So, you are an artist. You have work to sell and everyone is telling you that you need to be selling online. You agree, but you’re just not sure how to go about it and what it’s all about. You may have already set up your own webpage, but you haven’t had many, if any, sales and you wonder what you are doing wrong…
Let’s assume that someone who is interested in your art wants to find you on the Internet. The logical way for them to look for you online is to search for your name and then browse through your website, if you have one.
How will they find you?
But, what if they haven’t met you yet and don’t know about your art? How will they find you then?
Perhaps they will accidentally come upon you when looking up keywords, but that’s a bit of a long shot.
One way to make yourself visible is to create your own gallery on a larger website. It’s usually very easy to do, but often comes at a cost. Be careful, as many of these websites take a monthly, or upfront fee to list your art and are happy to sit back and do very little in return to promote you in the art world.
If you can find online marketplaces which do not charge upfront or monthly fees and don’t limit the number of artworks that you can sell, then you have little to lose by joining up and ensuring that you are more visible on the Internet in a variety of places.
Another slightly different option is to join a website run by an artists’ group. I find that these websites are often badly designed and run by only a few of the members, often on a voluntary basis. They are notorious for not being user friendly and can be very out of date. Unless there is someone with a vested interest in the selling of the artworks, then the minimum amount of work is done to keep the website ‘top of mind’ for collectors and art purchasers. However, if you are in an active group of artists, and their group website is free to join, then it may prove helpful for your art followers in your local area to find you, because that is where they will start looking.
I do believe that it is a good idea to get your art out there, and that the Internet is a great method for doing that. The more exposure and the greater variety you get on the Internet, the better. Joining as many free collective websites as you can will certainly not have a detrimental effect on your strategy to be found online and, ultimately, to sell your art.
It is extremely important to find websites which actively drive traffic towards them; ones which constantly promote using up to date methods, such as social media and public relations; ones that are always keeping abreast with new technology.
Read the small print…
When looking for places to sell your art online, make sure that you read the Terms & Conditions carefully, so that you don’t end up signing up for stringent terms and locked in contracts which are not designed to be in your favour.
Use social media to your advantage
In addition to websites, set up social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Take good quality photographs of your artworks. See Basic tips for taking photographs of your art to upload onto the Rtzee website article for detailed information. Upload your art onto these sites. Post regularly and try to set up a pattern, or no pattern, if that is, in fact, your pattern! Your viewers will get used to you and expect you to be consistent.
Take time to investigate other artists and connect with them. Affiliate yourself with artists who have high numbers of followers and likes. Communicate with them, comment and have conversations with them. This will definitely build your presence and people will start to find you.
Upload artworks gently. If you upload your art all at once, your images will quickly be buried by newer artworks and posts which are uploaded. Give your viewers time to ponder your artworks and admire them.
Try not to overload your followers or the people who like you. This may just upset them and they will stop following you.
Make personal connections with your followers by giving a little bit of yourself away. Provide insights into your art practices. Tell the story behind your art pieces. Make your posts interesting. Engage people who make contact with you. Answer all of their comments.
Art buyers want to be a part of your development. They will follow your career and watch you take on new directions. They are interested in being a part of it.
Keep your website and anything you post about your art practice pure. Do not mix it up with personal photographs. Be professional.
When you write your biography and descriptions about your artworks, be yourself, have a voice, write in the first person. Be human. People will love to get to know you and if they buy one of your art pieces when you are just starting out, and you then ‘take off’, they will be very happy that they had a conversation with you. So, be helpful, be human, be accessible and be present.
Use sensible keywords on the marketplace websites. Always include your name. Search the web to find artists who have the most hits and mimic the keywords that they use.
Although the use of keywords is not as important on the search engines these days, it is the best way for your customers to find you within the websites.
Create connections with people and they will wish to buy your art.
In addition to positioning your artworks on various online group or marketplace websites, it is worth considering having your own website too. However, only relying on your own website can be very limiting and you are unlikely to be found by new collectors, just the ones who know you in the first place.
Some people believe that it is better to have your own website gallery and maintain complete control. I agree that it is a sound strategy to have your own site, one which you can drive traffic to, but if you find a great online art marketplace which has good terms and conditions and which doesn’t cost you a penny to be on, unless you sell your art, then getting 70,000 hits on a painting is going to result in way more exposure out in the world, than say getting 500 on the same painting on your own dedicated site. So, you end up paying commission, yes, but your art is being seen by 69,500 more people and that is definitely going to get you noticed and further enhance your exposure and lead to more sales of other artworks in the future.
If you sell on these sites you will gain further exposure by being highlighted in mailouts, Just Sold pages and newsletters too.
Think of the bigger picture.
The Internet is a wonderful platform for attracting art collectors, exhibition curators and for selling your work. Make use of it and increase your art presence and your art sales so you can go ahead and make more art.
People don’t like to admit it, but it does motivate you to make work if you’re selling it. There is a drive in that.