Are you an artist? Have you found my website, or this page specifically, because you are scouring the internet for ideas on how to get started selling your own artwork, yourself? That’s what I did. Today, everybody and their brother has turned into a coach of some sort offering their help for a price. Being a coach is a valid trade, but I believe that as artists, we should all share information we’ve found when we can help, not guard it in secrecy. It’s all the Golden Rule… Karma and all that jazz. Of course, I don’t mean give away copyrighted information or course documentation. They all have the right to make a living, too.
This page is dedicated to helping others in creating their dream of being a working artist, too. Almost all the information available, even info that is sold, can be found with persistence… and time. I’ve discovered, sometimes it is worth paying someone to save yourself time. But hey, I’m all about freebies, too.
Neglect not the gift that is in you
First off whatever it is you do, do a lot of it. Practice your art. Seems funny to say that, but it’s essential. Painters paint, Illustrators draw, Sculptors sculpt, etc. We are all students of life and what do students do? They study. They practice. So do it, and do it a lot. That said, I am on my computer/tablet/phone a ton. It’s all about marketing baby. If no ones sees your art, how will you sell it?
With technology today, it’s so easy to just pull out your phone or tablet and sketch an idea or even write yourself a note about a layout that’s in your head. If you don’t capture it then, you run the risk of it being gone when you’re needing inspiration. I list some apps on this page I use to keep sketching anywhere I’m at even without a pad and pencil. While you’re online… promote yourself a little. Help promote others… what comes around goes around.
Document your work, even if it’s bad. If you don’t like it, that’s fine but you’ll see how you’ve progressed if you can look back. Learn from mistakes. If you don’t want to keep the work, photograph it and archive it that way. *warning* if you throw away a painting/sculpture/whatever in the trash make sure you destroy it first. You’ve seen those junkers and dumpster divers out there (I’m guilty of dumpster diving!). You don’t want that piece to come back to either haunt you or surprisingly show up someday when you are a famous artist or at least a much better one. We all have to start out and starting out means making some and even lots of bad art (even not just starting out!), it’s part of the process… it’s how you learn and grow and become a better artist. I’ve heard some stories of artists throwing canvases in the trash and years later for whatever reason, visiting a home only to see their “humble beginnings” being displayed on the wall. Awkward.
Keep your work inventoried and ID’d starting now! Develop a system for yourself so that you can easily locate a painting and know it’s whereabouts at any given time. A spreadsheet is a fine way to do this. I currently use Google Sheets for my painting inventory because I can access it anywhere, not just on my desktop computer. I have Google Drive on my ipad, desktop and my Android phone.
I ID and categorize my paintings by year and the order it was started consistently. In this example below, you see the columns each are labeled with something I felt was important. The rows hold individual paintings. I id each painting on the back using the year first, then number in sequence. For example let’s say it’s February 26th, 2015 and I’ve just begun a new painting. I will id it with 15-001. That way I have a record of everything in order and it’s title, size, medium, date completed, the price. Also, I can keep track of what all I’ve done with it, like signed it, photographed it, where it is currently – like sold or being in an exhibit or just in my studio.
That way when someone sees a painting on Facebook or my website or wherever and they ask me details about it, I can pull this up and have all the information at my fingertips in a flash. I can then get back with the potential buyer immediately and that’s good business. Of course you have to keep it up to date. But that is all part of running a business. And selling your art is a business. As of this writing, if you sell $400 or more of art in a year you are legally required to pay federal income tax on it. More about that later.
I may put a link here for a sample sheet that you can use yourself, so check back or better yet subscribe to my blog and I’ll always mention updating this page in a post the day I update.
Join. Join everything like artist forums, social media sites, local art groups, your local Art Council, etc. to see what you like, find useful and ethical and then weed out stuff you don’t.
Never give up.
This page will be a constant work in progress because I’m learning new things everyday myself. If you hear of a good website/program/book/idea and want to share, please do! (in the comments) Just watch the links, my spam filter might not like it and I do review all comments before they’re published.
To be completely transparent, I’m not selling anything (except my art!) but I may be an affiliate of some of the businesses I suggest. I’ll tell you when I am and there is never any pressure to buy. Trust me, if I didn’t believe in them, I wouldn’t give them any valuable space on my website. To be an affiliate means that if you were to click from my site and buy into a program that it leads you to, I get a small kickback in the form of money usually. I’m not getting rich, but hopefully a little mad money to chip into my plant/garden obsession. I do not accept advertising on my page, I am just sharing experiences, classes, books, programs, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. that have worked for me or I feel are worth your time to look at.
Here’s a starting point:
Your Art is Your Business by Robert Roy Reed – Really helpful at getting all your ducks in a row on the business end in the beginning or even if you’ve already been flying by the seat of your pants for a while. Make sure to download the FREE ArtBooks spreadsheet he provides which is a pre-filled spreadsheet that you put in your own information in.
I’d Rather Be in the Studio! (3rd edition ebook only) by Alyson B. Stanfield – All kinds of great information for artists including letters that you can use. She also has a great website which offers free and paid information. Sign up to receive her blog posts delivered to your email, FREE of course. Click here or on her book to buy it on her site.
Blogs/ Paid Classes / Podcasts / Websites
The Abundant Artist – (An Affiliate) I started out with Cory Huff when I decided I was going to try to make a go of it with my art as a business. He has great courses offered as well as FREE content to keep you busy for a long time. He has a totally FREE podcasts on itunes once a week, plus videos interviewing successful artists and how they did it (mostly on Vimeo, I think). I highly recommend starting here when you decide you’re going to jump into this crazy fun world of be a working artist. Cory is a genuinely nice guy. He has that techie gene and also a patient way of explaining that techie stuff so it’s easy to understand and most importantly easy to apply to your particular situation. Cory offers learn at your own pace group classes which includes entry to a mastermind class on Facebook where his students share questions as well as great ideas. He also offers one on one coaching to get precise help with marketing your art business.
Art Career Academy – by Nastasha Wescoat. I paid for this course (The Artist’s Blueprint) and have really gotten so much out of it. Natasha is down to earth, very open and offers so much helpful advice. With my membership, I get to be in the private Facebook group for ACA and have made friends and we discuss all kinds of things about being in the art business. She has modules to follow as well as monthly videos for inspiration and help with your online business. This course isn’t open for enrollment all the time, so I suggest if you’re interested to sign up for the waiting list.
Artist’s Kiss- Artists Networking for Success – Created by Robin Maria Pedrero. I first saw Robin I think from a blog post I was reading. It could’ve been Facebook, I’m not sure it’s been a while. I was so drawn to her painting style and I have to admit I kinda became her online stalker. I loved her use of color, her art and the way she positioned herself as a prominent artist in Orlando Florida (at the time) and her always upbeat and helpful comments she would leave me on her blog A Pocketful of Colors.
I learned so much from Robin just by pouring over her website and following her on Facebook. Happily, she was receptive to my stalkerish ways. Ha ha… She recognized a need in the online art community for fellowship and moral support so she started a group called Artist’s Kiss on Google+. First as a newsletter she prepared for a small group of artists exchanging ideas, talking shop and offering encouragement. Now it has grown to two groups on Facebook (as well as Google)- Artists Kiss for the artists to keep the same G+ idea and now also Art Collectors and Artists – a place on Facebook where VISUAL artists can share artwork and art collectors can view and possibly connect and buy. She is literally giving us artists ways to connect to collectors! Exactly what we’re all trying for!
Robin has such a sweet disposition in life and is a successful artist helping lead the way for women all over as artists. Her strengths are in her character. She is one of the most talented and giving people I know.
AHA – Artist’s Helping Artist’s – By Leslie Saeta. A great place to get business ideas, inspiration and help keeping up with current business trends that help artists. Totally FREE podcast every Thursday full of information you need to hear. Plus, listen to the last 5 years worth of shows on itunes. I never miss an episode.
Maria Brophy – Maria has great advice for a multitude of situations especially involving contracts. She manages her artist husband, Drew Brophy and has a great informative blog with tons of free information. I think she is now offering some paid classes, too.
Robert Genn – The Painter’s Keys Make sure you sign up for the FREE twice weekly letters. Sadly, Robert Genn has passed but his daughter, Sara, is keeping the site going with all it’s wisdom and she keeps the twice weekly letters coming. Robert had a special way of writing that makes me feel as though he really was writing to me. He shares everyday life and inspiration of a humble but talented artist. One of the best places I’ve found for artist’s quotes.
Nathalie Lussier’s brand blog – I can’t remember how I found Nathalie’s blog but I’m glad I did. I signed up to get her emails and she delivers short, to the point videos with good business sense and things you can do to grow your business. She does not cater to the art crowd, it’s a wider net… entrepreneurs. She comes across as a good friend offering advice. Her business positions her as a digital strategist. Nathalie offers her services as a mentor and she has many marketing products for sale as well. One in particular I’m interested in but haven’t gotten yet is a pop-up to entice visitors to sign up for my newsletter – a valuable resource you should be cultivating, too.
Apps & Services I use
WordPress.org – FREE, self hosted e-commerce theme by WooCommerce. That means I bought my web domain name (I advise you do the same and right away.) Here’s good place to begin if you need the basics, click here. I also purchased a one year subscription for an Elegant theme called Divi. I love the options it has added to my site and the control it has allowed me to have. For instance, in my last theme (MyStile by Woo) I had to use the category names that were give by the creator of that theme and one thing that has bugged to to no end was that I couldn’t change my ‘categories’ to ‘paintings’. Now I can and tons more, plus it looks much more sleek than before.
HostGator – My web hosting site (who I pay for my web domain name and also they host my site for a fee) Fair pricing, not overblown like a lot of hosting sites. They’ve helped me quickly whenever I’ve had issues and I’ve been with them for years. UPDATE: I have dropped HostGator like a hot potato after they tried to gouge me for hosting. My prices went skyrocketed for no reason (and I mean like the price went up by 800%). I think they assume people don’t want the hassle of moving their site. It was a bit of doing, but any good hosting site will be there to hold your hand and in a lot of cases they do it for you.
I ended up going with Fast Comet and they have been very helpful, not to mention the price is nice. One problem I’ve encountered and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in the USA and they are not, but I cannot use Google Chrome to log in to my site any longer. I had to chase down that it has something to do with needing a VPN (Virtual Private Network). I called my internet provider about getting that and they (AT&T) wanted like $15 extra a month for it. Ugh… everyone has their hand out, don’t they? So I found a work around. You can get free VPN via apps. There are a lot and I don’t have one to recommend because I didn’t go that route. I luckily found I can log in using another browser (FireFox). However, I did use Hide.me for their free trial and it did work. But again, with the monthly fees… so Firefox it is until I have money to burn.
WooCamp – You need this in your life if you plan on using WooCommerce. I cannot tell you how much this has opened my eyes and has helped me and I’m not even finished with the course yet! Brad Griffin is the owner and teacher of this really great course on how you need to be setting up your e-commerce store using WooCommerce. He is to the point and I find him to be just a hilarious, helpful guy that truly wants to help you rank with the search engines. What is ranking? Well, you know when you Google something and usually the big guys like Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, Target, etc come up? Wouldn’t you like to come up on that first page as well? I’ll answer that for you…. Yes you would. Brad shows you how. He’s taking me step by step and the price for learning this is unbelievably low. In fact, I jumped on it when I saw how much the course was. It seems good courses like this find their way of going up in price, so get in while you can before he realizes what a deal this is! Just for disclosure, Brad has offered me an affiliate deal so that means I get a little kick back if you join, but even if I didn’t I would still send people his way because I believe in his course and I happen to really like Brad and his way of teaching.
So go to this link and read the entrance page, then click up in the top right WooCommerce SEO Course then watch his short video, and read the reviews and further down (there are tidbits of good info just for free right there!) then go register, pay and start learning right away how to start making your site rank.
