Are You Ready For An Online Store?
A majority of art is sold through a variety of online store platforms. You can choose any sales methodology you like. It depends on where and how you best reach your audience. You may have to experiment with several platforms and strategies before landing on the one that works best for you. There are many details and options to consider as well as new opportunities and platforms launching regularly.
Email: Sometimes all you need is a large enough dedicated following. Try sending announcements of new works available to your email lists and provide them a means to buy (either by reply to the email or a payment processing form). Inform your audience about upcoming exhibitions, vendor events, and pop-up galleries.
Social: There are many ways to sell art through social network platforms. The challenging part is keeping up with the platforms’ ever changing features and algorithms. What may work today may not work tomorrow. Staying on top of the trends is important and can make a big difference with acquiring new patrons. For example – Try promoting new artwork for sale on Instagram. Provide a rich description including title, process, size, price, and inspiration. Add instructions for buyers – the first to comment with their email address will be sent a payment processing invoice (PayPal / Venmo). They have 24 hours to purchase the art. First come, first served after that. Update the description if the item is sold.
Web: You may want to consider selling through a web platform, using your own website, or integrating a web platform into your website. The benefit of having an online store sales platform that you manage is that patrons can purchase at any time rather than waiting for an email or post from you. This can often make a difference between an acquisition and someone’s lost interest. Keep in mind, just because your art is up on a website or web platform doesn’t mean that it’s the platform’s job to promote it. Promotion is still up to you utilizing your email and social networks.
Things to plan for in advance
Sometimes with an online store, it is best to jump in and learn as you go. Other times, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. You will rarely know everything you need to in advance because situations change from person to person. Here are a few things to consider:
Photography: A good photo of your work can inspire patrons to purchase. Most mobile devices have above-average photo capability, but stand-alone cameras and photo editing software can make your work stand out. Setting up a dedicated area or having a set process will be helpful.
Pricing: Research can help. Knowing your costs and time associated with creating your work is important. The most important aspect is always valuing your artwork for what it is truly worth.
Description: Each piece of artwork should have a unique and rich description including keywords and hashtags. This takes time to develop. Often, the story behind the artwork is just as important as the artwork itself.
Shipping: Visit your local shipping center (USPS, FedEx, and so on) in advance. Try to determine what materials you should always have on hand and what needs to be purchased on a one-off basis. If you anticipate bulk shipping, explore what discounted pricing is available.
Taxes and bookkeeping: You may want to consider consulting a certified public accountant to help understand what taxes to account for and how to do so. Determine if you need bookkeeping software to help keep track.
Shopify Online Store
Check out Shopify as an online store. It has eCommerce and point-0f-sales features including card-readers for when you are online or on the go. Set up your shop as a standalone or integrate it securely with your website. Ready made templates help your store look like it was designed by a professional. Run social media campaigns. Manage orders, shipping, and payments.
Try Shopify for free, and explore all the tools and services you need to start, run, and grow your business.
Todd Hestand, Founder, Side Arts, is an independent artist and business adviser. For over eight years he has served as the Manager of the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy where he works with thousands of artists, crafters, and performers. His role includes individual consulting, teaching courses, and developing programs for entrepreneurially-minded artists. Click here to learn about consulting services.