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Well, this experiment just isn’t working out very well. I made some really big mistakes right from the start, and because of those mistakes my new online art store is getting from two to six visitors a day. You can’t sell anything online with that kind of traffic. 🙁
And, unfortunately, I can’t think of any way, going forward, to get more traffic, because I can’t afford to buy ads.
Be sure to watch the video for the details.
Even though this experiment didn’t work, I’m still glad I did it. I may not be able to fix the problems I’m having with getting traffic to see my animal prints, but I did learn a new way to create a WordPress website (and I think my new design looks really nice), and I learned to not ignore the advice of experts when it comes to researching the potential traffic before starting an online business.
And, of course, I learned how much fun it is to paint animal portraits using Paint Tool Sai.
Thanks for all your support while I played around with the idea of selling art online. It’s been a fun adventure, but now I go back to work at my real job, writing books. I start on that just as soon as this post has been published.
PS: Shelbot just sent me this link for an article that lists the common mistakes made by people starting their first online business. I made mistake #1. 😉
88 thoughts on “My Experiment in Selling Art Online – Last Update”
I watched the video in full but I didn’t read all the comments. I was bursting at the seams through most of it. I need to tell you that you can sell both your prints and your paper mache items on Etsy. And they do give you lots of free advertisement which is linked to google search and the like. They also have easy ways to share to social media, like facebook Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Plus, buyer and seller protections. Yey! I’m a single mom and my shop is my only income. I’ve had it for just over a year selling paper mache items and upcycled pointe shoes. But I wouldn’t have been able to be half as successful on it without the help of an Etsy coach, Christy Winfrey. She has been very helpful from everything from packaging and shipping to social media and target marketing. Plus she researches Etsy’s upcoming and current changes and helps decipher what they mean. I joined her Rockstar group (kitschy and cute but effective and very friendly) last April and every time I think I’ve learned all I can from it, something comes up to prove me wrong. Her group is on Facebook and she also has a free group if you want to check out what she has to offer a bit more first. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/EtsyShopHelpRockYourShop/) My only caveat is that she specializes in home decor. She isn’t that familiar with the paper mache market. But I’ve had the likes of Vogue magazine online contact me for a photo shoot in Paris, no joke, through Etsy. It didn’t happen because I didn’t have enough masks on hand. If you do decide to try Etsy, I can get you 40 listings free. And- Ultimatepapermache has not been taken as a shop name (!).
I’d love to have another paper mache artist on Etsy to talk with. I really think you’d be able to sell your prints in the same shop as well.
Ok, I gotta go put up a few more listings on Etsy myself so I have to run. Let me know if you decide to try either Etsy or the coaching, I’d love to be the first to welcome you.
Hi Kerry – I wish I’d known all this last year! Great info. But I can’t possibly sell my paper mache items. I’m too darned slow, and I’d make way less than minimum wage if I tried it. If I can figure out a way to make masks faster I might give it a try, though. If that ever happens I’ll check out the facebook page you mentioned.
It’s hard to keep this blog going, plus all my videos, and do big experiments like my print-selling experiment that I did last year. I was never able to put in as much time as it really needed, because my real business kept me so busy. But someday, I’d like to give it another try. Thanks for the great encouragement
I did want to mention that I was unable to find your WordPress web site. The link above does not work and when I Google you, this site is the only one that comes up. I then put in art prints by Jonni Good and only your Pintrest sites come up. I put in jonnigood.com and I get a message telling me it’s an invalid request. Sounds like there is something broken somewhere.
Hi Kathie. Thanks for letting me know about the links. The jonnigood.com site is supposed to redirect to this blog, because it didn’t make sense for me to spend the time maintaining it when it wasn’t producing any revenue. I have no idea why the redirect isn’t working, so I’ll do some research on that. I may open up the site again in the near future, but just because I enjoy designing website and my new book is very close to being finished. I’ll have a few spare hours to spend on it, I hope.
These words are from my heart. I too have a WordPress web site and I try to sell my original art and prints. I’ve run into the exact same problems as you have. We as small artists will never get above those with the big bucks. I would love to collaborate with you and find out what has worked for both of us and what hasn’t. I’ve found Pintrest, Instagram, FaceBook and Twitter do not get people to my site to buy. They can “like” my pages all they want, but that doesn’t convert to sales. I’ve spent money I don’t have on those courses and ads as well only to be left with a smaller bank account and no closer to breaking the code of selling online. You are absolutely right about the ones that are making the money are the ones that make the courses.
