In today’s world, the starving artist is a dying trope. Independent artists can fund their craft by selling directly to their fans. However, to succeed in art, you must also succeed in business. The traditional route of finding a gallery or agent to represent your work is still a fantastic route to reach potential buyers.
One of the top ways to sell art online is via your own e-commerce store and marketplaces like Amazon, but before you even start, you will need to establish brand guidelines, pricing and a business model. The following guide will help you get started in selling art online.
Creating Your Artist Brand
It is only natural that your brand will evolve as an extension of your art. Your style and medium will help define you as an artist and attract fans and buyers based on this alone. However, bear in mind that art is often a personal and emotional purchase. Your story as an artist can be a deciding factor on whether someone makes a purchase or not.
You will also need to make many conscious branding decisions once you start to think of yourself as a business. For example, in case you are interested in selling your own artwork, you should ask yourself the following:
- Do you want to sell your art using your own name, a pseudonym or a brand name?
- What is your brand story, and how much of your personal life do you want to share?
- Are there any values, missions or causes you want to communicate through your brand?
- Putting the art to one side, what is the visual and tone of voice for your brand communication?
By answering these questions, you will quickly be able to build a set of brand guidelines that will help you make decisions for your website design, marketing materials, and other branded materials. In addition, when you eventually scale your online art business, these brand guidelines will assist you in maintaining brand consistency when delegating tasks to staff.
Setting Prices For Your Art
Making a living from your art will only be possible if you know how to value and price your pieces. The task of pricing art can be tricky as it does not fall neatly into a typical pricing strategy. A tip for artists just starting out and not yet having a name for themselves in the art world is to use this simple formula: your time and labour costs + materials and other expenses + your markup (profit).
You will need to allocate yourself an hourly wage for the above pricing method. Try not to fall into the typical habit of undervaluing your time and work. This does not mean you should try to price your artwork at the same level as famous artists, but you do need to at least be able to pay yourself a living wage.
One of the major difficulties with pricing is that art is subjective and not always dependent on material costs and time spent creating. Do some online competitor research to see what artists at a similar level to you are charging. It is best not to undercut as it will only devalue your pieces and bring down the overall market value of new independent artists. The art community needs to support each other to ensure the industry continues to develop into a viable option for people to earn a reasonable living.
Create a Business Model
Before rushing out and setting up your own online store for your art, you will want to spend some time creating a business model. This is a written document that outlines what you sell, who you sell it to, and how you sell it. Let’s go through each area, so you have a better understanding of what you need to consider:
- What you sell – Lists down what formats you plan to sell your art piece in (original canvases, cards, prints, merchandise, or even a digital download).
- Who you sell it to – Think about your target audience (business owners, direct consumers, people with a particular interest, specific age range, or location).
- How to sell it – Consider where you are planning on only selling your artwork online (your e-commerce website, online marketplaces, agent website, social media platforms or a mixture of places).
Getting Started Online
It is advised that you get yourself out there on as many online platforms as possible to increase the chances of sales. Use social media like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to get your brand known. Growing a following before even launching your online store can be a great start. If the budget is available, you may want to consider running some paid ad campaigns, reaching out to influencers and the press, and making the most of content marketing.
When you feel ready to launch your online store, consider listing on busy marketplaces where there is an existing customer base ready to buy your art. Amazon is actually a fantastic place to sell original art, especially if you are making it available in multiple formats. They offer a print-on-demand service so a customer can get the artwork printed in the form they want – including t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs or even large canvases.
Anyone can set up a selling account on Amazon but becoming successful and making serious money on the marketplace is no easy feat. You might want to consider hiring an Amazon agency to get you set up and manage the day to day selling admin. This will allow you to focus on making more art instead of fussing around with seller account issues, SEO ranking, and online marketing activities.
It is great news that life as a working artist is now more accessible than ever. If you have the internet and some business sense, it is possible to make a good living as an independent artist. You may have some reservations about selling on marketplaces or social media, but these platforms may provide you with the revenue needed to fund the projects you are truly passionate about.