My Method of Pricing and Selling Original Art Online

Chris MaynardGuest 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.

Comments

  1. Very helpful information. My biggest problem is getting traffic to my website. So I started a youtube channel with hopes of creating sales.

  2. Wow, this is a great and informative post. Thanks for sharing what is working so well for you Chris. It helps me to read about a well oiled machine. I wouldn’t have guessed about the 7 interaction times before a sale. I mean, I’ve heard you need to interact or the client needs to see or be reminded of you quite a lot before trust is gained or they even remember you to make a sale, but 7x back and forth about a particular sale is good to know about so I won’t lose hope. Great article.

    • The average of seven communications back and forth before the sale of an original is the norm for me. For prints, spur-of the moment decisions are the norm. Well oiled machine? From my point of view, I am mainly focused on what needs oil. So thank you for reminding me that some parts are already oiled and working smoothly.

  3. Interesting.

  4. I completely agree. Original art (whatever the medium) , unlike common online purchases, requires a humanistic approach. People are motivated by digital imagery of a painted or sculpted piece. The outreach is crucial for a connection to give our art the final piece of realism before it is sold. Yes, a real person, did this piece of artwork and the one-on-one connections is especially true for long-term buyer-seller relationships.

  5. Kelly Luna says:

    This is helpful – thank you! I’m curious as to why you don’t list the price when you post the photo, title, etc. Do you post a range rather than individual prices so that it facilitates the one-on-one discussion? I know you mentioned that it’s difficult because you are prolific, but if the image is there, why not the price? I’m a newbie at most of this, so reading how others work is very interesting and helpful. I love hearing what others, especially very successful others, are doing.

  6. It sounds like your artistic medium does’t allow you to sell giclees as well. Do you feel your system works equally as well when offering originals as well as high quality repro’s which allows for custom sizing? People like you, willing to share useful information make the world a better place. Thank you very much for that.

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