How to Sell Art Online: Case Study

how to sell art online
As an art blogger with an internet art business, you must use the rifle approach, aiming a single rifle shot at a narrow audience.

There's a saying in marketing: "There are riches in niches."  If you want to successfully sell art online, your goal is to correctly identify, target and dominate a specific niche.

What is a niche?

A niche is simply a group of people who share a common interest or a common set of characteristics.

For example, if you play tennis, you belong in the niche of people who love tennis.  If you are a housewife between 28 and 35 years of age, you could be classified into a niche.  If you are a watercolor artist, you belong in the niche of people who love to paint in this medium.

You must target a specific niche to succeed on the Internet.

A lot of artists out there with blogs and websites are getting this all wrong. They put up a static website or a general art blog or put their art on group sites like eBay or Etsy, hoping to attract a broad audience.  And they wonder why no one ever shows up to buy anything.

On the Internet, you can't succeed going after a general art audience, expecting to capture everyone. In marketing you have the shotgun approach and then you have the rifle approach.  As an art blogger with an internet art business, you must use the rifle approach, aiming a single rifle shot at a narrow audience. 

Leave the shotgun approach to large corporations like McDonald's or Exxon who can afford to do it well. Let's look at a case study to see how to find and sell art successfully to a very specific niche.

Case Study: Selling Horse Sculptures Online

An artist from Sweden recently contacted me about his online art business. He had spent a lot of time and money on a website, but wasn't seeing any return for his efforts. He was very disappointed in his online venture and about ready to pull the plug on the floundering business out of complete frustration.

He contacted me to learn how to correctly sell his art online and save his internet art business.  I did a thorough assessment and evaluation of his website and online art business. I also made very specific recommendations and helped him to put these into action.

Here is some of what I uncovered about his online art business:

This artist was very talented and made high quality bronze sculptures of horses.   These beautiful sculptures reminded me of the work of the famous American Western artist Frederich Remington.  They were about the same size and quality of work.  The quality of the artwork was not the reason for the failing art business.

This artist had a beautiful static website to sell his sculptures.   It was well-designed with a beautiful gallery showcasing his bronze horses.  He had a efficient and professional check-out system to process sales.  The quality of the website was not the reason for the failing art business.

All in all, his website was professional and looked great.  But he wasn't getting any sales online.  He wasn't even getting any traffic or any inquiries from the few people who did show up. His marketing strategy was too simple to be effective. Basically, he had just put up a website like a big billboard in Cyperspace, hoping to attract everyone and anyone. His website, although beautiful and professionally designed, was failing miserably.

Here's the fix for this struggling online art business: So what was wrong?  One thing.  His marketing approach.  He wasn't attracting the very specific audience or niche that he needed. So what did I suggest he do to turn things around and make the site a success?

I suggested that he should start a blog. Now, should he blog all about himself and how beautiful his sculptures are?  NO.  absolutely not.

If he only blogs about himself and his latest projects or newest work, no one will ever be interested enough to read it.  Why?  Because no one cares about him personally.  This is the wrong approach for his blog. If he blogs only about himself and his latest work, his blog will be a failure just like his static website was a failure.

So what is the correct approach here?  What should he blog about? He should blog about horses.  He should blog all about how to make horses happy and healthy.  He should blog about everything he knows about horses.  If he sculpts horses, he loves horses, and that means he probably knows an awful lot about horses.  Right?

I told him he should take his love of horses and his vast knowledge of horses and share it with the world. So who is he going to attract with his blog about horses?  He is going to attract horse lovers.  He is going to grow a large following of avid horse lovers. He is going to connect to a large family of like-mined people who love the same thing he loves.

These horse lovers will subscribe to his blog and to his email newsletter to learn more about horses from him. These are the perfect people, the perfect niche to buy his horse sculptures.

Who better to buy sculptures of horses than avid horse lovers?

So this artist should blog about horses. And then in a very balanced way in his blog and newsletter, he will make offers for his horse sculptures.  Do you see how this works?

Following this marketing strategy could easily net this sculptor a six figure income from his blog and website each year. He could dominate this art niche by passionately sharing with the world his love and knowledge of horses.  In time, this website and blog could be worth millions of dollars.

