How to Sell Art on Facebook
Plenty of artists sell plenty of art on Facebook, but selling art on Facebook and other social networking websites involves more than loading your page up with images and waiting for sales to roll in. Not only do you have to make a good case for yourself and your art, but you also have to be active and consistent in how you get the word out, attract an audience and work to cultivate a loyal following. It's not enough for people to simply know you're there; they need reasons to come back for more... and more... and more. Here's a list of tips and pointers to help maximize your chances for success, grow a fan base and sell more art:
* Make sure your art is organized into galleries of related works. Way too many artists dump all kinds of art into their photo albums with no curatorial oversight whatsoever. Dividing your art into groups, series or categories not only makes it easier for your fans to click right to the types of art they want to see the most. Even more importantly, well organized art is easier for people to understand... especially those who are visiting your page for the first time.
* Regularly update your page not only about your latest art adventures but also with fresh images. Posting new work and works-in-progress with reasonable regularity is a great way to show how productive you are and how serious and committed you are to being an artist. If you post updates or introduce new art only every once in a while, people won't have much reason to take you seriously or visit your page because hardly anything ever changes.
* Make your entire page public. The reason you're on Facebook is to increase the audience for your art. Don't limit that potential by making sections of your page private, not allowing people to tag you, or otherwise restricting who can see, comment on, respond to, message or chat, or otherwise interact with you and your page.
* Your page should be much more than a place to show your art. It's where you welcome people to your artistic life, introduce yourself and your art, and talk in ways pretty much anyone can understand, relate to, appreciate and get involved with. The better you do this, the more followers you attract. More and more galleries are paying attention to artists with large followings... and offering them shows. Followers have literally become the currency of social networking and can play a key role in your success in both the online and gallery worlds.
* Think of your page as an illustrated ongoing commentary on your progression and evolution as an artist. Make it a good read... and a good see. Develop a consistent storyline or narrative. Focus on your art-related activities, on what you're doing and how you're doing it... like what you're up to in the studio, your latest shows, recent sales, how you decide what to make next, the challenges you face while working on a new piece of art, where you go or what you listen to or read for inspiration, and so on. The best artist Facebook pages make people want to come back for more. Like a page-turner book or a great TV series, fans can't wait for the next exciting episode or adventure.
* Consistency is really important whenever you post. Make sure everything connects up, that there's a flow to what you write and show, and that no matter when or where on your page people join in, they can feel like they've got a grip on things and a sense of who you are and what you're about as an artist. If your page gets too confusing, people will stop following you.
* Make sure your posts relate to your art and art life in one way or another. In other words, stay on topic. Posts on unrelated subjects or aspects of your personal life that have nothing to do with art should probably go elsewhere, perhaps on a personal page viewable only by friends and relatives. If you do decide to post off-topic, make sure you provide enough in the way of explanation so your art fans can understand.
* "Likes" are OK. "Comments" are better. "Shares" are the best. The lowest level of engagement is clicking "Like" and moving on. Not much action there. Commenting means more and lots of comments on a post often leads to an interesting discussion thread. You know what happens when a thread gets interesting? More people spend more time reading it which also means they're spending more time around your art. You know what happens when a thread gets REALLY interesting? It gets shared. And "Shares" are what you want; that's the highest level of Facebook engagement and the single best way for new people to get introduced to your work, by friends who share your posts (and art) with their friends.
* Get people involved with your life as an artist. Post images of your art along with descriptions or comments that encourage discussion and invite others to respond. Whenever possible, relate your art or artistic perspective to larger ideas, issues, concepts, beliefs, philosophies. Connect your art up with topics we can all appreciate or identify with, or experiences we all share. The more people engage with your posts, the better. When people comment on or share your posts, those comments and shares appear on their pages. People who don't know you will be exposed to your posts, and if they find them interesting, will likely click over to your page. If they like what they see when they get there, they might "friend" you, message you or otherwise start to follow what you're up to. This is the Facebook equivalent of the "ripple effect," of expanding your circles of friends and contacts, and people's awareness of your art. In the long run, it's how you attract new collectors.
* Whenever you post an image of your latest art, say something about it. Briefly introduce it. This is essential, especially for people who are seeing it for the first time. Provide enough background information or explanatory so that people who like the way it looks, but who may not know you, will have a better understanding of what it represents and who you are as an artist. Descriptions or comments always deepen people's experiences of your art. One to three sentences will do it in most cases.
* In addition to posting images of the artworks themselves, show them hanging or on display at various locations. This way, people can get a sense of what your art might look like in their homes or offices.
* Give people reasons to want to own your art. Present it in ways that make it more than just another pretty picture or decorative object. Is there a story behind it? What inspired you to make it? What does it mean or communicate or represent. Give it a significance and value that extends beyond the visual. Anyone can buy a good looking piece of art anywhere, but as for one that enriches, fulfills or has meaning beyond the visual, art like that is a lot more difficult to find. The more deeply people connect with your art and what it stands for, the greater the chances they'll want to make it a part of their lives.
* Avoid the temptation to show too much art. Curate your page the way you would any exhibition. Sometimes it's better to regularly remove older works and replace them with new ones rather than add and add and add. There's a fine line between impressing people and overwhelming them.
* Mention prices every once in a while to remind people your art is available for sale. You'd be surprised how many artists never ever say a thing about selling or post about their art in ways where it's difficult for anyone to figure out whether anything is for sale or not. Don't inundate people with prices and sales pitches, but make it clear that if anyone is interested in buying anything, they're welcome to contact you. Another good reason to mention prices is that many people are either afraid, embarrassed or too shy to ask. But if you tell them first and they see they can afford something they like, they'll be far more likely to respond.
* If you have a page where your art is for sale like Etsy or Saatchi or FineArtAmerica for example, post a reminder every once in a while that includes a link to that page. Also have the page permanently linked on your Facebook page in your "About" section so anyone can click over to it at anytime.
* Return all emails and messages promptly, especially when someone is interested in your art. For many people, art is somewhat of an impulse buy. Take too long to reply and that impulse might cool.
* Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Your website is where you control the show, where you present your art at its absolute best, where there are no distractions, outside interference or reasons for people to leave and go elsewhere (like there are on Facebook). So learn how to link your Facebook posts and images of your art directly to pages your website so people can click over as easily and effortlessly as possible. If you can't figure out how to do this yourself, contact your website's tech support or the people who built it and ask.
* Don't post images of your art with no accompanying descriptions, explanations or text (this is the worst way to present work). Far too many artists post image after image after image of their art without saying a thing about it. I go to these pages and all I see is "My art" "My art" "My art" "My art" and all I'm thinking is, "Great... another artist is making more art." Even brief descriptions or explanations deepen people's appreciation and understanding of the work.
* Don't post images of your art on other people's walls or promote your art on their pages or their discussion threads unless they ask you to do it or give you permission.
* Don't message people you don't know and ask them to visit your page, look at your art, give you feedback about your art, or otherwise reply to you about your art... unless you have a really good reason.
* Don't post images of your art and then tag other people so they see it. People do not appreciate this and often have to waste time removing the tags. Only tag an image when it's relevant to the person or people you're tagging.
* Don't send emails or messages about your art to groups of people unless every person on the list will know exactly why they're receiving them. If you're hosting an event, set up an event page and invite your friends that way.
* Don't add people to your page or group without first asking their permission. Instead, either invite them to join or follow you.
In case you're interested, I review artists' social networking pages all the time and make recommendations on how they can improve their overall organization, presentation and people's engagement with their art. If you're interested in having me do this for you, you're welcome to email email@example.com or call 415.931.7875 and make an appointment.
(ceramics by Jun Kaneko)
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