Note: Etsy.com is a global website, as is Goole, and Paypal. The remaining references are specific to the US. In other parts of the world there are online providers that offer the same services, but are not listed here.
There are several ways to market the results of your creativity online. With a dash of Shameless Self Promotion and very little money you can take advantage of the best marketing tools the web has to offer.
One of the very first tools you will need is a medium to good digital camera. The better your photos of your artwork, the better chance you have of selling it.
If you are an artist and you make a physical product, for instance pottery, baby wear, stationary, collage, art books, etc, http://www.Etsy.com is one of the best community websites for hand made items out there. It provides you with an easy-to-design, navigate and update web page. You are charged $0.20 for each item you upload to your store. What makes Etsy so attractive is your ability to use http://www.paypal.com merchant services, http://www.USPS.gov shipping, and Google Shopping (although there was an announcement from Google recently stating that this will no longer be a free service) in combination with the Etsy platform.
One of the best sites I’ve seen for visual art forms is http://fineartamerica.com. This community site provides artists and photographers with print fulfillment, exhibit and portfolio pages, branded web stores, the ability to sell prints on http://www.Facebook.com and http://www.Amazon.com, create e-newsletters , and a variety of other marketing tools. FineArtAmerica has a subscription fee of $30.00 per year.
You can also set up your own website with your own domain name. The advantage to this is your patrons may find it easier to remember yourdomain.com, rather than yourdomain.fineartamerica.com, or yourdomain.etsy.com. However, there are ways of getting around this by having your domain registrar (example: GoDaddy.com, the provider you purchased your domain name from) forward all searches for yourdomain.com to your site.
There are a few things you need to purchase if you decide to establish your own site:
- A domain name – This is your unique address on the web. It can be your own name, or the name of your business. It should be easy for your patrons to remember. You can sometimes purchase your domain name from your hosting provider to make things easier on yourself, although they may charge a premium price for this convenience. http://www.GoDaddy.com has always been my favorite, but there lots of other domain registrars and web hosts out there. Registering a domain name typically costs around $10.00 per year, give or take a few dollars.
- A space on the web for exhibiting your work, and possibly for selling your art from. This is your ‘real estate’ on the web and is provided by a web host. Hosting can run from $5.00 and up per month and is usually charged in yearly chunks.
- If you decide to use your online space to sell from, you will need to be able to process credit cards. These are called merchant services, and I highly recommend using them. They will protect you from insufficient checks, or sending your product out before you receive payment for it. http://www.paypal.com is a popular choice for this service, although Google has also established a service for this.
If you decide to use a community website with all the marketing tools built into it, you won’t need to purchase a domain name, hosting or merchant services. Overall, community sites will cost you less and may be easier to maintain and update. They may also bring with them an excellent reputation. Etsy, for instance, is known as one of the best online providers of hand crafted gifts.
Part III: Using Marketing Tools Effectively
Remember, the more your art is seen, the better chance you have of selling it! The web has leveled the playing field into a global market. You CAN do this!