One of the hardest things for any artist to realize is that besides knowing how to paint or produce your artwork, you also need to understand some aspects of the business. Most artists would prefer to concentrate on producing their artwork and nothing else.
Some basic business strategies you can use to help you sell your artwork are to 1) make buying your art easy 2) find ways to make your art attractive to potential buyers. 3) show your customers how satisfied they will be when they purchase your art, and 4) show your customers how you are the clear and obvious choice for them when they want to purchase artwork. Becoming a professional artist is a lot, like being an entrepreneur; you have to learn basic business principles to survive.
I recently read a book entitle Atomic Habits by James Clear. You can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking here. In his book, James Clear talks about small changes we can make in our life that will greatly impact our habits. I have started to use some of his methods and found they helped me form good and lasting habits.
As I have thought about his advice to us on our habits, it has also made me realize these are basic strategies he has outlined that can also be applied to any business and selling artwork to others.
Strategy 1 – Make Buying Your Artwork Easy
This first strategy is really just common sense, but it is also something we may forget about. People today want things to be easy, not complicated.
With the onset of the internet, the world has become extremely fast-paced. People are pressed for time, and also they have little or no patience. We do not like to stand in line or wait for anything. That is why fast-food continues to be so popular in so many places in the world. We do not want to wait for a webpage to download as our attention span is shorter than ever and continuing to get shorter and shorter as the years go by. The world is now an extremely impatient place.
This also holds when people are looking to buy or purchase something. If it all becomes too complicated and takes up too much of their time, so many times, they will walk away. Everyone is just so pressed for time.
What can you as an artist do to ensure that you make selling your artwork as easy as possible?
Here are some suggestions to make selling your art as easy as possible.
- Have a webpage – A webpage is no longer an option; today, it is essential for anyone in the business. But with having a webpage, you need to make sure your webpage is not only user-friendly but that it also downloads quickly. To find out more about why every artist should have a website, you can read our blog entitled 11 Reasons Every Artist Should Have a Website by clicking here.
- Make finding your art easy – People will buy what they see. So you need to make sure it is also easy for them to find you and your art. I attend many tradeshows, and everyone who has been attending these shows is noticing that fewer and fewer people are attending trade shows. The reason is that people today are busy, and so much can now be found online, so they may not see or feel the need as they once did to attend trade shows. To compete in today’s world, you need to be on social media and have a social media strategy. You can read our blog on 9 Reasons Every Artist Should be on Instagram by clicking here.
- Make buying your art easy – If your goal as an artist is to sell your art, you need to make buying your art as easy as possible. If it is complicated and requires many steps or a huge process, many potential clients may simply walk away and say, this is too complicated. I will find another piece of art that I like that is easier to purchase. You can make it easy for people to buy your artwork by having an online payment system along with a quick delivery system in place.
Strategy 2 – Make Your Artwork Attractive To Buyers
When it comes to art, I completely understand that art is a lot about personal taste, and if not, everyone will like the same thing or the same kind of art. You can read our blog about 8 Ways to Handle Rejection As An Artist by clicking here; the blog gives you ideas on handling artistic rejection.
But the reality is for people to want to buy your art, it has to be attractive to them. Here are some suggestions on some ways you can work to make your artwork attractive so that people will want to buy it:
Have very good photography of your art
As the world has gone so much towards social media and online shopping, you need to ensure that you photograph your art in the best light and way possible. Even if you are selling your art in a gallery, you still need excellent photography to show potential customers.
The good news is that you do not need to be a professional photographer to take good photos of your artwork. Though no doubt having it professionally photographed can help but a small investment in some lighting can help. If you can not invest in the lighting, then take the photos in an excellent light. Some of the cell phone cameras today take excellent photos.
Also, learn the basics of how to adjust a photograph to enhance the color as needed. Knowing photoshop is great, but you can also use some other programs as Apple has an excellent basic photography editing program that I use a lot. The program comes free with an Apple Mac, and you can do many of the basic editings that photoshop can do.
Show people how to use your art.
If you want people to buy your art, you need to show them why they need the art and how to use it. Set up a room set or hang your art on the wall. Or show the home of someone who purchased your art and how they used it. These are ways to show people why they need to buy your art and why it is attractive.
