How To Sell Your Art



Are you ready to sell your art?


If you’re new to selling your work and finding it hard to make your first sale, perhaps it’s too soon in your career. You might need to make a lot more art to develop your style and improve the quality of your work before you take the next step. All artists have to go through this process and it's important to make the best work you possibly can before you try and sell it.


Asking for a sale is something a lot of artists feel uncomfortable with, and they either try and give their work away or undervalue themselves by putting too low a price on it. Don't let this be you. Once you have worked out a price that is fair for both you and the customer, stick to it. The right person will be more than happy to pay for artwork they love.


Not everyone is a natural salesperson. Luckily, by adding a few key audience insights and shifting your perspective about selling artwork, you can make art sales feel less painful and more natural.


A successful art business mindset understands your artwork and customers are the core of your business, not just sales.


Here are some simple ways to build an art selling mindset that will attract buyers and keep you happy and productive.


  • First and foremost, do work that fulfils you. Make sure you are dedicating time to the creative work that feeds your artistic spirit, whether it is considered saleable or not. Your art business should never squash your creative spirit. The fruits of the creative work that fulfils you will drive the productive, profitable side of your business.

  • Secondly, decide on which sales channels might work best for your work. A sales channel is a place where you sell your work. Typically, artists sell their work through shops and galleries, directly from their studio, and through their website and social media. Bear in mind, a third party vendor such as a shop or a gallery will take a commission of approximately 40% (this can vary widely).

  • If you decide to sell your work yourself, you will need to set up a system for taking card payments securely. You can do this through Square or PayPal, and some websites such as Wix or Squarespace will let you add a store. A portable card reader is great for art fairs and markets. You can get mobile apps that make it easy to securely accept money anywhere, anytime. People want transparency, ease, and efficiency, and these mobile apps make you look professional.

  • Use software apps such as Rounded to compile reports, upload transactions, file your own taxes and receipts (I recommend consulting an accountant for up-to-date information on tax laws). Take steps to learn and understand your roles and responsibilities when it comes to paying taxes.

  • Think of yourself as a buyer's assistant instead of a salesperson. Learn to sell with integrity and authenticity.


TAKE ACTION


Time to grab your creativity journal and start making notes!

  • What are you going to sell? List your products and services.

  • Where are you going to sell it? List your sales channels.

  • How are you going to sell it? Practice talking about your work to friends.

Making art and selling art are two completely different things that require separate levels of energy and commitment. You have to be interested in business and in making money from the art in order to profit from your talents.


Resistance is an energetic force field. Your job is to lower resistance and create a safe space for your customers.


Instead of selling yourself or your art, just have guided conversations and see who you can help. You want to guide the conversation naturally. Maybe you can make an introduction, make them smile. Just be open to being helpful. Givers gain. We all know that what goes around comes around. Trust this.




HOW TO HAVE A SALES CONVERSATION


Establish genuine rapport. First things first, be a good human. Start by smiling and saying hello. Establishing genuine rapport is where you want to invest the most time and energy. People buy from those whom they know, like, and trust. The best way to build rapport is to listen 80% of the time and speak 20%. When you do speak, and if it’s appropriate, talk about your mission and what inspired it.


Level the playing field. You are equal to your customer, and can establish this by asking them questions about what they are looking for. You can choose your own words, appropriate to your context.


Ask for the sale. Don’t skip this step. Many artists feel timid. Just say “Would you like to go ahead with this then?” Choose your own words.


Follow up. If they say, “Yes. I’ll buy it on Tuesday.” Say great, “I call you on Tuesday.” Then call them on Tuesday. Follow up.


Keep your promise. This is not always obvious. You need to deliver the purchase, exactly what you promised, and on time. It’s a great practice to add a small handwritten thank you note.


Ask for referrals. Most of your business will come by way of referrals or word of mouth. So don't be afraid to ask for them. You could say something along the lines of:

“I’ve loved working with you. Most of my business comes by way of referrals from people like you. If you know anyone who might enjoy my work, can you please pass my card on to them? Thank you!"



