Myths about selling your art online

I understand these myths all too well because I experienced each and every one of these. They were challenging to overcome and understand.

MYTH 1: You need to be thousands of followers on social media to sell your art online

Your success as an artist shouldn’t be in the hands of a social media algorithm.

Social media is one of the biggest barriers preventing artists from pursuing their art as a business. Yet so many artists put 100% of their effort in growing their Instagram or other social media accounts.

Even if you do gain a large amount of followers, only 3-5% of your followers will ever see your new content. Leaving you with the option of “paying to promote” your new posts.

With social media, you’re building your art business on a platform you’re not in control of. They can change the rules on you at any time.

I have been selling my art online since around 2005. Before Instagram and Facebook became a “thing”. I focused mostly on doing interviews and guest posts on online publications related to my art. Which generated more people visiting my website.

On my website I had easy ways for people to sign up for my art newsletter.

Then when I had something to collect, I would share the behind-the-scenes and invite my newsletter subscribers to collect my work in a fun storytelling way. Seriously, that’s all it takes to sell art online.

For the longest time I had less than a thousand subscribers. But I was still able to make enough money to not worry about having a 9-5 job. Selling $75-$100 limited edition prints and original drawings for $250-$7600.

MYTH 2: You need to be in a gallery

With galleries, you have to deal with gatekeepers and their rules. Often times, not allowing you to sell art online even on your own website or anywhere else in the same city, state, or region (depending on the gallery).

On top of their “rules”, you split anywhere from 40-60% of the sales with them.

Putting someone else in charge of your art sales doesn’t make things easier or guarantee more sales.

Today, audiences prefer to buy art directly from the artist. Which is an artisanal experience a gallery can’t offer.

MYTH 3: You can’t make a living out of wanting to sell art online.

While I’d never want to say you can’t, it’s hard to go from 0 to 100 right away. Even for me, it took me a few years to hit that a “livable” mark. You’ll see that I don’t make things fluffy. Yes, it’s super possible to make decent money selling your art online, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen during the first few months or year you start doing it.

It’s definitely a marathon to build your art business, not a sprint.

MYTH 4: If my art is great, my art will sell itself.

If only that were the case. Sadly, it’s not. In order to sell your art online, you’ve got to an audience for your art. This means, newsletter subscribers who like your work.

Selling your art online means making art and doing the marketing work too. Luckily, it’s totally possible to do both. Yes, even if you’re awkward or even if you’re an introvert (I’m both).

Having a great body of work is only the first part of selling your art online. Being able to get people to visit your art website, or even better, have people visit your art website and have them sign up for your art newsletter – which too many artists miss or think they don’t need.

MYTH 5: You have to be famous to sell art online.

Probably the most mind-numbing myth is that you have to be famous to make any sort of substantial art sales online.

You can make substantial art sales online, repeatedly, with a small audience. With the right pricing strategies, a small and focused audience will generate significant income for you.

It’s easy to overcomplicate the process of selling art online. When in reality, selling your art online requires a simple, repeatable process you can setup in no time.

Too many artists say, “I can’t. It’s impossible. I’ll never be able to sell art online,” and become cynical even starting your art business.

Yet the notion that it’s impossible to sell art online couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s never been an easier time to sell your art. I know this from countless stories, thank-you letters, and emails from artists on this newsletter.

I want to put some common myths to rest and show you why they’re wrong:

MYTH 6: Only cheap art sells online.

The truth is, it’s easier to sell art that is affordable (< $100) than it is to sell more expensive originals and prints. This is also true for selling your art anywhere – face to face or in a gallery.

It’s possible to sell higher priced art online, but you have to build-up to it – it’s a process. Luckily it’s a process that can be automated. Here’s how:

When someone purchases an affordable print or original work from you, they’re more likely to purchase a more expensive original from you later. These affordable first purchases are a great way to bring your collectors further into your creative world.

Based on my sales history, I know that 6-10% of the people who purchase an affordable print from me will buy these more expensive options during this automated email sequence.

Most artists think if they want to make a living from their art they have to be selling art everyday that is priced in the thousands.

But when you’re trying to sell your art online you aren’t just trying to sell to fly-by website visitors.

You’re only selling to people who’ve purchased something small from you or raised their hand and said, “Yes, I’m interested in hearing more about you and your art,” and joined your art newsletter.

You’re creating collectors for life.

The easiest way to do this is by focusing on getting interested people to learn more about you and your art on your art newsletter, invite them to grab a low risk first purchase, then automate the way you up-sell with an Evergreen Launch email sequence.

MYTH 7: It takes too much time.

In all honesty, there’s no such thing as setting up a business that requires zero investment of time.

I don’t spend more than 8 – 12 hours a month in front of my computer. This includes, building courses, updating my website, replying to every email, helping students, writing 4 articles a month for artists, managing my blog, sharing my work in targeted groups and communities online, and writing to my art newsletter.

The rest of my time is spent making art, working on illustration commissions, and traveling.

Most of the marketing related work you do for your art can be front loaded and scheduled to go out later.

Knowing what to work on and what NOT to work on. Being specific as heck so you aren’t wasting time second guessing yourself when you finally sit down to work on something.

For example, why would you spend 2 hours a week being active on Facebook when you know 99% of your art sales happen when you send out an art newsletter. Something that should take you less than 30 minutes to put together every week.

But knowing what does and doesn’t work can take weeks and months of experimenting with.

For example, I could lose all of my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter followers tomorrow – and my art business won’t be affected at all. (I’m just on those platforms for fun and to geek out on other artists work.)