for simple email collection, like Mailchimp, or MailerLite. So set it up and get it running!
Email marketing is still the most cost efficient way to sell online, but for it to be successful you’ll need to be vigilant not only in creating valuable content to share with your list, but also constantly working toward adding new people to your list.
Getting a website up and running, attracting traffic, and growing your email list can seem like big, intimidating goals to set. But these are the basics of selling online. You don’t have to do it all in a week. Break these larger goals down into smaller pieces, and just focus on accomplishing one small task at a time.
Before you know it, you’ll find yourself with a vibrant, bustling community of fans… and lots of art sales!
Where are you at in this process, and what could you be doing better? Leave us a comment below, we love to hear from you!