These are especially difficult times for small businesses and freelancers. Likewise, in order to come through this challenge, businesses have to diversify. We must adapt and change to survive. For instance, In this How-To, I will guide you through the steps I took to create an additional income stream to help generate additional art sales. Furthermore, I will show you how to sell more art during the pandemic, including how to make money by selling more art at the same time.
We must adapt and change to survive in these challenging times.
Generate additional income streams
In addition, you can make money selling art during the lockdown. But, you will have to be prepared to put in the time and the effort. My gallery was temporarily closed during the lockdown. Therefore, this was the perfect opportunity to think outside the box. I had no idea where to start with eCommerce. I knew nothing about print on demand. Dropshipping. E-commerce integration and so on. Consequently, it took me almost a month before my store was ready to go. However, long hours and persistence paid off. And at last, sales took off. I can help you sell more art during the pandemic by partnering with a print on demand manufacturer and establishing and creating an online merchandise store.
How to sell more art without having any stock
You have great artwork and you would like to sell. What next?
- One option is to Print it • Stock it • Sell it
To sell more art, you will need your own shop, market stall, or someone who can retail it for you. It will require a lot of cost upfront and it will create storage issues. In addition, if you become subject to lockdown rules then this will ultimately affect your person-to-person sales. You could try selling your products online such as eBay, but again you will need to think about your own storage and shipping.
- Partner with a print on demand manufacturer
If the first option is not financially viable then perhaps consider print on demand. There are several manufacturers who will print your artwork onto products and merchandise. This is called print on demand. They will ship the product to the customer for you. This is called dropshipping. This eliminates the need for bulk purchasing, storage and shipping.
I chose a British manufacturer for quality, customer service and eco-friendly policies. I made sure to check their employees were on contracts and received a fair wage. I feel at peace that I am doing my part to keep someone in the supply chain employed without being exploited. However, this will have an impact on your pricing and your profits. Expect to make around 10%-20% in sales.
When choosing a manufacturer think about who keeps the copyright? Are they easy to contact? Do they expect an exclusive contract or are you free to go elsewhere? What’s their turn around? What’s the quality like? What restrictions do they place on orders? Do they integrate with Shopify, WooCommerce etc?
Once you have begun your relationship with a manufacturer things will begin to crop up which they could do better and improve on. Maybe you would like to mix and match the sizes in a particular order. Maybe you want your own branding printed onto the product. The good thing about getting started is that it creates a benchmark. And maybe this is no longer a good fit for you, but you will know what you want if you decide it’s time to look for a new supplier.
- Pre production
I would suggest creating a few products, to begin with. Test the waters. Don’t go crazy. It takes time to set these things up. And as I mentioned above, you might find a few production issues along the way. And in the end, you may want to go elsewhere.
Each manufacturer has a different dashboard and creative software to become familiar with. Basically, you will create collections. You will transfer your artwork, write descriptions and set prices. There may be other settings that you need to adjust during the initial set up as well. All these things will take time to learn. Do make sure your images are high resolution. You will need this especially for printing onto larger merchandise.
Now, prepare to begin to sell more art out of hours and during the pandemic. At this stage, you need to market your new store via Twitter, Instagram etc. People need to be able to find your store. The supplier will fulfil the order for you after the customer has paid for your product. They will take care of the printing, packaging and shipping. They will then forward your 10% – 20% payment into your bank. The more online sales, the more that percentage accumulates overtime.
Your store resides on the manufacturer’s website and so too are hundreds of other designers and artists. This is a major drawback. A potential customer lands on your store through your Twitter feed and begins to browse through your products. There is a high chance that your competition (the other artists on the same site) may draw your customer away from you. You want to sell more art during the pandemic not less.
Therefore, I personally wanted to transfer my store directly onto my website where there is no competition. Consequently, my products are available in both locations. In order to do this, you will need to have some website knowledge.
You will need to be able to integrate your store products through some kind of payment gateway such as Shopify or WooCommerce. The latter is a free plugin you can use on your Word Press website but it requires more work than Shopify. The former is more user-friendly.
Shopify offers a two-week trial. This will give you time to become familiar with their entire package. However, you don’t necessarily need everything. If you don’t have a website, you could create your store on Shopify and integrate your product store from your manufacturing website. You will need to check with your supplier if they are able to integrate with Shopify. You will need to pay for your domain name, a template and hosting. You can refer to the Shopify website for prices.
- Embed your store into your website
I have my own website and hosting. At this stage, there was no need for me to have a full-blown Shopify site. I am using currently Shopify lite. The cost is around $9 USD a month. For this, I get the Buy Button feature. Basically, the Buy Button is what you need for a customer to complete a purchase. Additionally, this will allow you to embed the same products from your manufacturing site onto your own website.
This is the workflow.
1. Firstly, create your products and your store on the manufacturing site.
2. Secondly, purchase Shopify lite and integrate your collections with your manufacturing site.
3. Finally, create a buy button on Shopify. Copy the code over to your website.
After that, your products will now appear on your website page.
- Get organised
Your store is now online effectively 24/7. And so are you! You have eliminated the competition by transferring your products over to your website. Above all, you will need to stay organised as it begins to generate additional art sales. Especially, if the orders are taken directly from your own website. How you file your orders, payments, invoices, receipts is up to you. If this is not for your then for simplicity, keep your store on the manufacturing website.
Please note, that the manufacturer may take a bigger cut for products ordered from your website. In other words, they would prefer to keep buyers on their website for obvious reasons.
As the orders come through your website, you will need to request fulfilling them. This will require paying the manufacturer in advance. Similarly, if the customer has paid with PayPal, you can forward part of the payment to the manufacturer. In addition, PayPal will now require you to have a business PayPal account.
The process is different if the customer has paid with a credit card. Firstly, you need to pay the manufacturer to fulfil the order. This will have to come out of your own money. Secondly, this could create a cash flow problem if you have 200 orders at the same time. Shopify will process the transaction for you. But there are processing fees to pay and a delay of 3-5 days before the sale is deposited into your bank.
Additional benefits to having an online merchandise store
Having an online store attached to a website has an additional advantage. Visitors brought to the store may continue their browsing onto the gallery page. This could potentially lead to a sale of an original painting. And visa-vera. Visitors brought to the online gallery may continue browsing onto the merchandise store. This could potentially generate additional art sales to suit all kinds of budgets.
In addition, as artists, we need to generate various income streams. We need to create more money by selling our art. From gallery sales to art fairs, teaching, and reproductions. We are all in the same boat. An online shop is another tool in the toolbox that is open 24/7 and not subject to lockdown.
In conclusion, I hope you are encouraged on how to sell more art during the pandemic. I hope this information will help you generate additional art sales during this challenging time. You can do this!