You may think, or have been told, that the art industry is struggling, that selling art online is impossible.
We are here to tell you that this could not be further from the truth, and we have the data to prove it!
Here’s the deal: Art is selling online. Online is now by far where the majority of art sales are being made. And, as the market research data shows, the online art market is growing like crazy, and is expected to triple by 2019.
Online sales have been cannibalizing offline sales for the last 7 years since the Great Recession began.
So if all you’ve been doing is selling at local fairs and in galleries, you’ve likely been seeing nothing but declines. This is because you are no longer participating in the biggest venue for selling art. Instead, you’re participating in one that is shrinking and will continue to do so.
What about those who only sell original art?
According to Hiscox’s 2017 leading annual online art market report, original art happens to be the biggest selling category online:
The most popular medium online remains paintings. Limited-edition prints remain the second most popular medium in the online art market. –Hiscox Report
This isn’t just a report. We see it here at ASF every day. ASF Customers sell originals regularly, right from their own websites.
If you haven’t already, its worth checking out Ugallery.com, which is one of the fastest growing art sellers on the market today. uGallery is an online website that only sells original art. Then, check out Saatchi Art, which is also one of the fastest growing art sellers according to the Hiscox report. They are also an online website, but one that focuses on both originals and limited editions.
The truth is this:
Right now happens to be the best time ever, in recorded history, for artists to control their own destiny and become more successful than ever before.
Right now – today – the opportunity for art sellers has never been greater, and it has also never been easier to build art selling websites that establish a long-term career. The entire purpose of this article is discuss this topic and illustrate why this is the case.
An Artist’s Potential Market Opportunity Has Never Been Larger
Before selling artwork online, the potential market size for an artist was limited by the local shows they could attend, as well as the art galleries and publishers who would offer to represent them.
In other words, an artist’s entire market size (or the vast majority of it) was their local city or state. And historically, this has severely limited the potential market opportunity for every art seller. There’s just not enough eyeballs if you are limited to only those you meet in person or who happen to walk into one of the galleries carrying your work.
But today, with a thriving online art market, an artist has no geographic limitations and relies on nobody to create their own success.
The internet allows you to sell to anyone, anywhere, right now. Your potential market size is literally 1000 times larger than before. This, in and of itself, is amazing.
For example, let’s say you paint images of Elvis.
Before art started selling online, you’d schlep around your Elvis paintings to local art fairs and possibly get some art galleries to carry a few pieces. But no Elvis enthusiast outside of those immediate venues would ever see your work. This obviously severely limited your sales potential. Therefore, the odds that you became a starving artist were really high.
Today, that entire mold has been broken.
If your target audience is Elvis enthusiasts, your potential market size is limited to, well, every Elvis enthusiast on the planet with an internet connection!
You can setup your art business so that these enthusiasts find you when searching Google (SEO), and you can find them congregating in places like Facebook groups, and many other places.
It doesn’t matter where they are located. It doesn’t matter if they ever walk into a retail art gallery. Coupled with the right art marketing strategies, you’ll start getting orders from people located anywhere and everywhere, if you know your target audience and get your work in front of them, and if you drive them to a website that converts.
To back this up with some data, let’s take a look at ASF Customer Madaras Gallery from Arizona, who we famously coached during April 2016 in order to help them improve bounce rates by 400%.
Today, we want to look at where her sales came from on her website. By that we mean the location of her buyers. Were they all located in her home state of Arizona? Or, did she actually leverage this larger market opportunity we are discussing, and capture buyers in other states or countries?
To the right, you’ll find the data for her last few months of orders. Specifically, it shows the state that the buyer was located, and the corresponding quantity of orders that come from that state.
As you can see, only 29% of her buyers were located in her home state of Arizona.
71% of her buyers were located in other states.
There were several international buyers as well.
This is possible in part because Diana Madaras has a niche: Southwestern art.
As is the case with any subject matter, there are people who love Southwestern art all over the country. There are people who vacation to the Southwest. There are people who got married there. There are people who used to live there but moved away at some point.
The bottom line is, there are people located everywhere who still have an emotional connection to her subject matter.
To further back this up, let’s look at another snapshot of data from another ASF customer, artist Bill Stidham, located in Austin, TX.
61% of his buyers were located in Texas.
39% were located outside of Texas.
As you can see, the market size for every artist is larger and more accessible than ever before. For artists that capitalize on it, it is now a significant growth area of their business.
So the question for you is, over the last 12 months, what percentage of your sales are coming from buyers located outside of your home state? Are there any?
If you aren’t attracting a significant number of buyers from all over the country, you just aren’t fully capitalizing on the large online art market opportunity.
It’s passing you by.
And if we had to venture a guess, its likely you probably still use a Caveman art selling approach. An approach that leads to starvation.
An Artist’s Probability of Success Has Never Been Higher
As we already stated, before art started selling online, artists had been trying to run a business based on a really small market opportunity. As such, there was very little room for error. The probability of achieving success was therefore really low.
Artists who actually made a lot of money, like Wyland, Peter Lik (to name a few), are those who figured out a way to expand their market beyond their locality. They primarily did this by opening their own galleries, but they also got customers buying their work from all over the world.
Unfortunately, this was not something everyone could do. You had to spend advertising dollars. You had to travel and attend trade shows. You likely needed investors or some sort of financial backing to pull this off.
This is no longer the case.
Today, geographical barriers are gone and no artist needs an investor. Therefore, the probability of achieving long-term success has never been higher. It is easier and cheaper than ever to to get your art in front of more eyeballs. It is easier than ever to find and build an audience that has an emotional connection to your subject matter, regardless of where they are located.
And it is easier than ever to get sales from this audience if you have a sound strategy. It’s easier than ever not just for full-time art sellers, but even part-timers can do really well.
The Only Sure Way of Failing is to Not Sell Art Online
You heard it here. Right now is the age of the art seller.
Let’s review it all again.
The market size has never been bigger for art sellers to capitalize on. It’s never been easier to capitalize on it. And, your probability of achieving success has never been higher.
The online art market is the best thing that has ever happened to the modern day art seller. Embrace it. Participate in it. We can’t say how long this opportunity will last, but we do know that the opportunity is ripe right now and it is working for others, namely ASF Customers.
Reach out to one of our customers and ask them if you don’t believe this yourself. But whatever you do, don’t sit there and keep doing what you’ve always been doing.
If you’re already an ASF customer, the entire strategy we want you to follow is laid out in the Success Plan within your site manager.
The Success Plan is an aggregated list of strategies, in sequential order and in step-by-step format, that are known to work with art sellers on the ASF platform. It is designed to save ASF customers a ton of time, and get them immediately executing only on the strategies that are known to work.