As a modern artist, you’re essentially a creative entrepreneur, looking to grow and make sales. This can seem stressful, for sure. But luckily, it’s also pretty fun and super rewarding. So here are 16 fresh selling art online tips worth knowing.
For me, digital marketing is all about using online tools to create and put value-adding, customized content in front of the person – at the right time.
So I hope these tips help you do the same.
Also, a lot of the strategies in this post are synergistic. So mixing and matching is definitely encouraged.
Alright, enough ice-breaking – let’s do this!
1. Customize Your Marketing
Customization is personalization. And it’s one of the biggest shifts that’s happened to marketing.
Effective digital marketing requires strategic targeting, to craft specific offers and messaging for a specific audience.
Put another way: if you try to sell to everyone, you’ll sell to no one.
Selling more art online starts with a deep understanding of your target market and then creating a more customized ad experience based on that understanding.
To understand your market, you’ll need to do audience research. There are various ways to do this.
A simple strategy is to use Facebook Business Manager‘s Audience Insights. This is a free tool and fairly simple to use.
Once on the main homepage:
- Go to the Insights tab
- Click on Audience
- Select Potential audience
- Choose Filter
- Fill in basic information about who you think your audience is, their interests and core demographics
2. Use A Sales Funnel
Another excellent way to sell more art is understanding and using a sales funnel. But what is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a visual representation of the buyer’s (or fan’s) journey.
All journey start at the top (top of the funnel, or TOFU). These people do not know your brand and it is very difficult to make sales.
The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is where people are starting to warm up to your brand. You may make sales here, but most advertising should still focus on adding value.
Finally, we have the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). This is where your fans, existing customers and sales happen.
So when you’re marketing, think about who you’re targeting and which stage of the funnel they’re at. If they’re at the top of middle, then start with a value-adding ad (not a sales ad).
From there, you can then use retargeting ads to drive sales.
3. Use Retargeting
Retargeting ads are incredibly effective – and absolutely necessary if you’re running social media ads.
Basically, retargeting ads mean you’re sending followup advertisements to people who showed interest in a previous ad campaign.
This remarketing is super powerful.
Did you know it can take people up to seven (or more) points of contact before they make a purchase or sign up for something?
This is the power of retargeting and lends itself well to the previous two tips: using a sales funnel and understanding who you’re reaching to create the most appropriate ad.
4. Generate Passive Traffic
Paid advertising is definitely not the only way to make sales. But to take advantage of these organic sales, we should learn the nuts and bolts of passive traffic.
Passive traffic simply means you’re getting website (or online store) visitors without any effort or money.
There is however, upfront work that you need to do first.
This upfront work usually comes in the form of content creation, value-add and consistent engagement online.
Here are some excellent ways to generate free, passive traffic to your website or online store:
5. Use Psychology
It probably comes as no surprise, but there is a lot of psychology involved in selling and buying.
We can take advantage of this by understanding how to use it using a few simple strategies.
Here are three ways to use psychology in your artwork selling:
- Social proofing
- You can include reviews or use website apps that show real-time purchasing of other buyers to site visitors
- Creating urgency
- For example, setting a timeline, or deadline, to purchase a piece
- Offering free shipping
- A classic way to convince people they’re getting a deal or to push them over the buy hump
- Using freebies
- Offering free framing if you “buy now”, for example
6. Be Active In Your Community
This tip ties back to the passive traffic discussion above. But here, I’m really talking about creating trust, authority and connections.
Social media and online communities are incredible places to network and engage with your community.
It’s familiar, low-friction and fosters trust.
This key is to participate authentically and offer genuine responses, comments and answers – not just trying to sell your artwork or promote your brand.
People will naturally be curious and check your profile out. If you do this consistently, you will see results and people will start to notice.
This tip is really inspired by Gary Vee’s no-excuses, grassroots social media strategy.
7. Make Your Art Accessible
Art can be expensive for people. This doesn’t mean you should charge less – you’ve put in a lot of work and deserve top dollar.
So, how can we make our art more accessible, expanding our reach and increasing sales by targeting different price points?
One word: prints.
(well, also repurposing your art…but I discuss that in #8 below)
Your original piece is the most valuable. It’s rare and cannot be replicated.
However, people still buy prints. They’re cheaper but still allow buyers to enjoy the artwork. It’s a much easier sale to make.
8. Repurpose Your Art
working off the tip above, repurposing your artwork is another incredible opportunity.
This not only makes your art more accessible, but it extends your reach and turns one product (or artwork) into unlimited products (and artwork).
The main strategy I’m talking about here is print-on-demand.
Print-on-demand is free, simple and easy to set up.
Basically, you can upload your art onto different products (coffee mugs, t-shirts, towels, shower curtains…anything really) and then sell those products – without having any inventory.
This only thing you need to do is create the art, upload the image onto products you want to sell and bring in traffic to buy it.
9. Heed the Trends
Trends happen quick – some stay, some are transient.
For example, hopping on TikTok trends can be a great way to capture views and grow your audience.
But NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are new, but here to stay. And this is what I want to highlight specifically.