MailChimp – Free e-mailing management (for lists under 2,000)
If This Then That – This time saver is so easy to use I am just thrilled. I heard about this first from Artist’s Helping Artist’s podcast on BlogTalkRadio. IFTT is what I call a utility program. It does things. You link up all your social media and basically it sets off a sequence of events. If you do this, then that happens. For instance, I set it up so when I post something on my Facebook Art Page (JaimeHaneyArtist) then IFTTT takes action by automatically posting that same post to Tumblr, LinkedIn, Flickr if it’s a photo and Twitter. I only had to set up the free account, link all my social media, go through and give access to IFTTT just once and set up ‘recipes’ as they call them. You can make your own recipes very easily or you can pick out recipes others have already made and shared. I’ve done both. I see this saving me a ton of work and no more forgetting to share my latest photos and posts.
OpenOffice.org – My answer to having to buy Microsoft Office. Apache OpenOffice is FREE productivity software that has spreadsheets, database, document, multi-media presentations, drawing
Evernote – Holy Cow this is so handy, I’m only just beginning to discover how powerful it really is even though I’ve had it for a couple years. I don’t even know how to explain what all this does, so just go check it out. Here’s what they say: “Organize your life. Workspace for daily projects • Keep everything together • Sync across all devices” I have it on my desktop computer, my phone, my tablet and they are all synced. There is a paid version, but right now I’m using the FREE version.
Iconosquare.com – Iconosquare is a way for you to deal with your Instagram account. If you are using Instagram for your marketing, then this app is going to make your life easier, especially if you’re like me and on your computer accessing accounts generally more than your phone. This app gives you an easier way (I think) of looking at your IG (Instagram) account. What’s that? You’re NOT using IG to market your art?! Well you should be. It’s fast, easy and I think it’s fun. I’m just learning little tweaks to make my photos get more views. Hashtags are a big deal here. If you’re making art and trying to sell it, nothing makes more sense than promoting it with photo based apps like Instagram (and Pinterest).
With Iconosquare, all from one screen you can see your feed, media, likes, followers, people you’re following, popular photos from everywhere and most importantly stats and ways to promote. I’ve just discovered this app, but I think it’s going to open IG up a lot more for me. I’ve been a willy nilly poster up until now and I hope to jump on this bandwagon before it’s taken over by greed and they start charging for “product like” posts. (just like Facebook and Pinterest and more now have). Here is a good article I found that explains even more about Iconosquare better than I can.
UPDATE ON ICONOSQUARE: They have since turned into a pay app. I’m not currently using it.
I try to stay active in my Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Flickr. Make sure you check out my newest finds www.ifttt.com to link all the social media you use and Iconosquare for Instagram marketing.
Tidbits & Misc.
Scams – I wanted to mention this because once you get any kind of presence out there you’re bound to get spam and some of it can be a scam. It disheartening to know there are people trying to steal from artists, it’s hard enough to make money and now there’s people trying to steal it. Don’t be so desperate for a sale that you end up paying someone to “buy” your work.
I myself have gotten many letters and even phone calls of both spam and scams. Someone will write you and it’s usually not written in very good english or it just feels odd and they’re interested in your work. They indicate issuing you a bank check or something similar and plan to pay you more than you’re asking for to ship it and then they want you to wire the extra money to them. They get your money and you just got scammed. Sad, and usually avoidable but the crooks are clever and people can be gullible when they want a sale badly enough. Here is a good blog post about a sample scan letter sent to this artist.
I’ll update this page as I remember things to put on here or if I find new and useful information for the artist and our business. I’ll put the updated date at the top of the page so you’ll know if you’ve already read the content that is here.
Of course, here is my shameless plug for myself!
If you’re new to my blog and website have a look at my ‘About’ page in the menu at the top. I’m an artist – a painter mostly. I paint a variety of subjects including cranes, ravens and crows, flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. If you’re interested in my art, I have a newsletter mailed about once a month that gives you special status for invitations, birthday greeting and more. Sign up here for it.
Check out some of my paintings. I sell originals, prints and notecards. Click on the strip below to see more. Thanks for visiting! Leave me a comment please.