One thing that’s difficult for most artists is looking professional. By nature, we’re a little too up in the clouds to consider too closely all the niceties and expectations of professional business.
But this is crucial.
People do not want to buy from people they don’t trust. They want to feel secure that you won’t steal their payment information, that you’ll pack the art safely when you ship it, and that you will take care of them if something goes awry.
While we want to come across as being competent and easy to deal with when someone buys from us, sometimes we actually put forth the opposite aura with the simplest, smallest details that we could change if we only noticed them.
For instance, when most people first get to an artist’s website, they’re looking for some sort of proof that the artist will actually ship the art if they buy, that the art will actually look like it did in the picture, there won’t be any hassles through the process, and that if something goes wrong, the artist is going to fix it.
Artists have a bad rap for being flighty, so people are expecting the worst but hoping for the best. If they don’t find proof that their hopes will win out, they won’t buy from you.
Sometimes this can be something really obvious, like adding quotes from a previous customers to your site so people who are thinking about buying from you for the first time see that it’s been done successfully by other people.
Or you could add a page to your site showing off all the media attention you’ve gotten (simply having the logos of the publications, even if they’re not widely known, can be enough) or just put it in the footer of your website or on your about page.
And other times it’s something more subtle like having a clean, well-designed website instead of an ugly one or one that looks very dated. Or if you have ads for other businesses on your site, which makes people think you aren’t making enough money on your own (which shouldn’t mean they won’t trust you, but it often does in most cultures).
One big thing to pay attention to is using proper spelling and punctuation. It’s a universal indicator of professionalism in business.
Break those rules and you lose the trust. Grammar isn’t always as important, depending on how you break the rules. If it is colloquially correct and fits your brand, you might be fine.
Now outside of your website, you can still lose the professional persona when you’re talking to a potential customer – in person, online, or on the telephone.
The most obvious way is poor customer service. For instance, if someone asks you how much a piece costs and you stumble over your words. Or if someone writes you an email and you take two weeks to get back to them.
The most important things for good customer service before a sale is made are organization and speed.
If you handle their questions quickly and they can tell you’re in control and have all the information at hand, they will easily place their trust in you.
But the last thing that will help people see you as not just an artist but also a professional business owner they can trust is the hardest.
Think about it. If you went to a new workout class and the instructor kept stopping to correct herself and made comments about the students not wanting to come back, would you go to that class again? Probably not. And if you did, you would still be worried you weren’t getting the best fitness instruction.
A lack of confidence in any professional will read to the potential customer as an incapable business owner. And do you want to buy from an incapable business owner? Absolutely not.
Most of this is subconscious stuff that we’re pretty unaware of in the day-to-day. But if you stop to think about it and put in place as many of these professional touches as you can, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to get an interested person to become an actual customer.