Thursday, February 6, 2014

An Artist Lost in the World of Internet Commerce

After weeks of painting blissfully in the studio I committed myself to house arrest in order to work on my online stores.  This is a necessary part of the dream… making a living from your art.  And it's really not all that bad.  I've had a lot of jobs in my life, and photographing and listing and promoting your own creations online does not rank high on my list of painful professions.  With that said… it has its drawbacks!
Here's a list of cautionary tales…things to avoid when sitting at your computer all day.

- snacking is not a good way to avoid a task, because you'll still have to do it and you'll ruin your dinner

- When something goes wrong with the computer it is very easy to freak out and start hitting buttons.
   It's probably a much better idea to walk away, take a breather and come back to it in 5.  It's harder to    
   undo a dozen mistakes than it is to thoughtfully solve one.

-  Limit your time on facebook.  And I mean all facebook activity.  There's only so much you need to
   post about yourself, and there's only so much you need to read about what your old high school
   buddies ate for dinner. You might start to hate your own life of rice and beans… and 2 hours will
   pass by, much to your glazed over eyes' amazement.  It is especially important to limit posting sales
   links, I sometimes get impatient when things seem a little slow, and make the mistake of putting up an
   extra post.  It's this simple, even if you are painting the Sistine Chapel, after three etsy links you are
   boring, and possibly getting unfriended.

- If you have other sentient beings in your midst try not to block them out for the entire afternoon.  Yes,
  that dog has been spinning for 30 minutes and now he's peeing on the carpet.

- Get up and stretch!!  Really… walk around the room, the house and even go outside for a stroll.

My Society6 shop:

Now on we go, here's the fabulous things I have learned about selling art on the internet.  My most recent discovery?  Society6!  I'm not completely sure if I can say I love this site yet, I'm still learning.  I have ordered a few items to check the quality myself.  I have checked up on other artists feedback and many testify that the quality of prints is excellent.
What I love: The ease of listing!  If you are not a computer geek, (I use this word to describe myself in many other areas of life, but computer expertise is NOT one) you will still find uploading images fairly simple and quick.  You do need to have a good crisp and large enough file.  Many of my files are not bigger than 3MB, but I was still able to list smaller prints and merchandise.
And.. it's free!  I don't make a huge amount from every sale, but I do make more than if I were just sitting at home staring at my paintings…  Setting up an account is totally free and the artist makes a few dollars from every item sold.  And they do all the printing, shipping and e-commerce.  Now THAT I like.
Drawbacks: it seems to be impossible to find me there.  Maybe this is because I'm new.  I'll give it time.  For now the only way anyone sees my work on Society6 seems to be if I send them a link.

My etsy shop:
Everybody loves etsy! No, no site is perfect, but in the six years I've been selling on etsy it's ballooned into big business.  The downside… it's no longer the place to find quirky artists working at home making unusual and never seen before treasures.  Yes, this still happens, but you have to dig a little deeper.  Etsy has grown into a very sophisticated marketplace where popular shops need to be incredibly skilled with creating an image and marketing.  The site that once created trends has now become very trend driven.  I still love it, but I'm yearning for the days of old, when I could post a somewhat goofy photo of myself in a dress design I invented that looks like nothing ever seen before and get 80 hits in the first hour and the sale by midnight.
Alas, no use living in the past.  
I have put my vintage and upcycled items on clearance and opened up a new etsy shop called Dawn Patel Art and I'm working very hard to live up to the new more stringent standards that help a shop on etsy make sales.  I have streamlined my photos to have a similar look.  If you want to make it to the front page of etsy, get chosen as a featured seller, and make enough money to justify all this time at the keyboard, you need a streamlined shop with amazing photos.  You need to look like a pro.
One thing I have done with this new shop is tell a little story for each painting I sell.  That's an interesting process, I don't want to reveal too much meaning.  (No spoilers!)  But I do like to tell a bit about my inspirations.  What I was thinking about, what was happening in my life, why I used certain images, materials, and so forth.  I think for art lovers this stuff is the icing on the cake.  Sometimes it's the cake pan!  I know this is something etsy buyers love, a good story, and this one is a pleasure for me.

Well, I feel that I have spent more than enough hours at this keyboard today!  I would love to share anything I've learned from selling on the internet, although I'm not a bigshot in this arena. Yet;)  
Feel free to ask questions, suggest other sites, or share what you've learned!


  1. Amazing! Gotta love your tips regarding the do's and don'ts of managing online stores, like etsy full time. I've seen quite a few of my friends suffering from the same symptoms of bad habits in store managing, especially regarding the apparently necessary social media fix. I'll be bookmarking this and probably share them to some friends who fall in the category above. Hahaha! More power to you!

    Mike LeMoine @ Maverick Web Marketing

    1. Thanks Mike!!! (I'm still learning)


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