Kathie, your wildlife paintings are outstanding! I’m going to bookmark your site and order a print as soon as I have a few extra dollars to spend. I really wish I could collaborate with you, but I couldn’t find a way to make my online art business work, so I have nothing to offer. I only gave it about six months, and maybe that wasn’t enough. My actual intent was to find out how to do it so I could write a book and share that info with my fellow artists, and most of the artists I know don’t enjoy marketing and aren’t tech savvy, so any method I found would have to be super-easy. I just couldn’t crack the code. It was disappointing for two reasons – I didn’t get an interesting subject for my next book, and my experience with online art sales was exactly opposite of my previous experience when I sold at juried art shows. Back then, I would sell out at many shows. This time, I sold three inexpensive prints in six months. If I tried again I would take my inventory to local art fairs or home shows, and keep it all very local.
The problem I had was getting traffic. If I started a separate YouTube channel and showed people how the prints were made, it could have helped. If I could afford to out-bid art.com and other huge art publishers for Google ads, it might have helped. Wildlife prints and other related keywords are way too expensive and the large websites dominate the search results. If I had any interest at all in spending time on Facebook (I hate Facebook) it might have helped. I didn’t do any of that, Pinterest and Instagram got me no traffic, so I gave it up.
I don’t think you should give it up, though. Maybe you could find some blogs that write about subjects your ideal buyers would be interested in, and give the bloggers a free print in exchange for a review. Authors do that all the time, so why not authors? If you find anything that does work, please let me know. And good luck!
And one more thing – hope you’re not bored with my ramblings, yet! Speaking of courses, I think one way I could have done reasonably well, and I may even give it a try, is to produce a good video course on how to create digital animal paintings and pet portraits. Learning how to do it was fun, and I bought some expensive programs, so making the course would be fun, too. Then I would market it on YouTube. This might increase the visibility of my work, as well, and maybe I’d sell a few prints on the side. I paid about $40 for a video course to show me how to do it, and if my own spending is any guide, there may be a market for it. Many more people are interested in painting with real brushes, so you might consider it.
I love your honesty and your incredibly generous nature. Your paper mache site is the absolute best and your art is wonderful.
I am sorry that this online sales venture did not work out. I hope you will not become discouraged by this.
So many of us love you and your work.
Thanks, Jane. No – I’m not discouraged at all. I try all sorts of experiments, as you’ve probably seen in my other videos. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. But there’s no way to know until you try. I still think there’s probably a way for an artist to get traffic to a website using Pinterest, but I just couldn’t crack the code.
Might I suggest you sell the patterns to your projects instead of giving them free? You could offer a discount if the person likes your page. Place your items on Facebook store.
Your paper machete is really nice.
Hi Holly. I do sell patterns, but I just forget to mention them often enough. You’ll find them under the Sculpting Patterns tab at the top of the blog.
You are one of the best sources on Paper mache… and for that you deserve a standing ovation. I am trying to get into crafting as a business too, but I’m targeting the gift market, not the art, as I see it much easier to market than art. You mentioned it yourself, most people looking into paper mache online are those crafty people who are looking for inspiration, so if they see a beautiful piece of art they will most probably try to make a similar piece. but with Etsy and gift websites, people want special gift ideas, so try to combine small art pieces with nice sweet packaging or insignia and I guess you should make a great, repeatable income. Keep it going, we all love you <3
Thanks, Amal. And good luck with your new business!
What you have is the best mask making videos on youtube or even online. I’m a 3D digital artist professionally and your videos show you have the skills, and knowledge to be an expert. I bought your book b/c even you referenced it in a video. Keep doing that.
What you can do that doesn’t have a lot of overhead is make/sell pdf ebooks. They can be super short or as long as you want filled with a, or many, tutorials on something specific that you learned since writing your mask book. Even if you have a video on it, an ebook doesn’t cost you money to sell, and all the money comes back to you. If you put a link in your video on youtube for the ebook that is relevant people can find it there as well as on your site.
My sister started he business on etsy and still does sell wedding dresses there and in her store. I don’t know much about it but it seems like a great place to sell art. If you invest in another silicon mold for masks it could be a place to sell them. You can even make them to order. I don’t know if that interests you but you are really good.
Thanks for sharing all your great knowledge on the subject!
Thanks, Dave. I think I might need to mention my patterns more often, too, because I do sell downloadable products on my site. Not many – most of the tutorials on the blog are free, but I did start charging a small fee for some of them. It’s a good thing I did, because book sales are down (for everyone, not just me) and the pattern sales help keep this site going. It’s a lot more expensive to run a popular blog than most people realize.
My purpose in starting my art-selling experiment was to see if there was an easy way to get it to work. If I found that secret method, I intended to write a book about it to help other artists. I’m primarily a writer (who writes about art most of the time). It was disapointing that I didn’t figure it out, but there are always other things to write about. I have a new book already started (not about art this time).
Thanks for the suggestions. One of our regular readers does make very nice masks and sells them on Etsy, but he told us that he’s having trouble getting traffic to his page and isn’t selling as many as he would like. So I don’t think the problem is in the product sold, but getting the people who want the product to find you. That’s true on etsy as much as it is on any other website. I don’t know how to do it, but if I do ever figure it out I’ll let everyone know. 😉