9 Mistakes Artists Make When Selling Art Online

9 Mistakes Artists Make When Selling Art Online

Are you feeling like you’ve hit a plateau when it comes to sales to grow your online business? You may have slipped into using any number of these common mistakes when selling in your ecommerce space. Read through these selling mistakes and learn some alternative strategies you should try.

1. Relying on Third-Party Print-on-Demand Companies 

Print-on-demand companies place images of your artwork on merchandise and ship the product directly to the customer. (Does Redbubble or Society6 sound familiar?) While at first glance these may seem like easy and low-risk ways to make products from your artwork, you are actually adding an unnecessary middle-man to your business. You also cannot control the quality of the product produced and customers often receive cheaply printed products. 

Try This Strategy Instead: Be the CEO

It’s your business, so let’s get your CEO hat on. You can design quality and affordable products on your own and reap all of the benefits: customer relationship building, customer experience,  revenue generation, and learning how to run your business on your own terms. With a bit of time and research, you can work with quality companies who can help you manufacture your own product for much, much cheaper, and sell them yourself. 

2. Heavy Discounts & Promotions to Boost Sales

Heavy discounts to increase sales are not the best tactic, especially if you are working on building a product line, series of work, or want to create brand authenticity along the way.

Try This Strategy Instead: Price Confidently 

Slow sales don’t indicate that you have the wrong price. When artists and creatives directly apply sales tactics from big retailers without thinking about how to best use the strategy, things can go wrong. Regular discount sales will train customers to wait until you have another discount to make a purchase. 

Pricing confidently and tracking sales to identify your high and low-volume seasons can help prevent you from reacting to slow business with big markups. Track the time and cost that it takes to make your artwork. Always price with gallery or curator commissions already built into the amount. Be consistent with pricing, be very select or limited with discounts or sales, and make a plan for price increases as the value of your work goes up. 

3. Hiding Behind the Scenes

A very common thing I hear from emerging artists is that they don’t want to post images of themselves online. Hiding behind the scenes is one of the most common mistakes when selling art online.

Try This Strategy Instead: Integrate into your Brand

Artists, creatives, and makers are now a part of their brand more than ever. If you think you can try some of these sales strategies and hide behind the scenes and watch sales roll in, you are out of luck! It’s time to put yourself out there because collectors want to know the artist behind the work.

Small steps into the spotlight can help you integrate yourself into the brand you want to create. Try some of these ideas: 

  • Post a digital introduction post on your Instagram
  • Be your best art salesperson – don’t be afraid to close the deal or use CTAs
  • Use your tone-of-voice or language in your digital marketing materials that are natural to you
  • Post headshots on your website and artist bio page
  • Include your website or social links in your email signature

4. Lack of CTAs

Your email newsletters, marketing initiatives, and social media posts all need a purpose. When you send out simple updates, you’re not generating sales because you’re not asking for a sales conversion. 

Try This Strategy Instead: Use CTAs

Efforts where you are expecting a response need to have a CTA or a call-to-action. Use strategies to drive results instead of passively expecting sales to happen. Practice using action words and directing customers to the action you want them to take each time you send out a message, email, social media post, or blog post. This means no more generic art newsletters!

Your CTA doesn’t always need to be “buy my art.” Messages can also be:

  • Click to read more
  • Download my freebie
  • Comment below

This way you balance your sales-based CTAs with non-sales CTAs and build engagement overtime. 

5. A Big Announcement Without Preparation

Before launching a product, announcing an event, or sharing some big news, you need to be actively building your engagement rate. Algorithms and the increasing rate of content expiration mean that if you aren’t actively working your audience with consistent engaging posts, a big announcement post can get lost amongst the noise of social media.

Try This Instead: Build Your Engagement Rate

Preparation for a big launch or announcement can be done by simply increasing your social media engagement. Consistent posting, commenting on others’ posts, strategic hashtags, and working your account for small amounts daily are all small ways to build your engagement. Begin increasing your engagement on social media at least 6 months before you launch something, and spend time daily building your audience. 

6. Missing Repetition

You need to repeat your messages multiple times for people to remember them and take action. You need to repeat your messages multiple times for people to remember them and take action. You need to repeat your messages multiple times for people to remember them and take action…I think you get it.

Try This Strategy Instead: Repeat & Remarket

People need to hear your services, see your product, or know about an event multiple times for them to remember. Do not be afraid to sound like a broken record because even though you are an artist or creative, you are competing with millions of other brands, people, influencers, retailers, and corporations. A new image or a revision to the copy will brush up any marketing piece into something new so you can reshare it. 

7. Believing “They” Will Come

There’s a saying, “if you build it they will come.” Well, that’s just not the case. Having an Instagram account doesn’t equate to followers, having an Etsy account doesn’t make sales, and having a website doesn’t increase your buyers.

Try This Strategy Instead: Cultivate 

Actively cultivate each area of your business. Maintaining your business rather than growing your business doesn’t drive people to want to return or take action. If your website is outdated, it’s time to plan a revamp, if you aren’t using your Facebook, delete it or start working your feed. While managing the operations of your business, spend time connecting to your fans, followers, and customers. Customer service and customer retention are key once someone has shown interest. 

8. Transactional Selling

Selling art needs to be experiential for customers, it’s not just a monetary transaction. 

Try This Strategy Instead: Create an Experience

Make deliberate decisions about how the customer can connect with you and create an experience for them from start to finish. Here are a few ways to create an experience: 

  • Philanthropic models of giving: when a customer buys a specific product, your business supports certain causes
  • Share your mission or story behind your work or if you work in sustainable materials
  • Design an interactive or online experience like a video demonstrating your artmaking, or a digital private studio tour of your creative space for new collectors
  • Mail out freebies or small gifts with online purchases

9. Limited Assortment

Artwork and creative items can get expensive, and art is often seen as a luxury item. Look at your product assortment or (lack thereof). Take note of what your most and least expensive items are and compare this to your typical buyer. If all you sell are few hundred dollar originals, you could be missing out on buyers who would like more affordable options. 

Try This Strategy Instead: Develop Your Product Assortment

Artwork can be easily made into other items (as mentioned above in #1) however, make sure the products you develop make sense to your artwork and your brand. Items like cards and prints fit well with art-making. You can also design smaller versions of larger, more expensive works. 

Building a product line does not need to be a wide variety either, curate what products you offer. Create an assortment of creative merchandise that you can sell to a customer who only has a few dollars and to the customer who wants a high-quality original.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *