Art Selling Reminders


Quick reminders on running an art business…

practical tips to sell more art, selling art, artist advice, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media, Art selling reminders,
Practical tips to sell more art...

Every week I write a brand new article to support members of our four wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, The Artists Lounge, and The Artist Hangout. This week we look back over the past couple of years and reflect on what we have learned about running an art business. If we are selling our work, we have to be ready and primed to spring into action, especially as the busiest time for sales is right around the corner!

My Weekend...

As I have been doing so often recently, this week I have replaced pointless memes that offer words of inspiration that even Tony Robbins wouldn't say, and have replaced them with images of my latest works. Yes, shameless self-promotion is sometimes needed as sales of my work on Fine Art America and Pixels are how I pay for everything needed to carry on bringing you free practical advice, hints and tips, insights into hopefully not making mistakes in your own art business, and random musings from my chaotic mind. They help me to remain independent and occasionally there is enough left over to buy a coffee. You can find my work available to order in more than 150 retail stores across the US and Canada, and you can order online right here

In other news, I finally got to take a few days off from working and went to the Lake District. It didn’t matter that it was chillier than that time I sailed on a ship through the Arctic Circle, nor did it matter that I got stuck in a crazy traffic jam for four hours on the way there. I was finally able to switch off the work phone, relax in front of a log fire, and I was able to completely switch off from everything. 

At least, that was until I discovered that the hotel had really good Wi-Fi, so I did what any artist would do, I squeezed in a few minutes of checking Facebook notifications and emails in the hope of seeing that one with the subject title, new order! I eventually found one and yes, I did the obligatory happy dance in the middle of the hotel foyer. Who cares that my commission totalled a grand twenty-bucks, that was more than enough to buy a coffee from the motorway service area, a place renowned for charging three times the price of anywhere else. I had a brilliant weekend and can’t wait to do it again. 

What made it really special was that last weekend was the first time in twenty years that I and my wife had been away on our own, without offspring, in-laws, or dogs. Not that I usually mind going away en-masse, but it turns out that getting some real rest and recuperation is definitely possible even in this day and age and we even took a cruise on Lake Windermere, beautiful scenery and wow, I don't think I have ever been that cold, I had to buy a woolly hat and a new pair of gloves because I had left both hat and gloves behind at the hotel! I'm fifty, I feel the cold and have long since given up on being trendy. Comfort is the future.

lake windermere, bowness, lake district, Mark Taylor, Beechhouse Media,
Cruise to Ambleside from Bowness on Windermere...

Super-Easy…

This week there is no deep-dive and instead, I will be consolidating a heap of articles into a handy guide that you can refer to whenever you need to find inspiration, learn something new from what I have gotten wrong or right over the years, and generally prepare yourselves for what is technically known in the trade as a frantic selling season! Think of this article as a series of reminders with the option to go back and take a deep-dive if you want to brush up (no pun intended) on your skills to conduct the art of business.

This is the season when they tell me that it is super-easy to sell anything. If you are anything like I was when I first started out then you will want to stock up on this magical thing called anything that everyone says so many people want. Yes, people might be in a buying mood a little more than they were when they were outside in the summer heat grilling on the BBQ, but that doesn’t mean it is ever super-easy to sell anything. We are artists, we know from experience that this is one tough gig no matter what time of the year it is, and keeping abreast of everything you need to know is often one of the most challenging things we have to do.

Be Prepared…

So to start off, I wrote an article all about Q4, which you can find right here, which goes through the preparations for a successful quarter-four season. For those who don’t have that much time, here’s a list of the top reminders.

  • Build your web presence with a website, a blog, or generally tidy up any websites that you already have. If you are on print on demand, make sure your work is categorized in folders and update the keyword tags to something more relevant for now.
  • Build relationships on social media, engage with people through online and offline conversation and follow the group rules of any group you are in. The last thing you want in Q4 is to see your web presence taken away!
  • Link your sites to analytics platforms, take a look through my article on finding your people and your tribe right here, and focus on the right numbers which you can read about in another article right here
  • Send out greetings cards to your collectors or get in touch to wish them a season of peace and goodwill, letting them know you are there and that you care. Reach out on social media to your buyers if you don’t have their contact details.
Adrift at High Tide by Mark Taylor, Fine Art America, Pixels, wall art, landscape Art,
Adrift At High Tide by Mark Taylor

Update everything!

