When I started making mixed media art seven years ago, I didn’t view myself as an artist, but rather an enthusiastic hobbyist. Up until then, I had only made jewelry that I occasionally sold on Etsy and at local craft fairs. I did not know how to approach the next step: going from hobbyist to business owner, or whether I was even ready. Trust the process, and don’t rush into a business venture, if you’re not prepared to deal with taxes, profits, and losses, or the IRS paying a visit!*
You have taken workshops, paid for classes, signed up for a paid membership or two, indiscriminately bought all the supplies, and watched 100s of video tutorials and expect a return on your investment in Hobby Lobby or Aunt Pat’s Craft Outlet. Now what? You may be ready to take the next step, but what does that entail?
I remember my slow progress up to the point of deciding whether I could justify starting a business when I was not steadily selling art. If you are at this stage, know that I know exactly how you feel!
You may already have established yourself in a market with a steady stream of income, which makes it easier to transition from brick-and-mortar to virtual selling. Most artists start out selling on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, or at a local art coop or gift store. I have used several of these avenues and discovered the pros and cons of each one.
*SHIPPING IS A HUGE CONSIDERATION WHEN SELLING ONLINE!! Check out my previous posts for more on shipping practices!
This is an arrangement between you and another party where you agree on a percentage split after your item sells in their store. I sell my art locally at a boutique-style business, The Coral Door, and we have a 60/40 split agreement. They display my art and promote my business, I also teach classes, which is another avenue for exposure. It is a good arrangement if your art sells. Certain galleries and stores will charge a monthly rental in addition to a percentage. Always negotiate with your vendors on the rate.
Your pricing should be on par with the local market. If you price your art to sell, while also making a profit, it is a win-win situation. Pricing art is tricky. There are formulas out there, just search online.
My husband reminds me often that art is a luxury, not a necessity. You should know the current state of the economy before you venture into the business realm. DO NOT start a business if you’re unsure about the profit potential. If your LLC reports losses for more than two years consecutively, the IRS will classify your business as a hobby, which means you can’t deduct your business expenses for tax purposes.
Let's consider the potential costs of selling your art online on your website!
ETSY AND OTHER E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS
This is something you will encounter on all e-commerce platforms. *Etsy charges $0.20 per listing + Transaction Fee of 6.5% + Payment Processing Fee of 3% + $0.25 + Sales Tax (where applicable). This listing is for one pair of earrings priced at $21.70. It costs $8.50 (labor/hr + materials + other exp) to produce one pair.
Price (incl. shipping): $21.70
Fees: $0.20 + $1.41 (6.5%) + (3% + $0.25) + $0.90 + $1.57 = $4.08 (19.1%)
Gross Profit: $21.70 - $4.08 = $17.62
Net Profit: $17.62 - $8.50 = $9.12 *If you opt for a paid Etsy subscription, add $10/month to your expenses
COMPARISON OF E-COMMERCE FEES
FINALLY, YOUR VERY OWN WEBSITE!
You have been selling your art locally, on FaceBook Marketplace Etsy, or a combination of platforms.
At this point, you might be ready to create your website, where you can sell your work online.
I'm not an expert, but I have created a website with Wix website editor, which according to websitebuilders.com, is the highest-rated website builder out there. I do not put too much stock in these online "rating" sites, but my experience with Wix has been mostly positive.
Decide what you want your website to be, i.e. its purpose. Do you want to sell goods, blog, take online appointments, promote your business, or promote someone else's products, etc? Pick a name for your website. Research available domains, and hosting plans - compare costs, and find what is within your budget.
You're ready to build your site. Website builders like GoDaddy, WordPress, WIX, etc. are great for beginners who aren't tech-savvy or don't want to deal with coding, which is a completely different ballgame. You have to pick a category or theme, for instance, consulting, fashion, or art. Resources, including http://godaddy.com, lay it out step by step, whether you're a beginner or a novice.
Create engaging content, pick a central theme (fonts, layout, color scheme, links, etc.), and use only the highest-resolution images on your site. Do not make it complicated for the user to navigate — the average consumer should be able to find what they're looking for quite easily. Remember you want engagement, whether the customer buys something or not.
Now for the mundane aspects of rolling out the brand-new site for the world to see and love!
Proofread text for errors, make sure your formats are consistent, and choose an effective layout. Ensure all links work, adding buttons with active links is important. Use effective keywords.
Focus on SEO (search engine optimization), how easily can a potential customer find your site? This is a built-in function for website builders. You have the option to add HTML code.
Test browsers, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
Malware and virus protection—need I say more?
Digital marketing is vital, and if you can afford it, hire a professional to manage advertising and promotional features.
Add links to your social media accounts and your contact info. Outsource SM marketing if it is within your budget.
Check mobile responsiveness. You need to be able to see all the features and functions on your mobile device, PC, or laptop.
TEST, TEST, TEST, and ask your friends and family members to navigate the site as though they are customers.
for a cost comparison between several website builders.
Go and create that fabulous website and send me a link! Cheers,