1. Consistent Pricing – consistency is so important! This means the same prices for a piece sold from your studio as sold in a gallery (every sale, every art show). Do not provide different pricing or cheaper pricing when someone buys from you rather than a gallery (slight negotiations or 5-10% off for your returning collector is fine – but the price on the tag needs to read the same amount).
I met an artist once who provided different prices on pieces because the gallery commission. What she would sell the piece at drastically different than the prices on the wall at the gallery. This is bad business. Having galleries take a percentage of your sale is standard gallery practice. When you alter your prices based on venue you are now undercutting a professional advocate who is working to sell your art for you. The gallery deserves their cut for the work, network that they are selling your work to and the time. Always keep things the same on everywhere, so it’s important to price accordingly. And never explain to the customer how galleries take a cut (thats just tacky).
I would also be careful with sales and markdowns, but thats a whole nother blog post.
2. Make it Easy for People to Shop Online – Can people find you when they google your name? Think about if you show up on popular social media and if you have a website. Don’t make it hard for the customer to find your digital presence. Getting help from a website developer or someone well versed in SEO would be an area you need to focus on. (Its true – sometimes you need to spend money to make money).
Once on your website, take a look at the user’s experience of buying your product. Can the customer click to buy the piece? Make sure people can easily click to buy your items. Do you take Visa/Mastercard? What about Paypal? Don’t just list your email and ask people contact you if interested in making a purchase. This method is going to lose the momentum and excitement of click-to-buy.
Complete the online shopping experience with your shipping and handling. What does the package look like? How long does it take to arrive? Do you include additional items in their package like a personal thank you note or custom tissue paper with your logo? Also, is what they buy online what they expected?
3. Make it Easy for People to Shop in Person – Design your customer’s experience. Remember that you are apart of your brand so your service is really important. Think about how you greet customers, talk about the item and your product, and if prices are readily available (believe it or not many artists don’t list prices). What does your sales floor, studio space, or table display look like? Do you give them a bag to carry their purchases? Do you give them an extra freebie, bonus, or product care card for the item they bought? Design the experience people have with you so they want to come back. Retention is big here!
4. Selling on Social Media – Instagram is great for selling products and offering items for sale. It’s the biggest “window shopping” social media site and offers options like the “swipe up” for some accounts. While the swipe up option won’t fit many micro-businesses who are still building their following and haven’t reached the 10k minimum to get that option, that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a promotional post or showcase a product on you site. Balance the promotional posts with other content. And use your one link in the bio to bring people to your website or sign up for your newsletter.
5. Serve, Serve, Serve, Sell – find other ways to serve the people who love what you do and make it more about your customer than about the sale. For artists, think about sharing tips on how you manage your business or show process videos of making art. Every “touch” to your customer cannot be a pitch to promote or sell your items. Think about using specific times during the year to focus on selling or to launch products rather than constantly blasting people with product and promotions.
6. Price Point Friendly Options – Artwork and craft can be expensive to make and to sell. Think about the price points that you are offering. While your work may be beautiful, and wanted by the customer, the cost is just out of their budget. Remember, for most consumers, artwork is a luxury. By just adding affordable print options, more people can take home your art and hang it on their walls. Think about how you can provide price point from a couple of dollars to the most expensive piece.
7. Test Sale Locations and Stick to What Sells – Are we tired of all these pop-up marketplaces yet? I sure am. I can’t seem to keep up with every art fair, holiday marketplace, and pop-up. And if I am confused as a seller, just think how the general consumer keeps this all straight. I’ve found a couple of sales and shows that I want to participate in annually and I work and prepare for those sales. Between that time, I work on making new art and running my business. If I were to run around every weekend pitching a tent and trying to sell, I would be burnout and frustrated. Test out some sales, find which ones work, and stick to what generates sales.
8. Diversify Revenue – Find more than one way to bring in income to your creative business. There are seasons of great revenue and dry seasons in between. What else can do you or sell that gets you through the dry season? For example, think about teaching workshops on a creative process or technique you developed at a local community education center. The more streams of different revenue you have coming in the more financially stable your business is going to be.
9. Pressure Causes Stress – The pressure to sell sell sell can be smelt a mile away by your customer. If a lot is riding on the sales you maybe coming off more pushy, frustrated, or fed up with slow art sales. Reduce the pressure and find excitement and inspiration again. Maybe it’s time to cut expenses, keep the day job, and or just take a break.
10. Cut the Expenses – If generating revenue is slow or difficult, its time to look at what undermines your business growth…your business expenses. This year I had to cut a big expense. It was the most important part of my creative business but it was what was holding me back from making revenue, it was my studio. It may be time to take a hard look at your expenses and identify the top one or two items that continually cost you the most.