Today with programs like photoshop, you can place your art into a room and hang it on the wall without ever having to really hang it on the wall. People want to know how it would look in their home, office, or wherever they will use it. It would help if you tried to show and inspire them in all the ways they need or want your artwork.
Strategy 3 – Tell About Your Artwork to Make It Satisfying
Too many times, artists feel that the artwork needs to be all about them and their art. But if you are trying to sell your art, it really needs to be about the person who is buying the art. The art needs to speak and resonate with them be satisfying to them.
I have these old 70-year-old doors in my house that I love. Someone would toss them out, so I call them my “rescue doors” as I saved them from being used as firewood. When I look at those doors, I am not only satisfied, but I love the story, and I tell the story many times as the story and how I obtained the old doors are very special to me.
You want your art to be like these old doors I have. When someone buys your art, you want them to tell the story about you, your art technique, or what their art is about. You want that art to be the piece that is hanging on the wall of their home, and when visitors come in, they will walk over to the art and tell the story.
For your customers to tell the story of your art, you must be telling the story to them in a very compelling and interesting way that they will remember it and want to repeat it.
Tell a story about your art to make it satisfying
Telling a story is an essential aspect of marketing today, and this is especially true for artists. People love to know the story behind what they are buying. Here are some ideas for compelling stories you can tell:
- What inspires you? What really inspires you to create your art?
- Why is this piece of art special? Why should they buy this piece of art from you and not buy the artwork from someone else?
- What is unique about your style or process? Do you have an interesting story to tell about your style or the process of your painting? Then compellingly tell that story.
- Do you have a unique story as an artist? Tell them why you became an artist? Or talk about your life, your training, or your education. People want to know who they are buying from, and then they also love to tell others about the story.
- Talk about the challenges you have had. We all have challenges in life. I started painting when I broke my ankle in a motorcycle accident and had some time off. I wanted to do something more than just watching TV. Have you had a unique challenge you have to overcome with your art? Then tell them that story and how it has affected or inspired your artwork.
- Humanize your story – When you tell your story, also humanize it. I paint a lot of photos of dogs and cats as I like dogs and cats. I also like to paint my animals dressed up like they are human beings. That is part of my story and my art. Do you have a story that others can relate to? Then tell them that story. Show them who you are and why.
Strategy 4 – Make Your Artwork the Clear And Obvious Choice
When you show people how easy it is to work with you, and you show them why they need to have a piece of your art by the stories and other things you tell them, then you are helping to ensure that your artwork is clear and obvious choice for them to purchase.
This is where a lot of people fail in marketing. We try to make our marketing cute or clever. But the truth is that people do not have a lot of time to wonder about what you really mean, so they want you to tell them exactly what they are getting and why they should buy your artwork.
This is how having a logo, and even a tag line will help you as an artist. This is really not that much more different than if you were running a business. My tag line is #ArtThatMakesYou Smile. Many may not think it’s not a very original tagline, but my goal is to see a smile on their face or feel happy when they see my art. I like bright colors and tend to paint with a brighter palette, which I call my “happy colors.”
Tell them how buying the artwork will make their life better
You need to show your customers how by purchasing your artwork it will make their life better. Maybe it will brighten up a room or bring class and grace to their decorative needs. Maybe it will be a kind of “bragging right” they can tell all their friends about. Or maybe you do large scale pieces that can make a difference in a hotel lobby or an office building. It would help if you clarified to your buyers how buying the artwork will improve their lives.
People like to work with and buy from an expert. You need to show your potential customer why you are an expert in what you do. Being an expert does not always have to do with your educational degrees, though that does help. But it could be something like I paint the western landscapes as “I have spent my life living and hiking in the western United States. I have traveled to every square mile in Montana.” This tells your potential customer that you really know the western United States and especially Montana. For western art that features scenery from Montana, this kind of story would help you become an expert as you have been to the places you are using as inspiration.
Give the Customer Three Simple Steps or Reasons to Buy Your Art
People don’t want to be overloaded with information, but they also want information at all. They want to know what you want from them. Try to break it down for them in 3 simple steps as to why they should buy your art. Give them some reasons and some suggestions.