As an artist, you’ve likely heard about NFTs and the massive amount of creators pouring into this trend. Unfortunately, most of these projects are attempts to make quick money and have no real value in the long-term.
However, if you’re intentional and attach real world, authentic value to an NFT, then it’s way more likely maintain value.
Creating an NFT is still a new concept for many, but people are starting to attach really interesting value now.
For example, one-on-one meet and greets, exclusive tickets or content, access to unique physical products, etc.
Also, if you have a good NFT, you can get ongoing royalties each and every time it’s sold to a new owner.
10. Have Great Creatives
This one is obvious, but as an artist, your main product is usually visual in nature. So let’s make sure your pictures and online visuals are great (not just good).
Since you’ll likely be taking photos and videos yourself, having a foundational grasp of photography can do wonders.
Here are some helpful tips for creating great photos and videos:
- Frame your subject
- i.e., your art
- Use composition
- e.g., symmetry, the rule of thirds, leading lines, etc.
- Add interest to the photo with complimentary objects
- Get clear shots (or footage)
- Stage your art so people can imagine it on their wall
- Use a good camera
- most smartphones nowadays are totally fine
- Use natural (or professional) lighting
- Watch some videos and read some blogs for art photography tips
- Get inspiration from other artists you look up to
- Practice, plan and improve
11. Give More Than You Take
This is a recurring theme to creating a great brand and successful marketing.
Giving more than you take basically means add more value and give more content than you try to sell (i.e., take).
People don’t want to follow accounts of people who’s posts are 95% sales pitches.
And people rarely make purchases from a brand they’ve never heard of, after seeing just one ad from them (except for impulse purchases…we’ve all been there…).
So in essence, fostering a strong brand with laudable values and ethos means generating real value for your market and for your audience – not just selling all the time.
12. Be In the Right Places
As an artist, you have a lot of platform options.
We can be on Instagram, Etsy, RedBubble, Amazon and Society6 – all while managing our own website in the background. But we can’t be everywhere…
So how can we choose?
The best way to do this is start with your audience. This comes back to audience research and having a deep understanding for them.
So, where does your audience spend the most time?
For example, art-specific site like Society6 or Etsy usually cater to consumers who are interested in authentic work, unique products and who like supporting artists.
However, Instagram users may not be “plugged in” to the art community nearly as much.
So who is your audience? Are they small business owners who enjoy minimal, simple artwork for their offices and waiting rooms?
Or, are they trend-seeking nomads who like travel and trying new things?
Go where your audience is.
13. Understand User Mindset
This is closely connected to the point above, but each platform will have a different user mindset. And understanding this will really help your selling.
For example, people on Instagram or Facebook are looking to be entertained and to engage with friends, family and influencers. They’re not in a buyer’s mindset.
People using Pinterest are looking for inspiration. They’re in a buyer’s mindset.
And people using Google or Etsy are looking for specific products. Obviously, they’re in a buyer’s mindset.
So understanding this concept can help guide your marketing, messaging, content and offers.
14. Create Great Value
We talked about adding more than you take. But what is value exactly and what is great value?
I’m glad you asked!
So let’s start with what value is. For simplicity, value can be something that’s:
OK awesome. So what is great value?
Great value, in my humblest of opinions, is any value that’s truly authentic and has no ulterior motive (like selling).
Great value is solving a real problem, providing a quick win and not requiring anything in return.
(although, sometimes it’s OK to ask gently)
Value-adding content ideas as an artist could be:
- How to pick artwork for your (office, dentistry, retail shop, yoga studio, etc.)
- How to hang artwork like a designer
- X gift ideas for your trend-loving daughter/son
- X before/afters that really prove how the right artwork/design can totally transform your home
- Behind the scenes/sped-up videos of you creating art
- User-generated photos of happy customers
- Tutorials on how to paint like your style
Differentiation is the oxygen to a great business. One great way to differentiate is through brand and identity.
Building brand can be a bit illusive, or intangible.
But once you establish it, it’s incredibly difficult to take down – and nearly impossible to copy (because who else beside you can be, well, you?).
Brand is everything from your color choices, your art style, your messaging and your purpose, or story.
If you’re not sure what your brand is yet, you can use Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory.
Here are three simple questions to help guide you to finding your brand identity and value proposition:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why do you do it?
16. Foster Brand (Relentlessly)
Once you establish your brand, value proposition and purpose, you’ll want to focus on this hard.
Fans like brand.
They can feel like they’re part of your inner circle when buying your artwork.
They can actively participating in your vision of shared values, and your art is their badge of honor.
I know, it sounds a bit deep – or cult-y…
But really what I’m saying here is, don’t just focus on selling. Creating a community and a brand no the back of great value will do way more for your bottom line than a few clever ads.
It’s a marathon, not a short sprint.
This post has covered some of my top, absolute favorite tips for selling more artwork.
Online marketing and making sales consistently isn’t always a clear path. But understanding these strategies will definitely help you get their quicker.
So thanks so much for stopping by today, I hope you found the information here valuable!
Let me know in the comments, what’s been the biggest hurdle for you when trying to sell your artwork?