5 Tips for Making Money on Fine Art America
Are you making money on Fine Art America? Or on RedBubble or Society6? Lots of sites offer convenient print on demand sales and all of them have tons of artists trying to make some money doing what they love. Many people think it's not possible to sell art on websites like these because there's too much competition. The market is saturated and there isn't room for more. That's partially true, but there is room for more. You can sell your work and you can make money. I do. I've heard from fellow artists that they'd like to know how I sell my work on Fine Art America so I'm going to spill the beans and share what I do. This is the first of [probably] two posts on the topic because there's a lot of info.
There are currently more than 100,000 photographers on Fine Art America. Why would I choose to sell there? Here are some of the reasons:
- They are geared towards selling art where other sites (like SmugMug) enable you to sell there but it's not a place people visit to shop. That means that unless you send people there, no one will randomly find you the way they might on FAA.
- There are no fees to start and they have a free option so I could try it by just investing my time.
- Their premium features cost $30 a year which is totally affordable.
- There is no inventory which means no one has to guess what will sell.
- They have lots of choices for products. It's not just prints and frames, they have pillow covers, towels, phone cases and lots of other things you can add your images to. You don't have to sell any of those things if you don't want to but the option is there if you choose.
- They take care of everything. They print, frame, pack and ship and if there's an issue they also deal with the returns. This means anyone can shop there even if I'm off the grid. And the 15th of the month I get my money via PayPal. Super easy.
- They have fulfillment centers all over the world so orders aren't limited to the US.
BUT, here's the problem with FAA: they own the customers and the customer information. You don't get email addresses, you don't know where they came from, and you don't know what they searched for to find your shop. Also, they determine whose work shows up in searches and they make it easy for a potential buyer to see other artists' work.
Ideally you have your own site where you can sell your work, but that's pricey and in most cases requires that you do the fulfillment. It also means a lot of back and forth with a potential client if they aren't sure what they want and the possibility of losing a sale because you couldn't respond quickly enough.
Fine Art America is definitely not perfect, and selling on there takes work. But it can be done. These are the things I do that I believe bring the sales.
Share like crazy
Do a search for anything on FAA and you will get hundreds if not thousands of results. Even if you narrow down the search criteria the volume is huge. The algorithms that determine how something shows up in search often take into account the number of views. So, to increase the amount of times my work is seen I share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. Not every photo and not all the time, but I do share quite a bit.
Another factor in search results is the number of sales you've had. It's unfair to those that aren't as popular but that's how FAA is more statistically likely to make a sale. So my first sale was to someone I know. She wanted the photo, and although I could have sold it directly to her and made more money on it, I asked her to buy it there.
When you make a sale FAA has what they call an announcement page. It's a landing page for what you just sold and it has sharing links. Of course I share that, too, so that I get more views. Plus, this is extra helpful because when others see that your work sells it validates what you do and can encourage them to buy.
Sponsored searches are good way to promote your work. You don't pay anything for it but need to have the premium membership to have access to it. Then you write a blog post like Sunset at Oceanside Pier and add a link to that post for other sunset photographs. When you do this, and FAA verifies your link, you get your work on the third line of results when people search for sunset photographs.
My advice on this: make the search terms specific. For example, color sunset canvas prints at Oceanside Pier that way you can show something more specific and get better results than if you had just the words sunset photographs.
FYI, the way Fine Art America determines which of your photos to show on that search is from the tags. Which brings me to my next tip.
Good tags, descriptions and titles—what might people be looking for?
The search feature in online stores like Fine Art America operates with tags so you have to have really good, creative tags to get discovered. I start with the obvious such as what the image is and then I narrow it down by adding location, emotions, colors, themes, types of decor that it might be good for, etc. I also add my name in case someone is looking for my photos, specifically. Titles and descriptions also help for people to find and connect with the work.
Given the huge competition on the site I know I have to send traffic to my work and not rely on them to bring me customers. One of the ways I do this I use HARO. I previously wrote about the benefits of using HARO—it really does work. If you look at my Press page, most of the links there have come from responses I have sent via HARO. I also know it works because I can see in my Google Analytics that the sites I'm featured in bring me traffic.
They send out three emails a day during the week and there are lots and lots of requests that are irrelevant. My tip for getting featured is to respond to what is a good match and do it ASAP. The reporters get tons of responses and likely stop looking once they find what they need so even if the deadline listed is days away I try to do it as soon as I get the email.
Send buyers to places I own
Another neat FAA feature is their widgets. You can generate the code to create a page like this and people can buy something without leaving your own website. They also have the same kind of thing for Facebook. And another benefit of their paid membership is that you can create a site where people can't see anyone's work but yours. It's not the most beautiful design, but when you send potential buyers there you know they won't get distracted by some other art.
I have more tips but rather than make this post a mile long I will share them in the very near future. I can't guarantee you overnight success but why not give some of these a try and see what happens? Let me know what the results are and if you have any additional tips to share.