The question you need to answer here is, “When someone buys your artwork, does it help make their life better? Do you like to paint bright flowers? You can tell them that buying your art will help to brighten up their days.
This kind of marketing may seem a bit corny to some, but the truth is that people want to know how you are going to help them, and they want you to guide them through the reason they should buy from you.,
Have a Clear Call to Action
Have an apparent call to action. This is where you are telling people in just a few seconds what you want them to do. Ask for a sale and have on a Buy Now Button at the top right-hand side of your website. The top right-hand corner is prime real estate on a webpage, and so you want to clearly have a place where they know what you want them to do.
If people have taken the time to come to your website, read about you, and find out about your art, then you need to show them how to buy it clearly. It would help if you did not hide this in a beautifully designed artistic but very unclear website. If you do only commission work, you can have a call to action about “Call Me Today” or Contact Me Now.” Let them know that you would love to talk to them further about the work you can do for them.
Many artists want to focus only on their work and not have to deal with the selling, marketing, and other aspects of being a professional artist. Some artists may be lucky enough to have a manager that can help them manage and sell their art. But most artists, at least when they are starting, will not be so lucky. This is why artists must look to 1) make buying their artwork easy 2) learn how to make their art attractive, so people want to buy it and 3) tell a story about your artwork and 4) market yourself so that you will be the clear and obvious choice for potential customers to buy your artwork.
How Can I Sell My Art?
There are several basic steps you can take to try to sell your art. Here are some of the steps:
- Have a website – Today, every artist needs to have a website, and if you want to sell your art, you can then connect your website up to an online storefront. To find out why every artist needs a website, you can read our blog 11 Reasons Every Artist Should Have a Website by clicking here.
- Use social media – Just like your online presence is important, so is your social media presence. And today, you do not need to spend hours on social media, but you can set your social media to go automatically. I always try to set it up for a few months in advance. You can have pins set up with a program like Tailwinds or set up social media accounts to go automatically with a program like Hootsuite. Both of these companies also offer a lot of free online training for their client base. To find out 9 Reasons Every Artists Should Be On Instagram, you can read more information by clicking here.
- Get out into the world – Once you have a website and a portfolio, you can also contact galleries or even companies who may want to license your art to reproduce it. There is no easy way to do this as it takes a lot of time and effort.
- Sell art commissions – you can also try to sell your art by doing some art commissions. But to find the commissions will also take advertising and networking on your part.
- Learn to network – Like so much in business, it is not always what you know but who you know. So start to network around your community. Many local stores and restaurants may be willing to sell your art for you or give you added exposure. But usually, to make this happen, you will need to network within your local community and offer o them something they feel they can sell.
- Attend a show – One way to network or get added exposure is to attend or show at a trade show. This, of course, can be very costly. But if you are looking to sell your artwork mainly for home decor or home interiors, the major shows that many artists will show at is the High Point Furniture Market in High Point, North Carolina, America’s Mart Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Las Vegas Market in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you happen to live close to any of these markets, it may be worthwhile for you to try to get into the show to see what other artists are selling and showing. All these shows are business-2-business shows, so you will need an attendance pass before attending the shows.
How do I price my art?
Pricing your art is really the value of what people are willing to pay for the artwork itself. But, most artists that are starting cannot and should not command a very high price. If you do, chances are you will not sell very much.
The calculation that many artists use is materials + time = selling price. So if you want to make say 25 USD per hour and the art took you about 20 hours to make and the materials were 50 USD, then the selling price could be calculated like this:
25 x 20 – 500 + 50 (materials) = 550 USD.
Of course, to get the art price, it also needs to be a certain size to warrant the 550 USD price tag. There will be some artists that can make more and others that will make less. But as a general rule, you can look at this as a way to calculate the cost of the artwork you are selling.
Like anything else, as you paint more of the same thing, your economies of scale will improve, and it should become quicker and easier for you to produce similarly-styled artwork. You may be able to eventually get your time for each piece of artwork from 20 hours for the same size painting down to 10 hours of work. If you can still get the same price for your artwork and your materials’ cost remain the same, then your labor wage would have gone up from 25 USD per hour to 50 USD per hour.