How to sell your work online: tips and tricks from artist Sandra Dieckmann
SenditNow.com promotional feature
With an increasing number of artists looking to showcase and sell their work in online marketplaces, ensuring you’ll be seen and heard among the thousands of competitors is a daunting task. I’ve been selling my artwork and illustrated products on Etsy for more than five years, and started out knowing absolutely nothing about selling online – so everything I’ve done I’ve built myself. If you’re thinking of selling your work online, read on for tips and tricks on how to start, promote, package and send out your work, based on my own experiences.
Loving what I do has been crucial in getting through the tough parts of being a sole trader.
I don’t consider myself a brand as such, and enjoy selling my creations on prints and cards – although I hope you’re able to apply the information in this post to whatever you’re making and selling. Results don’t come from nothing, and there isn’t a magic success button. Passion for your work, a mind for business, perseverance and an ability to learn are essential. Add a generous serving of talent and a big pinch of common sense for the perfect mix!
Having a unique style will make you stand out against the competition. There’ll be sellers who appeal to a similar audience, so you’ll need to research the marketplace and other sellers (even those who sell different goods) before you start out. If you enjoy what you do and have fun with it, the hard times will pass more easily – and you’ll only have to imagine yourself back in the job you left to put a smile on your face.
My advice is always to put yourself in the buyer’s position, and think about how you search for things that excite you online. This is true for choosing your meta tags, titles and descriptions, and setting up your item for SEO – (search engine optimisation) always making sure the words you use are literal and relevant to your item. Presentation is essential: ensure a cohesive look and avatar, as well as quality photography that shows each item’s best side, its textures or its features. With illustration, you can get away with showing artwork files, but a better option would be photos showing the paper texture and whole finished product (this is also essential when selling items such as jewellery and other tactile objects).
In terms of pricing, get your margins right and understand your market. You want to keep it attainable and fair for most people, while also making a decent living. See what competitors sell and ship for, and start there. Be personable and remember that things sometimes get lost and broken.
Packaging and posting
When it comes to packaging, it’s important that it’s secure and well presented, although this needn’t be expensive. I send prints and cards in a stiff board backed envelope, supported with another piece of thick cardboard, all sourced affordably through eBay. I customise the packaging using stamps and stickers, and include postcards, business cards and other goodies. Setting your postage too high will put potential buyers off, whereas setting it too low will lose you money. A couple of times a week you’ll see me cycling with a bag of envelopes to the Post Office.
When I need to send larger boxes for stockists, or framed work for shows, I need a reliable, quick and cost effective parcel courier service. Over the years I’ve tried a variety of courier services, and recently had the pleasure of trying SenditNow.com. It offers one low price up to 30kg for parcels in the UK. When I tried it, the courier was booked in the afternoon, and my parcel was collected the next morning and dropped off the following day. The courier was friendly and the service easy to arrange, and I got to stay in the studio and continue working, rather than trying to balance large boxes on my bike!
Lastly, I want to touch upon the Holy Grail: promotion.
You won’t survive in a bubble, so use social media across relevant platforms – most likely Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Facebook – to promote your business. Posting photos of your studio and work in progress, and showing people your process online is what creates a network of links to your work, and helps people realise there’s a person behind the product.
When I started engaging with others and showing my work, it resulted in blog posts and features, which, when you’re starting out, are great for driving traffic to your shop and website. Etsy is a peer-to-peer marketplace, based on a big community with forums, teams, treasuries, and so on, which you should make use of. Be nice to people, be consistent and, from time to time, celebrate special occasions together by offering discounts and hosting giveaways.
I hope you’ve found some of this helpful! Good luck with your shop!
Sandra Dieckmann is an artist, illustrator and maker. Her work revolves around her love for nature and wildlife, drifting, dreams and all the things that touch her personally. She is best known for her colourful and patterned renderings, but works in a multitude of media – from pencil and paint to digital and clay. A lot of her work is self-initiated, and is sold online and through various worldwide stockists. Sandra's work has also been applied to a wide selection of international commissions and projects such as book illustrations, editorial, apparel and more. You can find her at her shop and studio Mama Wolf at Hackney Downs Studios in East London.