How to sell art on Facebook
Facebook is primarily a social network; it wasn’t created with direct selling in mind. We’ve all ‘un-liked’ pages because we felt we were being hard-sold to on a daily basis and were receiving no real benefit in return for our patience. Our immunity levels are high when it comes to headlines like ‘Don’t miss out’, ‘Get it while stocks last’, ‘Take advantage of this offer now!’ popping up on our timeline.
But promoting art is very different to promoting discount puppy chow in bulk! And this is where artists can take advantage of Facebook. Social media is generally the point at which selling a high-priced item such as a piece of art starts, not where it ends. Go beyond the ‘like’, build up trust with your audience, offer them numerous other benefits, let them into your world, create conversations and connect with potential buyers. It may take months or even years for the sale to come to fruition, but if you are prepared to put in the time and effort required, Facebook can become an invaluable indirect marketing tool for selling your work.
Patience is a virtue
So knowing you have to be in it for the long-haul, it’s vital to get the basics right. Before you even start to think about selling your artwork on Facebook, invest time in the following areas:
- Set up a professional artist page and keep this separate from your personal profile. Make sure your page is visually engaging and is fleshed out with relevant, insightful and interesting content about you and your art. See our guide on how to create a professional presence on Facebook.
- Build your audience the right way; ensuring you have a decent number of loyal fans before you start to sell will make marketing easier and more effective in the long run. Check out our recommendation for getting more ‘likes’ on your artist Facebook page.
- Be inventive with your posts, engage with fans on a regular basis and make it fun and beneficial for them. See our recent article on the best ways to make Facebook posts work for you as an artist.
I can’t stress enough how important going through the above work will be to your success. Don’t cut corners. Build trust. Create engagement. Then, and only then, can you start to truly promote your art to sell.
How to promote and sell art on Facebook
Everyone knows about Etsy as a platform for selling art, but the buyers over there tend to be interested in small, inexpensive pieces, often created as part of a series. The great thing about Facebook is its suitability for introducing bespoke pieces of art to your audience through the use of non-aggressive posting of images.
From my research into what is working for artists selling work on Facebook, I’ve put together the following list of ideas.
Post galleries of images
Many artists find that price range groupings work well when posting collections of their work. For example, you might have a gallery of prints for under £70, a gallery of small works for under £250, a gallery of mid-range pieces for under £650 and a gallery of large pieces for under £1,250.
Always caption individual images with a title, year, dimensions, a brief description of techniques and materials, and a price. This helps potential buyers to understand exactly what is on offer.
Ask your established audience to share the galleries with their friends and families (remember only do this once you have a loyal following – asking a favour of strangers without any obvious benefit for them won’t work).
Use Paypal to accept payments
It’s the simplest and most secure way of sending money across the internet and most people are already familiar with how it works. Simply sign up for Paypal and share your email address for the account with potential buyers (perhaps in the caption alongside the other information). If someone is interested in buying a piece, simply instruct them to put ‘Sold’ in the comments section of the individual image and send you an email. Once you have had contact with them they can easily transfer funds to that email address via Paypal.
Give to charity
Some artists have seen great success by stating that a percentage of the sale price will go to a relevant charity. For example, Caren Goodrich creates paintings of horses and decided to give 50% of all sales to a group committed to rescuing horses headed for the slaughterhouse. This not only taps into a new group of potential customers (as the group are likely to share the galleries on their page too), it raises money for a good cause and gives your current fans another incentive for buying your work.
Do regular promotions and sales
But be careful not to lower prices too dramatically. High street stores increase their original prices to include a margin for discount at a later date; consider using this tactic when doing promotion of your artwork on Facebook.
Make sure there is a reason for your fans to act now, but be careful not to use language that sounds like you’re selling discount furniture. ‘ACT NOW!’ statuses don’t lend themselves to promoting artwork. Try something like, ‘This month I’ve got a little time on my hands so I’ll be offering commissions for small stitched portraits for just £300 (normally £500)’.
Offer free shipping
Generally people are seduced by the idea of a freebie, no matter how small. Again, you can increase your base price to compensate if needs be.
You might consider making this benefit exclusive to your Facebook fans. Posting a code for them to use at the checkout of your website entitling them to free shipping could work well.
If you make prints of your work make sure they are ‘limited edition’. Scarcity creates value in the eyes of collectors so make sure they know that no more will be made and signed after the original run of 20 prints, for example.
So now you have a few techniques to try out; start off being realistic and experiment to find out what works for you. Knowing that Facebook is not specifically designed to directly sell your work will stop you from getting frustrated. Use it primarily as a funnel to your website, online store, newsletter sign-up page or blog to strengthen relationships with potential buyers; this will pay off in the end, but you need to stick with it. Good luck!
Do you have other ideas for selling art on Facebook? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.