Friday, August 6, 2010

Selling Fine Art on Etsy. What I've learned the last two years!

It was two years ago today that I had my first sale on Etsy, this beautiful original drawing to a client in New York.


I was SO thrilled! My shop had been open for just about a month.  In that first month, I spent a lot of time in the Etsy Forums, reading advice and meeting fellow sellers.  At that point, the only way I was promoting my shop was thru the forums and renewing. 

I also followed the excellent advice of several veteran sellers and built up my feedback.   I did this a couple of different ways.  My favorite way was buying some awesome products from other Etsy sellers and trading with a couple of sellers as well.  If you are interested in trading, check out the list of Etsy Teams for those focused on Trading.  Buying and trading helped me in so many ways beyond feedback as well.

I traded prints with a fellow artist in Canada.  That was a very valuable lesson in shipping to Canada.  First of all, I used UPS, which was a HUGE mistake.  They wanted over $20 in fees on an $18 print (that they didn't tell me about) that they were going to charge the recipient upon delivery.  She refused the shipment, sent me a very kind note explaining why, and I retrieved the package from UPS.  Then I went to the US Post Office and learned about International shipping and filling out customs forms.  (There is also a great thread in the forums that covers international shipping)  I re-sent the package and our trade was a success!  I was so glad that I had that experience with an understanding and experienced fellow seller.

I also traded with some artists here in the states.  At this point, I was shipping my 8 1/2" x 11"  prints matted to 11" x 14".  One artist let me know that even though I had stamped the package "DO NOT BEND", her print arrived folded in half.  *sigh* VERY frustrating!  But that experience led me to seek out a better way of safely shipping my prints.  I ordered no bend mailers from Uline and stopped shipping with matting  - just the print and extra cardboard inside a clear envelope, tucked safely inside the mailer.   So far...no prints have been damaged!

I also joined several Etsy teams that focused on Visual Art.  This was a wonderful way to network with fellow artists, get my Art included in team treasuries, and learn the ins-and-outs of selling Art on-line. 

As I continued to sell, I followed the advice in the forums and started a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page.  Twitter had kind of a "golden age" right before it got HUGE (I blame Ashton and Oprah!) where I really got to know several Clients and Etsy sellers.  I had several Original Art sales the first 6 months I was on Twitter.  I still think Twitter is great for my business.  I have connected with Interior Designers, fellow artists, local media, etc.  It does seem, like most social media platforms these days, that you need to post 4 times as much as you did just a year ago in order to be seen, while still remaining SOCIAL and not spammy.  As with anything - you will only get out of it what you put into it!  So decide what's the best network for your work, and your time!

One of the greatest boosts for my business came from my participation in the Storque.  Writing articles about my success on Twitter and my life as an Artist led so many new friends and clients to my work.   I know your next question...but how do you GET in the storque?!?! My best advice - write about what interests you on your blog or another platform, or start an interesting topic in Etsy's forum.  Etsy's administration and blog content team is watching.  They will connect with you if your story and advice is beneficial to the Etsy community.

So that's what's worked for me so far as I sell my Fine Art on Etsy!  A few things that I've learned that don't work for me..

1.  Creating what I think people "want", not what I feel compelled to create.  These pieces don't sell!  If I put my heart into my work, that's what sells.

2.  So far, expensive Blog advertising hasn't worked for me.  I have found that renewing and listing new work is the best way to make sales and remain "seen" on Etsy.  For more on blog advertising, check out this thread in Etsy's forum.  With any endeavor, there will be some trial and error.  Be prepared to try new things and see what works for you! 

3.  Thinking that you can sit back and relax when you are "on a roll".  Sometimes there are several great weeks, or even months, in a row of steady sales, and I'll sit back and think "I'm on a roll! I can relax a little bit."  You may be able to scale back your renewing budget a bit or spend more time in your studio than on your computer, but make an effort to promote a little bit every day.  You want that roll to keep going! Not come to a halt :)

4.  Trying every new venue for selling that pops up.  It seems that there is a new venue for selling on-line almost every week.  I've tried a couple of these, and for me, it just doesn't work.  Selling one Original Drawing on three different venues just doesn't make sense!  Etsy has more traffic and viewers than any other venue.  If you have a product that you can make tenfold, then perhaps, yes, having your work in several places is beneficial (soap, jewelry, make-up, etc.)  But as an Artist who sells a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces, I have discovered one thing that helps me sell more work - Create New Work!  And the more sites/shops I have to maintain, the less time I have in my studio.  So I found the best use of my time is one great shop on Etsy, and then CREATE new work the rest of the time!

I hope you found my experiences helpful.  I have SO enjoyed selling my Art on-line these last two years.  I love that I have sold Original Art from coast to coast in the US, numerous clients across Canada, and almost a dozen different countries around the globe.  I receive kind e-mails and notes from people who love my work or get inspired by my blog, which is so flattering and really boosts my soul!  I feel very lucky to be doing what I love.




57 comments:

Sharon said...

Thank you for your generous sharing. I will be checking out all of the links you have shared.

Renée Anne said...

Thanks for the great post!

Sofie said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. The Internet, and Etsy in particular, has truly changed the possibilities for artists to pursue their vocation wholeheartedly. Your article is so helpful and encouraging.

Thea said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing. And I agree, it's amazing how many people are on twitter now! Which is kind of good because there's more people to connect with, but it's much harder to be seen now.

moddyboy80 said...

Brilliant advice! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I'm sputtering along at the moment on Etsy - happily - but I know there is so much more I can do. By the way, I found your blog via daniellexo's post on the Etsy Success Reading List.

krystyna81 said...

I'm so glad you found my post helpful! I know I have learned so much more...but I was getting pretty long winded, and even I got tired of listening to myself :)

And many thanks to Danielle for sharing on the reading list - such an awesome member of Etsy's team! I really appreciate her support.

Connie Lou said...

Great advice, focused and obviously proven by your success..not to mention the fact that your work is incredible.

Thank you much!

jody mcdowell said...

this is all such great advice.. thank you so much for sharing what you've learned so far!

stacie said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I particularly like the information about Etsy teams and sharing. Sounds like fun and a great way to get feedback. I used to trade quite a bit with other artists at craft shows and it does help to get feedback, plus you get some wonderful creations in the process!

Susan Roux said...

This is so informative. Thanks for posting it.

krystyna81 said...

Stacie - Oh I miss that, too! I used to do a lot of outdoor shows and made some wonderful trades! Earrings, pottery, switchplate covers, paintings...I loved trading!

But trading on-line teaches you many valuable lessons as well. Seeing how other's package their work, practicing weighing and using PayPal for shipping labels, learning about international shipping - all usefull experiences that one must - experience! - in order to perfect.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristina . . . as a fibre artist on Etsy I have yet to find a great following but the feedback I have is all totally wonderful . . . maybe trading would help. . . thanks for the idea.

SM said...

I truly appreciate your clear and honest tips, advice, and testimony. This is a great resource for those of us just delving in for the first time! Thank you.

Silk and Jewelry said...

Thank you very much for sharing!

Judy Mackey said...

Great article - thank you for writing it and sharing. I've learned a lot. Love your artwork!

JBeaudetStudios said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us! I agree with everything you've said. But only wish I had some interesting info to share for the storque to take notice! May you have much more success in the future! Jennifer:)

krystyna81 said...

Jennifer...I remember seeing an Oprah episode a LONG time ago, where she was saying "everyone has a story". And SO many people disagreed "No, my life is so boring. I don't have anything to say" and then, just a few questions later, those same people were sharing very emotional and personal experiences with the audience!

Point is: yes, you DO have something interesting to say. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering or ground-breaking. It just has to be from the heart, well written, and have a truth that others can relate to. That story is in you!

Miss Spaghetti Monster said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this! Every website is growing every day, it can be overwhelming to keep up. Excellent advice to focus on one venue and select only a few ways to promote. Content is so much more valuable that scattering seeds across the ocean!

DoonArt said...

Thank you. Your information was invaluable to me.

Jazz Green said...

hi!

this is really useful advice and very inspiring as i have been feeling quite downbeat about how difficult is to to promote fine art/painting on etsy -- thank you so much for sharing this...

however, i'm not really sure about twitter just yet - someone is squatting on my 'name' it seems (ie. not tweeting) and so i can't sign up as myself to discover if it would be any good to promote my art...

