If you are having a hard time selling your art online, that doesn’t mean your art isn’t good.
Many amazing artists see very little revenue from their craft. It seems unfair that you could be so good at something and spend so much time and energy on it and still not make enough money to support it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Just because you haven’t made money from your art in the past doesn’t mean you can’t. It means you don’t know how to sell art online effectively. Today we are going to talk about the most important thing you need to sell art online and offline, and it’s not what you think it is!
Making Art vs Selling Art
Making art and selling art are two completely different skills. Most artists mistakingly believe that if they just make good art it will sell itself. Here’s the harsh truth:
Nothing ever really “sells itself.”
If you want to sell your art, you must think like any person who wants to sell anything. You have to think like a businessperson.
I’m not talking about the cheesy used-car-salesman that many people picture when they talk about making sales. I’m talking about a person with a legitimate business who wants to bring amazing products – i.e. your art – to interested people who genuinely want to buy them.
To do that, we need to take off the “artist” hat for a moment and put on your “small business” hat. Luckily, both hats work best when you use a little creativity.
Let’s get started!
Thinking Like A Business
In order to sell art online, or anywhere else, you need to think of yourself and your work as a small business. Running your art endeavors as a business has a lot of benefits, including tax deductions.
But the most important part of running your own small business is making a plan for how your business will sustain itself and bring in the money it needs to keep running.
What will you sell? Where will you sell it? How much will you sell it for? Who will you sell it to?
Answering these questions effectively will make the difference between selling your art or not. If you need more direction on planning your art business, check out my post: The 5 Parts of Planning A Creative Business.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, or if you have been answering them haphazardly, with little or no direction, odds are you have not figured out who your Ideal Art Buyer is.
An understanding of your Ideal Art Buyer is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to sell art online.
Without this understanding, you won’t be able to sell your artwork online, or anywhere else, effectively. So, let’s take a moment and talk about who your Ideal Art Buyer is.
What is an “Ideal Art Buyer”?
Go to any business seminar and you will probably hear about about the importance of businesses finding their “Ideal Customer Avatar.”
Business professionals use the term Ideal Customer Avatar to mean the perfect customer that you want to sell your products to.
However, I prefer the term Ideal Art Buyer for those of us whose “product” is our art. There are different things to consider when selling a piece of artwork that you made rather than a random product you wholesaled from a supplier.
Your Ideal Art Buyer, or IAB, is the hypothetical art buyer who is perfect for you and your artwork.
This imaginary person is your biggest fan, and will happily pay full price for everything you produce. Your IAB will tell all of their friends about how wonderful your artwork is, and will recommend you to everyone they meet. They will follow you on all social media channels, watch all your videos, and fawn over everything you do in your art business.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
Your business’s “customer avatar” is the mental and physical representation of your Ideal Art Buyer. This is the person you envision in your mind when you want to sell to your IAB. This avatar encompasses everything that makes up your ideal art buyer.
Here’s the most important thing to remember about finding your Ideal Art Buyer:
Your IAB is a representation of who you want to reach when you make and promote your artwork. You want to make art your IAB loves and go to the places they already hang out in order to promote your work and sell art online.
Knowing the details about your IAB will help you narrow down the type of person who is most likely to be interested in what you are selling and increase the chances they will buy.
Why is it important to narrow down your Ideal Art Buyer instead of selling to “everyone”?
Trying to sell to more people will bring in more sales, right?
I used to think this too, but it’s just not true. Understanding your IAB will make a vast difference in how many sales you actually make.
In the beginning, I thought it was better to keep my options open and try to sell to “everyone.” I didn’t want to close myself off to potential buyers by predetermining what my “ideal” buyer would be like.
Unfortunately, by trying to sell to everyone, I actually ended up spreading myself and my marketing efforts way too thin. I found myself with more frustration than art sales.
Here’s Why You Need an IAB To Sell Art Online:
Even though it’s great to want to sell to multiple demographics and have several types of products, you can’t be everywhere at once. If you are going to spend time and money presenting yourself to the world, you want to start in the most effective places possible.
Ask yourself this question:
Do you want to spend $100 advertising in a place where people are highly likely to understand and connect with your artist brand? Or would you rather spend your money in a place where people will only “kinda” like your work?
Another way to think about selling your art:
Would you rather interact in places where 50% or more of the people you talk to will want to follow and work with you? Or would you rather spend hours trying to force conversations with people who don’t actually care about the art you make?
Would you rather attract people who think like you and love everything you make? Or would you rather resort to sales “tactics” to try to trick people who kinda like your work into buying from you even though they won’t truly appreciate it?
The obvious answer is the right one.
You want to talk to and attract people to your art business who will absolutely love your work and tell all their friends.
Over time, you will probably attract buyers who do not perfectly fit your IAB, but those customers are not the ones you should focus on. They are the exception, not the rule.
That is why it’s so important to take the time to narrow down your IAB. This imaginary person will help you locate the best places to reach the customers who will one day become super fans of your artwork and your brand.
How Do I Find My Ideal Art Buyer?
Every business seminar I have ever been to has discussed finding your ideal customer as if it’s the easiest thing in the world.
I actually had a difficult time finding my IAB when I was starting out because I had sold little of my art and I really didn’t know what kind of person would be most interested in my work.
For a while, I subconsciously decided that this step wasn’t actually important for artists and I skipped it. Now, years later, I wish I had taken this step more seriously and had started on it much sooner.
If you have had a hard time finding art customers in the past, it’s not your fault. Most independent artists have never learned how to find their IAB.
But don’t worry. Once you know the right questions to ask, you can easily find your IAB and sell more art. You can download my FREE Ideal Art Buyer Worksheet PDF here to get started on finding your IAB.
We’re going to go over the process of finding your Ideal Art Buyer together in my next blog post. If you want to be notified when that post is live, make sure you subscribe to the Madly Mused Newsletter.
Even when your work is amazing, it takes more than artistic talent to sell art online.
If you want to make more art sales, you need to think about your work as a business and treat it as such. You need to make a plan for how you will sustain your art business and bring in the money you need to keep creating.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to forget about trying to sell to “everyone.” Instead, narrow down your focus and start marketing your work to your Ideal Art Buyer.
Do you treat your art career as a legitimate business? What are the most important things you do to find success in your art business?