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.
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! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine!
P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.