Did you ever notice how much work being an artist involves? It’s a constant battle of finding the time to create and finding enough time to market and perform that art of business. But one of the most important things that you constantly have to do is to make sure that what you are offering appears as relevant not only to those who might buy from you but to the search engines too so that those buyers can find you.

I wrote an article all about titling your art which you can read right here, and we explored why it was so important to put careful thought into how you title your works. The title of artwork not only speaks to the viewer, but it can also speak to search engines. Again, for those who are time-poor, here are a few of the most poignant tips.

  • Allow yourself plenty of time to come up with titles so that they resonate with buyers and provide the search engines with some context around what the work includes.
  • Use SEO tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to help you with titles so that your works have a better chance of appearing in the first few pages of search results.
  • If you really are stuck for a title, there is also a handy list of title ideas that I have written in notebooks over the years!
  • Update descriptions of your artwork, refine them and update any metadata tags so that they are more relevant than they were when you first made the work available.
  • If you have a blog or website, does it still look the same as it did last week? If you no longer update the site the first impression people will get is that you have given up and moved on. Update everything you can so that people know you are there!
  • Make sure your contact details have been updated, and pay careful attention to website links. If you have migrated from HTTP to HTTPS, update the web links to reflect that your site is now more secure. People look for the padlock so make sure that your sites are running https and it will also help with your search ranking too.

Check out my article on updating or building your portfolio website right here

Review your strategies…

Having a strategy for social media is key if you intend on using social as a means to market your work and to communicate with your audience. Forget things like filler posts, you know, the ones when you don’t have anything to say but feel you need to say something anyway, you have to make every post count. You also have to be familiar with all of the tools that social media provides so that you can leverage them to your advantage.

Back in the summer, I wrote one of my regular articles about Facebook updates which you can read right here, and which goes into some detail around the changes to things like the algorithm. Whilst there will have been many algorithm updates since the summer (yes, I know it was only like five minutes ago…) what I have written will still be relevant, perhaps even more so. Mostly algorithms set new baselines, so the steps outlined will be the bare minimum by now. For more up to date information, check out Facebook’s official press website, Newsroom, which you can find right here

You might also want to make sure that:

  • You have a posting strategy that focusses on key dates such as last order days for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery and any special seasonal offers.
  • You might want to think about having an all-inclusive posting strategy that doesn’t alienate those who celebrate other festivities and events.
  • Raise awareness of any holiday-themed work you have created in the past, so many artists forget to re-promote that Christmas greeting card they produced a few years ago!
  • Give a seasonal theme to your social posts.
  • Q4 is always a great time to engage with your audience on another level. Share practical tips, gift ideas, and things like recipes to help build engagement and to make sure that not everything you post is of the marketing variety!
  • Check out another article I wrote that covered the creation of Facebook content and which included having a social strategy, video, and sassing it up! You can read the article right here
  • I also wrote another article about getting the most out of Facebook back in March 2019, and which you can read right here
Time for a brief interlude here! The artwork below was inspired by a view I noticed as I followed my sat-nav which seemed to be having a brief moment. It took us up a narrow road that was so far off the beaten track and as I glanced over I was struck by the intensity of the sunset across distant mountains. Glow Over a Dry Stone Wall is definitely my favourite work of the last few years. It reflects a brief moment, a glance to the left, and reminded me just how much we miss by staying only on the most travelled paths. 

glow over a dry stone wall, Mark Taylor, landscape artist, lake district art,
Glow Over A Dry Stone Wall by Mark Taylor

Protect yourself…

Social media can at times be draining and when you add in the other challenges that we artists regularly have to deal with, sometimes it is really easy to burn the candle at both ends and burn out. Back in May 2018, I wrote one of my regular articles on avoiding creative block which you can read right here,  and if you want to find some inspiration, take a look at my article, The Art of You, which you can find right here

There is no specific time when we need protecting more or less, but we also need to protect our business interests too. Your work is the key to your business and making sure it remains as safe as possible online is certainly something you need to consider. Take a look at the article I wrote about protecting your images online, right here

For those who want to get over any creative block ahead of Q4 and every other season that will come thereafter, but who don’t have the time or the inspiration to read a full-on article, here are the key points!

