As you put together your business plan, you need to consider where you’re going to sell your work. What venues or markets you’ll target. Heck, even without a business plan, I’m sure this is something you’ll consider as you decide to sell your work.
When determining where to show and sell your work, you need to think about your long term goals. However, I think it is pretty common for many of us when we start selling our work to try lots of different venues, especially when it comes to shows. This is what I did and I wasn’t thinking about a long term goal when I did it. Call it testing the waters. I needed to get a few shows (for better or worse) under my belt in order to determine what worked and what didn’t; what sold and what didn’t and what shows I might do again and which ones I wouldn’t consider in the future.
Assuming you are selling your work, start by listing those places where you sell your work. Now ask yourself where you are making sales. Take it a step further and assess what sells best in these venues. Would you like to continue selling at this venue? Look back at that customer base you’re targeting and those you’d like to target. Do these venues fit into that target market?
Now this is where the long term goal comes into play. When you assess the venues where you sell, you need to determine if you’ve outgrown a place, especially if it isn’t doing well for you. Continuing to show or sell in venues that you’ve outgrown saps your energy and dampens your spirits. Making that decision isn’t always easy but it is part of business. So assuming one of your long term goals is to generate an income, you need to assess selling opportunities on a regular basis.
Is a particular venue good for me?
When choosing a venue for potential selling opportunities, there are several aspects to consider:
Foot traffic: Whether a retail store front or an art/craft show, you want to assess the foot traffic. For the store front, consider their location. Are they on a main street or off the beaten path? If off the beaten path, how do they draw people into the store? With shows, foot traffic can be highly variable but the promoter should be able to give you an attendance figure based on previous shows. Parking may also be a consideration in both cases.
Surrounding businesses: Is the retail store surrounded by other stores, which in turn helps to generate foot traffic. Are there other galleries in proximity to the store which potentially increases competition? (Remember, competition is not necessarily a bad thing.)
Physical space: This includes security, insurance, and appearance of the store. Is care taken when displaying the art work? Are precious works displayed in cases? Is the store neat, clean, well-lit, etc.
Fees: Does the store sell on consignment or wholesale? How are special orders or commissions handled? Are you renting space within the store to display your work?
Advertising: How does the store promote itself? Do they run ads in the local paper and/or online? Do they have a customer mailing list? Do they host artist events or participate in gallery walks?
Online Sales Venues
Other than participating in Wholesalecrafts.com, I have no experience selling on other popular online sites such as Etsy or Trunkt. And I do not sell my work through my web site (e.g. no shopping cart.) However, if these are venues you’d like to pursue, I imagine several of the same considerations can be applied.
I do believe that artists today have many more opportunities to consider when selling their art. It is up to us to think out of the box and to pursue non-traditional venues.