Have you been thinking about starting to sell your paintings…

But you’re just not sure what your first step is? How to get started?

We’re going to dive into that in today’s episode of the ART / WORK Sessions, Podcast. I’ll share the 4 main options for getting started and go deeper with which one is more effective right now.

Mary and paintings

Mary and her paintings.

Have you been thinking about starting to sell your paintings, but you’re just not sure how to take that first baby step towards that goal? We’re going to dive into that in today’s episode of the ART / WORK Sessions Podcasts. I’m Mary Gilkerson and I help artists take their art making, marketing, and online art sales to the next level.

Each month I host two live calls where we get together with artists from around the world to collaborate, mastermind, and network around the challenges that we face as artists. Each week I bring one question from those calls here as a podcast episode. You’ll get concrete ideas, tips, and strategies that you can put into place today.

Now let’s dive in.

We’re going to go to Sujata from Henderson, Nevada. If you would unmute yourself, you can ask your question for us.

Sujata: I did attend one of your webinars and I had a business Facebook page, but I want to start selling. I’ve been just posting a few pictures there, but I want to start selling. I don’t have any idea as to how to sell. And is that the right platform or somewhere else? Should I start selling on like eBay or things like that?

Mary: Good question. So as we look at how to get started in selling your work and selling your paintings, there are really four different options that you’ve got. And I want to go through all four before we really concentrate on one.

The first is through the relatively traditional venue of galleries. Most of us are familiar with the idea of working with galleries. The big problem with working with galleries now, and I am pro gallery and I work with galleries, but the main challenge with that in 2021 is that we have lost a number of galleries over the last year and a half because of the shutdowns. And as a result, sales and physical retail spaces like galleries have dropped 20%. So that, that becomes a more difficult venue to get into at the moment.

Second option is through outdoor fairs and shows. They’ve got the same issues that galleries have right now. Most of them were shut down during the last 18 months and are slowly coming back. Some are open, but it’s still a very chancey proposition as some open, some close. And as the situation is really fluid right now, sales at outdoor events had been on the decline before this all started happening. So it’s been slowly going down over the last 10 years. It’s not as viable an option anymore.

The third option is through alternative spaces like selling through cafes and through restaurants, places that are alternatives to the traditional gallery outlets. There’s some advantages to that. Some of the disadvantages are that you’re limited to a very, very local market. And as a result of being alternative spaces, a lot of times the prices that you can charge are very, very low.

The fourth option, the one that we’re going to concentrate on is selling online. Online art sales, unlike sales at physical retail spaces, have been going up over the last 18 months. In fact, they’ve gone up something like 25%. So it is the option that I recommend as the place for most people to get started.

Now, in fact, I want to urge everyone to get started there now because that’s a growing market and allows you to have direct contact and direct relationship building with your potential ideal collectors.

So Ebay, it was a good place to sell, 10, 15 years ago. The daily painting movement started with Duane Keiser and he sold his small paintings on eBay, but it’s full of junk right now. I don’t advise that people try eBay and I really don’t think the big sort of market platforms like Etsy are the main place to start either. You want to start with your social media first, then your email list and your website, but you can start selling on social media before you get all those other things in place.

In fact, that’s what we did during the June Attract Your Ideal Collector Challenge. And we’re going to be doing that again in September. So if you missed the challenge back in June, be sure to check that out in September. One of the last prompts in that challenge includes the script that you use to invite collectors to purchase.

And you still want to follow that same format that I was talking about earlier in this ART / WORK Session. You want to give content and then ask for the sale. You don’t want to say it’s available in every single post because that gets a bit spammy.

So you want to attract your ideal collectors, number one, and social media is the place to do that. It could be either Facebook or Instagram. Ask yourself, which platform do you feel most comfortable on?

Sujata: Right now Facebook because I did open an Instagram account, but I haven’t really used it and I don’t really know how to post there or how to work around it right now.

Mary: Yeah, I would get started on your Facebook business page then. What you want to do is post regularly, respond, and build relationships with the people who comment.

And then be sure to sign up for the challenge in September, but before then you can start going through that same process of telling the story of your paintings and then sharing an invitation to purchase on every fourth or fifth post.

Sujata: Okay. Just one quick follow up on that one. Right now I have been posting on my Facebook business page, not that regularly, and then I have been sharing that post in my personal Facebook page. So I’ve been getting some hits, some likes and hearts, but the comments I’m getting are just from the friends especially on my personal page and then getting stood up on my business page. So how would I have them comment on my business page not on my personal page?

Mary: First I would post a whole lot more often. You’re not going to really get any traction on Facebook until you post every day. What governs the reach on any of those platforms is the algorithm. And people get all mad at the algorithm and talk about how the social media platforms are only going to show your work if you pay to play and if you have ads. That’s not entirely true. What the algorithm wants is good content. And right now all of them need good content even more than they did before because of the iOS 14 updates. They’re hurting for good content right now and all of us artists have good content.

So if you post every day, fairly early in the day, your normal time, like 9am your time, and post around that same time every day, your reach is going to begin to build because you’re feeding the algorithm. If you skip one day here or there, it’s not going to be a big problem, but if you’re only posting every couple of weeks, the algorithm is forgetting you in between. So your reach is going to stay pretty slim.

One of the great things that you’re doing, and it’s what I tell my students to do, teach in The Painter’s Path as well, and then the membership, is to make sure you share your posts from your business page to your personal profile. It’s great that you’re doing that. It’s a step that a lot of people know. It’s a way to leave a breadcrumb trail for your current friends on your personal profile to come over to your business page. One of the ways to try to get them to comment, and it’s a little counterintuitive, but don’t add any extra caption to it. Just share the posts, the full post, to your personal profile, because they’ll click the photo more quickly when you do that. And when they click the photo, it’ll take them to your business page. They’ll read it on your page. Test it out and see if you just leave that off and just share the whole post if you don’t get more of them going over.

Sujata: Yeah. Got it. Thank you so much.

Mary: You’re welcome. 

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