Linda said...

This was wonderful! Thank you for all
your advice and for sharing your experience.

pablo pablo said...

beautiful blog!

krystyna81 said...

Hi Jazz green,

That's a bummer about your name! Hopefully you can find another "version" of it if you want to keep your name/brand consistent. I have seen artists do both - post with their business name and their own name. As I mentioned, the vibe has changed in the last 6 months or so, but it can still be a successful platform for networking. Good luck!

MegsCrochetJewels said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I am just now getting my Etsy page created and any advice is much appreciated!

baby cribs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hal2009@att.net said...

Hope to follow your lead. Thanks.

Laura said...

Very helpful and encouraging post!

Rajan said...

Great information on selling visual art on etsy. How do I find etsy team focussed on visual art? Thank you very much Ray Koshy, leaf artist.

Glenna said...

I love Etsy! Thanks for a great blog post.

created to create said...

Thank you so much for sharing this information, im fairly new to the etsy world and I really want to get a lot out of it. So learning from others is key. Thanks again

Stacy Rajab said...

Thank you very much for your sound advice. I was actually debating selling my artwork on other sites, as well - but now with your insight believe I will stick with Etsy. Thanks.

Things of Quality have no Fear of Time said...

Hello, as a fellow seller on etsy I want to first send a huge congrats on all your success! Also, I think you work is just wonderful as well!

Prissy

leapinggazelle said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you for being so generous with your experience and your advice!

Laura Sanna said...

That's very kind from you to share so generously your experience! I'am going to put it right noe in practice!

DaViaDesigns said...

Thank you for the great tips in this post. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

Marias9 said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. Your article is very helpful and encouraging and I love your work.

Cari-Jane Hakes said...

I am still new to Etsy so it is always great to read about other people's experiences. This is all good advice - Thank you for taking the time to share it. Your art work is beautiful! Keep up the great work!

steph granshaw said...

A great read and most definitely helpful, i have set up shop on Etsy but haven't gone live as yet as i am waiting to buy a printer in the next couple of weeks. Your work is beautiful by the way :)) Thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c330257b7336d91ee332a99/study-of-venus-fine-art-sketches

Great tutorial! I love your art!

krystyna81 said...

I really appreciate all of the kind comments and feedback. I hope you all keep creating AND selling :)

About Me - HMMills said...

Thanks for the great advise, and your work is beautiful...

anzosgarden said...

wow ..thanks for all the ideas....

Jen said...

Thank you for this excellent and honest post, particularly your advice about not trying to sell 'what people want'. It's something I struggle with quite a bit, but the idea of, to me, being less technically concerned or selling work with a flair that is not my own, but copycatted from others because it is what is selling now just breaks my heart. Ultimately I'd rather sell fewer pieces but love them than sell things I feel dirty about because I only made them to sell something.

Great post...your work is lovely!

krystyna81 said...

Jen...I know it is SO tempting to look around and say "wow...this person's work is selling really well...I should try that!" But keep your spirits up and make what you love! THAT will be your best work.

Naomi said...

loved the post! great advice about trading with other artists, I can't wait to start!

Tara said...

Thanks for the advice. I was starting to get a little disheartened about the selling of fine art on Etsy but it is back to the drawing board for me, literally! Thanks again : )

krystyna81 said...

Tara...keep in mind times are hard all around. I'm not selling the volume I did a couple years ago, but I am still pretty steady. Chin up! Keep creating :)

MysTery said...

Nice!! Thanks for sharing!

MARLOU B. said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

vanya'sArt said...

Thank you for the valuable advice.It is so nice of you to share your experience with us.

Sarah said...

As all the other visitors have commented, thanks for sharing!
Sarah

Lynn said...

Thanks so much for generously sharing your experiences; I'm new on Etsy and your insights are most helpful. Your art is really beautiful!

claire said...

I just discovered your beautiful art and blog today. Thank you for this post, so very helpful!

Velvet Tetrault said...

Thank you for this fantastic article!

Mateo Zachai said...

Thank you for sharing generously!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for sharing

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