A few weeks ago, I sold my first painting. Upon arrival, its new owner wrote back to me exclaiming her love for it. Yes, LOVED, in bold print.
This positive feedback was mostly to do with the quality of the painting but also because of the extra effort I put into shipping it. I made sure to ship it to her promptly, and included a handwritten note of thanks.
There were some hiccups though—and as I was packing and shipping the painting, it struck me how unprepared I had been for this. Selling online is never as simple as buying online. In the process, I learned a few things that will hopefully save you a headache when you make your first sale!
Sure, you have put your heart into a painting, taken great photos of it, and presented it exquisitely on your website. So far so good. As long as the work itself is good, it is not impossible for a prospective customer to take a liking to the piece and buy it. That’s the easy part. And while you may revel in the feeling of having your art bought and paid for, your work is not done.
Your job ends only when the customer receives the piece, neatly packaged, and loves it as much in person as they did online.
In other words, it is our responsibility, as artists, to ensure the actual painting doesn’t underwhelm the client. You want them to have a positive experience in every aspect.
There are a few very important factors in the overall experience: how neatly the piece is packaged, how timely it is shipped, how intact it arrives, and the X factor (which is our personal touch).
Taking the time to personalize every order make it all the more special for the customer receiving it. They will truly feel they’ve purchased a one-of-a-kind piece from a real person, not some anonymous person from cyberspace.
My main issue was that I never anticipated making a sale in the first place. I had hoped for it, but having never sold an original, I did not expect to. It’s important to anticipate making a sale, so that you will be prepared when that day comes.
For instance, I found that bubble wrap is not a good material to pack paintings in. Use foam wrap instead. You want to avoid damaging your art due to the wrong kind of packaging. You will not only lose that sale, but potentially others as well. Word of mouth can spread like wildfire, especially when it’s negative.
Keep an inventory of your packing materials. Do you have enough packets, wraps etc., in stock? Is the required inventory readily available? When you are eager to make a great impression, even something insignificant can make you panic, so it pays to make sure everything you need is organized and available.
Having those extra materials is great when you receive expedited orders. In my store, I specify shipping will be done within 3 days, giving myself a good buffer. But this particular customer wanted it in the US, in a week. (And international post from Germany takes about 10 days.)
I was not prepared for this situation, but I managed to get what was needed in order to ship the same day that the artwork was purchased.
That’s all it took for me to learn my lesson—now I’m ready for the next sale, whenever it comes.
So if you want my advice, get prepared as if you have a couple of pending orders to be shipped right now. When it actually happens, you won’t be caught off guard!