6 Reasons Why You’re Not Making Art Sales

I’m not going to lie. Selling art isn’t easy. Whether you are just starting out with selling your work online or you have hit a slump in sales, this post can help shed some light on what you can do to help change things.

As a full time working artist, I mainly focus on online sales so this post is geared towards that market. If I ever get back into doing in-person events, I’ll write another post for that area (but don’t hold your breath!).

Let’s jump in! Here are 6 possible reasons why you’re not making art sales:

1. There simply aren’t enough eyes on your work.

I know this is a big “Duh”, but you have to get your work out there and declare that you are in business in order to make sales. This means growing a social following, posting on various platforms, cultivating an email list, and possibly even running ads. (Though I don’t recommend ads to start.)

Every social platform is different, but for sure get started on Instagram (I can help you with that), and create a Facebook page. Post at least once a day on Insta and at least three times a week on FB. Make sure you are creating accounts that are dedicated to art and don’t have extraneous personal content mixed in (i.e. photos of food or selfies). Read: How I Promote My Artwork on the Internet

Right now, posting once a week on one or two social media platforms and just crossing your fingers that people will automatically visit your online store isn’t enough. Create a social media schedule and post often to increase your exposure.

2. You aren’t connecting with your audience and building trust.

After you have established even the most modest of social followings, you can generate sales. Though, if you aren’t connecting with your followers this can keep people from buying from you.

Building trust with your audience is very important. You are taking their money, so make sure they know you are a real person and you are easily accessible. You can do this by sharing your story as an artist, responding to comments and messages as they come in, and by showing your followers you care about them.

Utilize your captions on social media posts to connect on a human level. Build that trust! (Read how to write engaging captions here.) Basically, posting “18×24 acrylic on canvas, DM to purchase”, is doing nothing for your brand. Give your audience more to connect to.

3. You’re making it too hard for customers to give you money.

This plays into the trust aspect as well, but the easier you make the transaction process to buy your art, the easier it is to get that sale. Right now, if you are writing “DM to purchase” in your social media captions and you don’t have a store front or clear transaction process, then you are missing out on sales.

I can speak from personal experience that unless I already know, trust, and have a relationship with an artist I am going to keep scrolling past that caption unless I just can’t live without that piece of art.

Have a store front, have Paypal buttons, use a free ecommerce site like SquareUp, list items on Etsy, etc.. Make it possible for a customer to buy your art without speaking to you, and make sure you are using a secure platform so they have confidence their financial information is safe.

4. You’re not updating your inventory or Driving people to your store often enough.

The internet moves quickly, and so you need to do the same. In order to make consistent sales online, you need to continue to get your work in front of people AND remind them it’s for sale. You should be reminding your following on a weekly basis at least that you have a store with items for sale. You don’t have to be pushy, but short attention spans need a little nudge with reminders that your store exists.

Consider the marketing “Rule of 7”. Your audience needs to be exposed to your product or offer at least 7 times before they follow through on your call to action.

It’s not spammy to push people to your store if you do it right. People follow your art for a reason and it’s quite likely they will eventually be interested in buying from you. Writing trust building captions, and then including a sales reminder at the end as an aside can be a gentle sales pitch. Not pushy. Not spammy. Just a gentle message that you’re always open for business.

I don’t recommend burning out your audience by doing things like trying to sell the same pieces of art over and over again, or using every caption as a hard sell. To avoid this, rotate your inventory and introduce new items every week or so and stagger your sales pitches between meaningful conversation starting posts.

5. You’re not making your art look As good as you can.

One of the issues with online shopping is that you can’t physically inspect the item. That’s where you have to put in some extra effort to give your customer the most comprehensive experience you can of your products.

Make sure you use good lighting when photographing your inventory. Take pictures of all of the different details and angles of your work. Stage your work in different settings to give your customers an idea of what the art could look like in their home and include written specifications in your product listings.

Right now, if you are just taking a head-on shot of your art in a dimly lit room, this could be a huge factor in why you aren’t making as many sales as you’d like. Great photos make a huge impact and answering any questions a customer might have about a product within a listing makes them feel more comfortable with committing to a purchase.

6. It Could just Be the market.

With any business that depends on product sales, you are going to experience an ebb and flow of transactions. There are busy times and slow times. Obviously, the holiday season can make for easy sales, but you will also encounter negative changes in the market that you have no control over (like tax season after the refunds have been spent).

This is why I recommend building your art business to not be dependent on just art sales. Diversify your income. Find passive streams of income to supplement your art sales. Then you won’t feel it quite as much when the market changes for a bit.

While you are brainstorming passive or alternative income options, you can create promotions for times when you know sales will be slow. Run sales in your store and create a sense of urgency for people to buy now. Though, you should be careful with how often you run sales, as running them too often discourages people from ever buying at your regular price and it could make them question the value of your work.

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And there you have it! 6 possible reasons why you aren’t making the sales you hoped for. Do you think any of these could be a factor for you right now?

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! And make sure to sign up for my email list below. New posts are published every Tuesday.

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks.

Further Reading:

1 Big Reason Your Art isn’t Getting the Attention it Deserves

Are you doing the work, but not getting engagement?

