Where’s the PROOF?!
Recently, I decided to explore a platform that has a huge user-base that I want to connect with: Instagram. There is such a huge community of artists and makers using that platform and I finally felt compelled to join in the fray. I even popped for a very intensive course from “The Instagram Expert” aka Sue B. Zimmerman.
So for the past few months, I have been focused on getting my “grid” figured out along with trying to see what it takes to get traction on this very dynamic tool. I have barely scratched the surface. As usual, the marketing puzzle is three dimensional.
However, as I actively explore the ins and outs of Instagram, I have discovered a very discouraging truth: the vast majority of artists I see there are not selling their art.
And since my podcast is called, “Find Loving Homes for Your Art”, I felt it is my duty to yell at you all in this week’s episode.
There are remedies!
I don’t know why it’s so foreign an idea to say (in the bio even!) that your creations are available to buy. And why your hashtags don’t reach out to #designers #artgalleries #artcollectors #homefurnishings #artforwalls and so on (and on and on). And what size is that doggie in the window?
I know you all think you have “good” excuses for being so shy, so feel free to put those in the comments. For those of you who are just plain unsure: get over it. For examples of some smart art marketers, these stand out as artists who are front and center and ready for you to buy from them in a few clicks.
@fionapurdypetportraits (her work is 100% commission so she has no “shopping cart”)
@patriciagriffinceramics (this clever lady has a very different approach to “shopping” cart sales)
Anyway… this podcast is actually a little late in being published because I spent WAY too much time trying to find examples among my own followers who were actually actively selling via Instagram. After over an hour… I gave up!
Listen to this podcast and ask yourself: Is your art for sale?
Hi Mckenna, I’m so happy I got an honorable mention! I listened with interest to this episode as it’s something I think about a lot – why are artists so reticent to offer their work for sale online? From my many conversations with artists and from my own personable experience, I’d say that there are a number of factors at work. The top one, I think, is a fundamental lack of belief that they will be able to sell from their website. They can see that it will take loads of learning and effort with no guarantee of success. New is difficult. Also they don’t like sitting at a computer! Who does?! Maybe they’re able to sell through galleries and fairs and just don’t really want or need it. You have to have a strong desire to achieve a goal that’s going to take time and effort. I find online marketing really interesting and creative but I think I might be in a minority there!
On social media, there are two reasons I can think of for not saying your work is for sale – one is wanting to build relationships rather than push selling. The other is that Facebook penalizes business pages that are aiming to sell off regular posts rather than paid aids. Instagram might be the same. I’ll check next time I’m talking to my social media trainer.
Thanks for your 2 cents – or whatever the UK equivalent is! Yes, I know that it’s a lot of work to get a shopping cart up and running, but it’s a business in the 21st century and that is just what has to happen. And I know you can’t “sell” on FB – as over several years now – but Insta seems to be okay? For the moment? I will post on my FB SoMe group page, too.
That said, I don’t see it in their bios. I don’t see any “suggestions” even. Like: This is just completed and will be added to my website soon. You can add it to your life right now – just DM me for more info. At least that is a statement that points to the concept that one is selling their work, right?
As for wanting to build relationships… Well, I want to build trusting relationships so that when I do have something for sale, like my guidebook, people will give it deeper consideration. But I am sometimes just plain asking for the sale in my podcast, too.
I just want more artists to become thriving creative sources for our planet. So I have to sound the alarm and hope it reaches as many ears as possible.
Hey Mckenna! Thank you so much for including me in the list. I’m honored!
I cannot for the life of me understand why an artist that sells their work wouldn’t list the price of their artwork on their website? Could it be part of the myth that it’s considered “in bad form” to list the price of artwork? I know that if I don’t have an easy quick way of getting the full information on anything on the internet (including price) and then easily purchasing it – then I click right away and go somewhere else.
I would never call or email someone to get full information! And I don’t believe anyone else will either – and I am not willing to take that chance on my website.
That said – I have to fess up that I haven’t been doing that on Instagram. I’ve been lazy about it. In fact I didn’t post on Instagram for the longest time and just recently just started again. After hearing this podcast, I’m going to up the effort and get better at tagging my posts – other wise – why post my work in the first place- Doh! Thanks for the kick in the backside
I agree with everything Rebecca says. It is so much work. But if you want to use the internet & social media to sell your work – it must be done!
The only way around not doing it yourself is to hire someone to do all of this stuff for you. Its something I do for other artists (It’s my side gig) and they all tell me that my tremendous amount of knowledge I have on art marketing & art administrative services is worth every penny. It allows them to do what they love and do best – create their artwork.
As always, thank you so much for all of your insights & knowledge you give us in your podcasts Mckenna!
Thanks for acknowledging my efforts, Fiona. Even though you are all about commissions, you make it clear what you charge. I did notice that you were a little lax on your IG marketing, but we all have our strengths, weaknesses, and occasional blind spots. I sure do!
