the most up-to-date marketing strategies
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The subject of today's post: what one photographer's success story can tell you about how successful art businesses are actually grown.
If you're still waiting for things to really click for your business – this story covers everything you are likely missing.
It all starts here, with this success report from Art Storefronts member William Drew:
When William first joined Art Storefronts, he was an overworked restaurant manager looking for a way to turn his meager photography sales into a genuine business.
And maybe, just maybe, a new career.
Taking a look at his sales year-over-year, you can see what happened from there.
A slow start in year 1. Just 8 orders.
Then, a huge leap in year 2. Over 100% growth!
And then he doubled the business again.
And then he doubled it again.
Today, he's approaching his first $100,000 year and works full-time on his photography business.
And William isn't alone in this success.
We built Art Storefronts from the ground up to provide independent artists with the best possible conditions for this type of growth to happen:
Photographer John Martell sold $45,000 last holiday season alone.
Artist Allison Cantrell sold all 20 of her available commissions within a day of opening up her orders.
And painter Megh Knappenberger walked away from her first year with over $200,000 in art sales.
→ So, what are they doing that everyone else is not? What about their approach to business is creating more consistent results than those who continue to struggle?
It’s simple: Artists and photographers that adapt to the modern way of building an art business profit enormously from it.
I'm guessing that if you have found this article and read this far, you, too fit into that group – the photographer or artist that’s had enough “trying” and is ready to get to the “succeeding” part.
What I am here to tell you is that selling art consistently is very much possible, given you have three things:
Art Gallery Website
We’ve made it our objective, mission, and obsession to master all three of these elements – combining them into a single, all-in-one system that works.
Photographer William Drew (Art Storefronts member since 2017) increased his print sales by +807% year over year.
Artist Megh Knappenberger (Art Storefronts member since 2017) sold $56,000+ of art her first holiday season
The Bad News: The "trying" still isn’t done for you, there is no silver bullet that will change your life overnight.
The Good News: We believe the "succeeding" is within reach for artists that fully leverage these 3 components.
So let’s get into it. The how and the why – our journey to learn how valuable art businesses are being built.
It all started with a bit of research…
Who's selling, and how are they doing it?
From the beginning, we wanted a clear and honest understanding of the state of the art industry. What we found was strangely contradictory.
Art wasn’t just available for sale online, it was booming.
All the way back in 2013 the BBC reported more art was being sold online than in galleries.
The value of the online art market was $1 billion and expected to grow to $2.64 billion by 2015. These growth expectations were quickly surpassed.
Great! So where are all the successful artists? We wanted to find out how they're doing.
We talked with and visited them - tens of thousands of artists and photographers from every niche imaginable located all across the USA, Canada, and overseas.
We looked at their websites, got into their sales reports, broke down the data. What did we find?
Nobody — and we mean NOBODY – was having any consistent success selling art from their own websites.
The only significant success stories we could find were coming from traditional, offline channels.
The exact channels that were quickly being cannibalized by the
explosive growth of the online market!
So, if individual artists weren't benefiting from the online growth, who was?
Our research revealed a large portion was being sold by the big art retailers – Art.com, SaatchiArt, uGallery, and GreatBigCanvas, to name a few.
We reviewed their websites and made a key discovery:
The buying experience being provided by these leading online art retailers was vastly different to the standard websites utilized by artists and photographers.
The retailers were offering features like live previews of different media types, in-room visualization tools, framing tools, easy sharing tools, and much, much more.
Artist websites, in contrast, were more like coffee table books – nice to look at, but lacking any tools to actually help a customer shop and purchase artwork.
In other words, simply putting your art up for sale is not enough.
Art is a product with inherently high "buyer friction" – there is a lot of stuff that gets in the way of closing a sale. Stuff like:
I can't tell what size print would look best on my wall...
I love it, but I need my spouse to sign off. I'll have to remember to come back later....
I'm not sure how this piece will look with my paint color, furniture, other artwork, etc.
Canvas gallery wrap, metal, acrylic...I don't know what any of these media types actually look like...
This is a lot of money, how do I even know I can trust this artist with my order?
The big art retailers had features to address every single one of these common issues.
Artist and photographer websites did not.
This distinction explains the contradiction: the online art market is booming, but individual artists aren't equipped to take advantage of it.
We decided to do something about that.
Art Storefronts allows you to be your own art gallery so you aren't dependent on other galleries. You don't have to wait to be discovered, or called, or emailed by any galleries. You don't have to fit any of their aesthetics. You are your own gallery.
HELPING INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ACHIEVE CONSISTENT MONTHLY SALES
After realizing artists and photographers were stagnating while the industry moved on without them, the need became clear for a company that could give them the exact same toolkit the big retailers have.
A company that could put artist success first - teaching them to leverage the strength of the online art market rather than be whittled down by it.
At first, we thought that meant we should be a website provider.
But when we put some serious thought into what it takes for modern artists to achieve success, we realized that even the best website in the world still only addresses one of the three success pillars. Remember?
The Right Art Gallery Website. The Right Marketing. The Right Community.
If we were going to become THE company that artists and photographers turn to when they're ready to grow their business into something sustainable, we needed to address all three pillars.
And so we did:
The Right Art Gallery Website
All the visualization tools high-end art collectors expect to find on your website.
Plus industry-leading innovation, like Live Preview with Augmented Reality - the first in-browser AR tool that allows buyers to try out your art on their walls.
And it never stops. We are constantly developing and releasing new features to keep our members at the cutting edge of the art market.
The Right Marketing Plan
Everything you need to run successful marketing campaigns, summarized into straightforward checklists.
Email subject lines. Social media language. Email templates. Hashtags to use on Instagram.
All based on success data from thousands of artists and photographers.
We find what's working out there and bring it to you so you can get back to creating your work.
The Right Community
Here's something you won't find anywhere else: weekly Zoom sessions staffed by professional art marketing consultants just waiting to help you grow your business.
While most artists are operating alone, on an island, Art Storefronts members have a community of mentors and experts to lean on.
Take advantage of it whenever you get stuck and you'll find yourself bypassing challenges faster than ever before.
Can't wait for the next Zoom session? Post in #SmallWins, our private, members-only Facebook Community that puts you in touch with thousands of successful artists ready to share their experiences and advice.
The combination of website software, marketing program, and community has been profoundly powerful for our members.
Artists like William Drew who had previously sold next to nothing through their own websites, were finally able to start growing.
After years of struggle, Bill Stidham sold over $17,000 his first holiday season on Art Storefronts
Painter Jim Pescott earned his first ever online sale through his Art Storefronts site
Our journey took years of thought and plenty of pivots - just like your art business, but today we're proud to say we offer the most complete system anywhere for artists and photographers that are tired of leaving money on the table.
Want to see a demo?
If we can't teach you, no one can!