As an artist, one of the most gratifying experiences is selling your artwork. It’s one thing when people compliment your art, but it’s another thing when they’re willing to pay for it, don’t you think? It can be a very satisfying, and even affirming.
Making a living selling your online may seem super easy. You make the art, and if you upload it in the right place, abracadabra – you’re ready to quit your day job. Not so fast. Before you take that leap, here are ten things every artist must know:
- It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Making a living selling art online is hardly a fast way to make a buck. It will take considerable time and continual effort to build the revenue streams that are necessary to make a full-time living.
- You should diversify your income stream. Although it’s possible to earn a full-time living from one revenue source, it is unwise. First, in the online art business, sales are up and down. Even if you are living only on the sales of your original artwork, it is important that your work is shown in multiple online venues for two reasons: First, if sales in one venue dip, you’ll need to make up for it with sales in another venue. Second, it is important that you have already developed relationships with multiple online venues in case your main source of income closes up shop or changes its policies.
- You must continually learn new computer skills. There is no doubt that just as you learn how to effectively use an online platform, it will change. In order to make a living online, you will need to use multiple platforms for sales, and also for marketing. Because of this, you will need to be computer literate, and be willing to learn as new sites come online and your tried and true sites are updated.
- You need photo-editing skills. They say pictures speak 1000 words and this is absolutely true in online sales. It will not be enough to take a few camera shots of your artwork. Your photos need to be catalog worthy. Buyers will want to see what your artwork looks like in various scenarios, along with detail shots. Having the ability to photograph and edit your own artwork is absolutely necessary.
- You must write excellent sales copy. This may sound intimidating at first, but there are specific techniques for writing a description of your artwork that will highly increase its chance of selling. Getting comfortable writing about your artwork and the topics that move buyers to actually purchase it are necessary if you plan to make a living selling your art online. Even in the very best online art galleries, the artist is in charge of uploading the photographs and creating the original ad copy. The ad copy is only rewritten by professional writers when special promotions are undertaken by the gallery.
- You should develop only one or two income streams at a time. The reason for this is that it takes considerable effort to upload photographs and write ad copy for your artwork. Not only that, but you will need to promote your listings. Even the very best online galleries will rely upon you to help promote and make buyers aware that your artwork is available through their venues.
- You must get comfortable with creating a call for action. In many cases, this will mean asking for the sale. But sometimes, it means asking for people to sign up for your email list/newsletter or asking them to visit online venues that are currently promoting your work.
- You must safeguard your creative time. Making a living online will require a lot of time at the computer editing photos and creating listings in your various online venues. This can become time-consuming and easily get away from you. If you do not safeguard your creative time, you can accidentally turn your love of art into a desk job. That is why you must set aside time that is specifically dedicated to creating art.
- You will have to handle customer service. Even in the very best online galleries that have customer service teams, it is not uncommon for collectors to Google your name and contact you through your website or social media with questions. You will need a system in place to be able to identify which gallery or venue they should be referred back to and what policies apply if a transaction takes place.
- You must be curious. In order to be successful, you will need to research trends in your field. You will also need to research which sales venues are becoming more successful, and which are falling away. In order to stay up-to-date with the latest opportunities for artists and ways of marketing your artwork, you will need a strong curiosity to drive your research.
There is more to making a living selling art online than finding venues and updating social media. It extends far beyond creating the art. In fact, some might say that selling art online is an artform in iteself.