Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Business Cards Are Not Dead

Most of my blog posts from this point on will deal with how to promote your online marketplace.  The first thing you should do is inform EVERYONE you know that you've decided to sell your art online and how to get to your online storefront.

We’ll discuss all the ways to do this online in future posts, but don’t underestimate the power of informing people in person about your store.  Getting some business cards is a great way to start this process.

Vistaprint offers FREE business cards, and if you want to get a bit fancier than the free products that are available, you still can’t beat their prices.  It’s an easy process to create and order them online and they’re shipped directly to your home.

Make sure to include the website for your online storefront, as well as any other information you want people to know about your business.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Creating Products for Sale & Using Keywords

Once you've selected a venue for creating your online marketplace, the process of uploading your image files and creating your product pages begins.

As you go through this time consuming process, you’ll need to start thinking ahead… about promoting.

While you must create this online storefront before you can promote it, be mindful of keywords as you create each product.

From this point on, you MUST THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER!  For each product you create, think about what keywords you would type into a Google search in order to find it online if YOU were in the market for this item.  Then use those keywords repetitively in the product title, subtitle, description, category listing, and keyword tags.  That’s the first step towards having your products found by potential buyers.

Here’s an example…

I recently created an iPhone case on Zazzle with a skyline photo of Seattle.  If I were searching for this product online, I would type in “Seattle skyline iPhone case” into a Google search.  THESE became my keywords, which I used repetitively in the title, subtitle, description, category, and keyword tags.  Click on the phone to bring up the product page and notice how many times you find those keywords repeated.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Choosing an Online Marketplace

Once all of your files are digitized and organized, it’s time to begin uploading them, but first you have to choose an online marketplace.  Eventually, you’ll want a portfolio of artwork on several different sites, but since building an online marketplace to sell your art is very time consuming, start with one, develop it, then branch out to others.  I have an account on all three of the sites listed below, but the one I've had the most success with is Zazzle.  Granted, I have spent more time promoting my Zazzle store than any other, but that’s only because I feel that Zazzle offers the widest variety of available products on which you can sell your art, while still protecting your original artwork.

You can, of course, create your own site to sell your artwork, but the following online marketplaces allow you to simply upload images, which can then be sold on a variety of products.  These companies do all the production, shipping, and billing, while making the processes of designing and promoting your online store much easier than starting from scratch:

Cafepress.com – Free to sign up, sell your art printed on a large variety of items, site does a decent job of advertising itself to new potential customers, does very little, however, to protect your original artwork from being downloaded.

RedBubble.com – Free to sign up, mainly used to sell high quality prints, posters, and wall art (including canvas) – although recently branched out to iPhone cases, a GREAT online community of international artists, options available for protecting your original artwork from being downloaded, site does NOT advertise itself well.

Zazzle.com – Free to sign up, sell your art on a large variety of items, site advertises all over the internet in order to attract new customers, protects your original artwork by not allowing images to be downloaded AND places watermark over hires views of your images to prevent screenshots being taken.

There are lots of these types of sites on the internet.  If you have had a good (or bad) experience with any of these sites (or any others), please share your story with us by commenting below.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Before You Can Sell You Must Prepare

First things first… If you’re going to sell your art online, you’ll need to digitize your portfolio.  If you’re a digital photographer or graphic design artist, you probably already have a collection of digital images that you can use.  If you’re a painter or sketch artist, however, you’ll need to spend some time scanning or digitally photographing your artwork in order to prepare your files for selling your art online.

HELPFUL HINT:  If you’re taking photographs of a painting or other works of hand-made art with a digital camera, make sure to shoot the image from directly above the center of the piece and with diffused light on all four sides.  This will ensure the image is captured with minimal warping to the perspective and prevent unwanted shadowing or overexposure in the final digital image.

Whether you end up selling your art displayed on objects or as individual prints make sure your images are of the highest quality possible.  This means bright vivid colors, no noise, good composition, and creating high resolution images.

I use, and recommend, Photoshop as a means of editing and preparing digital images, but there are other, less expensive, programs on the market you can use.  A word of advice for people that aren't versed in Photoshop – don’t spend hundreds of dollars on this program if you don’t also intend on investing a fair amount of time learning how to use it.  While the latest versions are fairly user-friendly, it is capable of doing so many things that it takes a great deal of time to learn how to use.  I've been using Photoshop consistently for the past 8 years and still don’t know EVERYTHING about the program.  If you’re willing to make the investment of money AND time, Photoshop is THE BEST program on the market for creating high quality digital images.

If the program you’re using to edit your files allows you to embed keywords into the file as metadata, then you should do that for two very important reasons… 1. It allows you to organize your files, and 2. It helps people scouring the internet for art to find YOURS!  You should keep these keywords simple and include both broad and specific information.  For example if you have a photograph of the Seattle skyline, then you should list as your keywords for that file: architecture, skyline, Seattle.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Welcome & Intro to: Selling Art Online

Greetings and welcome to my latest blog... Selling Art Online!

I started selling artistic prints online in 2007.  Just five years later, I've become a "pro-seller" for one online marketplace by building a strong presence all across the internet, utilizing everything that I've learned these past five years about promoting an online store.  This has resulted in hundreds of online sales to people all over the globe, which has not only generated income, but created an international presence for my art as well.

This site will be used to recommend practices and techniques involved with making money online by selling your art in online marketplaces.  Numerous links will be included throughout this blog to various sites, each offering a helpful tool, templates, or lists of resources for artists wanting to sell their art online and make money.

Topics covered will include HOW & WHERE to sell your art online, the best places to PROMOTE your available products for sale, SEO (search engine optimization) tactics to get traffic to your online store, and tons of FREE resources readily available to artists online.

Of course, there is no way to include EVERYTHING there is to know about selling art online, but that's the beauty of the blog...  I'm depending on you, the readers, to add your comments, questions, suggestions, and own personal experiences to the mix in order to make this blog as comprehensive as possible.

If you're willing to put in the time to create AND promote it, you can have a successful online storefront like the one you see below.