I hear that question a lot—and here at EmptyEasel the answer usually involves blogging, creating a strong brand, using social networks like Twitter, etc, etc.
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All of those are good answers. . . they’ll certainly help you sell art.
But today I want to distill the most important elements for selling art on the internet into one simple article. So I asked myself—”What’s truly needed if you want to sell your art online?”
Eventually I came up with just three things. (Big things.)
In the following paragraphs you won’t find nitty-gritty details any any step-by-step instructions. If that’s what you’re looking for, then use the search bar up on the right side of this page. There are plenty of articles like that already on EE.
Instead, I’m painting broad strokes. My goal is that you will target ONE of these areas to improve in, and by doing so, increase your sales online.
So without further ado, here are the three things you’ll need to sell art on the internet:
1. Artistic ability in your chosen medium
Are you a skilled artist? Is your work professional-grade? Does it connect with people when they see it?
In my opinion, lack of artistic ability is the number one reason why many artists aren’t successful online.
Quite bluntly, your art needs to be good. It should also make an impact on people, or just be different. After all, there’s a lot of run-of-the-mill artwork out there. What makes your art stand out?
Try this on for size. . . if you physically put your artwork in front of 100 people, would at least one person out of that hundred be interested? Would that piece sell?
If you could sell your art in person, that’s a great sign that you have the artistic ability to sell art on the internet, too.
2. Technical know-how and internet skills
If you want to sell your art on the internet, it really helps to be internet-savvy. . . because almost everything you do online will take at least a little technical ability.
For example, every artist should have a website or web presence that is both functional and effective.
When I say “functional” I mean a website where people can easily view, navigate, and buy your artwork (preferably with a credit card). By “effective” I mean a website that actually helps those actions to take place.
And no, this type of website isn’t always easy to come by.
Ultimately, you have two choices. If you have the technical know-how, or you’re willing to learn, you can build your own website. You could also set up your own art blog, if that’s what you want to do.
The other option is to pay for your own website. That means finding someone to set up a website for you or signing up for a pre-made artist website that has all the features you need.
Whichever solution you choose for your website, you shouldn’t stop there—learning about the web, getting involved with social networks, and trying new things online will always give you the upper hand when it comes to selling your art on the internet.
You can’t just “do the internet thing” for a week and expect results. Try a year. At the very least, try six months. And be persistent!
There are many different ways to be persistent while marketing your art on the internet. You can blog persistently, tweet persistently, use social networks persistently. . . it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you do. (Maybe you’ll do several.)
But you MUST work at it.
Sometimes I worry that I—and perhaps other folks who write about selling art on the internet—don’t stress this point enough. After a year or so, things DO get easier, since you’ve built momentum. But until that time. . . be persistent.
So what happens if one of these things is missing?
Well, without enough artistic ability, an artist may attract hundreds or thousands of visitors to their website but they won’t make many sales. The art just isn’t appealing.
Without tech skills or an effective web presence, artists can easily miss out on opportunities that would help more people find (and then buy) their art in the first place.
Without persistence, an artist’s blog will look like a ghost town. Their galleries will be outdated. No one will be inspired to buy.
These three things—artistic ability, technical skill, and persistence—are the building blocks to successfully selling art on the internet. Do they seem overly simple? Maybe. But just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they aren’t true.