Being an independent artist was never and will never be an easy thing to do, as handling your art business in marketing, sales, supplies, and financing, on top of your daily studio work, can turn out to be more than a chore. This article will provide you with the basic ideas you’ll be able to use to move from doing art as a hobby to making money from it as a professional artist.
To profit from your art, you first need to better understand your art, obviously not in the sense of each piece’s meaning but in the form of understanding and describing the answers to a few simple questions. Those questions are:
- Is your art medium digital, traditional, or does it fall under a different category?
- Are you able to ship your art through the mail?
- What genre is your art?
- What is your art style?
Digital art is art created on or with the help of a computer and usually stored on such a device, while traditional art tends to be physical without the need to be displayed digitally or printed to be shown. Examples of easily sellable general form of digital art would be logo designs and branded images of people and objects.
Artwork can be commissioned and created specifically for a client through a deal with a set price. Opening commissions and taking on work from your art fans and followers could be a great way to kick off your career.
After finding the answer to those basic questions, you are ready and capable to find your:
Mal Pancoast quote says: “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically if you aim for it.” Although somewhat dumbfounding and cynical, this line makes a lot of sense. In selling art, our arrow would be the piece we intend to sell, and the target would be an art buyer. Therefore, to know your buyer is to know the goal.
Finding a broader target audience is crucial in order to achieve better sales and a much better marketing platform, but the question here is: who is your real target audience? To answer this question, you simply need to look at who enjoys your art the most. There are a few statistics that come into play, but none too difficult to understand.
For starters: is your art enjoyed more by older generations or a younger audience? Starting at that point, you could drastically narrow the search, although some art types and genres are enjoyed by all ages, which is an advantage, as it means you have a wider audience.
Secondly, you’d want to see if there are specific circles of people who enjoy your work more. If you notice many people of a specific hobby group or maybe people of a particular musical taste taking an interest in your work, that could help you better orient your art sales.
Does your audience enjoy fine art, digital art, 3-dimensional art, or some other kind of art, such as prints or photography? You can find that out by simply testing different pieces on your market. If you put up five digital works and they all sell quickly, while a dozen of traditional paintings you made are waiting to be sold for a couple of months, you are targeting the wrong audience and need to find a way to lure the art lovers who will enjoy the specific art you make.
In short, you want to realize who would buy your art and why because knowing this allows you to work on those aspects of your artwork. Knowing this will enable you to promote that art on more accurate platforms and towards the right audience group.
After finding your art buyers, you can start selling your work, and this is where some new factors come into play. For instance, if you make traditional art, your best chance of making a sale would be through an art show or art fair where you could sell prints and original artwork; while if you’re creating digital works, then a digital art gallery and online marketplace might be your best shot at making some sales.
Traditional art lovers gather at places like regional and international art fairs and browse art galleries to view and purchase pieces they enjoy. Some would be pleased to buy art prints, while others would prefer to purchase the paintings or sculptures themselves. In these situations, to make sure the price is right, you need to know your audience better.
If you know a higher class of art connoisseurs enjoys your art, then the original art piece’s pricing could be placed much higher than the print editions. Creating this gap, you could make your art available to everyone but still unique enough to be sold at a great value. To put it simply, while you can buy a print of the Picasso for a large amount of money, buying the painting itself would be next to impossible. Depending on your art type, you might not choose to display it at art shows but at local art fairs or similar types of exhibition events with relatively little cost involved.
In digital art, the sales style and marketing changes a bit, as you can use many platforms to promote your art skills. Apart from using affiliate marketing, you could earn money by selling digital images and other digital products via online stores.
A great way to promote your art would be through social and media platforms using ads and videos. Making a Facebook or Instagram account to post your art and run ads could help reach a much wider audience. Another great way would be filming the art process and then later uploading it to Youtube, promoting your work and art skills. Additionally, using Skillshare to sharpen your skills could always better apply them to your art and art-making.
Creating your own website to promote your art could be a more complex way of building an art business. Still, it’s a great way to sell digital and physical copies of your work to art lovers everywhere and even earn a little on the side through affiliate marketing. You might be asking what affiliate marketing is. The answer is quite simple. Do you recall the last time you saw one of those ads for a mobile game or some shopping website on the side of a webpage you were, let’s say, reading the news on? That is what we call affiliate marketing; upon clicking on an ad and purchasing a product, a part of the money would go to the person who ran the ad on their site or page.
Running ads on Facebook and Instagram is similar, but there are a few ways to do it. You could create a third-party shop where you let the shop service provider handle transactions and such, or you could sell your art directly from your page or website. Choosing a medium for promoting your art is done by using the knowledge you have about your fanbase and cross-referencing it with general knowledge about the websites at your disposal. As an example, Instagram is often used by younger generations, while older people tend to use Facebook more often. A secure way to promote would be by running Google ads as they are targeted more specifically towards certain community members and could hit your target audience with better precision.
An online shop is an excellent way for making online art sales as you can set it up on a well-known platform that is simple to use and offers client support. Many art buyers enjoy getting their art on online shopping platforms as they are familiar territory.
Creating an online shop can be free — depending on which platform you choose. While some fees are introduced later on, they are there for the website to keep displaying your work and fees may be charged based on your sales. These fees may include:
- Listing – the listing fee is paid to list your artwork in the shop.
- Transaction – the transaction fee occurs once a sale is made, and its amount depends on the platform.
- Payment processing – this fee is collected if payment processing is enabled on certain platforms (which means users can make payments by credit card, debit card, Google Pay, or other payment apps).
If you want to promote your work globally and see if you can learn more about how you can make money with your art online, signing up for free digital archive platforms with an active community of artists, such as ARTDEX, is a good step forward to get your art online.