Guest blogger Chris Maynard of Featherfolio combines his scientific knowledge, his artistic sense, and his love of feathers in a new art form that is being recognized worldwide. He shares his experience and insights on the process of selling art.
I have, with increasing success, fine-tuned my pricing for online sales of original art. Here is what I have learned so far:
- Having something about prices on my website saves time and energy. Answering emails, Facebook messages and comments, tweets, and phone calls about pricing takes a lot of time. Three quarters of these are from people who cannot or don’t want to pay my prices. I learned this the hard way when my work found its way onto the front page of Reddit and the Huffington Post. I spent the next two months answering emails and phone calls from readers who wanted to buy my work and ended up without a lot of sales.
- As a prolific artist, it is difficult and time-consuming to keep a current price list online. I have not found any time-saving software that makes this faster.
- For my original art, buyers won’t often use a “buy it now” purchase because they prefer some direct communication with me. I too prefer direct communication because this allows us to develop a potential an ongoing business relationship.
- My solution is to offer a range of prices on my website ($800 to $8000) and ask people to contact me by email or phone. This lets me know that the people who contact me are likely to be serious. Then I’m not weeding the garden but cultivating plants and harvesting fruit. I tend to treat these potential buyers as if I had more time for them, because I do.
- Aside from pricing, providing what people need on my website saves time. People want to see a quality image, a clear title, size and material; contact information, testimonials, stories about each piece, and images of my art in a home or business setting.
- I ask people who contact me for prices to list the pieces or types of pieces they are interested in. Then I check my up-to-date lists for availability and prices (several software programs for artists do this, Excel works too) and get back to them within 24 hours. We go back and forth on email or phone an average of seven times before a sale is complete. Questions are answered, trust is developed. At first, I was frustrated with how long each sale took, but now I know it is a necessary part of a transaction. It is also the opportunity to develop those ongoing business relationships.
- Images of all my original art/designs are posted on the web, even if sold. That way, I can offer to make an edition based on an original design and they still end up with a unique piece.
- Keeping a list of serious inquiries allows me to follow up several weeks and months afterward, asking if they are still interested. I get about half of my sales this way.
- I keep a list of shipping costs and handling by weight, size and location for each piece that I quote over the phone along with price. Shipping figures significantly in the total cost (especially overseas), so it is better that the buyer understand that upfront rather than being potentially put off by the price as an add-on at the end of the transaction.
Simply providing a price range on my website for my original art has saved me a lot of time. Each person’s situation is different however, influenced by price, quantity, and type of art being offered.
Chris Maynard’s work has been featured in hard copy magazines and online as well as sold around the world. He is represented by the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This summer, Maynard’s new book, Feathers, Form and Function will be published. Besides numerous images of his feather shadowboxes and photographs, he describes what feathers are, what they do for their owners–the birds, and why we find them alluring. He is a professional speaker on the subjects within his book.