Merchandise your Art for Free.

Magenta Dawn, Watercolour.
Magenta Dawn, Watercolour.

As I mentioned yesterday, selling art shouldn’t stop with just your original art work. Putting it on various kinds of merchandise is a great advertisement and means someone who may not be able to afford an original just now, may be able to buy something more affordable, even if it’s only a card.

Doing it yourself will earn you the most per item but that means laying out money up front and you may be left with stock you can’t sell.

Zazzle are one of a number of printers who offer a free option for getting your work out there. You can have your design put on almost anything from cards to bags, t-shirts to phone cases.

I have set up a shop myself today. It’s very easy and gives you complete control over what your image is used on. All you have to do is upload your image and create your item from the huge selection. I have used my images on cards and canvas prints so far. The wizards will tell you if your image is not right, for instance if you try and make a small image much bigger on a product. Options on cards include adding text to the back which can include your contact details or website address.

You also set the amount of royalties you earn. This will of course affect the overall price. For my cards I have chosen a 20% royalty which earns me 49p of a sale cost of £2.60. Zazzle deal with all the customer service side of things so it’s money for almost nothing.

The copyright remains with the artist and the license is non-exclusive to Zazzle, meaning you can sell that image anywhere else you like.

You can see the card I designed using the above image here

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

 

Get paid while marketing your artwork.

 

 

Oil painting, Safe passage
Safe passage, Oil painting by Jan Gill

It is easy as an artist to create a work, put it up for sale and that is the end of the story. Move on to the next work.

If you are a bit more savvy you can actually earn more than just the selling price of your work and you may even increase it’s value. On top of that, your work will be marketing itself.

The secret is to put your work on merchandise for free. Well this is the site that aims to get you selling with the minimum of outlay.

One such opportunity is with Zazzle. You upload your work to their site, choose what merchandise you want it displayed on and set your royalty rate. Zazzle do all the printing, customer service and payment details and send you your royalties. Of course, you will want to promote your works, but you can do that at the same time as you promote your e-shop, exhibitions and shows.

Each of the items that sell is marketing your original works. A customer may buy a printed tote, for instance, then their friend may love it so much they want the original.

Why not give it a look – all it will cost you is a little bit of time 🙂

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

 

Let there Be Light.

 

Daisies in my garden

Daisies in my garden

One of the most important things to address when selling online is the photography of your products. One of the easiest improvements you can make is to take your pictures in the light. Lots of it. The better lit your product is, the more chance of getting a photograph that captures your product exactly.

Of course, there is a wrong and a right kind of light. Direct sunlight is much too harsh and causes unwanted reflections. A diffuse light is much better, such as outside on a lightly cloudy day.

Another good option is to use a light box. Commercial ones are made of a translucent white fabric. You put your product inside then place lamps above and to the sides to give a lovely bright diffuse light inside. It is especially good for tricky objects like glass jewellery.

Keeping with my tight budget theme though, it is very easy to make your own with a large cardboard box and tissue paper. In true Blue Peter Style, I’ll let you know how to do it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m off to paint some more mini paintings for my show at the end of the month.

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

Free E-Commerce for Creatives

 

On Reflection Abstract Watercolour Painting
On Reflection Abstract Watercolour Painting in shades of Blue and Emerald

Before I start on this follow up to yesterday’s post and before you start building a site in the following way, there are 2 really important differences you need to think about before taking this route.

Firstly, this is not as elegant a solution as WordPress with WooCommerce. It doesn’t have the automatic checkout – your customers will have to contact you directly. There is a contact form to do that though and you can have full instructions in a side bar widget that will follow your customers round the site.

Secondly, the WordPress terms and conditions state that you can only sell things you have made yourself. As an artist/designer that suits me down to the ground as everything I sell I have created myself. There is no point going under the radar and trying to sell other items as you will get spotted, your site removed and all that time and effort gone to waste.

So here goes –

  1. Your first step is to pop along to wordpress.com. If you click on the your site icon in the corner it will say you don’t have one and ask if you want to create one. Follow the link and you can choose what style you want for your site. Don’t worry too much about which to choose as you can always change it later.
  2. You will now be asked to choose a name for your site. Type in your chosen name followed by .com and wordpress will show the free option plus several others. The free one will look like yourtitle.wordpress.com
  3. Click on the free one and a variety of styles will be shown. Choose one that you like and click on it. A couple of minutes later and your site is there. There are pre-prepared pages to get you started – just click the edit icon to alter their contents. There are often instructions in the box on what to do and ideas for content.

Replace the photos with your own and off you go. As there is not a free option to add an e-commerce facility, you will have to tell your customers how to buy from you. This could be as simple as getting them to send you an e-mail detailing the items they want and sending an invoice out to them.

And there you have it. The totally free option.

And if everything takes off you have options to upgrade to paid business solutions.

At the moment I am in the process of building a free site to see how it works for my photography. I only started it today – it’s at jangillphotos.wordpress.com – why not pay a visit over the next few weeks to watch how it progresses?

Have you tried selling this way? How did you find it?

I would love to hear from anyone who has found a great online selling solution. Maybe you could guest on this blog and share it with us?

2 Very Easy Steps to Selling Your Art on WordPress

Scottish Coast Island View
Scottish Coast Island View

Would you like to take complete control of selling your own work online? Are you an Etsy seller and have to keep relisting your products to get them seen? Or do you spend hours favouriting and sharing with other sellers so you get on the top pages of trending? Is your work lost in the hundreds of thousands of works on Artfinder so most of your views are from people you drive to the site yourself. All the hard work is yours and you have to pay commission.

Are you ready for something different?

I am. And I’m going to share with you what I have done and the results this brings.

Just a few days ago I set up my own shop using WordPress. I have never worked with wordpress before and I am a self confessed technophobe. I didn’t expect to get so far so fast but it really is very straightforward.

There are 2 options. The first option costs a small amount, the second is completely free. I chose the first as it gives me more flexibility but the second option works well too and you can upgrade if you wish.

Today I will talk about the option I have chosen, the next post will be about the free option.

Step One Choose your name and buy your domain.

Choose your shop name carefully. For the purposes of getting people to your site, I recommend the title includes what you are selling eg Art, Craft, Photography etc. I include my name because it is short. Try and make it easy to remember. Now go to a Domain name checking site and see if it is available. If it isn’t the site will often show alternatives that you might like to choose.

Once you have chosen your name, register it with a webhost such as Blue Host. Make sure it can support WordPress – pop along to WordPress.org for a list of their recomended hosts. I registered with Blacknight simply because I already had an account with them. My domain cost me less than £10 for the year. You will also want the site to be hosted so that you can build your shop. This can cost as little as $1 per month. In comparison, that amount of money would get me just 15 items listed on Etsy for 3 months and commission would be taken on any sales.

Once you have your Hosted Domain, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2 Add wordpress and a commerce plugin.

Go back to WordPress.org and download wordpress. The wizard will take you through the 5 minute process. once that is completed you will have a dashboard and some ideas of what to do next.

To get the shop part, go to plugins on the dashboard and search for e-commerce. I chose woocommerce because it had a good rating, lots of users and it was free :-). Woo Commerce now appears as an option in the dashboard along with a product icon. Click on it to add new products and away you go. You get a number of options for payment, I chose to allow only Paypal which takes a small transaction fee and payment by BACS straight into my own bank account.

There you have it, the bare bones of your new shop. You can now take as much time as you like to get it looking beautiful knowing that everything will work.

Let me know if you have a go and share your site with us.

Happy Creating,

Janice

PS thanks to Paul for the terminology correction 🙂

Sorting the Shop Niggles

One of the niggles I have found with my new shop is that all the items are added in title alphabetical order. I can look at them in different ways such as highest priced first, but I would really like the default order to look harmonious. This means renaming my products so they are displayed in the order I want them to be. Obviously I can’t change the painting title as that is already given to the painting.

Magenta Sunrise, Watercolour.
Magenta Sunrise, Watercolour.

The solution I came up with is to preface each title with a code. At first I thought of just numbering each one but a little thought made me realise I may want to insert other paintings between those already displayed. I don’t want to have to change all the numbers after a new addition so I need some ease, some unused numbers to allow extra products to be placed between the one’s I have already included. I have decided to start with 3 figure numbers. As I want my paintings to sit in rows of four I will number them 111, 112,113,114 then 151,152,153,154 then 211,212,213,214 etc. This gives me lots of room between number sets to add extra sets of 4 products. It also means if I want to make any changes I only have to work with 4 products at a time. This works for me as I won’t be adding a huge inventory. Or at least I hope it works 🙂

The proof of the pudding will be if the first page looks how I intended.

