Way back in 2010, when I had just begun to paint, I thought the thing for me to do was to open an Etsy Store. I think I uploaded a total of 3 paintings, got a few page views and one comment and quickly I became disinterested in the whole thing. Frankly, the thought of paying $ .20 for each listing and the fact that poorly painted canvas pieces were not a good match for that platform. Fast forward 6 years and today I'm chopping at the bit to get my artwork out there on Etsy.
My artwork has changed a great deal and I feel that with these changes the pieces are much more suitable for an online marketing venue. My illustrations and drawings are becoming more popular. I have chosen Etsy along with FineArtAmerica.com, RedBubble.com and Zazzle.com as platforms to get my images out there. Etsy is a bit different than the last three vendors I mentioned. With FineArtAmerica, Redbubble and Zazzle I just upload my images and if that image is chosen by a customer to be added to some merchandise such as a pencil bag, pillow or a shirt, they handle the whole process and just mail me a commission check. This is pretty sweet way to make some money with just a little effort up front but so far I haven't made enough money to even blog about it.
Etsy is more like a real store that I am in control of. I handle all the orders and inventory and I stand to make much more profit on each sale. It's constant work and needs weekly attention from me but I think it will be way more satisfying overall. Again, like anything worth while, it takes time. I understand very well that this isn't an overnight process but rather a slow building of a fan base.
I am no Etsy expert so this past week to help my store performance I started to do some research. Why re-invent the wheel when there are some really successful stores out there who have all four wheels rolling at full speed? I want to sell art prints, cards and magnets that feature my artwork. So I found a store called Paper Llamas that had digital prints of baby animals along with a number of other subjects. I checked their sales statistics and was very impressed that they had sold nearly 9500 sales since opening their store in 2011. Compared to my 1 sale these guys are Etsy giants. I noticed that I posted just a single high resolution image of my art while they often posted images that showed their work framed and matted hanging on the wall. They sold their prints both individually and in groupings. Having them framed and matted gives the buyer a chance to visualize the art nicely displayed on their own wall. That was smart!
Yesterday, I set up a staging area and tried to get that same hung art feeling by adding a few Christmas props and a nice wooden frame. I used the camera on my cell phone but for my effort I think I got a much better image to compliment my work and promote my listings. My shop received 3 favorites just yesterday alone. That is a good sign.
My titles were a disaster. I thought they wanted the title of the artwork but I realized after studying this successful store that this is where I need to get creative and add as many searchable phrases as possible. I just made the artwork title the first line in the description because the image is from an original piece of art that I have taken the time to give it a name I want to include that name in the listing, just not on the title line.
They also used a variation drop down menu that gave them the ability to offer different sizes and prices for their work. Seeing this was like a light bulb going off in my head. Why have a separate listing for a card, a magnet or a print when I could accomplish it all with one listing? My store will forever be much tidier and easier to manage thanks to this light bulb moment.
My goals for 2017 for my Etsy Store is 75 products in my inventory, 500 individual sales and 100 favorite rating for the store. I am going to also give ebay a try and see if the potential for art sales is there also. Some artists swear ebay is better than Etsy and so I need to figure this out for myself.
As I learn from my experiences, I will be blogging about what I have found to be successful and what has worked for me. To sell an original canvas painting for several hundred dollars is great and I surely appreciate those moments. They just don't happen nearly enough. I want to supplement our retirement income with art sales and perhaps even allow additional income to continue even when I am no longer able to create. I want to never be tempted again to take an accounting or tax preparation job.
I have come to the conclusion in my own art path that brick and mortar galleries can only do so much to get my work out there. I have to take ownership of my own promotion and art destiny and those small sales, I believe will add up and surpass any sale of the original piece. I am going to be building my business one greeting card, one magnet or one print at a time.
Here is the link to my Etsy Store if you are interested in checking it out. Remember it's a work in progress and this progress has really just begun.
Here are some images I took yesterday for my Etsy Store listings: