Commanding the highest possible price tag for your work often has more to do with how well you are handling the business side of the art world than it does raw talent.
Here are a few simple changes you can make to your current business model, to ensure you are getting the most for your art sales:
Name recognition is a key in the art world, but it’s up to you to formulate the image that you want to present. Build your brand story by taking note of the relevant aspects of your own art history that encompass who you are, including special training and education, accolades received by your peers in the art community, sources of inspiration and, potentially, recognizable mentors whose names you can “piggyback” on for positive association. With these building blocks, you can craft the foundations of a brand that gives customers a reason to believe in the value of your work.
Establish a succinct, professional and compelling biography that you will share consistently and repeatedly on social media, your website, and in the “bio” that you provide to shows, galleries and other websites with whom you may partner. Though your overarching brand story should remain consistent, it can be “shape-shifted” into a variety of formats, including an “elevator pitch” as you interact with customers and peers in the art world, and an umbrella for a visual story.
According to social media marketer Social Nicole, messages communicated by visuals are processed at a rate 60,000 times faster than text-based messages. When you do upload visuals of your art online, make it easy for those who love your work to share it with others, particularly in channels that are cost-efficient and inherently visual, including Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. (Social Nicole also estimates that more than half of all marketers found a new customer on Facebook last year.)
Ensure a professional presence
Commanding a certain price for your work is as much about the customer-friendly image you convey as the time, energy and materials that you invest into creating pieces. Scrutinize the experience you offer customers, online and off, for basic usability: Do your websites and displays overtly tell customers important details including price, medium, dimensions, and additional benefits like inherent hanging capabilities, framing options, customization options, special care instructions, and the prices or value of those benefits? Are your purchase, warranty and return/exchange policies clearly communicated? Do your website load times make it easy for customers to view and search your work — even on pages that include large files? According to Fast Company, one out of four online users will abandon a site that doesn’t load within four seconds, and four out of 10 online shoppers will abandon a purchase after being made to wait just three seconds for the site to load.
Put the customer’s mind at ease
Offering customers the ability to use a credit card to purchase your art can leverage your ability to command a certain price, and increase the likelihood of a sale. (Not only does research indicate that consumers tend to be less sensitive when paying with credit than cash, they tend to trust merchants who display the familiar logos of major credit card issuers.) Present an e-commerce-powered site that allows customers to place items in an online shopping cart, view estimated costs for shipping/handling and insurance, and pay by their preferred means.
Select a payment provider that also allows you to accept mobile payments on your smartphone or tablet device at events like festivals and art shows (by way of a “dongle” that plugs into your mobile device), to ensure professionalism wherever you show your work. By emulating the checkout experiences customers expect from larger retailers, you offer them convenience and peace of mind.
You may not aspire to be a businessperson, but to command a high premium for your talents, you must think like an entrepreneur. By putting these simple steps into action, you can find cost-efficient ways to get more sales and, ideally, build a base of loyal followers who will help to share your work with like-minded buyers in the art community.
About the Author: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm offering merchant account solutions. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.