How To Start Your Online Art Business
Something I often hear from both aspiring and established artists is how they want to develop their online art business, but they just don’t have the know-how. My response to them is that while there may be a learning curve, there are lots of great (and inexpensive) options available to you. All it takes is a little bit of research and the right tools and you can have your online business up and running in no time. Here are a few tips on getting started.
Find a Website Platform
The first thing you need to start on online business is a web platform to create your site. There are tons of them out there, but I find Squarespace, Shopify, and Wordpress the easiest to use for non-techie types. Each of these three platforms have pre-made templates that you can choose from and easy-to-use interfaces where you can add blog posts, display products and post photos. I choose a really clean design for my site so that the art can be viewed on a clean white background like a gallery space itself.
Once you have your website up and running, it’s time to show it off to the world. Social media is a great way to promote your site and draw people to it, as you can add posts and photos with links back to your site. This is also a great way to engage your audience and keep them in the loop about new products and projects such as exhibitions. Its very satisfying to receive feedback from clients and I even get photos sent to me of my art hanging in different locations all over the world from London to Singapore & Bali, in home, offices and embassies. You can check out these photos in my Art In Place!
Find Online Marketplaces
Online markets are ideal for promoting your products to a wider market interested in art. Even though I have my own website with an online shop, I still use sites like Artfinder, Saatchi, Houzz, and Gifts Less Ordinary because they give me another outlet to display, sell and promote my work. For those who don’t want to worry about creating and maintaining your own site, you can explore different marketplaces to help you get started.
Invest in Great Photography
For artists it’s all about the visuals, which is why good photos are so important. A great photo shoot can help to tell a story and entice people to buy your work. Not so great behind the lens? Consider hiring a photographer to create images that show your work in its best light. I have enjoyed working with Julia Whale who has photographed many of my paintings, my home and studio to build a library of good quality photos I can use in features and blog posts.
Content is Important
Content, both written and visual, allows you to tell your story and explain your vision, and it also gives you stories for your social media and reasons for people to return to your site. Create a story, start a blog, get testimonials from your clients and share your posts on your social platforms to keep your audience engaged and attract new interest. I love that my clients share their testimonials (see here) and photographs of my art in their homes, which you can explore in my 'Art In Place'.
Don't be Afraid to Ask For Help!
When looking to promote your small business don't be afraid to ask people for partnership opportunities. Some people may say no or ignore your emails, but you will probably find that others will be happy to partner with you and cross promote your products. I have forged some great contacts with embassies because of my series of Singapore Landmarks paintings and Limited Edition Prints and I was invited to display my equestrian collection at a high profile horse race. Even leaving some flyers in a local coffee shop that is supportive of the arts can bring people to your door (or website!)
Do What Works For You
As an entrepreneur you need to try different things. Some will work and some won’t, but don't be afraid to try something new. And don’t believe anyone who tells you that you won’t be able to make it work, you never know until you try. Keep testing and doing what works best for you.
Get Someone to Help Build a Well-Designed and Well-Navigated Website
I was lucky to have great marketing and website support from my friend Tara who built me my beautiful website. I've had so many comments from clients on how well considered it is and how well the navigation works, and it has helped with my business immensely.