  • Recognise when things are not going the way you planned and remember you don’t have to change the goals, just the route you take to get there.
  • Build up engagement both online and offline and converse with people rather than always pushing for the hard sell.
  • Take time out when you need to take time out. A burned-out candle can no longer glow!
  • Plan time more effectively and get rid of the things that have been sitting on your to-do list forever. If you haven’t actioned those things in the past three years that demonstrates that there is no rush.
  • Do something that isn’t art. Having other interests will broaden your outlook and the time away will be filled with new experiences that will provide you with inspiration. For me, it is family, retro-gaming, ufology, aviation, and my dogs! 

Practical things that can make a difference…

There is always something that you can do that will make life less onerous. Things like ensuring that you are creating your art on canvas sizes that people want to buy, or that will fit into the frames that people already have, these are things that can make or break a sale. You can check out my article on the art of sizing art, right here

You can also perform a function that becomes more about being an advisor to your customers rather than a salesperson and you can then establish your authority in you and your art by giving helpful, trustworthy advice that demonstrates that you are not just out to nickel and dime every client.

If you work in print on demand, being able to answer questions around the right types of support that your work will be printed on can be hugely beneficial to clients. You might know that particular work will look better on paper than canvas, or it might look better on a completely alternative medium like acrylic, woodblock, or metal. Let your customers know that you know what you are talking about, and remember that this is also an angle that will provide a way into the up-sell when it comes to things like framing.

You can read my article on things that artists and buyers need to know about prints right here, so that you can confidently sell your customers exactly what they will need and will make sure they remember you the next time they are in the market for a piece of art.
If you don’t have enough time to learn the art of prints, here are a few quick pointers!

  • Be able to explain how your open editions differ to your limited editions, not that one is more expensive than the other, but also things like scarcity, and how many open edition prints have been sold through Print on Demand. Many artists have works that have been posted on POD sites that have either sold only very few prints or haven’t sold at all, not because the work is poor but because they just haven’t been seen by the right people. If your buyer wants something that few people already have, highlight where they might be the only owner of that work to date.
  • Explain the printing process used by your print on demand supplier, make clients aware of any guarantees, and give them the reassurance that the work produced by print on demand sites is great quality and will last for generations if properly cared for.
  • Give them tips on keeping their artwork in pristine condition, not in direct sunlight, no chemical-based cleaners on the artwork or anything else that could destroy it, and give them advice on choosing the right frame and mat options.
  • It can be bewildering for the uninitiated to work out the difference between Somerset Rag and Archival paper, so check your POD sites own details of the mediums and processes they use and then break them down to include in a series of social posts or on your website.  You can see how I do that right here, and it is one of my most visited webpages for this site!
Adrift at eventide by Mark Taylor, landscape artist, seascape artist, sunset art,
Adrift at Eventide by Mark Taylor

Go where the people are…

It makes sense that you should be going where your people are to find them, yet often, we carry on with an online strategy that misses out on a huge piece of the art market. Back in February 2018, I wrote an article exploring alternative art venues that we should definitely be considering, especially if building a local customer base is important to you. You can read the article right here, and it is even more important to get your work seen at this time of the year!

For those who still don’t have a spare five-minutes, here are a few pointers to consider from a range of my previous articles!

