Online Sales for Artists and Professional Creators

I recently met an emerging artist.

She hand paints coasters and makes mandala art and has a small presence online.

She is looking to sell her art online but people who are helping her are unsure about where to start. They are confused between Amazon, Etsy, and Crafty, and also considering an e-commerce store of their own.

Such confusion is not unusual. For someone who has not done it before, wants to be sure before they start because they don’t want to waste their time and money. But such thinking can stop you from taking action altogether and halt your progress.

They are two approaches to go about it.

Scenario 1: If you are willing to invest money and resources upfront

In this case, create an e-commerce store from day 1 and run both the store and your presence on your chosen digital platform together. Take this approach if there is someone helping you, and knows what they are doing.

Scenario 2: If you don’t want to invest a lot of money upfront

Then start at a place where you already are or which is easy to start and has been working for other people in your situation. For most people, it will be Instagram.

Don’t think of other platforms at this point. Give 3-6 months to build your community there. You may not see many sales before 10,000 followers mark but don’t wait till that point to start selling. Start selling it once you reach 1000 followers. Do this for every 10th post. This will do 2 things – get you in the habit of selling and make sure that you are not gathering followers who are ‘not’ fine with you selling your stuff online.   

A couple of months into it, open an additional channel for communication on WhatsApp or Telegram. 

While you are building your community on Instagram, test your product and copy. After you are at 10,000 followers mark or doing 1-2 sales a day (whichever is first) create an Etsy store. Don’t kill your Instagram, in fact double down on your efforts there. Use Etsy for additional distribution. Repeat the same approach (3-6 months) to build your sales engine there as you did on Instagram. To leverage your Instagram to get traction on Etsy, do some exclusive launch on Etsy.

By this time (6-12 months after starting), you would have built a sustainable revenue source. This is the time to launch your own e-commerce store. Use Shopify or a similar platform to start it effortlessly.

Keep doing more on Instagram and Etsy. Do exclusive launches on your website and build a community thereby running ads on Facebook and Instagram.

What next?

Partner with other artists and cross-promote each other’s work. Also, get ‘influencers’ to promote your work based on a one-off payment or a referral payment.

Add other digital efforts like email marketing to the mix to make more impact and create bigger success for yourself
Also, check out my post on how to build a career as a professional creator.

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