Friday, October 31, 2008

So You Want To Sell Your Artwork? (Part 1)

Recently I launched a website and a sales blog. It was a major undertaking, but it has gone well for the most part. Just in case anyone out there reading this wonders if they should do something similar, I thought I might just give a bit of a "review" on the process. Today I'll give you a short list of general areas to think about when preparing to sell. Monday I'll talk about preparing yourself mentally to sell.

One last thing, I am not an expert here. Others may disagree with what I've said, that's great - leave a comment so we can all learn! As well, this isn't a complete list, but it's a start.

Things to Think About When Launching Into Sales:
  • Product - You make lots of art, what pieces are sellable? Which ones fit into a business model that works for you? I've been thinking and planning on trying to sell some art for a while, but it wasn't until I began my "daily inks" that I really felt I had something that might work. You need to something you can do, keep doing, and others like.

  • Sustaining It - You have to be able to keep producing the type of work you are selling. You may not sell anything at first, but you have to keep adding to your "stock" or people will get bored and stop looking. It's a business, it goes on for more than a day or a week.

  • Price Setting - This is tricky, but if you are going to sell work, you need to sort it out. You need to be comfortable with setting a price on your work. If you don't think it's worth a certain amount of money, neither will anyone else.

  • Materials - You need to create a package, as if someone has bought a piece. How will you ship it? What packaging will you use? Will you include anything else...instructions on how to handle the extra freebie...a thank you? Think it through now, before a sale.

  • Customer Service - Do you have a FAQ file? Do you have a sincere desire to please your customer (or are you just looking for a buck?)

  • Workflow - This applies mainly to those who produce along the lines of a daily painting idea, but it's still something for everyone to think about. Where are you going to put works that are for sale? Can you look at your "inventory" and know immediately? Where are the pieces that are sold and ready for you to pack up? Are they near your packing and shipping supplies? What about pieces that you aren't sure about yet? Where are the rejects? How are you tracking the sales and the solds? How long has a certain piece been "out there"? You get the idea: you need organization and tracking devices.

  • Legal Issues - Do you have what you need to sell legally? In most states to sell over the internet to someone else in your state you must have a sales tax permit. (Even if you go through a site to sell your images on notecards, tee shirts, etc, the sales tax is up to you to do correctly.) Do you need a separate bank account for this venture? Did you know that if you earn $400 during a tax year, the IRS wants to know about it? (Personally, I was surprised at that one, I really thought the threshold was higher.) You need to do this above board, for you and for your customers.

  • Marketing - How are you going to market your work? Who is your target customer? What will reach them best? You are going to need more than one strategy here.

  • Branding - Do you want a consistent image for your brand? Maybe just a consistent font? How is someone going to know its you at first glance?

  • Statistics - If you are selling online make sure that you have a way to track what gets clicked on, how people are finding you, etc. You need to know what's working and what's not.

  • Process - It's important to remember that this is a process. You might get everything set up exactly how you want it (or you might not), but either way, you are going to have to revise it all later. You will need to keep returning to each of these issues over time. You will need to be patient and see how things go for a while, but then be prepared to come back and see how to make things better.
Please note that I have now added a monthly newsletter. You can sign up in that cute little box in the sidebar. The newsletter will only go out once a month (usually around the 15th.) I won't sell or give your email address away - personally I hate that, it's not the way to build customer relationships. The newsletter will have news, research, information and other goodies not found on this blog.


kay susan said...

Lots to think about here Rose. Thank you for sharing.

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks, Rose. You have reminded me to finish my new web page and get my newsletter on my blog instead of on my computer! I think you are going to do well.

Jeanette said...

You've done a lot Rose in bringing your art to this level. Well done. You've also invested a lot of time and thought into the process of your sales blog and the process.

And now a newsletter. I've considered that too, but am not ready to go there yet I don't think. Perhaps next year.

Jennifer Rose said...

I think a newsletter is a great idea and added one to my blog a month ago. Its great to use for marketing and just general site news.

For me, marketing is the hardest. Hard to spend enough time doing that and drawing at the same time.

Teresa Mallen said...

Great post Rose!
I like what you said about not being in it just to make a buck. I believe that most successful businesses have a strong commitment to customer service.

I recommend a spread sheet sort of database for the organizing of inventory. Enter info once a painting is finished with details such as title of the work, medium, dimensions, price, status (for sale, NFS, sold), framed or unframed, location of the work, perhaps a brief description of the piece etc. This is easy to update. This sort of info is great to have for many reasons. Perhaps an opportunity comes up at the last minute to participate in a show - you can consult your list and quickly know what you have that would be available and suitable. Also, this info would be very helpful in the event of a insurance claim due to a fire or theft. Just make sure to store a back up copy in a safe location.

And finally, I think your comment regarding being patient is so true. Overnight successes are rare and selling artwork takes perseverance and a willingness to do the work.

Best of luck with your new ventures!

Rose Welty said...

Kay, Jo, and Jeanette, thanks for the encouragement. I have worked hard to get things going, but it really has been worth it - emotionally. I really feel like I am making an effort to "go professional", not just thinking about it.

Jennifer, I'll have to subscribe! I hope the newsletter will help me learn about interaction with potential customers.

Teresa, thanks for your encouragement. The SS you describe is so like the one that I created! I'm an organizing nut (at least in some areas) and so the SS was one of my first things to plan and create. And I agree that it's a good idea for the reasons you mention as well. :D

Paula Pertile said...

This is great Rose! I think I may have to copy you. :~)
(That's a form of flattery, remember.)
No, seriously, its great. Your art for sale and website look really good.
The info about a spread sheet is spot on. Why haven't I done that?
I just signed up for the newsletter.

Rose Welty said...

Paula, I'm thrilled you liked what you saw. I've seen your blog, site, and work - you don't need to copy anything from me - but I'm happy to be of help ;D.