You aren’t going to get anywhere selling your art online until you’ve put into place some simple business foundations.
1. Know Your Target Market. The more you nail down who that customer is, the easier it’s going to be to make marketing decisions, branding decisions, pricing decisions, and other big stuff you have to decide on in business. The more you nail down that customer, the less guesswork you’ll feel like you’re doing in business.
2. Make it Easy to Buy. Have a few pieces (3 is an absolute minimum, but I recommend 10 as a starting point and more if you can) up on your website, with prices and details like size and medium. If you can, digitally “hang” the piece on a wall above a chair or couch so people can visualize the size too. And then have a quick way to pay you, right then and there. PayPal buttons are probably the easiest when you don’t have too many pieces, but when you have more for sale you’ll probably want a full eCommerce tool with an easier back-end.
3. Set up an Email List. Use a proper email marketing provider, like Mad Mimi, to collect and organize contacts, stay out of spam folders, and deliver prettier emails to the right people.
4. Make it Easy to get on that List. Create an “opt-in” page that tells people what to expect from your email list and asks them to sign up. Link to that page anywhere you can’t put an actual form, like in your Etsy shop announcement for instance. And put a form wherever you can, like on your website’s homepage, blog sidebar, and contact page.
5. Share the Opt-In. Make a habit of posting the link to the opt-in on your social media networks at least once a week, varying days and times so as many people see it as possible. Sometimes people have to see it 4 or 5 times before they’ll sign up, even though they’ll love your emails.
6. Communicate Regularly. Decide how you will communicate with your customers. Commonly this includes daily social media and a monthly-ish email, perhaps also a blog (if you’re capable of posting at least once a month). Make a loose schedule for yourself that outlines how often you do each of these things so you know what needs to happen to be consistent. Don’t forget to make a list of what sorts of things you will talk about on each platform so that you aren’t struggling to come up with ideas when it’s time to share.
7. Learn the Art of PR. Public Relations is the single most important part of a successful business these days. If you don’t know, PR is when you get mentioned in, interviewed by, or featured in an established publication. The goal is to get in front of an audience of your target market that someone else has taken the time to put together. You’re getting seen by a big group of perfect potential customers without the years and years of toiling it takes to build up that big group. And in return, you provide those publications with what they want on a daily basis: fantastic content that’s perfect for their own target market (because you have the same or very similar target markets, when this is done right). I recommend doing at least one PR thing every month, whether it’s a blog, magazine, tv show, the local newspaper, or anywhere else.
8. Keep it Going. You might be able to do #1-4 once and be done with it, though it’s always good to review those sorts of things once or twice a year to make sure it’s all still working smoothly. But #5-7 are activities that rely on consistency. You have to keep doing the work. Without these marketing steps, your art is almost guaranteed not to sell because people just won’t know about you. And if they don’t know about you, how can they buy from you?