“What’s the perfect number of images to launch my art gallery with to maximize my success?”
This is a question we’ve heard time and time again from fine artists and photographers debating whether they’re ready to launch their own online art gallery, and in this post we’ll provide our best answer.
To start, consider an example:
Assume that you are just starting out as a fine art photographer, and all you have is one image. Or, you are a fine artist and all you have is one original painting.
If you are, or if you have ever been this situation — you might think that the ideal strategy, the one that will maximize your success, would be to wait until you have at least 30 or so images before you launch.
Whether its 30, 50, or even 100 images, you probably have some arbitrary number in your mind. A number that would make you comfortable, feeling that you had just enough inventory to “open for business” with a bang.
And so your first thought is to fire up the creative juices, create some new imagery and wait to open your art gallery until you’ve reached that comfortable and suitable number.
Doing so seems perfectly logical. It seems like taking such an approach would maximize your success, right?
Not quite. And that’s because running an online art gallery is very different from running a physical art gallery.
By the end of this article, you will have learned why waiting until you have X number of original paintings or images will actually delay your success and make it harder for you to achieve success with the content you already have.
So why does it seem so true to us that we need a high volume of inventory to achieve success?
The answer is simple – we visit retail stores in person almost daily, and we’re conditioned to think like one. We are used to walking inside, seeing the stocked shelves, picking out what we want and making a purchase.
Stocked shelves: that’s a successful store.
Plenty of pieces available: that’s a successful art gallery.
That is the origin of this urge to fill your online art gallery with tons of work before it’s even worth launching.
But don’t forget: you’re not opening a physical art gallery!
You’re not financing a brick and mortar storefront with very high startup and ongoing costs. You don’t need to make money right away or be forced to shut down.
By contrast, an online art gallery is lower risk, and both your startup and ongoing costs are extremely low. You can pretty much keep your gallery “open” online forever, at a minimal cost. This part is awesome.
But of the few benefits to a physical location, the most important is inbound foot traffic. In other words, if you’ve opened your physical store in a good location, people will walk right in. Some of them will become customers. It’s a luxury that comes at a heavy price.
Not so with your online gallery. Online, you need to build your own traffic. Nobody is coming through the door just because the sign says “Open”.
You do this through marketing, and it’s an absolute necessity online. Without marketing, nobody will know you exist, and you literally won’t get any customers!
Fortunately, the most effective form of digital marketing for artists isn’t very difficult. The best way to build traffic to an online art gallery is by releasing new content. You do this one image at a time, following the Romance Marketing Playbook.
New content is the most powerful marketing weapon you have as an online gallery owner. Click To Tweet
It is what enables you to continually market to your audience in a way that feels like you aren’t even marketing or selling anything. When done right, this is how you build a deep connection with your audience. This is how and why they will share your content with others. Each time you release a new image, your list of current and future customers should grow.
Once you understand this, you realize that each new image you create is a critical asset to be used for marketing. An asset that must be leveraged to its fullest extent. Each one provides its own unique opportunity that would be a shame to miss out on.
This is precisely why it is the wrong strategy to wait to launch an online art gallery business until you build up a certain arbitrary quantity of content.
You will waste all of these precious assets. Assets that you put your heart and soul into creating, and that you deserve to earn some sort of return on by releasing and marketing individually over a period of time – allowing each and every one to grow your audience bit by bit.
At this point you might be thinking, why not launch with a bunch of images in your art gallery, and then romance market these same images one by one afterwards?
Because aside from an exception here or there, you generally don’t want to romance market content that already exists in your online art gallery. Here’s why:
After you first ask people to visit your art gallery, they are going to see and experience your images. Therefore, if you keep sending them images they have already seen, it will feel like you are sending out old content. Doing this will compromise the integrity of your future romance marketing efforts. Once your audience members catch on, many of them will stop paying attention, stop sharing your content with others, and many will unsubscribe from your email list.
The entire goal is to keep them engaged and excited to follow you along your journey as an artist. You need to be very careful to not compromise this.
So if you are in this position where you waited to launch until you had an ideal quantity of images, what is the next best thing you can do?
Aside from a couple of images, don’t try to pass off your old content as new. Create even more new content after you launch, and start marketing the right way.
So now, the answer to our original question should be pretty obvious.
How many images should you have when you open your online art gallery?
The amount you have right now.
If you only have one image, launch with just that.
If you have fifty images, launch with that.
Launch before you release your next image, so that another image’s marketing value doesn’t go to waste.
It’s hard enough to have a legitimate reason to market to your audience in a non-salesy way. Each image gives you that opportunity. Start using it right away!
If you compare the trajectory of two artists who each take one of the aforementioned approaches to launching, the differences in how much they have achieved after one year are drastic. So much so, we thought it would be a good idea to illustrate it quickly:
Assume that “Artist A” launches their art gallery immediately with one image.
“Artist B“, on the other hand, waits one year to launch his art gallery because he arbitrarily decided that 30 images was the ideal number to launch with.
After launching with one image, Artist A releases a new image approximately every 2 weeks for an entire year. Each time, he does romance marketing. Each time, he drives a little more traffic to his site, captures more emails and builds a bigger social following. Each time, he deepens the connection with his audience members and builds momentum. He even picks up sales along the way which easily covers his monthly costs.
Meanwhile, Artist B waits an entire year until he finally has 30 images, and then finally launches his art gallery.
So here we have both artists, after one year. Artist A has 30 images, a sizable and growing email list, a sizable and growing social following, and picked up real sales. Artist B also has 30 images, but has no email list, no social following, and no sales.
By waiting to build an inventory just to launch every image at once, Artist B essentially launched an online business with a bunch of inventory but no traffic and no customers. Once he comes to this realization, he scrambles to start the same process that Artist A started one year ago, and that he should have done on day one: release new content.
Moral of the story: launch with what you have.