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What should I spend time on to sell more art?

By Jessica Craddock

Sep 01

Back in my art gallery days, my philosophy was to find galleries that wanted to show my work, invite my three friends closest friends to the opening, then sit in a corner with them and people watch.

Worst system ever. 

I'd sell one or two paintings anyway, but it felt like a fluke. 

  •  
     
    I didn't alert people I knew the show was happening.
  • I didn't make new friends at the opening.
  •  
    I didn't talk about the art with anyone.

The artists that sold the most work did all of these things. If I had taken my observations and pushed my comfort zone, I would never have gone spent years learning marketing. I already knew the answers!

(Not that I regret a single thing. Now I'm just very well rounded. 🙂

While selling online is a little bit different from selling at an art gallery, it does have some things in common:

  • 1
    People have to know you and your art exist. (Awareness)
  •  
    2
    People are more inclined to buy from you when they know you, you talk to them, and you do it consistently. (Know, like, trust)
  •  
    3
    People need to know your art is for sale and how to buy it. As your price increases, you'll also need more interaction/proactive customer service to sell. (Sales)

A common misconception is that people will buy your art as soon as they find it if they like it enough. For low priced items that people are actively looking for, this might be the case. But usually it's not.

You need to spend time on all three steps in the process.

  •  
     
    If they don't know you exist >> your business is shot.
  • If you don't get to know people >> your business is shot.
  •  
     
    If you're not actively selling >> your business is shot.

There are many ways to execute each step, with some work better than others. Over the next three lessons we'll get more in depth with each one!

To be a successful artpreneur, you need the world to know your art exists.

If they don't, it's pretty dang tough to create that know/like/trust factor, and sales are out of the question!

They can't buy from you if they've never seen your work or heard of you!

This week, I thought I would let you in on my three favorite ways to get your art out into the world, as my little gift to you.

Tell people you know.

Email your middle school math teacher, your last boss, your friend from that group you're involved in, and anyone else you've known to let them know about your art. Ask how they're doing, reconnect, and tell them where to find more of you (whether that is your email list, Instagram account, or your new website)!

Use keywords 

(or hire someone to help you with keywords) to get a boost behind the scenes. This could include SEO on your website, hashtags, or Pinterest. This method takes time to start working, but it's a great thing to get started on now to get more eyeballs down the road.

Create relationships with people who have audiences similar to yours. 

Once they know and like you, ask if they'd be interested in a collaboration of some kind. You can get in front of their audience, and they can get in front of yours.

While you'll be more comfortable with some of these than others, I'm going to encourage you to do all three! Each has its own benefits, and they work well together.

  • 1
    The first gives you warm leads, fast.
  • 2
    The second is a little work upfront, but then you can be done, while still growing the number of people who see your art. It will take time to turn them into people who may buy from you, but the numbers will be in your favor.
  • 3
    The third builds your credibility and trust factors while growing your audience much quicker than talking with one person at a time.

If this kind of practical, break-it-down-into-chunks type of training is what you need to stop pouring over the choices of how to sell your art, come join me for Anchored Artist! We'll transform fears, simplify ideas and give you the tools to really be your own boss of your own creative business. August's Training is closed, but it's not too late to register for September!

"I don't know what I'm doing wrong! How do I get people to trust me enough to buy?"

Someone might trust you are a legit business owner who will ship them art if they enter their credit card information, but that's often not enough incentive for them to hand over their money. It's about more than just trust.

Your sales will increase exponentially if your audience feels connected to you and your art.

Some people are good at this naturally, while others struggle. 

Take heart, if this isn't your strong suit, you're good at something else that is hard for other people. But, this is still a component you need to focus on. Without it, you can't progress to the selling stage... and you wouldn't be reading this email if selling art was not high on your priority list.

If you need extra help in this area, I've put together a list of my four favorite ways to warm people up to want to buy from you:

Be consistent on your leading marketing platform 

(aka where you most want people to consume your content - like an email list, social media account, or blog). Set a schedule of how many times you'd like to show up there and do it! You probably already know this one, but it's an essential part of the equation, so I thought it was worth reiterating.