Bottom line: I don’t think most artists want to do the business side of things. So if they can find someone who will do it for them and can afford the service, then good on them…sort of? I really think they need to be as self-sufficient as possible, so I am always hoping they will at least learn how to add needed changes to their own websites and create an occasional email themselves. It’s not always about not knowing how, but rather just not wanting to do it. Not making it a priority. Not believing it really matters. (I think I see a podcast in the works here! Thanks!)
What I have seen over the past couple of decades is that when anyone is tasked with doing any of their own marketing, they are more connected to their product/service and – most importantly to their target audience. I can’t do the podcast in a vacuum and artists can’t create in a vacuum either. The work I do is connected to my artist’s needs and I discover those needs by paying deep attention each day to clues I find in conversations, website reviews, and emails that show up. (And in these comment sections!)
And we know that marketing can’t be cookie-cutter. There is only so much I can do for my clients while still keeping it authentically their messaging. It’s a fine line. I am sure you know exactly where that line lives! You have natural marketing skills.
However, I am trying to teach those skills so that they become more natural to our community. You know the story: teach them to fish, not just give them a fish to eat. Unless they are making many thousands of dollars each month, most artists need to go out and do some fishing (marketing) for sales every day.
And good on you to do a little fishing here in your comment. Email me and let me know more about your services so I can send you a fish once in a while when I get a little too busy.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with:
“It’s not always about not knowing how, but rather just not wanting to do it. Not making it a priority. Not believing it really matters.”
Many artists do have other priorities for their time. It’s not possible to achieve selling success without being hungry for it. I’m not sure that’s something you can teach…
I totally agree that for art marketing to be really effective it needs to come from the maker. I’ve paid for help a number of times but no one can write my blog posts for me or be my own authentic voice in all my communications through email and social media. People want to connect with the person behind the art, as you’re always telling us!
McKenna & Rebecca – you are both correct of course – any written words needs to come directly from the artist themselves. That is so important – as you both say people want to connect with the artist behind the work. I wasn’t saying that abdicating the entire marketing part of a business to another person is the solution.
However, making the art has to be the priority. I have spent many hours not creating my art because I was doing 100% of my own marketing. And that wasn’t good (even though I loved doing most of it).
What I’m suggesting is that artists don’t need to do all of the admin work themselves. If they can/want/afford to get help with that side of their art business then they should.
But I’m drifting away from the main point of Mckenna’s podcast(sorry). If you want people to know that your work is for sale and isn’t just a hobby – then marketing your art is 100% necessary- however it gets done.👍
Yep! However it gets done!
I would only add: Even if it’s “just a hobby” – art needs to be shared and find loving homes… So even if you don’t “need” the income, your art deserves to bring joy to a collector! 👊
yes… I can lead the horse to water, but they still need to drink. I help artists with the “set-up” of sites, the set-up of their email program/system, and will even help with some of their wording to help create better connections with their artist statements and so forth. But in the end, the more they can “grasp” the principles, the more successful they will be. I remember giving you a review of your website years ago. You took my suggestions, but you ran with your heart and your site is still my go-to as an example of great marketing.
I think many in the art field are just hoping for a sale to just happen rather than finding loving homes (actively) every day. This lack of activism is what is closing so many brick and mortars in the malls. For years they relied on people to just come to the mall. They had no plan in place to stay in touch with their buyers. They had very little competition. Now every phone in every person’s hand is able to instantly compete. If we don’t reach out and stay “front of mind”, we disappear in a matter of weeks.
Yep… I feel a podcast coming! LOL💕
Thanks for the HUGE compliment about my website Mckenna. Wow, it means so very much coming from you! You know you helped me tremendously- and I refer to your Book & the Flashcards frequently! In fact I’ve got 3 art shows coming up in the next 2 months and I’ll be reading them completely again to get my game on!
I did my own little bit of research yesterday – I looked at some of my favourite artist accounts on Instagram – top printmakers and painters with decades of experience. I clicked through from their bio to their website to see how their sales funnel was working. Some mentioned selling in their bio, but every single website had glaring sales problems – I couldn’t believe it! None of them were optimized for mobile. Some said contact the artist to purchase or some other elaborate system that seemed a bit off-putting. Some were directing people to Etsy. Others directed you to their galleries. There was just one (out of about 6 I looked t) that had a straightforward check out.
So you’re absolutely right, Mckenna! Artists are behind the times. I’m so glad I listened to you early on and got my head down with this – I’m getting a steady income from my website shop and many more direct sales when customers check the website then come to visit me. The thing is, a Wix checkout is so so easy to set up – you can even copy over all the regular details.
But I do think I will change the wording in my IG bio to make it more obvious that I want to sell my work!
It’s so frustrating to see exceptional talent fail in marketing. It’s why I continue to offer free website reviews. I really cannot emphasize enough how important that sales funnel is and how important growing (of course, having one, to begin with, is an issue, too!!) one’s email list and maintaining that connection.
There is simply no excuse (hire someone if that what it takes to get a shopping cart going!) to not have instant access to a shopping cart. And don’t get me started on Etsy…Sheesh!
Like I said… you can lead a horse to water…
Let me know when you change your IG bio and I will give you my 2 cents worth of feedback. It’s so important. I am still fiddling with mine. DM me your critic! 🧡💛