  • There is nothing written in a tablet of stone that says that you can only ever sell your work in a gallery. It really isn’t about what is more accepted by a small percentage of art market movers and shakers, it is about what is acceptable to you that allows you to not only survive as an artist but to thrive.
  • Go exactly where your tribe is! If you sell pet-portraits then turn up at pet and animal events, book a stand, take business cards, have conversations. It doesn’t have to be about pets either, if you have a niche, go to the places where fans of that niche will be hanging out.
  • Visit independent coffee shops and restaurants and see if they would be interested in giving your art some wall space. Most will only be all too happy to get some of your work on their walls and you can either give the café or coffee shop a small commission on every work sold or you can come to another arrangement where your work is constantly rotated which keeps their walls filled with new art. Get any agreements in writing though and make sure they are insured! Any local businesses are fair game to approach!
  • Join local groups that cover your niche, maybe give practical demonstrations or just offer to talk about art and what inspires you to create it.
  • Anywhere there are people is a place to hang your art. Local museums will often run arts events which you could be a part of, and there are other spaces such as waiting rooms that can feel drab without a smattering of art on the walls. Hospitals, dentists, doctors surgeries, and in some cases you might be able to help fund new equipment or services as part of the small commissions they might usually charge.
  • Get press! If you are supporting charities or events, get the press involved! Write up a press release and send it to local newspapers, radio and tv stations and let them know what you are involved with. If there are any slow news days, editors might be more likely to give you some exposure.

Prepped and Primed…

Hopefully there are a few useful insights into making sure you are prepared for the season ahead and the seasons ahead of the next one too. Running any business can be challenging but running an art business is perhaps one of the single-most challenging businesses you can ever run. I have said it many times before, independent artists would make fantastic CEOs, not just because they think creatively, but because they really do have to be experienced in running every aspect of a business and a business where the stock is always so subjective.

If you are serious about turning your art practice into a thriving business, there is no doubt that there is a heap of hard work that needs to be done and you have to be able to keep on doing it. If instead you only want passive sales, then the workload can be just as much. If people forget that you create art or they don’t know you are there, the world will have moved on in the days, months or years that you haven’t been keeping things up to date. Even passive incomes from art sales require active work.

Learning about the business of the art business is definitely up there with learning how to tie your shoelaces if you seriously want to see any income. Thankfully there are heaps of resources not just on this website but all across the internet and there are people that will be more than willing to help you too.

Regular readers will know that I am not a huge fan of getting people to sign up to email campaigns to then be given stock answers that could be gleaned from elsewhere for free, but there are sometimes some exceptions. If you sign up to anything, make sure that who you are signing up with has experience of the art world. For the most part, learning everyday business basics is fine and dandy, but the art world has some very peculiar nuances that can only ever be explained by someone who has some experience within the art world. I have worked and been involved with all sorts of businesses over the years and I can categorically say, none of them is quite like the art world!

There are no better experts than the millions of artists who do this stuff every single day. In my experience, most artists are always keen to help other artists with advice on what does and doesn’t work for them and I am a huge fan of never reinventing the wheel. Artists are not in competition with other artists unless the two are exactly copying each other and working in the exact same market, in the exact same area, at the exact same time. Social media is a great way to forge useful relationships and share experiences, but you do have to work at this too and above all, you never have to be afraid to ask!

Adrift on still waters, landscape art by Mark Taylor, beechhouse Media, landscape paintings,
Adrift on Still Waters by Mark Taylor. This is the first piece in my Adrift Collection

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com   

Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes towards the ongoing costs of running and developing this website. You can also view my portfolio website at https://beechhousemedia.com

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at https://pinterest.com/beechhousemedia

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so right here. This site is funded by me as an individual and I am deeply proud of being able to provide unbiased advice, tips and reviews. So any contributions will ensure that I can continue doing that without the need to hide behind a paywall or asking people to sign up for things they don't really need!

Comments

  1. MA Taylor, Glad to be reminded, thank you! Good to hear that you've switched off for a moment!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jane and come this evening, I will be switching off again. Okay, I will be switching off for a couple of hours! Hope you have had an epic week and absolutely loving your new works! xx

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    2. Thanks Mark, it has been great besides struggling for some creative time. Have a great weekend yourself! xx

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    3. Not sure where the time went this week at all Jane! I started a couple of works but mostly been on a world tour of England this week! Here’s hoping you get some creative time back next week and look after yourself too! Xx

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    4. A world tour of England? How did you get so lucky ha...lol
      Will certainly get a few days off next week, being creative is on the cards. xx

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    5. I really am lucky! I traveled over a thousand miles last week, hopefully this week will be quieter! Hoping you get some creative time too, and I just finished next week's article, all about time! Have an epic week!

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