This case study is a perfect example of correctly identifying and targeting a very specific art niche.  Correctly identifying the perfect niche for your art products is crucial for your online success.

Here's a Few More Ideas.....

Sometimes the niche is not as easy to find as in this case study. So brainstorm as many ideas as possible.  Get together with a group of your artist friends and have a brainstorming party.

In the meantime, here's a few more ideas that will get you going in the right direction.

If you paint pet portraits, then blog all about pets. Blog about dogs and cats and pets in general, how to keep them happy and healthy. You will attract pet lovers who will almost certainly want a portrait of their beloved pet.

If you paint or take pictures of flowers and gardens, then blog about flowers and gardening. Blog about how to raise prize roses or grow bigger and better tulips. These garden lovers will almost certainly want pictures of gardens and flowers in their homes.

You can also blog about how to make a home more beautiful with art. You could become the "Martha Stewart" of home decorating with the focus on art. I have used this niche very successfully.  I call the category "The Artful Home."  What niche does this blog attract?  It attracts housewives who are in the age group from 35 to 55 years of age.  These housewives want their homes to be warm, cozy and inviting. Art is the perfect pitch for them because it fills this basic need.

And, of course, you could always teach lessons on how to paint or photograph or sculpt, whatever it is you do.  You could share with the world all the knowledge and ability you have acquired over the years.  Teaching art lessons online is a great business strategy.

Your students will want your eBooks and other art information products to help them become the best artist they can be.  And your loyal students will also want to buy your original art.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Trademarks Guy

    Great post, and I totally agree with the niche thing, it’s the only way to stand out from the extensive competition!

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Thanks for your comments. Niche marketing is the only way to really succeed on the internet. Everything else is just dabbling. Thanks again for your comments.

  2. Teresa Dominici

    Gary, great post! Looking forward to putting your tips into action!

  3. patsyevins

    Enjoyed your post Gary but have a few questions. I’m interested in learning how to market on FaceBook and Pinterest… do you teach that in your books and Smart Art Marketing Pro?

    1. Gary Bolyer

      Hi Patsy,
      Thanks for your comments. I go into a lot of detail on marketing in the Smart Art Marketing Pro members only forum. Also, the ebook “How to Sell Art Online: The Complete Guide would be a good choice for you. Smart Art Marketing Pro is free for the first two weeks, so I suggest that you give it a try and see if it’s right for you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
      Thanks again for writing.

  4. patsyevins

    My second question deals with my art. I’ve been making a living as an artists for 30 years. I work in glass and I paint. I specialize in tropical ocean life and garden flowers.

    I now live in Texas, in cowboy country, and my tropical subjects are sadly out of favor here. I’ve done the gallery scene for 15 years along the East coast but those paintings are not popular locally either.

    When I moved, my income came to a halt. I’m disillusioned with galleries and bead shows (I did shows for 15 years) and want to focus on the internet to sell my art. I don’t see how I can focus on one subject, like you suggest in this post. I’m considering starting to paint & sculpt local subjects so I can sell in my area.

    I would love your ideas on my dilemma?


    1. Gary Bolyer

      I suggest that you give Smart Art Marketing Pro a try. It’s free for the first two weeks. It would give you a lot of insight about how to successfully sell your kind of art online. Plus you get my help along with the help of other members in the forum. Hope to see you there.

  5. Scoot Persons

    Thank you Gray, your art marketing info has been a great help.
    Have a great day

  6. Miss Roberts

    Can you tell me how to market visionary art? I get temporal lobe epilepsy (very William Blake) which means my relationship with my art work is like a religious icon, made from litter and recycled materials, they connect to some kind of all powerful consciousness, very hard to put into words without sounding like a complete fool!

    1. Gary Bolyer

      The best way to sell your art online is to follow the advice in the article above. You need a blog with the right focus and an email newsletter. Thanks for your comments.

  7. Diane Miller

    It seems to be the simplest suggestions/advice that is the most helpful!! I am beginning to see that I make marketing my art more complicated than it needs to be! Blogging is a great suggestion and a great place to begin – Thx Gary for your brilliance in the face of frustration!

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