Saturday, May 15, 2010

Selling Artwork is a Marketing Conundrum

Something I just cannot seem to figure out is how to market my artwork and get people to come and buy it. I've read many a blog post and a helpful Etsy Forum discussion, and I have even purchased someone's pdf about how to increase traffic and sales to my shop. I spend what I consider to be large amounts of time generating interest and getting feedback on my work via Facebook, Etsy Forums, twitter. I write clear, detailed descriptions and try to use properly enticing and search engine optimizing words in my titles and descriptions. I offer works that anyone could afford if they wanted to. Yet, my sales are few and far between. Plus, when the sales do come, it seems completely arbitrary. I love that a bunch of my sales have been from total strangers all the way across the country or the world, but that leaves me with no clue how they found me, nor how to find more customers like that.
Now granted, I know my shop probably has issues. No two items in my shop look like they were created by the same person. There is no unified 'look' to the shop, no prints offered in multiple sizes, no color schemes, no theme. I do not blog every week to keep people interested. Most of my work is purely art for art's sake, it serves no other function, save the few greeting cards I sell and a couple of pieces of jewelry. I'm sure I am neglecting other opportunities to make money, either by the narrow focus of products I sell or my own inability to get the word out.
Yet, there is so much advice out there, free as well as for money, one person could not possibly do everything and create new products at the same time.
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to simply generate new works, finish some old ones that have been almost finished for too long, and market by way of generating interest by showing works in progress and asking for critiques. This approach has resulted in lots of great feedback, many gushing compliments, a couple of requests for custom work (which is awesome and don't think I'm not flattered and grateful) but utterly no sales.
So I am taking a step back to try to see what I can do to focus my approach. For a long time I have been considering opening a second shop for jewelry and wearables. There'd be some polymer clay jewelry, some simple shrink plastic jewelry, some non-precious-metal wire wrapped jewelry, some altered thrift-store finds, perhaps some hand-painted shoes and purses.
Alternatively, I have thought about doing more with paper, but making it something useful. I already make a few greeting cards, but I could offer some of my digital prints as mini cards, plus make some new styles geared exclusively towards card giving. I was also considering making some hand-drawn or hand-painted notebooks and journals. I have even been offered the suggestion of making coloring books for adults from some of my images.
So I am asking advice of my readers: Which of these suggestions sound good to you? Is there stuff I haven't thought of yet? Do I have the wrong take on something? Straighten me out!