10 Steps to Your First $20,000 in Fine Art Sales in 2020

10 Steps to Your First $20,000 in Fine Art Sales in 2020

Spending your Covid-19 isolation time working on your business now could mean art sales later. Seattle-based Fine Art Photographer Jason Matias, who runs a program that helps artists sell their art, has a few tips for how to go about snagging those sales.

Photographers everywhere have been sidelined by the Novel Coronavirus and subsequent social distancing, with many either self-isolating or under shelter-in-place orders, and it’s become clear that there are no easy answers for when we will be able to get back to work.

Whether you are a fine art photographer, an aspiring artist, or a photographer whose income has been compromised by the current pandemic, it makes sense to put your efforts into building best practices for selling your work. I recently interviewed Matias, who not only makes his living selling fine art but runs The Art of Selling Art. He shared ten simple tips that can propel photographers toward sales, and in this time of uncertainty, I thought this was the kind of valuable information that would give photographers a productive way forward. 

Understand Your Why

Artists must understand why they create and sell fine art for two main reasons. The first is that it gives the artist a clear direction for their business and how they go about creating their work, and the second is that it helps buyers make meaningful connections with the work. People most often buy based on emotion, so knowing and sharing your “why” with your customers makes sales much more likely.

Create an Avatar

In order to create a website and market your work, you have to know who you’re selling to. Spend some time creating a detailed avatar of your ideal client. Include things like age, education level, income, hobbies, geographic location, favorite restaurants, vacation locations, etc. Having this avatar will make your marketing more targeted and effective.

Website Design and Presentation

How do you want your clients to experience your art? Your website is your chance to give them that experience. Remember, clients may find you on social media or through some other avenue, but your website is where the sale happens. Make your presentation suitable to your work, easy to navigate, compelling, and make the process of buying as easy and pain free as possible.

Pricing

According to Matias, price is a marketing point. How you price your work communicates something to your buyers. Price your work according to how you want potential buyers to perceive it. To understand how this works, lets do a quick thought experiment. Imagine two cars, one that retails for $6,000 and the other retails for $75,000. What are your initial suspicions about each car? Pricing matters.

Image shared with permission of Jason Matias

Build a Funnel

A funnel is marketing speak for the different avenues sellers use to expose potential buyers to their art, and guide them towards sales. There are several stages to the marketing funnel that is meant to turn leads into sales.

Create a marketing funnel for your work, and then track it to see how people navigate the funnel and how effective your outreach is. Look for channels that do a good job of creating leads and make those channels more robust. Look for bottlenecks and traffic jams that stop leads from getting to the next step in your funnel, and clear those areas up. Remove any channels that are ineffective.

Create Processes

Processes help you streamline production and marketing, and make the quality of customer service equal and repeatable. Remember, time is money, and processes help you measure your time and effort so you can become more efficient, and lets clients know what to expect.

Local Marketing

Matias says that most art searches by potential buyers are local searches. Therefore, it makes sense not only to market locally, but to concentrate the focus of your SEO on the area in which you want to work.

Outreach

Anyone who sells a product or service is fighting a war of attention. No one can buy your art if they forget you exist, and every seller is out there competing for their attention. Do all you can to stay in regular contact with your customers and leads. Newsletters, emails, targeted ads, etc. will help remind your buyers that you exist. Matias says most of his sales come from follow ups, so don’t forget to gather information and follow up with interested parties and current collectors.

Answer Common Questions

Assume new leads don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort deciding whether they want to work or purchase from with you... because they don’t. Matias says that you should try to answer routine questions in your sales pitch where relevant. For those questions that don’t fit easily into your copy, create an obvious, easy to access FAQ section. According to Matias, common questions are: procedures, costs, commissions, turn around time, shipping, printing, and buying programs.

Help the Client Visualize Your Art in Their Space

The easier it is for your client to imagine your art in their space, the likelier it is they’ll buy from you. Create visuals of your art in the kinds of spaces it was designed for and make sure the visuals are accurate, color balanced, and to scale. Matias suggests including these elements on your website as often as possible. He also suggests having some sort of augmented reality tool on hand when you’re in customer spaces so they can easily see what your work would look like in their home, office, or place of business. 

Image shared with permission of Jason Matias

Bonus Tip

During this time, when people have less money to spend, Matias suggests staying in close contact by sharing more information in smaller, easily digestible pieces, and focusing on ways you can be of service to your client. The last thing you want to do is appear to prey on people during difficult times. Remember how people most often buy based on emotional connection? Spend time to show your clients and potential clients how much you care. Not only will you be of service to them in a time of uncertainty, you'll create strong connections that will lead to sales in the future. It's a win-win.

In the spirit of being of service, Matias has educational resources about pricing and website design on his website that you can access for free if you simply follow the link.

Whether you’re selling fine art or trying to get more portrait clients through your doors, I believe these tips will help make your business more effective, efficient, and profitable. Don’t forget to keep track of your efforts so you can evaluate how effective each adjustment is and fine tune your process as you go.

Do you have experience marketing and selling art? Share it in the comments section below and let’s get as much solid info out there for our fellow photographers as possible.

Lead image shared with permission of Jason Matias
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7 Comments

Timothy Roper's picture

"He also suggests having some sort of augmented reality tool on hand when you’re in customer spaces so they can easily see what your work would look like in their home, office, or place of business." The very idea of being in a potential customer's home or office as part of the sales process is new to me. It does make some amount of sense, but how often does that happen? And you'd have to know how to talk in interior design terms, too, I would think.

Jason Matias's picture

I do home consultations a few times each year and I visit businesses a few times as well. I tell people about the tool often so that they can apply it themselves. It is quicker than doing a render and kinda fun, allowing potential buyers to be a part of the collecting process.

sam dasso's picture

I like an article, but dislike a title. Why only $20,000 a year? That is a minimum wage for a lot of effort. Promise $200,000. That will get you more clicks. I don't think that anybody will make a dime with your advise, but article is very well written and pleasure to read.

Jason Matias's picture

haha yes! Maybe... I try to always be realistic. You can continue to grow your 20K into 200K for sure, but you need to start here. Clickbait is great but I just want to provide value.

Tim Foster's picture

Can we start by not calling it "fine art"? That's up to the consumer.

Nicole York's picture

While I don't disagree, how one brands oneself is important in how the consumer relates.

Tim Foster's picture

For me it just calls to mind cruise ship print auctions and 50-something lawyers shooting black and white nudes with very expensive cameras.