How to Sell Artwork

How to Sell Artwork: 5 Steps to Selling Your Work, Becoming a Professional Artist, and Finding More Freedom Through Your Work.

How to Sell Artwork: a guide. There is a very famous article on the internet called 1000 true fans. This article argues that the days of the starving artist are gone. With so many ways to sell artwork — and so much connectivity with vendors and galleries — it does seem like now, more than ever, is the right time to work as an artist.

This article will walk you through the basics of how to sell artwork both online and in person. (If you are looking for a guide to sell online only, please check out our article about the 5 best places to sell your art online.)

Indeed, the Web is the best gallery space imaginable. Having an online strategy is a great place to start thinking about how to sell artwork. People from all over the planet can not just see and purchase your work but share it with others, too.

While this all sounds good in a blog post, I know you’ve felt less than thrilled about the work prospects you’ve found online. Check out this Entrepreneur magazine article about just how hard it is to sell your work online.

Truth be told, there is a lot of opportunity online, but getting to a place where you are leveraging that opportunity and making real progress can be tough.

That being said, if you’re struggling with the process or just want to make sure you get it right the first time, the following five steps will make it simple. This guide isn’t comprehensive for starting a million dollar art practice, but it will throw some light on how others have found success, and what you can do to get started.

Step 1: Get a Site

Don’t worry! I know you have a million unanswered questions about how to sell artwork.

This is a very, very easy step. Compared to even 10 years ago, getting your work online is very simple. Not only that, having a point of contact for the outside world is the first step toward engaging and selling, so if you don’t have a site, start moving on one now!

All you need is a professional-looking site to display your art and make it easy for potential buyers to contact you.

A few ideas for how to do this below

  • DIY using https://www.squarespace.com/ or www.virb.com – this is probably the best option because you will learn how other people put a site online. And it’s really easy. And really cheap: you can use Squarespace for $8 per month.
  • You can find people to do this for less than $100 using a platform called WordPress that will make it extremely easy for you to add more examples of your work whenever you like.
  • Do NOT hire an agency to build your website. This is crazy and you will burn your money for very little and you will be no wiser at the end of the process. When you are first learning how to sell artwork, try something DIY or WordPress, get your feet wet, then, if you are really in need of something more robust, go for it!

Step 2: Learn to Take Awesome Photos

Again, breathe easy.

Unless you’re already a photographer, we know it can sound like a lot of work to begin learning a brand new skill. Besides, you’re an artist. Photography is a Fine Art, so the same principles that govern your work apply.

It’s also essential. After all, how are people going to see your work online? You’re going to need to take photos of it and if those images don’t look perfect, your chances of scoring new customers will drop considerably. As a huge bonus for living in 2017, you can find a million classes online that discuss photography as a genre and its best practices. If nothing else, this is a great opportunity to branches out and learn a new and exciting skill. 

Beyond just taking pictures, it’s worth it to learn a bit about editing software. Even basic Photoshop skills or something similar can go a long way toward giving people the right first impression of your work.

A Photo from Clare Elsaesser's Etsy Page | How to Sell Artwork
So Much by Clare Elsaesser

Step 3: Get Out There and Market Yourself

This is why you have to hustle a bit.

Having a site is a lot like having your own gallery online – as we mentioned. **The difference is that no one is going to just stroll by, see it and decide to come inside.** There are just too many artists online with their own galleries.

So what to do?

Get on social media and start posting, posting and posting. Preferably, post pictures of your work, but it also isn’t a bad idea to show off a bit of your personality, too. A lot of buyers like feeling this sense of connection with the artists who create their work.

Beyond that, there are literally millions of ways to get attention online. That is a master class by itself. Here is an Entrepreneur magazine article that talks broadly about online promotion. You will be amazed and then shocked at home much content there is regarding selling online.

Step 4: Consider Advertising

Another idea is to create ads for your work. This is a more traditional route that requires money. If you already have a marketing budget, however, looking at online promotions is not a bad idea, especially if you have a very high price point for your artwork.

The Internet is full of ways to do this. Each individual platform — Instragram, Twitter, Etsy, Google — has a ppc service, as this is how many online companies make their money. One word of warning, ppc and internet ads are a great way to spend a lot of money. Make sure you have time to monitor and learn about how these advertisements work, as they require expertise for any kind of meaningful return.

You can also find out where your market regularly goes online and see if you can place ads there. This is a great way to zero in on the people most likely to buy your work.

Step 5: Network

Don’t forget about your fellow artists, too. On paper, they may technically be your “competition” but you’ll find that most are very happy to help their community out. Reaching out to a friend or colleague for tips on how to sell artwork is a simple and easy way to learn fast.

You should be ready to do the same. By doing this, you’ll even find that many artists will recommend each other to clients or anyone else who’s in the market.

The Internet means you no longer have to be a “starving artist.” But that doesn’t mean the journey will be short or simple. Artist is one of the world’s oldest professions, and as such, there are many people vying for sales. If you want success online, you need to understand and develop a product that people can find and want to buy. By following the advice above you are starting on the journey of getting busy and selling your work.

About the Author

Jake Smith living in Chicago, illinois and works as a design and retoucher, heading the design team at Productviz.
He worked for 10 years as a re-toucher and design guru. He started ProductViz to help artists show the world how beautiful their work is. You can find out more about Product Viz here.

You can email Jacob directly at jake@productviz.com


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