Increasing Art and Photo Sales

I want to provide you another perspective that may change the way you look at every time you sell a print. I will start by asking you to think about how much is everyone who likes your art, worth. More specifically think how much did your print or even a painting fetch after someone DID NOT buy it. Did you also know these people that don’t buy or never will buy individually have actual monetary sales value to you even if they don’t buy prints or decide not to commission you for some art or photo project? So, let’s discuss this different approach when viewing your sales.

As an online fine art and photo lab, FinerWorks’ specialty is fine art giclee prints, canvas and photo prints. As a result, we are in a great position to speak with artists and photographers. Even though we are an online color lab we have local customers that come in person to place their orders in person. I like to take some time out of the day when I can to speak to many of them and to learn about what they do. During these discussions, a lot of the times we breach the subject matter of getting more sales. There appears to be two challenges in getting sales that seem to be common and can lead to discouragement. One, they find making a sale was harder than they initially thought. Two, if consistently making sales, they feel like they are not seeing an increase at the rate they would like. In most cases neither problem is a lack of demand since there are always buyers for their art. But, the artists don’t know how to come up with an effective strategy that gets them to the next level on their journey to success.

Be aware, it would be pointless to give you a specific strategy that is guaranteed to work. Only you can come up with the proper way since every style of artist has a slightly different market. From my discussions with these various artists and photographers, what works from some does not always work for others. Now the question is how do you come up with a good marketing strategy and increase sales?

The Beginning of an Improved Marketing Strategy

We must assume that you have some sales. With sales comes a wealth of data that can be used to improve your sales. But rather then looking at the actual sales, let us look at the people that don’t buy as part of our new outlook. Out of the people that don’t buy your prints, originals or art related service there are two types: people that can and might buy (our potential buyers) and people that will never buy.

To create an effective formula, we have to eliminate as many people that won’ buy as best we can. We might not be able to eliminate them all but with the numbers we can gleam we can begin exploring the development of improving our marketing to attract more sales.

First – Identify Different Viewers of Your Art

Understand there is a difference between someone that simply stumbles across your work and what I call the potential qualified buyers who like your work. Normally those that merely come across your work are the least likely to buy since impulse buys in the online artwork usually do not occur. They have intrinsic value too if you cannot separate them but too many non-qualified buyers can make it more challenging in identifying ways you can make improvements in how you attract more sales. It’s the potential buyers we need to look at more since their habits and questions we be able to give you a better idea of who your buyers are. In the business world people discuss the potential buyers as qualified leads. In the online world, we call them qualified visitors. Regardless how you label them, you want these to be people that have an interest in hanging your art on a wall and have the means to pay you even if they did not buy anything.

Second – Eliminating the Non-Qualified Buyers

To eliminate the non-qualified buyers, the best way is to not show them your work. Okay, that may sound too extreme, or even counter-intuitive on some level but let’s look at how you can do it in a constructive manner. To start eliminating or minimizing the number of people that view your work that would never buy it you will need to establish how people come to discover your type of art. It could be word of mouth, it could be an online presence or even placement in a gallery. If you are not sure, then you need to establish a way to reach people.

As an example, if you like to sell drawings of comic book characters, naturally a comic book convention might be the ideal place to start. Other places may be art shows. And if art shows are not doing it for you engage with other artists doing similar things, and see if they are willing to share some of the things that works for them. In my case back when I had a gallery based website displaying my digital art, I traded links or got in contact with other websites that I believed my potential buyer might visit hoping they would visit my site as well. One last point on this, don’t just try one way to reach people. Frequently you will find what YOU thought was going to be the perfect method to reach your qualified buyers is not very effective or even takes a few tries for it to work.

Third – Quantify the Value of Your Leads

Finally, quantify the value of your qualified buyers. This may sound like a fancy business phrase but all it means is to place an actual count on these people and figure out how much is an interested party worth to you. Placing an overall value in every person that comes in contact with your work is similar to the technique a salesman might frequently use. As an online printing company, our website sort of serves in the role of a salesperson. For a little inside baseball, within our business, we have marketing people who looks at the revenue from their targeted efforts to attract to visitors. They divide that by the number of qualified visitors based the advertising brings in. This gives them an idea on a per visitor value. This means how much each visitor generates in revenue. With that information they can decide on how to adjust their strategy to acquire more qualified visitors. Sometimes it is a mere change in a phrase in an ad, other times it might be they recommend we change something in the layout off our web page.

Parallel methods are used with any good sales organization. They and their sales person will place a value on leads they receive, phone calls they make or even in-person sales calls. Let’s take the iconic vacuum cleaner salesman that goes door to door trying to sell you a very expensive vacuum cleaner. Let’s also assume for every successful sale, they made $200. Let’s assume only 1 out of 20 people they met bought a vacuum. This means they did not make $200 from one sale but instead $10 for every person spoken to. A good salesperson will have a very accurate tally based on the average of having talked to maybe thousands of people and hundreds of sales and will look for ways he can improve those numbers with better sales techniques. Over time incremental improvements begin to happen. So rather than making $10 per person he talks to, he may start making and average of $11 per person he talks to the first time he tweaks is sales pitch. Eventually that amount increases even more.

How it Can Work for You

I like the technique of placing value on each qualified lead, especially when it comes to online eCommerce. If you use a service like Etsy or have good analytics for online sales it is easy to figure out. Look at how much revenue you made during a certain span of time and divide it by the number of sessions (people visiting your online store or gallery). This places and exciting new way to look at people interested in your work because it now places an intrinsic value on how much each visitor is worth. And if you don’t sell online but simply at art shows or galleries, come up with a way to count how many people visit your booth/table or show. Divide how much you made by those numbers. You can then use this knowledge to maybe invest in ways to bring more visitors to your website, gallery shows or whatever other means you use to sell your art.


Understand that growth is usually going to be incremental which means it won’t happen over night. There is a saying that “knowledge is power”. Take this knowledge and like the vacuum cleaner salesman that works on improving his approach, find ways you can tweak things in your favor such as more eyes looking at your work so you can figure out a way to making your presentation more attractive to the actual buyers.



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