For years, I struggled in the art world. I wasn’t growing a following outside of friends and family. My social media accounts were going nowhere. I’d post something and get crickets. Even my event sales were the definition of pathetic…

Despite the fact that I was making art and displaying it, few people seemed engaged with what I was doing. Then in 2017, everything magically shifted and more people were finally paying attention to what I was doing.

But how? What changed?

I didn’t suddenly become a more skilled artist. I didn’t start creating art that people were more interested in. What I changed was how I connected with my audience.

There is so much noise in the art world, and I made the mistake of just adding to it. There are thousands of artists all vying for the same attention, and they collectively sound a little like this:

“Look at my art!” “Do you like it?” “Would you buy this?” “Do you think this is good?” “Want to visit my store?” “Support me as an artist!” “Tell me I’m worth it!” “Could I sell this?” “How much do you think this is worth?” “Shop now!” “Come to my art show!” “Vote for my art!” “Like this if you want to see more!” “Enter this giveaway!” “Follow me!” “Which piece is your favorite?”

Now, pretend that you are an outsider or a potential customer and read that again. Does it feel a little overwhelming? It does to me. Which is what finally shifted for me around the time I started to gain traction in the art world. I stopped trying to be one of those many voices demanding attention and started to provide entertainment before asking anything of my audience.

So the 1 big reason your art might not be getting the attention it deserves is this:

You’re asking too much of your audience without giving enough in return.

We don’t realize how much we are asking of our audience at first when we interact with them. Even when you just present your art in person or online, you are asking for something.

“Hey, will you look at my art?” And then it quickly moves to “Will you follow me? Do you want to buy this?” All without us giving something additional in return.

You might be thinking that you’re offering art, and art is valuable. Shouldn’t that be enough? If someone really loves your art, yes that’s enough, but if someone just thinks it’s cool then they are going to need a bit more from you before you start asking for anything beyond “Will you look at my art?” Think of this like a balanced relationship. Give, take, give, take, and repeat.

For every request that you have for your audience, you should have something more to offer. At events, that could be pleasant conversation, a compliment, or a recommendation of art supplies to use. On social media, it could be entertaining process videos, a funny story, a moment of vulnerability that others can connect to, or inspiration.

When you display your art, think of your audience. What can you and your art do for them? Before you push someone to visit your store or follow you on social media, give them more to connect to.

Focus on what you can give, not what you can get.

I’m not saying to physically give things away or anything like that. If you want your art to get more attention, you can do a few simple things to really pull in an audience without begging them for their attention or appearing needy.

1. Entertain your audience with your visual content.

Imagine a busy art event. On your left is an artist yelling “Hey! Come over here and look at my art!” and on your right is an artist enthusiastically painting on a large canvas without saying a word. Which would you gravitate towards? The one screaming for your attention, or the one allowing you to watch their process? The one loudly invading your bubble or the one inviting you into theirs?

Creating entertaining content goes beyond posting a picture of just a piece of art. It’s about creating a story with your photos, or showing your art process unfold. If you create content that is enjoyable in itself like time lapse videos, tutorials, and beautiful photos, you are offering something more than just your art.

Your visual content can make people inspired. It can make them dream of a different life. It can take them out of their lives and make them forget their daily stressors. Even if it’s seen for just 10 to 60 seconds, your content can make a long lasting impression on your audience.

2. Make your audience feel something positive.

Basically, start meaningful conversations. This means that a caption saying something like “18”x24″ acrylic on canvas, DM to purchase” should not be your go-to caption style. Or when people walk over to your event display, don’t start with “all prints are 50% off.” Start with a human connection.

When you are conversing with potential customers in person or writing captions for an Instagram post, think about how you can make a positive impact. Whether this is giving someone encouragement to pursue their own dreams, to create their own art, or asking them how their day is going with a genuine smile.

Add something to your viewer’s life. When you then push for a sale or encourage someone to follow you on Instagram, they won’t feel like you’ve demanded too much.

3. Show your audience that you care about their story too.

Have you ever sat down on a date or with a potential new friend and all they did was talk about themselves and their problems? I’ve experienced this quite a few times, and I find myself less and less interested in asking that person questions or giving them further attention. Why? People who only take drain your emotional battery.

When you are interacting with your audience, ask questions. Give people an opportunity to share their stories. Even if it’s just a question of what art supplies they like, it’s still giving them an opportunity to feel heard. Share your stories, and connect to the similar stories of your audience. Don’t just take.

4. Be confident in what you’re making.

Even if you think your work is garbage, resist the urge to ask your audience for validation. Do you know how often I look at my work and wonder if it sucks or declare that it is crap? Probably not, but that’s because I try not to present those particular insecurities on social media or in person. It would put a burden on my audience. Plus, you eventually get to a point where, crap or gold, you’re still going to keep creating and sharing your work.

Feign confidence until it starts to feel genuine, and reserve your insecurities for those in your inner circle who can offer support. Or just repeat this little pep talk to yourself:

“My work doesn’t suck. I love what I do. Even if other people don’t like it, I know I will find my audience. Good or bad, I’m going to keep creating, because it’s something that brings me joy.”

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What do you think? Is asking too much from your audience a possible reason why your art isn’t getting the attention it deserves?

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you!

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks.

Further Reading: