Posts

Sell Your Art Online

7 Different Ways To Sell Your Art Online

You may also like We Need Your Opinion – Enterprising Artist’s Survey What is your crucial secret weapon for selling art? : Lessons from “The Apprentice” Are you making these 6 art sales killing mistakes on your artists website?

You may also like

Get Your Art In Front of Right Audience

Artists! 5 essential goals for art success in 2020 : A backside kicking list.

What can you do in 2011 to improve your career as an artist? 5 ESSENTIAL to-do’s that will push you art career forward. Start the New Year the way you mean to go on…

You may also like

Selling Your Art Is Your Duty! – A Passionate Plea From The Heart…

A few weeks back I received an intriguing email from Martin Stellar. He had a particular {and traumatic} life experience to draw on which had taught him a very important lesson about art marketing. I will leave him to share this vitally important lesson with you in this guest post. Thanks Martin…

If you signed up to Helen’s ebook series (which you totally should), you’ll have read about the elephant in the room: That strange aversion to selling that so many artisans and creatives live with.

I agree with Helen’s teaching: She says that we needn’t feel anything negative when it comes to selling or marketing our art, but I want to make an even stronger point:

As an artist, it’s not enough to just accept sales, selling and marketing as a necessary part of the artist’s life.

You need to understand that selling your art is your moral and ethical duty.

Yep, I really said that.

And I have a good reason for it too:

As an artist, you owe it to the world to get mighty comfortable with marketing and selling, and to get at least moderately good at it.

Because you make a difference. You make the world a more beautiful place.

Your work, your daily toil and your innermost creativity: all of that conspires to bring more beauty to the world, one print; one canvass or one photo at a time.

If you’re an artist, you believe in the art you create (no matter how deep down that may be, hidden by a public mask of insecurity).

If you didn’t believe in your art, you wouldn’t live how you live and make what you make.

And if you believe in your art, you owe it to the world to sell as much of it as you possibly can.

Sidenote: My editor tells me I should talk about sharing your art, instead of selling – she makes a good point, but I believe selling is the single best way to share your art.

Anyway: If your art can improve a house, a room, a face or a street… bring something beautiful or meaningful into the world… Then OF COURSE you should sell it. Tons of it, if you can.

All this is of course a generously grandiloquent way to look at things.

After all, we don’t all create deeply inspired one-off pieces

I can understand that if your business is, say, selling printed t-shirts of your own design, you might not feel that you contribute as much as someone who creates unique life-size sculptures.

But think again.

Your t-shirts also add to the total.

People buy them because it gives them pleasure, they enjoy owning and wearing them, they like to be seen wearing them and so on.

I’d say that with each t-shirt sold, you just added a bit of happiness or enjoyment to someone’s life. Right? Right.

It really makes no difference what you make, how many, how big they are, how much they cost.

If you consider yourself an artist that inherently means that you make things that are meant to enhance the world

Now tell me, don’t you think this not only justifies and necessitates, but even obliges you as an artist to find as many people as you can who will buy what you make?

Should it not be your mission to make people’s lives a bit better with your art, as often as you can?

I’d say so.

It’s your duty to sell (read: share) your art.

You make the world better, more meaningful and more beautiful. Each time you create, you do the world a favour.

Each time you sell, doubly so.

What do I know?

Now, you might wonder where I get the nerve to come at you with all this high-faluting pomp and circumstance.

After all, I’m not even an artist myself. I couldn’t draw a stick-figure to save my life.

No, my genetic makeup is similar, but not quite the same: I’m what’s known as an artisan.

Specifically, I’m a bespoke tailor. Or used to be, before I became a marketing writer.

It’s a long story, but the short of it is that I used to have my own tailoring company, in which I myself created high end bespoke suits, fully handmade.

For a while I ran a blog and I ranked nicely on Google, just below Savile Row tailors, and I was getting a decent reputation on several forums.

Prices were also up there with Savile Row, and I was getting some sales.

At some point my father passed away, and I ended up with a sizeable inheritance that I decided to invest in my business.

Things looked like I was set for success.

But all that money, (all 120,000 pounds of it. Ouch.), I lost over the course of five years.

Here’s why my tailoring business tanked, forcing me to change careers:

I refused to really come to terms with the (very high) intrinsic value of what I created with my own two hands

Until the end, when I ran that company into the ground, I always approached the marketing and sales of it all as if it were a necessary evil.

And the only reason for that, I realise now, is that I didn’t value my stuff the way I should have.

The way you should value your stuff. Which I’m guessing you might not really do, just like me, back then.

And you may take all this as literally as you like (hint: the more literally you take it, the more your sales will soar).

You see, aside from the fact that creating a suit is in itself creating a piece of art (provided you do it by hand like bespoke tailors ought to), there is the value to the customer, and in that sense art and artisanry are very similar.

In both situations, the value to the customer sort of has no limits

You would be amazed by what people are willing to pay. Trust me, I’m a marketer (these days), and I know exactly how much the right people are willing to pay for art.

Or for my suits for that matter. Because that was the amazing thing I discovered: You can charge literally anything you want, and you’ll have people buying it.

It gets even better: the higher your prices, the more eager people will be to buy

That’s something I hope Helen will allow me to explain at a later point. Provided of course that she’d like to have me tell more of the story of how a young tailor had a chance and blew it.

For now, I just really want to hope that you see my point, because you so much deserve to live with the confident (and slighty bold) attitude I’ve been describing.

What you do makes a difference. Make it happen more, make a bigger difference.

Even if it’s one printed mug at a time.

You’re an artist
It’s your nature to create beauty
You’re an artist
It’s your duty to sell the beauty you create

Martin Stellar is technically a copywriter and marketing consultant, but really he’s one of those people who can’t help trying to motivate and inspire people, given half a chance. He blogs at www.martinstellar.com, where much motivating and inspiring takes place, and he’s usually good fun on twitter.

You may also like

How NOT To Be A Starving Artist { The 3 crucial tips that will help you sell your Art}

Being a starving artist sounds delightfully romantic, I know, but if you’ve ever actually been there you know that cold clenching feeling that makes you wonder if you shouldn’t have listened to your parents and studied engineering. Fortunately that doesn’t have to be the solution. If you aren’t making any money as an artist then you can usually solve it by addressing the following common problems.

You Aren’t Selling Yourself

Artists are often artists because they don’t want to talk to other people. Unfortunately, that’s simply not how it works. A freelance artist is a small business, and that means marketing. Putting your art on ebay or Etsy isn’t going to generate a lot of interest compared to real, hands on marketing. Go to local events to display your work, talk to small business owners (bar and restaurant owners specifically) and get them to post your work on their walls. If there are no events in your area, you can start your own (gasp!). It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds, simply round up a few other artists in your area, research cheap (or free) possible venues. Any place with a dance floor has enough room to work with, and business owners will be happy to accommodate you if you can convince them that you can bring in business.

Your Art Isn’t Original Enough

If you find you’re already doing all of the marketing that you could be it’s time to turn around and look at your work. Are you being original? Can a potential customer go elsewhere and find something in the same style, with similar content? What’s your own response to it? Does it make you sad, amused, or terrified? If you don’t have much of a response to your own work, then the odds are good that no one else does either. You have a chance to say something in a way that no one has ever said it before, it’s a shame to waste that chance.

If you used to do fairly well, but just can’t get past a creative block that has you doing essentially the same thing over and over again, resulting in a boring, one sided portfolio, you can check out another post that I wrote on dealing with that issue

Your Prices Are Wrong

What if you’re working all the time, and your art is selling, but you’re barely making ends meet? Clients are constantly hounding you and reminding you that they can find someone else to do the same work more cheaply, or try to get you to rework or modify work repeatedly. This one is as simple as it sounds. Raise your prices, perhaps even double them. Your work costs whatever you charge, period. If you don’t think it’s worth more, go back and read the earlier paragraph. You don’t want people buying your work just because it’s the cheapest around; you want them to buy it because they love your work. People being bullied and cowed into working for criminally low prices are the biggest reason that new artists so often find themselves in huge financial trouble, and the answer is simply to unapologetically charge what you’re worth.

ed-stuartEdward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. He frequently blogs on the topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.

 

This post was written by a guest writer. if you would like to write a guest post for us please get in contact with your topic ideas.

You may also like

Crowd Funding for Artists – How To Crowd Fund Your Next Art Project

Crowd Funding is something we are getting asked about a lot here at Artonomy. It’s a new way of funding that can work brilliantly for the right project. In this post Janelle Pierce shares some tips on how to go about it…

As a writer you probably know how daunting and difficult it is to get published. As a photographer you probably know how tedious and time consuming it is to sell prints. As a musician you’ve probably had more than a dozen rejection letters from record labels who just didn’t hear the same potential for your music that you did. Well rest easy because the financial times are changing!

If you haven’t heard about crowd source funding it’s the new, hip way artists are getting the funds they need to produce the work they love, and the best part? They’re being funded by backers who love their work too! If you’ve ever wanted to professionally record and release an album, publish your first novel, or release a coffee table book of your favorite photographs then crowd funding might just be the way to go.

Taking the First Step

If you’re new to crowd funding then have no fear, there’s a first time for everything, and truth be told it’s not that difficult, but it will take some time so be prepared for that. Before you do anything you need to decide which crowd funding website you’re going to utilize. With more than 400+ sites available the decision to pick just one, may not be that easy. Instead of going with the big dog (kickstarter.com) just because it’s the big dog, do your research. Pick a crowd funding site that caters specifically to your niche. If you’re an artist who specializes in a certain pottery technique or who makes a specific kind of music, find a site that values that and has an audience who values it as well.

Impacting Your Backers

In order for your crowd funding campaign to be successful you need to make an impact. Since your ultimate goal is to entice and secure funding from other people it’s important to make a human connection. Tell your story and make it personal. People can easily discern whether or not you’re genuine and authentic so don’t fake it. Using a video is one of the best methods because it allows you to communicate not just information, but also emotion.

Duplicating Success

If this is your first crowd funding campaign then you’ll probably want to do a little investigating. Knowing what worked (and didn’t work) for others is a valuable piece of information you cannot afford to neglect. Spend some time searching for other projects that were (and weren’t) successful. Try duplicating the strong points of the successful campaigns while avoiding the weaknesses of the failed campaigns. This will improve your chance for success across the board!

Benefits to the Crowd Funding Model

There are a lot of benefits to the crowd funding model but two of the greatest are its ability to raise money while contributing to the marketing of your art. When a backer decides to support you with their money they make a connection with you that is personal. Their monetary investment is just the start, after that they’ll support you with their vocal support to family and friends. With a few high profile Twitter or Facebook users in your ranks you’ll be well on your way to success due to the word of mouth advertising they’ll provide.

In addition to the financial support and free advertising you’ll also receive constructive criticisms. You may have a good idea, but it can probably get better. If that’s the case the crowd will help you do it. Offering constructive criticism is one way crowd funding makes everything better not just for the backer, but also the artist. Many minds are better than just one and it’s true that there is strength in numbers.

No APR

The old method for funding projects, books, or inventions was a reliance on large corporate banks or wealthy relatives. While a wealthy relative may not charge interest they can add additional stress. Likewise a bank will charge interest and as a result you’ll end up paying more for your loan than the loan was worth.

Conclusion

Crowd source funding is a great alternative to the funding methods of the past. No longer do you have to borrow money only to repay it later. With crowd funding you’re able to sell your creations directly to your customers. Through the process you’ll learn more about your audience, the project you’re working on, and it will hopefully make you a more accomplished artist.

Janelle Pierce enjoys writing about crowd funding and answering various small business questions. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

For inspiration why not check out the kickstarter project of Joshua Harker Joshua’s beautiful sculpture Crania Anatomica Filigre was the 3rd most funded arts project ever raising over $77,000. You can also visit Joshua’s Etsy shop to buy this fabulous sculpture here.

 

You may also like

Low Budget Studio – Incredible Photos of Your Art

Chris Garrett, photographer and large format printing expert, shares some ways that you can create professional quality photographs, of your art or subjects, with very little equipment or expense, in your own home.  

I have spent so much time limiting myself to outdoor photography because I didn’t have access to a studio. Without the right lighting and backdrop, it’s difficult to get the high quality photographs I wanted. What I didn’t realize was that it is very simple to create a studio to use either inside or outside and get amazing results. Most of what I needed I already had and what I didn’t was very inexpensive compared to all brand new equipment. Whether you’re looking to move your photography indoors or to capture the nuance and quality of another type of art on film, these tips can help you to achieve professional photographs in your home or workspace.

What you can use:

  • Two ladders
  • An 8 ft. pole works great
  • Clamps
  • Various colors of sheets (make sure your colors are very rich, not faded from washing)
  • Foam boards (for reflecting light)
  • Your choice of lighting (natural light works very well)

Setting up your space.

If you are working indoors, you just need the room to set up. Moving furniture temporarily works, using the garage is great, but you should try to position it to where you have access to some natural light. When using the white foam board as a light reflecting tool, you can manipulate it to do pretty much anything you want.

photography for artistsSo place the ladders on each end of the set. Use the pole to rest between them on the tallest rung. Clamp your sheets to the pole and lay one on the ground if you want a solid backdrop. Your set should be in the prime lighting location if you are doing them outdoors, so basically you don’t want to have your subject facing the sun or you will get squinting or watering of the eyes. Use the foam board to reflect and manipulate the light in your favor. If you are in a dark area, making your own soft boxes will give you some great results, many use a flood lamp that can be moved around or even use a flashlight behind your props for some backlighting.

You can also try substituting a silver car shade for the white foam board, but they will produce a much harsher light and may cause shadows. The white board makes the light softer and more diffused. The best way to get great at this is to practice. You should be able to take amazing photos with hardly any Photoshop time.

photography for artistsSo, it is easy to say that you don’t have to have a dedicated space in your home to use a studio set up. You may need an assistant until you figure out your own way of doing things. But this is a great alternative to spending a fortune that you may not have on equipment that works in the same way. Play around with it and create photos that people will want to hang on their wall or use for customized wallpaper as a mural. No one will know you haven’t been doing this forever!

For me, this is a set up that works and is portable if I need it to be. Feel free to make your own modifications, but just don’t be afraid of studio photography. It does get really hard to do pictures in the middle of winter when your client wants family portraits and there is a foot of snow outside. Get away from being a seasonal photographer and be ready to shoot anytime on any day!

 

Chris Garrett is a large format printing expert and freelance writer for the custom printed wallpaper expert Megaprint.com. He frequently blogs on the topics of design and printing.

Photo credit Alexis Godschalk @ photo.net & Tackorama

You may also like

Selling Art Online with Instagram {5 top tips + more}

Over the last few months you have probably noticed more and more images being shared across Facebook and other social networks. These photos often have an arty quality to them and retro style image frames around them. These images are originating from the smartphone app Instagram.

Instagram is an app that you use on your iPhone, iPad or Android based device. It allows you to shoot a photo and then process it in app to add a variety of filters and frames. However, the magic is then that Instagram allows you to share that photo across a variety of social media sites with one click of the button.

Like all social media sites or apps, Instagram has it’s fair share of brain sucking rubbish to wade through. This is mostly comprised of young girls taking photos of their hair and what they are eating [usually cupcakes].  However, used carefully and intelligently, the visual nature of Instagram is brilliant for artists. Its a great way of showing your work to the world and finding new fans for what you do.

One of the great things about Instagram is that it allows you to publish your images to other social media sites too therefore making your life easier in one fell swoop. Whenever you post an image you can also share it with Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and via Email. One good picture of your work can go a long way with very little effort {always good where time sucking social media is concerned}

So how can Instagram help you grow your work, brand and visibility as an artist? Where do you start? I have put together a 5 tips below to help you get to grips with ways to use Instagram to help you sell art online…

 

1 What images should I post on Instagram?

Use Instagram to introduce people to your work. Therefore show them what you do, photographing your work and process, tools you use, places you visit, inspiration and things you like. Aim to use the app to give people a little glimpse into your art, ideas and life as an artist.

2 Keep it local

I have found the best success by using Instagram to find potential local fans and customers. By using this method I have developed a new relationship with a lovely local art gallery and found several new local customers for my work with very little effort.

My method is to search within the app for the hashtag of my local town {ie #London, #NewYork or wherever you live} Then comment on images by local people and start up a conversation. In this way I have grown my followers and made some great local connections who now see my work every time they check Instagram. If I were to hold an exhibition or local event I could easily use Instagram to help with publicity towards it. I intend to do this in the future.

It’s also a great idea to search for and follow local artists too to bring you local connections and networking opportunities that can help grow your work.

3 The secret is in the hashtags.

Post a picture alone onto Instagram and chances are you wont get much attention. However, the secret is to tag your picture correctly with the right hashtags. That way, people searching for the subject of your image can find your work.

So, for example, if you paint watercolour landscapes of New England you may want to use the hashtags #landscapepainting #NewEngland #watercolour #art #drawing or similar. A little bit of research using the hashtag search facility in the app will help you know which hashtags to use. Hashtags are definitely the key when it comes to using Instagram well and you can add many different ones to each image.

4 Can I sell my art directly through Instagram?

Instagram does not have a way to allow you to sell art directly through the app. I see it more as a way of creating or finding an audience for your work and spreading the word about what you do, leading people back to your main site or shop. However, I have seen popular artists with many followers release images of work for sale on Instagram along with a direct paypal address for payment and sell out their editions so it can definitely be done.

5 Can I use Instagram to promote my shop or sale?

Once you have an audience on Instagram you can promote items on your website or shop site. You can’t create a direct link in Instagram but I have seen people use an image very successfully to flag up sales and promotions on their site or Etsy shop. Simply prepare a nice image with the relevant information and then post to Instagram.

You can use apps like PhotoCollage, InstaCollage, PicFrame and InstaEffects or similar to create a nice promotional image for your sale.

 

But don’t Instagram want to steal all my images?

Instagram has recently come in for a lot of criticism for rewriting its terms and conditions in a way which gave them far too much legal access to users images, being able to use them for advertising. Users left in droves and the repercussions echoed around the social media sphere. Instagram was forced to look again into it’s policies and back down somewhat.

However, as with all Social Media sites it’s well to treat it with some caution as you never know what direction they will take in the future. Don’t post any clear images of work you want to fully control. Teaser images only.

 

Instagram Do’s and Dont’s

DO

  • Watermark your image – PhotoMarkr is just one app which can do this. Watermark with your website address so that wherever your image ends up people can find out who you are.
  • Follow artists you love. Then any time you log on to Instagram you have a ready stream of inspiration to look at.
  • Make every image count – don’t just post photos of cups of coffee and your new hairstyle. Post only one or two really great images a day. Quality over quantity definitely works on Instagram.
  • Link Instagram to your Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts and use it to feed them with content. You don’t even need to spend any time on them. It’s a good way to get your work seen.
  • As always, try and lead people back to your main website with an offer or other enticement. Try and get them to sign up to your mailing list.

DON’T

  • Post easily steal-able nice straight on usable images of your work. Instagram images seem particularly prone to being ripped off by unscrupulous copyright ignoring trolls. Therefore, use Instagram images as a “tease” to interest people in your work. Post photos of your work shot at a strange angle, a small part of the whole image, or blur out some of the image {you can do this in the Instagram app} The idea is to lead people back to your main content elsewhere and raise your profile.
  • Release any image that you want to keep control over. Instagram images have a life of their own. Once you have set them free you have to just let them go.

 

So give Instagram a go. Its fun, inspirational [if you follow the right people] and doesn’t take up much time. Post your instagram profile address below so we can all look at your photos. Happy snapping.

 

You may also like

VAT and Art {or how NOT to get on the wrong side of the VAT man}

Guest Poster Mallory Wood from Accordance International VAT Compliance discusses some important VAT issues facing artists and art businesses when selling art across international borders.

VAT compliance issues to consider when your business buys & sells art 

Art is a unique type of business because more art dealers, unlike people in other industries, are in a position of both buying and selling. This means extra rules to learn and compliance issues that may crop up. Here are a few of the main points to know about when buying and selling art, both in the UK, within the EU and outside of the EU.

Purchasing art

When purchasing art from a UK art dealer, you will be charged UK VAT at the applicable rate and you will be able to reclaim the VAT through your UK VAT return but if the art dealer that you purchase the art through is from outside the UK (but within the EU), as long as they provide their UK VAT number then VAT should not be applied.

VAT should also not be applied if the art comes from outside the EU but you will have to account for the import VAT and customs duty which may vary depending on where the art comes from.

Selling to businesses

When you sell to businesses in the UK, you should charge UK VAT to the purchaser. However under Article 138 of the EU Vat Directive, when you sell art to customers outside of the UK but established within the EU, VAT should generally not be charges and you should provide the customer with the EU Member State VAT number (the number that relates to where the customer is based) displayed on the invoice and you will need to obtain proof that the goods have left the UK.

You will also have to meet the compliance obligations that come with moving goods cross-border, such as intrastat reports. When sales of art are made to business customers located outside the EU, no UK VAT needs to be charged but you must obtain the appropriate evidence to prove the sale.

Selling to private individuals

In the UK, as a domestic supply UK VAT is chargeable at the applicable rate. If goods are sold to private individuals in other UK Member States by a UK business then UK VAT should still be charged but the dealer should be aware of the distance selling thresholds because they will have to register when they cross them.

Margin Scheme

If a company re-sells art (therefore the art is classed as second hand) then it may be worth looking into the VAT Margin Scheme. This is where an art dealer buys a piece of art with no VAT on the purchase price, meaning that when the art is re-sold on, VAT need only be accounted for on the profit margin of the resale price.

You must be aware of the strict rules, set out by HMRC, which dictate what the profit margin is and you must keep all the correct records to be able to prove how you are handling the VAT treatment, in order to prove your compliance and to avoid fines and penalties.

 

Mallory Wood is Digital Marketing Manager at Accordance. Accordance was founded in response to Europe’s rapidly changing VAT situation with the aim to simplify the experience of cross-border VAT for businesses trading in Europe through a policy of practical engagement with clients and their indirect tax issues.

Accordance greatly supports figurative art and are fresh from sponsoring Shock of the Old – an exhibition featuring local Brighton artists.

 

Image released under creative commons by Kevin Dooley

You may also like

An Artist’s Guide To Crafting a USP That Sells

A guest post by Andrianes Pinantoan

 

USP is short for unique selling proposition.

A USP is what makes you unique in the marketplace. It’s a strategic consideration I think every artist needs to get right. Why?

Because the success of every tactic you’re going to implement to sell your art, be it SEO, TV advertising, social media or even good ol’ face to face pitch, will depend on how good your USP is.

Here’s an example: Walmart, as you may already know, is known for their low prices. Every piece of communication that comes out of their marketing department stresses that USP. So if you’re looking to buy something for cheap, guess who you’ll go to?

Of course, that’s not to say that being “the cheapest of them all” is a good USP – that kind of positioning is difficult to maintain and you need to move an enormous amount of products to hit your profit goal.

Most artists I know of, instead, try to serve everyone and anyone who will have them. What that does is dilute not only your brand, but also your focus. For example, when you could have been engineering a marketing campaign to reach your desired market, you’re busy doing customer service with current clients.

How important is that kind of focus? Check out this study.

What Makes Someone Successful?

In 2009, two researchers, Timothy Judge and Charlice Hurst, published a 2 decade long study looking at factors of what makes a person successful. They looked at pretty much everything: family income, neighbourhood, parent’s education, the kid’s school grades, etc.

What they found corresponds with other studies of its kind. Well-to-do families with educated parents produce children who are more likely to succeed when they graduate. And those who graduate near or at the top of their classes are more likely to be better compensated.

But there’s a small subset of people who seem to defy the odds. These people are the typical American entrepreneur story: they came from nowhere, had nothing, but went on to change the world.

What Judge and Hurst found is that these people have one thing in common: the belief that their decisions shape their future – that belief in turn, allows them to make decisive decisions.

The Importance of Decisive Decisions

Now you may wonder why I told you of that study. Well, here it is: when you decide on a USP, you’re going to have to cut out certain segments of the market that you may be perfectly capable of serving.

The people Judge and Hurst found are really good at this. Because they make decisive decisions, they are able to quit pursuing other tempting, viable opportunities – an ability arguably just as important as being able to choose the right segment to pursue.

For example, Bill Gates dropped out of college to build Microsoft and Steve Jobs to build Apple. So did Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. I’m sure you can think of a few more stories similar in nature.

It’s uncanny how all of them didn’t take the more “sensible” road of doing it part-time – an option most of us would have taken due to our inability to make decisive decisions.

It’s almost as if they subconsciously realize the amount of focus it would take to take a fledgling operation to the behemoth they are now.

Crafting a USP That Sells

The effectiveness of a USP, therefore, is only as good as the amount of focus you put into it.

Now the question is what should you focus on? If you have ever attended a marketing lecture in a university, they’d tell you there are only 3 ways: compete on price, quality and value. Not very useful, is it?

So I read half a dozen books on the subject and here are 5 ideas I derived:

1.Culture

Culture is a word I like to use to refer to a business’ story. If you’re an artist with a small business, make sure you use your story to your advantage. Why did you start this business? How did you go about it? What obstacles did you have to conquer?

Storytelling is one of the best ways to sell. Check out this great example from Dodocase.

2.Personality

As an artist, people don’t buy your products. They buy YOU. (For large corporations, people buy their brands.)

So don’t be shy. Record a video, do a podcast, and write with personality. And most definitely show a portrait of yourself on your website and any social media presence. If you try to hide behind a brand, you’ll end up competing with businesses that literally have 100x your marketing budget.

After all, what can be more unique than you are?

3.Customer service

If the media is your main source of business tips, you’d think that the public only cares about price. But nothing can be more wrong. Not even in this economy. If anything, we demand better customer service – and most of us are willing to pay for it.

Take Zappos, for example. You can find the shoes they sell in a few clicks of the mouse, but people continue to buy from them, despite the higher price, due to their reputation for great customer service.

If you’re going down this route, I suggest you read Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness. Remember, customer service is an investment: it’s going to cost you when you get started.

4.Changing the game

Do you remember M&M’s old tagline that goes, “Melts in your mouth, not your hand?” Isn’t it strange that a chocolate company didn’t advertise how awesome the chocolates they are selling tastes?

Because they know it’s a losing game. So they changed the criteria in which people buy chocolates. Suddenly it’s no longer just about how awesome a chocolate tastes, it’s also about whether or not it melts in your hands. And M&M won.

As an artist, you can draw attention to the materials you use (does your handcrafted bag last longer?), or your process (do you mix violin with jazz?) or even your guarantee (do stand by your product for life?)

What can you think of that can change the game?

5.Pick up a cause

This will not only set you apart from the crowd, it also has the potential to boost your sales if done right. Leverage what your customers are passionate about.

For example, if your primary customers are new mothers, supporting a cause to end child abuse, reduce infant or maternal mortality rate, is almost a guaranteed way for you to rally them to your side.

