The Real Reasons Your Art Isn’t Selling Online

Hey there art friend,

Today I want to talk about selling your art online. Actually, we’re going to talk about why your art isn’t selling online, the most common reaction I see to this really disheartening problem, and what you should be doing instead.

I’m going to assume you’re here because you’ve already been trying to sell your art either through your website, through social media, or through a third party marketplace like Etsy or Saatchi. And sales have not been great. And now you’re wondering what you should do next.

I can tell you that the first thing most artists think they should do is mark down their prices or have a sale. And why do they do this? Two reasons. First is a mindset issue.

Raise your hand if you grew up hearing that art was valuable and artists deserved to make a good living from their work. If you did, consider yourself lucky. Most of us grew up hearing that an art career wasn’t a lucrative option and if we chose it we would starve. And even if that’s not what you heard from your loved ones, it was the general feeling around you so there’s a lot to overcome emotionally when you start to sell your work. You’re probably not feeling that secure in the value of what you’re offering. And I get that it's hard to step into a room and declare that your work is valuable when you haven’t had a ton of sales yet to prove that to yourself.

Because of these mindset issues, you assume that the reason your art isn’t selling is because it's priced too high. And therefore, if you mark the prices down, it will sell! And maybe you will sell a few pieces that way, but what you won’t be doing is building a business that supports you and allows you to continue making more art and getting paid a fair price.

The other reason people jump to mark down their prices when sales are nonexistent is that it's easy to do. We are impatient, action-oriented creatures by nature who want our problems solved right now. So we think, "What’s under our control? What can we do right now to hopefully sell all this art?" We can drop our prices.

And I don’t mean to make you feel bad if you’ve ever had a sale or discounted the prices of your original paintings because you just needed to get them out of your space. I’m a big fan of having an annual studio sale to get some of your odds and ends out there. But regularly marking down your work is going to train your audience to expect discount prices and it's going to be hard for you to make a living that way.

So now, if the question is “why isn’t my art selling online?” and the answer isn’t your prices—and I promise you 99 out of 100 times the problem is not your price—what is the actual problem?

It could be one of these three things.

1) It is possible that your art isn’t of professional quality yet.

I hate to say this one out loud because I know as artists we are hardest on ourselves. But that’s ok because this is completely under your control. It’s just going to take some more time in the studio to get to that place.

In my experience the art is usually not the problem.

2) You’re taking photos of your art that don’t show it in its best light.

This is a problem one that I see fairly often—either the photo is too dark, there’s something distracting in the background, the edges don’t line up square, it's styled funky... You get the picture. If you’re trying to sell somebody something online, the only way they get to see it is through your photographs. And a bad photograph of an amazing piece of art is going to ruin any chance of a sale every time.

I’ve actually proven this to myself twice over when I’ve been under a time constraint and listed a collection of small paintings on my website with photos I took in bad lighting. I didn’t sell a thing until I went back and re-took all the photos in good light. And then those pieces started to sell. Eventually I sold them all.

Ok. So what if you’re thinking to yourself, "I know my art is good, and I know my photos are good, but I’m still not selling the work." This is true like 80% of the time. The biggest reason most artist’s work isn’t selling is simply a numbers issue.

3) You don’t have enough eyes on your work.

So the answer is unfortunately not the quick fix of lowering your prices, but a longer process of building your audience. My favorite way to do this, the way I built up my audience without spending a lot of time on social media, is through the use of OPAs or "other people’s audiences." Building up your audience through OPAs is the number one action I think all artists should be taking when they’re just getting started.

If you want to learn more about that process and grow your own audience of art collectors, download my free guide on how to build your audience here. Check it out and see how it feels to you.

And that’s it my friends. Hopefully you’re feeling inspired to ramp up your efforts to sell more art online. If you’re wondering how audience growth fits into an actual business plan, check out my free masterclass linked below on the 5 building blocks of your art business.

All my best,


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