photographer success story

Christmas Wishes Finale 2 by William Drew Photography

2 Years with Photographer Bill Wensel: A Growth Timeline

This is the story of how one photographer went from struggling to launch his online gallery to earning consistent sales.

As honest an answer as it may be, "it depends" just isn't very satisfying to hear.

And it's something we find ourselves having to say all the time:

  • How often should I email my list of art buyers? Well, it depends...
  • How much traffic does my site need? Well, it depends...

It even comes up with the biggest question of all: How long does it take to become successful at selling art online?

Photographers and fine artists asking us this question don't want to hear "it depends" – and we don't blame them! But the truth is that there are so many factors that go into success - from the subject matter of the work to the marketing strategy to the features on the website.

Some artists find success within just a couple of months, others take a couple of years to find their footing. 

We're as sick of saying "it depends" as you are of hearing it, so here's what we came up with:

There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all success timeline (and be wary of anyone who promises you success in X number of weeks, months, or years), but something we can do is tell the stories of how and when real photographers and fine artists did the work to create success for .

Today's story – Bill Wensel, a Minneapolis-area photographer who has built a niche from his evening and nighttime images he calls "Colors of the Night".

Follow the timeline below for a look at Bill's experiences from day one of launching his online art gallery website, to today. 

March, 2017

“I started like most of us have, feeling totally overwhelmed with all the tasks and processes and technology that we get to play with here while setting up our websites.” –Bill Wensel

As with any new business venture, launching a new website takes time and care.

April, 2017

“After launching, there is the never-ending focuses and updates and new additions, and adding new product and studying my analytics and SEO and all that fun stuff.”

Bill quickly set himself to the task of building the best online gallery he could.

September, 2017

In September, Bill joins #SmallWins - our private Facebook community for photographers and fine artists to talk shop with our marketing experts.

Take note of this moment - it will become a key step in Bill's progress.

November, 2017

Bill dives in headfirst to #SmallWins, asking for advice often to get constant feedback from the other members - ensuring he's putting his limited time towards the right tasks.

Then, later that month:

"The first piece sold that wasn't a calendar! A 21x8" Stretched Canvas print!"

Cock and Cherry by William Drew Photography

Bill earns his very first sale through his new website!

January, 2018

“It has been a very long slow climb. Narrowing down my niche. Learning how to focus my website on what people are looking at. And patiently waiting and watching for something to happen.”

Throughout the next several months, Bill continues to stay engaged with his marketing strategy - slowly learning how to curate his work and reach new buyers in his target audience.  He continued making progress...

March, 2018

One element that will contribute to Bill's overall success over time is his willingness to jump in and get his hands dirty when he learns about a new marketing tactic that he thinks may work.  

July, 2018

“In July, I had my best month across the board. My website had it's most visits, I had more people give me their email than ever before, and it was my best month of sales.”

Before long, Bill knows he's on the right track. He's finally experiencing growth.

August, 2018

“August has now squashed all of my July numbers. All of them. Way more visitors to my website, way more visitors signing up and giving me their email. And most importantly, way more sales."

By this point, Bill's business is now in full gear. He has his website set up to his liking, he has a marketing strategy that's working, and he's making full use of every asset available to him:

"My last sale came after someone contacted me looking for a certain sized product that I didn't have available. After some back and forth, I got him on the Live Preview with Augmented Reality he saw how the sizes I already offered worked, and he ordered a size that I already had available.

Let me tell you that that sale felt really good.

September, 2018

"I am setting up at a Pop-Up Market in my city and thanks to ASF, I'll have my laptop ready to capture emails and place orders so people don't have to carry around a large print all day.

I also had my very first "Meet the Artist" event on August 12th, which never would have happened before joining ASF."

After achieving stronger sales consistency with his online business, Bill is able to spend more time selling his art offline. But now, with access to back-end business management tools and on-going coaching, he can do it more effectively than ever before.  Notice that with each incremental step, he continues to level up his entire business.

November, 2018

"My small win today is that I have had sales three days in a row, and today will be a fourth as I'll be selling my work at an art show. I have already surpassed last year's 4th quarter sales!"

Having put in a full year of work into building his photography business, Bill is in a position to reap the rewards of the high art demand in the fourth quarter of the year (Oct, Nov, Dec).

December, 2018

And that brings us just about up to today, where Bill has entered a new phase in his journey – that of being a mentor to newer, less experienced members in the Art Storefronts community. 

Nowadays, in addition to asking for advice and sharing his small wins in our artist community, you'll find Bill contributing his own advice to others.  

Giving back to others is a core principle in the Art Storefronts community.  We know that every single photographer/artist has something more they can learn from someone more experienced than them.  At the same time, everyone also has something that they can give back -- especially after they become more successful.


From launch frustrations, to a triumphant first sale, to more struggling, to his best Q4 yet – Bill's journey to sales consistency has taken 22 months, and counting.

The common theme is this:  Building your art business -- or any business for that matter -- is a process of making continual small incremental improvements over long periods of time.  You do not wake up one day with success on your doorstep.

Instead, once you taste a little success, you see all the little things you did that all added up to get you here.  

So, how long will your journey take?

Well, it depends (sorry!), but the only way to get there is to get started, and begin making progress.  

The rate at which you make progress will determine how long it takes.  If you can increase this rate, you will shorten this timeline as much as is possible.

One thing is certain.  If you are moving slower than you could be, if you continue to run into roadblocks with art marketing or art business issues, and if you are not consistently making progress down the right path -- it could take a very long time to get there.  You may never get there until you fix this.

We can help.  Request a demo today and we'll tell you more about what we can do to help your business grow profitably. 

See why thousands of artists and photographers are using Art Storefronts to setup and run their own art galleries online »

Now I have a coach that keeps telling me 'go, go, go!' and pushes me to do the stuff that I need to do.

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An augmented reality tool purpose-built for artists and photographers. You'll sell more art than ever when your buyers can see what your work will look like on their walls – straight from your website (no app downloads required!).

Introducing Live Preview with Augmented Reality >>

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