I’ll let you know…

In the meantime,

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

7 Day Update

It is now 7 days since I started this blog. I’m not sure how many people have read it as I haven’t installed a counter yet. Typically, the first comment I got was spam so I hastily added a plugin to deal with that and deleted the comments already there. It only took a couple of minutes to set up and deletes obvious spam before I even see it. Spam was a problem on my gallery site guestbook too. In the end I took that down so hopefully this plugin will be a solution on here.

As for Artfinder, that is continuing along with a few likes and views each day. Having set it up in April, it has a head start on my own shop and a ready visitor list. To get the best out of the site I need to try and get on their featured artist page. For that, I need to improve one or two things – include views of my paintings in a setting, add a picture of myself etc. Extra views would be useful for on here too and will be a priority over the next couple of weeks.

Puffins on Parade, pencil on paper
Puffins on Parade, pencil on paper.

The picture above is a recent work in Derwent Soft pencil. I really enjoyed the puffins at Farne Island with their comical antics and features. It always looks to me as if something is about to go really wrong.

I will be adding it to both Artfinder and my shop today.

Happy creating,

Janice 🙂

Compare the Art Market

Ok, so we have a blog and a nice new shop (nearly – need to add some T’s and C’s and contact details). How does this compare with the other methods of selling I will be using?

At the moment, I have items on Artfinder and Etsy.

Artfinder is easy to set up – just apply for an account then add whatever works you like at whatever price you like. Artfinder take a commission (I think it is 30% + VAT). It takes about 6 weeks from the time an item is sold to the time you get paid.

Etsy is a pay to list site. 20c gets you on the list for 3 months. It is not an auction site – you set the price yourself. They also take a commission which is quite a bit less than Artfinder.

The problem for me with both these sites is that you still have to do much of the marketing yourself to get seen. On Etsy for instance, you can spend many hours getting your work onto the front of the trending pages or spend a lot of money relisting items so they appear on the new page. Of course, you can spend some of your marketing budget on pay per click schemes (megabucks and hard to quantify results).

The good points – all the site structure is there and the money is sorted out without you having to worry too much about it. People can find both sites and they have active followers who look for original hand crafted items.

With my own shop, all the effort of marketing will (hopefully) bring people to see just my work. I can see who they are and create a dialogue. I can also direct people from exhibitions and fairs to my site and they will know who they are buying from.

Obviously, it is impossible for me to look at all the art and craft selling sites, so it would be great to hear from sellers on other sites about their experiences. Could you recommend a place? Have you had a great experience with Artfinder or Etsy? If so, where do you think your success has come from?

Happy Crafting,

Janice 🙂

 

 

Shop on a blog – easy e-commerce

The first stage of the journey has started.

Not only do I have a nice new blog, (a little minimalist maybe, but it gets me started) but I have added e-commerce to it.

It is possible to do this for absolutely nothing, but I already had my own domain name and hosting, so I have added this page as an external link.

The cost of the hosting is £4 per month, the cost of the domain name for a year was £9.95. DSC00558 (2)

You may notice this is a wordpress blog. The shop part is provided by woocommerce as a plugin. Everything has been really easy so far and you can see the first few items in my shop. The tedious bit is filling in all the product information but whatever selling solution you choose you have to do that. I recommend adding a few each day so you don’t end up going crazy 🙂

Timewise, I would say it took a couple of hours to set up the blog and get my first post done and then another hour to plug in the e-commerce and have my first product online. I’m a technophobe, so you will probably do better than me. Compare that to the 2 days it took me to work out that the e-shop in Parallels Plesk 4.5 was not going to work.

The whole process for setting up both the wordpress site and the woocommerce site is well laid out and easy to follow – no need to read through manuals of geek speak. (Nothing against Geeks, I am a science geek myself – story for another day)

Why not have a go yourself. Do comeback and share your efforts if you have a try.

In the meantime, I have another 70 products to add …..

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

 

Hello and Welcome

Thank you for dropping by to this brand new blog.

My aim here is to post about the business of being an artist, about my journey from having a “real job” to supporting myself as an artist.

I will be blogging about setting up with e-commerce, advice I have found for artists on the web and experiences of other artists who want to share their stories. This will all be done on a shoestring, so here I am with a free blog platform and a free e-commerce platform. I will let you know how that goes each week so you can decide your best solution.

Please say hello and feel free to share in the comments,

Happy Creating,

 

Janice 🙂