This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy (intro). Read the previous ones to get the full picture: part 1 Get Personal, part 2 Website, part 3 Email, part 4 Target Market, part 5 Outreach, part 6 Launching, part 7 Giveaways, part 8 Sales Conversations, part 9 Commissions, and part 10 Licensing.
Another majorly awesome thing you can do to make more income from a single piece of art is to wholesale prints to boutiques.
Wholesale has a lot of standard practices and rules that you need to familiarize yourself with before you start approaching stores, but they’re things anyone can learn to do easily.
WHAT I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT TODAY IS WHAT WHOLESALE IS, GETTING YOUR BUSINESS PREPARED FOR WHOLESALE, AND THEN HOW IT FITS INTO YOUR ART BUSINESS.
Wholesale is when a shop literally buys your work from you and resells it. They almost always buy in a bulk amount and in exchange you give them a large discount (typically 50%).
Once the shop has bought the prints, they do all the marketing to the customers and you’re really done with the transaction.
The only thing you should be doing at that point is keeping in contact with the store to make sure they order from you again when your prints are selling.
THE MAIN THING YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO DO PRIOR TO STARTING WHOLESALE (ASIDE FROM LEARNING THE STANDARD PRACTICES) IS ADJUST YOUR PRICING.
Since the store is going buy at 50% off, you need your retail prices to be high enough that you can take the hit of selling them at half price.
So take a look at your pricing structure – consider watching my Art of Pricing Art video series to help – and determine what your break even price is on a print. Considering not just the price you pay the printer, but also the time you put into it and the packaging and a little bit for overhead, what do you have to make to not lose money?
After that, things get fuzzier. I don’t like to stick rigidly to formulas because formulaic pricing encourages formulaic buying – which is not how people buy art.
But you want to make sure when you’re choosing the final retail price, that when you halve it to get your wholesale price you can still make some profit above your break even point.
So say your break even price for a print is $10, for ease. If you want to wholesale your prints then it wouldn’t be good for your retail price to be $15. Because then your shops would pay $7.50 and you would lose money since that’s below your break even price. Similarly if your retail price were $20, the shops would pay $10 and you’d only just break even. You don’t want all your wholesale orders to have no profit or there’s no point in wholesaling, right?
So in this case, we would really want the retail price to be at maybe $30 or even more so that you profit at least $5 from every wholesale’d print.
YOU ACTUALLY CAN WHOLESALE ORIGINALS TOO.
It’s not talked about much because very few people do it, but I sometimes find it’s a cool option for a store that doesn’t normally sell art and could use some decor on their walls – like a clothing store. You can have them wholesale 5 or 10 original pieces and you get paid for all of them right away. The store can sell them over time and while they haven’t yet sold, they’re still pretty decor on the store’s walls.
SO WHOLESALE CAN ACTUALLY BE ANOTHER REVENUE STREAM FOR YOU THAT’S A LOT LESS WORK (AFTER SOME INITIAL EFFORT) THAN GETTING INDIVIDUAL CUSTOMERS.
For most art businesses, you would want it bringing in at least 20% of your total income to be worth the trouble of getting things set up and searching for your initial shops.
So if you’ve built your revenue plan then you want to play around with how wholesaling could take 20% (or more) of that income burden from your other revenue streams.
Your marketing for wholesale is entirely different from most of your other marketing because it’s primarily just contacting stores directly and asking them to stock your prints.
You don’t usually have to court a retail store through social media before you ask them to be one of your stockists.
Just approach them right away (following your research on best practices) and if they think your art would sell well with their customers, they’ll put in an order to test you out. If they don’t think your art would sell well with their customers, then no amount of woo-ing them is going to make them purchase from you.
I don’t have a lot of training on wholesale because it’s not my specialty. But I love Clare’s advice over on Indie Retail Academy because she injects a ton of fun, humor, and personality. It’s my favorite place for learning about the standard way of doing things in the wholesale world.
If you need help on the hardest part of getting ready for wholesale – pricing – sign up for my email list below and you’ll get access to my free video series on pricing art. It’s in-depth and the principles you learn will help you determine an appropriate price for wholesale as well as form better practices for pricing all of your work.
This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy. To get the full picture, make sure you read the introduction, part 1 get personal, part 2 Website, part 3 Email,part 4 Target Market, part 5 Outreach, part 6 Launching, part 7 Giveaways, part 8 Sales Conversations, part 9 Commissions, and part 10 Licensing.