MY TOP SALES TIPS


  • Promote your artwork and the different ways people can buy it.

  • Make it easy for them to purchase and take it home/have it shipped.

  • Continue to create work based on how your audiences respond to it. But, always make work that fulfils you. Without this core objective, selling art will feel like a wild goose chase trying to identify what people will buy. When you stick to your vision but remain sensitive to the way people experience your work, you can find a balance in creating, promoting, and selling your artwork. This is exactly what I have done and how I have created a successful business around selling my art.

  • The only way to get people to notice your work is to tell them about it. And, while a lot of artists have an aversion to self-promotion, talking to people genuinely about your work feels more authentic. The best place to start? People who have already expressed an interest in your work!

  • Communicating with people who are interested in your work will alleviate some of the cold-call fears of rejection. Keep in touch with people who have collected works from you in the past and remind them about the newly available work and the developments in your art career. You don't always have to be looking for new customers, cultivate strong and authentic relationships with collectors through email lists and social media.

  • Then, streamline ways that new people can find your work and start building those relationships over time.

  • Add social media outlets such as Pinterest that help drive new people to your website and public profiles.

  • Follow up with collectors in personal, memorable ways, such as hand-written cards or a special-edition reproduction of your most recent artwork.

  • Make work at a variety of different price points.

  • Make it easy to be affordable to your audiences, but get comfortable with higher price points as well. Some of the best advice about setting your price point is that you should eventually price yourself out of your own artwork.This, understandably, will make you uncomfortable at first. However, setting higher prices points (as long as they are in line with the quality of comparable works) will help grow your business.

  • By tracking the work that sells the best, you’ll begin to see how many pieces you need to create at each price point.

  • There are online platforms where you can sell your work, such as Bluethumb in Australia and Etsy. I have heard mixed results about these and they can often be quite time-consuming to do properly. It depends on your products, some are better suited than others.

  • Try and photograph your work in situ - show jewellery and clothing on a model, show ceramics and 3D art with a white background or outside, show paintings and visual art in an interior. Wall App is a great site for placing images of your work in different interiors, and is free to use. Artrooms is a paid app and has some fantastic interior settings.

  • Try and add rich storytelling value to your work and provide context that will enable buyers to make a decision. Consider adding a description about why the work is important to you. It's about knowing your work and sharing it with others.

  • Keep a record of all your sales and where they come from - website, galleries, market, so you have an idea of what works best for you right now. It might change in the future, be willing to evolve your business model as your business grows.


QUICK TIPS

  • Take the lead.

  • Set it up as a two way process.

  • Make it okay to say 'no'.

  • Get permission for your offer.

  • Get permission to go deeper.

  • Focus on the end result.

  • Use their language.

  • Keep in simple, not too many choices. Remember, confusion leads to no sales.


PRO TIP: Be ready to handle objectives. Common ones I hear are: I've got no more wall space or I can't afford it. What will your responses be? I often suggest moving artwork around to create a fresh environment in the home, and occasionally I offer a payment plan (usually only if I know the customer or they have purchased before).

There are four main parts to an effective authentic sales conversation: Structure, value, safety, connection.


Follow the structure and use language that feels natural. Follow your intuition and be sensitive. Track your results and make notes on what works. The important thing here is not to appear desperate, as there is nothing more off-putting! While you would like the sale, you also want to make sure they are the right buyer for your work. If not, then wish them well and let them go.


TAKE ACTION


If you are in the early stages of your artist journey, your action is simple. Make more art. Make a lot more art. Then share your art and once you are happy with the response and feedback, then and only then, start to think about selling your art.


Continue getting your work out there and be open to feedback. Make small adjustments without compromising the integrity of the work.


Join a group of artists to get honest, peer-focused assessments of your work You are welcome to share your work in This Business of Art Community Facebook group!


ARTIST'S INSIGHT


"I love meeting the people who buy my work. I think it influences whether or not a sale is made, as people love telling their friends they have met the artist! When they have an emotional connection to the painting, it often seals the deal. It's great when customers send me photos of their newly purchased artwork hanging in their home. There's something extraordinary and special about that!"