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7 Tips for Selling Art Online: How to Help Buyers Find your Artwork

Published Apr. 30th 2007

Signing up with a bigger, well-known art website to help sell your art online is usually pretty easy and sometimes even free. But after a few months with no sales many of you will begin to ask one very important question:

“How can I get buyers to find my art online?”

You see, unlike the sign-up process, the whole art selling thing is definitely NOT a piece of cake. So instead of just waiting and hoping art collectors will find you, here are seven ways that you can start directing potential buyers to your artwork right now.

1. Write better artwork descriptions

The best websites for selling your art will allow and even encourage you to write full descriptions for each artwork you upload, as well as a bio and artist statement.

Not only should these paragraphs be easy to read and free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, but they should also be optimized for search engines like Google and Yahoo.

“Optimizing for search” just means using the same keywords in your descriptions and titles that art buyers use when searching for artwork online.

Sounds easy, right? Well it is, sort of.

If you’re interested, I’ve written several more in-depth articles about search engine optimization in EmptyEasel’s SEO for Artists section. But for now, here’s a quick example of how to optimize your artwork for search engines:

(You’ll see that I’ve made the art-related keywords bold. None of the other words really help when it comes to searches.)

Untitled Fragments is the seventh painting in my series of geometric abstract artworks. I used bold colors and powerful brush strokes, as I do in all my paintings, in order to create a lasting visual impression. Art buyers (and art lovers) will see symbolic references to prominent 20th century abstract painters like Piet Mondrian and Georges Braque as I offer homage to their artistic vision through my own art. This artwork is still for sale, so if you’d like to purchase the painting just click on the buy artwork button below.”

With a little effort you can make your descriptions chock full of words that art buyers might be searching for. In this case, they’re not just about abstract paintings but also about buying art, similar artists, and so on.

2. Be more social

Depending on the art website you signed up with, your use of keywords in descriptions may help a lot or not at all. One thing that’s almost sure to bring in traffic, however, is social networking. Here are some of the best ways to network and sell your art.

Flickr – What can I say? There’s a lot of people browsing Flickr every day, and it has a great search function built right in. Sign up for a free account, put up some of your best artwork (properly tagged, of course) and place links to the website where your art is actually for sale. If you use Imagekind, I’d like to know how the whole Imagekind / Flickr partnership works out for you.

Facebook – Facebook is the biggest social network in the world, and it can definitely help you get local exposure. You can create groups and add contacts, but you can also create events (like art shows) and issue invitations with RSVP ability built in.

Plus, if you’d like to advertise your art to a very specific group of people, Facebook now let’s you do that. Check out this article on advertising your art with Facebook for more information.

YouTube – This might be a little tech-heavy for some artists, but just like Facebook it’s too big to ignore. If you need help, find a friend who posts videos regularly (or who can work with you to figure it out) and enlist their help. Make a quick art demonstration or an artwork-in-progress video, and upload it to your own “channel.” Then just find a way to link directly from that page to your artwork.

Dani over at DaniDraws.com makes good use of YouTube. Take a look at her channel and then give it a shot yourself.

Pinterest – Perhaps the best social network for artists, Pinterest makes it easy to “pin” your art and have it seen quickly by friends and strangers alike. When someone likes your art, they can re-pin it themselves, spreading your work even further. If you choose just one network to be a part of, make it Pinterest.

Forums – Any forum is great for networking, not just art forums. And while you’re there, always put a link to your artwork in the signature line of your posts. You might even consider joining some forums that have the same interests as you. Do you paint flowers? Join a botany forum. Horses? Find an equestrian group. If you plan on spamming people though, prepare to be banned. Only join forums that you’d enjoy whether you sold any art or not.

The thing to realize with social networking sites is that you have to be willing to spend time talking, commenting, and getting involved. If you can do that, you’ll start to see some results. If you have fun in the meantime, that’s even better.

3. Start an art blog

There are so many blogging options these days it’s almost too easy. I’d suggest WordPress.com if you don’t want to get your hands messy with all the hosting and other stuff. It’s free, and it only takes a few seconds to get started.

Not convinced? Here are 8 more reasons why you should start an art blog.

If you want a more integrated solution, these websites for artists over at Foliotwist (a company I helped launch) combine a portfolio, blog AND PayPal all on your own domain, and come with some additional art marketing features, too.

Basically, there’s no excuse to NOT have an art blog, with all the options out there!

4. Create an email newsletter for art lovers

Let people know they can get an email update whenever you finish another piece, and work on building long-term relationships with them through that periodic contact. If you’re already posting artwork on a blog it’s pretty easy to send emails automatically.

All it takes is putting the subscription box in a prominent place and making sure people feel comfortable. Over time you can build up a large group of repeat buyers.

I use Feedburner to send out an email every Sunday with information on upcoming articles. Check out my sign-up page to see how simple it is for people to subscribe.

5. Advertise your art website (in print)

When you’re printing business cards, postcards, flyers, or anything else, include the main website address where people can find and buy your art.

Don’t be shy about promoting your website offline at all—in fact, it’s probably the surest way you can target your artwork to people that you know would want to buy your art.

6. Team up with other artists

Find a few other artists and join forces. You could create a group blog or just commit to linking back and forth; either way everybody benefits.

The Daily Painters are a group of artists who did just that, and they seem to be doing all right. If you’re concerned about losing traffic to your partners, don’t be. The way the internet works, you can often multiply traffic with each new member, not just add a bit.

7. Stick to it for at least 6 months

This whole process isn’t necessarily easy (that’s one of the biggest myths about promoting your art on the internet) but it will work over time. Don’t get disappointed in a week or a month when nothing seems to have changed. After six months, take a look back.

If you make up your mind to do even half of what I’ve suggested in this article, after six months you should definitely be seeing some improvements.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date. Since launching our professional websites for artists at Foliotwist, we no longer feel unbiased enough to continue updating or reviewing other art website services. Visit the website below for their most recent information. If you’re an artist that has recently joined. . . read more

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