Of course, there are multiple ways for you to “support” this cause. Some companies simply “donate” a portion of their proceeds, which is a bad idea because know that money is coming right out of their pockets. They will assume you’ve increased your price just for the donations – whether that’s true or not is irrelevant.

A better way to do it is to volunteer your and your employee’s time in a local charitable organization. Document the experience and create a marketing campaign out of it. The more you’re involved, the more you’ll get out of it.

Which is why it matters how passionate you are with the cause you want to pick up. Don’t do it simply for a marketing campaign. People can tell. It’s like a bank trying to convince you they care about home ownership.

One last tip: if you run a local business, ally yourself with a local charitable organization. You won’t believe how effective this is as a USP.

So there, 5 ways to stand out of the crowd. Do you have any other ideas I missed out?

 

Andrianes PinantoanAndrianes Pinantoan is part of the team behind Open Colleges’ Business Courses When not working, he can be found blogging about psychology at Cerebral Hacks

 

 

 

Photocredit : Watercolour Girl image by Lorra Elena

You may also like

The Best Website to Sell Art Online – The Truth

There is one question that I get asked on a regular, pretty much daily basis by artists venturing into the world of selling art online. I get asked so regularly that I thought a post addressing the issue would be a good idea.

The question is “What are the best websites to sell art?”

And the answer? It’s surprisingly simple. The answer is “your own website”

The best website to sell art online is…  your own!

Sadly there are no magic websites that will do all the work for you. That you can just upload your images to and then forget about and wait for the money to roll in. Wherever you put your work for sale you will need to promote it to get visitors to view and buy it.

And why put your time and energy into promoting someone elses site? Why not spend it on promoting your own website and domain name?

Etsy, Facebook, Zazzle, Redbubble etc all offer a brilliant service but it’s best not to rely on them exclusively for your online sales.  What if they collapse, close or change their terms of service in  way you don’t like and you want to move? What happens to all the hours you have spent getting links and promotion to your shopfront? All gone in the click of a mouse…

Rent your property or own your own home?

If you own your own domain name and website you are in control.

You can then point visitors from there to your Etsy or Redbubble shop if you want but all your promotional efforts take visitors to YOUR domain name and website first, so you can easily swap shop providers should you wish to without losing all your visitors.

I love the metaphor that it’s like the difference between renting or buying a house. You dont want to spend loads of energy and money fitting a swanky new kitchen in your rented pad only to be turfed out by the landlord next month, but any improvements made to your bought house are an investment for the future.

Still not convinced? Here are some more good reasons why your own website is the best plan for selling art online.

7 good reasons for setting up your own website

You will look more professional

You can control the way the site looks rather than being reliant on a parent shop sites generic style.

You can create your own brand

The design of your website can fit in with the style and branding of your work – again making you look more professional and giving your work a coherent showcase

You can control your own domain name

Registering and using your own domain name {ie www.yourname.com} looks great, helps with search engine results and allows you to have a proper associated email address too. No more shoddy looking hotmail addresses. And your domain name is yours to keep, so you always get the traffic directed there.

You can stand out in the crowd

Its very easy to get lost in amongst the bazillions of users on the large selling sites. You own website allows you to be able to stand out in the crowd and be easily found by search engines.

You won’t have to pay commission

Anything you sell on your own site is commission free. Hooray. [Although you may have to pay a small transaction fee to Paypal].

You have freedom

You can stop or change to another selling site easily with no problems. You won’t lose your client list or the advantage of all the promotion you have done as it will all still point to your personal website. Just change the links to your new shopfront and away you go!

Endless possibilities…

There are no constraints on what you do with your own site. You can make it your own little corner of the web. Every bit of promotion is an investment for the future. You can build your own domain and art career step by step…

if you are serious about selling artwork online or setting up a creative business then the best website to sell your art is most definitely your own… Setting it up is a crucial step that will pay dividends in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may also like