Maybe you’ve always though you needed gallery representation to sell your artwork and be successful as an artist. . . but in today’s digital world, that’s no longer true.
In this article, I am going to give you actionable tips on how you can sell your art from home so you can pay your bills and enjoy creating art that you know people are going to love. Sound good? Then keep reading!
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1. Online marketplaces – Start here
In any type of business, you need to go where your customers are. As an artist, many of your customers are already on creative marketplaces such as Etsy or Artfire. Plus, it involves little-to-no financial investment and you can set an account up in minutes.
Of course, the hardest part of selling on one of these marketplaces is that as a new artist you are not going to have any feedback or testimonials and that can put some buyers off.
The best way of getting feedback as a new artist is to either get a friend or family member to buy a small piece of your art, and then get them to leave you feedback, or you can sell your pieces for a lower fee than you would normally charge.
I know no one wants to undersell themselves, but there’s a trade-off that needs to be made initially. Sell lower, get some feedback and then increase your prices to a level that you’re happy with. As your feedback score gets higher, people are going to trust you more, and be willing to pay more as well.
When you have built up a presence there, then it’s time to expand into creating a brand for yourself.
2. Use social media – Build a following
Joining online marketplaces is a great start to selling your own art, but you will eventually want to build your own brand. This can be done in a few different ways and social media is one of them.
Many artists use social media in the wrong way (in my opinion!) as all they want to do is sell, sell, sell. I know that you need to eat and pay the bills but no one is going to follow an account that only sells.
The right way to build a social media account is to provide some type of value. When you do this, people will start to follow naturally. But don’t be fooled into thinking building a social media following is easy. . . it isn’t! It requires a tonne of work. (Read How To Make Time to Promote Your Art on Social Media.)
Like I said above, to build a following you will need to provide value and this can be done in many ways, one which I have found as an artist is to provide behind the scenes footage of me and my work. People will follow you if they see what makes you work and why you create the art that you do as it’s interesting.
Not only is documenting your life as an artist fun but it also helps your audience have a connection to you, and when they are looking to buy art in the future who do you think they are going to buy from? A social media account that just wants to sell at every opportunity or your account who they feel they know and love?
I recommend setting up social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Those are the main ones you’ll want to be on. If you’re completely new to Instagram, here’s a simple guidebook to getting started.
3. Build your own website for less than $100
The next step is to set up your own website. There are free website tools out there but they won’t cut it if you want to appeal to the premium buyer.
A site like yourbrand.godaddysites.com isn’t going to look professional and will put some buyers off. Instead, register your own website and get hosting for a few bucks a year. You can get a website name and hosting through a company like Hostgator or Siteground and then get a nice looking theme from ThemeForest. This will cost you less than $100 and will make you stand apart from your competition.
I personally like the content management system known as WordPress as it is easy to use and with a few clicks of a button you can install Woocommerce which is WordPress’ shop portal. Woocommerce handles all the sales processes all you have to do is connect your Paypal or Stripe to accept payments.
Although I find WordPress easy to use there can be a learning curve. Luckily, WordPress is so widely used you can find tutorials on almost anything on Youtube. And if you want less of a “DIY” option, try Simple Artist Websites by EmptyEasel. It costs a bit more than doing it yourself, but they take care of everything technical so you don’t have to.
4. Start a mailing list for free
When you have your website set up you can look towards capturing emails. You may have seen other websites do this, and there is a good reason for it. An email list is one of the most important parts of a business in the digital world.
Simply put: if you get someone’s email you can sell to them over and over as long as you don’t spam them.
One problem I see all the time with people who build an email list is that they expect people to sign up automatically. Sure, you will get a few sign-ups, but to build that list (and eventually get sales from it) you will need to provide value.
There are a few ways of providing value to an email list: for instance, you could give a user a 10% discount on their first order, or you could provide them with exclusive behind the scenes content or maybe a short course showing someone how to use different painting/drawing techniques. The choice is yours and the more creative you can be the better.
I recommend using MailChimp to manage your email list since it’s free to use up to 2000 users and by the time you have 2000 users on your list you won’t mind paying for it. The return on investment from email marketing is one of the highest from any marketing channels.
Here’s a quick video explaining how to set up MailChimp:
5. Print on demand – Your art, everywhere
How amazing would you feel if you created a small bit of art and saw people wearing it on their T-shirts and clothing?
As an artist, you can get satisfaction from many places but seeing others wear your work is up there. Print on demand websites like Society6 allow you to upload your original art, which people can then buy on clothing, accessories, homeware and anything else they can think of.
You may be aiming to get your work in the Tate Gallery but to get there you may have to sell some of your art to keep you going and print on demand websites are good for that.
In my experience, these types of websites are best-suited to illustrators and designers, but with that said, if you don’t have a go you will never know if your art would sell or not.
To get started all you have to do is create an account on one of these websites, upload your artwork and sit back. The websites then handle all of the printing, shipping and customer service issues that may arise. Overall it’s not a bad way to make money from your art in 2019!
6. Network with interior designers for repeat sales
If you can sell your art to an interior designer there is a very good chance that you will have a customer for life. Interior designers are always on the lookout for on-trend artwork and if you have it you have the potential for repeat business.
But how do you sell to interior designers? Simple, get on your social media accounts, add the interior designers in your area and then drop them a message. You can also email any in your area.
Don’t be spammy, just drop them a message and ask them if they would be interested in seeing if your work would be a fit for their properties.
You should be prepared for rejection and you should be prepared to have many pieces to show them. . . you never know how many pieces of art a home may need.
Selling your art to interior designers is a great way of making money, because interior designers don’t care about the years of experience that you don’t have, they just care if the piece fits the home and is on-trend.
You won’t get fame selling to interior designers, but if that’s OK with you and you’re happy to make money from your art, you’ll be pleased to know the interior design market is HUGE and there is always a need for new artwork.
7. Explore Facebook and Google Ads for quick wins
If you have money but don’t have time to build an audience this tip is for you.
Facebook and Google ads are also known as pay per click marketing and it is a method of advertising that costs you money every time your advert is shown to a potential buyer and they click on it.
Pay per click is a very fast way of getting your work out there and you can set up a campaign within an hour and get users landing on your website. The only downside to pay per click is that it can be expensive and like everything in life there is no guarantee it will work.
Google ads are more expensive than Facebook ads but they are far more likely to convert as they only show when someone types in a query relevant to your search terms. (For example, if you wanted to show your art every time someone typed in “black and white art,” then that’s the only time your advert would show.)
Facebook, on the other hand, is cheaper but is more intrusive. People browse Facebook to check out what their friends and family are doing, they are not expecting to see an advert for your product, so therefor Facebook ads are more intrusive to the user. This is a massive disadvantage to you as an advertiser as this can be annoying, but with that said Facebook ads are very good at targeting specific ages and demographics.
If you wanted to show your advert to a female aged 25-30 who has interests in fine art and likes dogs, you can do so. You can also target users on their household earnings and location.
If you want to learn more about Google and Facebook ads, watch the videos below:
You can learn more about Facebook ads with this video:
You should now have some ideas on how you can sell art from your home without having gallery representation. My tip would be to start with an online market place and move down the list. Make sure to give it 100% of your efforts, and just know that it’s going to be hard but worth it!