Initiate the conversation.

While it is possible to start convos with a lot of people at once using a call to action at the end of your content, I'm talking about initiating a conversation with one person at a time. This action makes your potential customer feel special, makes you feel less like you're talking to an internet void, and creates an environment where marketing fuels instead of drains you.

Be on video.

I know, I know, I know. You don't want to do this one. But I can promise you because it used to give me hives, it is a skill that you can both get good at and learn to enjoy. It's a huge timesaver and is one of the best ways for people to feel like they know you, get a sense of your energy, and see if they vibe with you.

Get recommended.

Anyone can recommend you: a past collector, a friend, someone with a similar audience, a publication, a gallery, a podcast, a store... The list goes on and on. While you can't wholly control if they will share you with props, there are some things you can control like whether or not they know you exist, how often you show up in their sphere, and if you are willing to recommend them first. If someone else is willing to vouch for you, you instantly receive know/like/trust points with people who value their opinion. (If you want to try this one, you probably want to join Anchored Artist for the September training!)

Is this an area you struggle in? 

homework for an artist's online art business
 

Pick two of the above ways to focus on and start practicing!

We've reached the culmination!! 

We've talked about what to spend time on to sell more art and gone into detail on the first two pieces of the marketing cycle.

The more you spend time on the first two parts of the cycle (1. building awareness for your art and 2. creating know/like/trust), the better the third part, selling, will work for you! 

That doesn't mean you need to spend ages on the first two before you sell. Close that loop! You may not sell as much the first time you do it, but you will gain experience. Then when you have a bigger, warmer audience, you'll feel more comfortable selling to them.

I suggest one month of each piece, then go back to the beginning. The longer you follow this cycle, the better everything will get. It isn't a linear process. Each fuels the others!

With that being said, here's my three favorite ways to sell more art:

The more you sell, the more you sell.

Even when you're in another part of the cycle, you should still be selling to some extent. Maybe you have fewer calls to action to buy. Or maybe you're doing a lot of soft-selling where you're talking about the work, but it's more "narrative" then "buy this." 

Keep talking about your work! Don't just post about it once. Each piece of art you create has multiple layers of things to talk about inside of it. How it was made, what inspired it, stories inside it, what's happening behind the scenes with it, etc. Share each piece of art you make in as many ways as you can think of!

When you're in a selling cycle especially, don't forget to tell them HOW to buy it. Make it super clear and easy to understand. Give them a direct action to take.

Strike when inspiration is hot

Yes, I suggest you use a three-month cycle as a guide. However, if you get an urge to sell, or have an idea of how you could execute selling in a cool way, jump on in there!

Forgive yourself for not having a plan and make it up as you go.

There are a few reasons for this: 

  •  
    1
    Momentum is on your side. If you're "feeling it", that means you have the mental energy and capacity to do it now, and you should ride that train!
  •  
    2
    Your creative juices are flowing, and when that happens, things tend to work better. People can sense your energy, and they'll get excited too.
  • 3
    Your brain hasn't had time to talk you out of it. It'll play plenty of mind tricks on you if you wait. You'll start to question yourself, get overwhelmed, more than likely miss out on a cool marketing idea; then, when the designated time comes around to sell, you'll feel "bla" and uninspired.
Customer service

Many people think of sales as being pushy. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. Put the focus on helping them make decisions instead of "selling". Can you show them a painting over zoom that they're interested in? Send an FAQ sheet? Share a testimonial? Offer a payment plan if money is tight? Do a virtual studio visit to help show them all the pieces you have? Offer a framing or hanging service?

What would make THEIR life easier?

There you have it! You know what pieces to spend time on to sell more art, and at least three examples of how to complete each part of the selling art cycle. Go out there and do it, and let me know how it goes!

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Do the work & create your luck,

About the Author

I'm a consultant for artist entrepreneurs who have started building their following online but haven’t figured who would buy their art. My unique approach enables artists to create a signature brand around their art and work smarter so they can sell more & spend their days creating beautiful things. My clients have doubled their social media following, raised their prices, and sold 3x more art within a matter of months.

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