Life as an artist | How to sell art
There are essentially two parts to life as an artist. The first part is creating great art. The second part is being able to sell it. Here are 10 top tips for selling and promoting paintings.
Exposure is everything
It is impossible to overstate the value of being exhibited in a quality gallery. Customers go to these galleries precisely because they have established a reputation of working with exciting artists. Generally speaking this will be a mixture of well-known names and up-and-coming talent.
Sort out storage
Another advantage of working with a gallery is that they will take care of storing your work, both in the sense of making sure it does not get damaged and in the sense of keeping accurate records of what is kept where and at what price. Artists working independently need to keep track of this themselves.
Think about how to take payment
You have the potential to reach a much wider buying public if you are prepared to take payment online and arrange delivery. Payment methods such as Paypal have their own sets of rules setting out acceptable behaviour from sellers and you will need to be familiar with these.
Pack items well
If you are offering a delivery service then you will need to ensure that your work is fully protected for its journey. This will add weight to the package and require extra time to prepare it, both of which will need to be reflected in the delivery charge. When packing the item, take the opportunity to include some creative marketing material, such as a flyer, a postcard, a business card or a simple thank-you note. These should obviously contain your contact details.
Provide relevant information
Even if buyers can see a painting in a physical location, it can help to provide practical information such as its size and weight. The reason for this is that it will help buyers to judge whether the painting will physically fit into its intended location. If selling over the web, this is essential information.
Photographs are a key tool for web sales
If your talents extend to photography, remember that you’re photographing for clarity rather than artistry. Generally speaking the background and composition should be kept very simple and lighting should be natural. Unless you are confident it may be best to have a professional take care of this aspect of sales.
Provide great customer service
Buyers will be more inclined to buy again (and/or to recommend your work to their friends) if they have a positive buying experience. Professional galleries place great emphasis on recruiting staff who understand the importance of customer service. As an individual seller you need to remember to take care of your customers – or somebody else will.
Tell buyers about you
While you want to interest buyers in specific paintings, ideally you also want to get them interested in your work in general. This means essentially creating your own brand. In addition to a biography section on a website, think about connecting with interested parties through other means such as social media, blogs and physical events.
Keep web content fresh
There are two main reasons why it is important to keep content regularly updated. The first is that it keeps customers interested and engaged. The second is that it is a factor in search engine rankings. Ideally content should be updated at least once a week.
Remember the real world
While the words “web” and “sales” are natural partners, remember there is a whole wide world out there and that word of mouth is still a hugely effective sales tool. If you don’t see any immediate opportunities for networking with possible customers, then ask in likely places (libraries, schools, community centres, business groups). The more you get out there, the more visible you will be.