How Slower Art Sales Can Pay Off

Summer time can be a slower period for artists. If you are one of those artists whose sales begin to decline, don’t look at it as a negative. Instead use it to your advantage.

It may take some time if you are not already there but if you are persistent, at some point you will find you spend more time trying to keep up with your art or photo business than pointing it into the direction you want it to go.

I recall once speaking with an artist who was relatively new at selling her work. Her full-time job was as a teacher, so she was off during the summer.  Over the school year she was having a lot of difficulty balancing her busy work schedule and managing the sales her prints brought in. She was looking forward to the summer because she would have more time to work on getting her sales fulfilled. But, around the month of June her sales dropped. Her 3 to 5 orders a day turned into 1 or 2 a day. She asked me if I had ever seen that happen with artists before. I told her this was normal for many artists. Sometimes it had to do with the theme of their work, other times who they were selling to and even other times where they were selling. Overall though, a drop off during the summer months appears to be a common trend we have seen with some artists.

I then told her that this was also the perfect time to plan. I gave her 3 ideas to consider that I thought would allow her to take advantage of her slower time but would make her busier time more productive.

Make a List of Things You Can Do Better

Make a list of the most challenging aspects in running your art business and come up with solutions to make them easier. You might find creating a list you can see, with the solutions written down below helps greatly. It acts as a guide or manual that you can follow and tweak as you grow your business and run into new challenges. As an example, let’s say you like to ship your prints yourself rather than have FinerWorks drop ship them for you. You write down that the time standing in line at the post office is too time consuming. Your solutions are to switch to FEDEX or UPS and schedule regular pickups at your home. The solutions you come up with don’t have to be anything grand but sometimes you might want to consider some out of the box approaches, even it means taking it to a different comfort level until you get used to it.

Evaluate / Update Your Prices

Have you ever wondered if customers might think your prices are too high? Or maybe you don’t think you are charging enough. Pricing does not always play a role in the sale of art as much as you would think. People who buy your work are not as likely to be comparison shopping for the best price before they order your work. But that does not mean prices can’t play a role. What is important is to know if pricing does play a role and the slow season may be the time to find out. Try some A/B tests to see where you are at with your prices. For instance, maybe offer prints for sale that are a limited edition at a price point you normally would offer them then soon after offer a similar size print at a different price. It might also include experimenting with things like free shipping.  Also spend some time getting to know other artists at your level or even researching what others are selling their work at online.  Evaluating pricing can be a bit time consuming so the summer time is a great time to do this.

Setup Other Ways and Places to Sell

I frequently run into artists and photographers that limit where they sell. Trying other ways takes them either out of their comfort zone or requires a lot more work than what they normally would do. Again, summer time or your slow time is the perfect opportunity to tests other venues. Maybe it is time to try Etsy or Ebay. Maybe it is time to overhaul your website. It may also mean preparing for the fall season art fairs in your area.

The general trend is those slow sales will pickup mid to late August and potentially get busier into Christmas. This can be great, however if you don’t prepare well before hand, especially if you have a growing business, you might find yourself losing out on opportunities in the future. Going back to the artist I spoke to, I told her that this scenario is not the same with every artist. We have plenty of people that use FinerWorks that operate completely out of that trend, and she may only follow it partially. But when things do slow down, take advantage of them for all they are worth.

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