Yes, It's Possible to Sell Art on Etsy. Here's How
Last year, Etsy's annual gross in merchandise sales reached $2.39 billion. And, while, yes, a lot of that income likely went to foreign resellers, we’re guessing that someone achieved that all-holy dream of artists everywhere: making a living through selling artwork, and nothing else. In fact, we’re confident that the Etsy dream is attainable, because as a Richmond shipping supply company, we often encounter people who do just that, and use our supplies to send their work all over the world. Below are some of the best tips we’ve heard on successfully selling artwork on Etsy.
Scope out the Competition
Let’s start with something rather obvious: there are a lot of shops on Etsy. Making yours successful lies in two key strategies: firstly, marketing the shop outside of Etsy itself—which we’ll discuss later in this post—and secondly, standing out from the crowd. The best way to accomplish that second one is taking a good look at the crowd in the first place. See if you can jot down a list of what tends to work, and what doesn’t. You will have to ultimately reach a sweet spot in-between “artwork that people want” and “artwork that no one else is offering.” Just as a stock investor tries to curate a diverse portfolio, you, too, will want to offer a nice mix of both popular items, and rare, niche items. If your eggs are distributed throughout multiple baskets, you’ll succeed no matter what the market “mood” tends to be.
Offer Different Sizes/Price Points
You’ll also want to mix up your sizes and price points, so that every type of shopper can support you, if they really want to: budget-stretched college students who can only afford a pair of earrings; and serious art buyers who want to add elaborate pieces to their collections. The great thing about art is that the college student in the first example can eventually turn into the collector in the second. In other words, if you offer smaller original pieces at lower price points, people who can’t afford the large or expensive pieces might return one day for more expensive, original work.
Leverage Tags and Keywords
Tags and keywords are the most important tools you can leverage on websites like Etsy. Without tags or keywords, your products will be buried in the Etsy ethos, without a way to be seen by potential customers. As you start to type in a keyword, you may notice that Etsy will suggest keywords. Don’t ignore these, either! This is Etsy’s way of helping you choose the terms people are actually using to search for items like yours. (Remember, since Etsy takes a cut of all proceeds, it has a vested interest in helping your site succeed).
In addition, try to use plenty of identifiers in the item description, like the item’s size; the medium; supplies used; and anything else that shoppers may have questions about. Add some personality to endear your shoppers to you—we’ll touch on this below—but don’t go overboard; descriptions that are long, meandering essays tend to chase potential buyers away.
Space out Your Listings
Setting up, photographing, uploading, and editing artwork tends to be tedious, so most artists tend to do it all in one day. That’s fine, but try to resist the urge to post it all on the same day; spacing out your listing helps you reach a much wider audience. That’s because Etsy features new listings at the top of each respective category for a short period of time after they are posted. If you upload everything all at once, you’ll only have front-page status for that brief moment—versus nabbing the spotlight over and over again, with every new upload.
Be as Socially Active as Possible
The extent to which you use social media, and how well you use it, will likely be what makes or breaks your efforts as an Etsy artist. This is because, to be frank, few people spend their time hanging out on Etsy, typing in various keywords and discovering new items. The majority of today’s art-buying audience spends its time on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit—so you should, too. On Instagram, try following pages which re-post artwork (with attribution), to reach a wider audience. Comment and react to other peoples’ artwork; as a popular quote by Dale Carnegie goes, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Note, too, that you don’t always have to take on the persona of a salesperson; many forums on Reddit, for example, discourage our outright forbid solicitation. Instead, try simply posting your art and asking for feedback. This can help get more eyes on it, without irritating forum moderators.
Package Your Work with Care
As a professional artist, you will need to take a professional approach to everything you do, right down to the packaging and delivery of your work. Neat, professional packaging can help make a great first impression and subliminally justify the price, and quality, of your work. It also reduces the chance that the work will bend, chip or break in transit, prompting the buyer to demand a refund. Remember to pair prints and unframed drawings in a hard surface, like cardboard or chipboard, and wrap them in a clear sleeve. Consider building the cost of packing materials, like boxes, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap, into your shipping charges. Lastly, including a handwritten thank you note, sticker, or other unexpected goodie can boost the buying experience, and the likelihood of future sales!
Ship and Send Your Art Safely with SSI Packaging!
Looking for high-quality shipping supplies in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding areas? SSI Packaging has everything you need to package, track, and deliver your work safely and securely! We are proud to serve our local artists at VCU School of the Arts and beyond.
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