Blogging For Sales?

Sheree Rensel commented on this post:

I totally agree with comments presented. I too realize that blogging is very beneficial for aspects related to motivation and building an audience. However, I want to know how blogging has helped your INCOME. How has blogging increased your sales or increased the money you get to support your art?
That is the topic for which I am REALLY interested.

Sheree Rensel - Blue
Sheree Rensel: Blue

Ah Sheree, the answer to that would be 'not at all' since I'm not currently set up to make money off my art. I am slowly coming to terms with the idea that maybe I should try to make some money from my work but it's something that I'm still internally struggling with. For a long time I believed that my work was completely unsaleable because of the fragile and often temporary nature of the things that I made. That's no longer as true as it once was but I'm still trying to reprogramme my brain on this issue. I plan to write more about the issue of money and artists in the future.

That's a long-winded way of saying that I'm probably not the best person to answer your question!

Fortunately, Katherine from Making A Mark left a long and detailed comment, some of which addressed this issue. I'm reprinting the relevant bits here:

Kirsty - I absolutely agree a blog should be for yourself. I personally am less on reading 'commercial' blogs where people are blogging for a business which is not their own or because they think it's 'what you have to do' to sell art. These blogs often seem to run out of steam after a bit.

Blogs which just present work for sale (as one e-bay) are fine by me - but IMO they work so much better with a few details about why the artist chose to paint the picture...

...Re. last comment, here's my observation. The people who appear to sell consistently using their blogs as part of their marketing are those who do good quality work. (By which I mean good quality work will find a buyer if you market effectively). What a blog maybe does for them is speed up the process of increasing awareness - and then once you've attracted people who like watching what you produce then you have a ready market of people who are more likely to buy.

I would agree with this, personally I prefer blogs where the artist is not solely focused on selling, although I have no objections to being gently reminded that they've updated their Etsy shop or that a particular piece is available in a commercial gallery. In fact, I definitely think that artists should do that, where applicable.

However, the artists who seem to have the most success online usually seem to take the long view. For example, Camilla Engman is an artist who's had a lot of success online and she seems to have built up her sales in a gentle and organic way. She cultivates an audience for her work by having relationships with the readers of her chatty and informal blog and maintaining an active Flickr presence including starting a new group called Organised Collection recently. And of course, she makes excellent and consistent work that she offers at a range of prices from affordable calendars and prints to the more expensive original paintings.

Camilla Engman - Collection 2
Camilla Engman: Collection 2

Engman is a lovely example of how to operate as an artist in the offline world too. We had a show of her work at the Here Gallery and she included a couple of packs of her little prints as a thank-you gift for those of us who'd helped with the show. She's the only artist I can recall who did something like this and it was certainly appreciated by those of us who unpacked and hung her show, since we were all volunteers and none of us were getting paid. Getting curators and gallery people on your side never hurts!

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9 thoughts on “Blogging For Sales?

  1. Kirsty,
    First of all, I haven't even finished reading what you wrote in this entry. The first paragraph made me want to write you again!! Your words are MY WORDS!
    You wrote:
    "I’m not currently set up to make money off my art."
    I realized this is true for me too this past summer and it is my PROBLEM!! I don't think in terms of sales. I think in terms of creating and exhibiting. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. If I did, I wouldn't have had this mindset for the past 30 plus years. I am just now trying to change the paradigm of my thoughts. It is very ironic you chose my piece "BLUE" as an illustration for this post. That is the kind of stuff people want to buy from me. Do I sell it? NO! In fact, I am sitting here right now looking at this piece adorning my kitchen. I WANT it!! LOL LOL
    I have to get over this kind of attitude if I want to move over to the side of the artists who sell. I have enrolled in the Business Academy sponsored by my city. It is free to citizens and the classes teach entrepreneurial skills. I start classes next week. I will check back with you in a few months to let you know how it goes and if it has had an impact on my art sales.
    Thanks for starting this dialogue!!
    Sheree Rensel
    http://www.wizzlewolf.com

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  2. Kirsty,
    First of all, I haven't even finished reading what you wrote in this entry. The first paragraph made me want to write you again!! Your words are MY WORDS!
    You wrote:
    "I’m not currently set up to make money off my art."
    I realized this is true for me too this past summer and it is my PROBLEM!! I don't think in terms of sales. I think in terms of creating and exhibiting. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. If I did, I wouldn't have had this mindset for the past 30 plus years. I am just now trying to change the paradigm of my thoughts. It is very ironic you chose my piece "BLUE" as an illustration for this post. That is the kind of stuff people want to buy from me. Do I sell it? NO! In fact, I am sitting here right now looking at this piece adorning my kitchen. I WANT it!! LOL LOL
    I have to get over this kind of attitude if I want to move over to the side of the artists who sell. I have enrolled in the Business Academy sponsored by my city. It is free to citizens and the classes teach entrepreneurial skills. I start classes next week. I will check back with you in a few months to let you know how it goes and if it has had an impact on my art sales.
    Thanks for starting this dialogue!!
    Sheree Rensel
    http://www.wizzlewolf.com

    [Reply]

    Reply
  3. Kristy:
    Camilla is an excellent example of working you way into an international market via blog. Gently.
    I work 8-5 in rather stressful and busy internet job doing design and I feel pretty much worn out by the time it comes for me to make art to sell. But I think about it daily. I would love to do it in an organic way as well. I think a blog is an excellent way to promote or engage in conversation about a piece of art. I don't think it has to be an hard hitting, every entry trying to sell art ... I get rather tired of some blogs that are always selling and pushing their products.
    As for advertising. Another enticing idea of making money. I think of that too but never act on it. I usually end up giving away my art.

    (I need the class that Sheree is enrolling in!)

    Kim

    [Reply]

    Reply
  4. Kristy:
    Camilla is an excellent example of working you way into an international market via blog. Gently.
    I work 8-5 in rather stressful and busy internet job doing design and I feel pretty much worn out by the time it comes for me to make art to sell. But I think about it daily. I would love to do it in an organic way as well. I think a blog is an excellent way to promote or engage in conversation about a piece of art. I don't think it has to be an hard hitting, every entry trying to sell art ... I get rather tired of some blogs that are always selling and pushing their products.
    As for advertising. Another enticing idea of making money. I think of that too but never act on it. I usually end up giving away my art.

    (I need the class that Sheree is enrolling in!)

    Kim

    [Reply]

    Reply
  5. You're welcome, Sheree.

    I'm glad you found my words helpful, and thanks for the linking back to this post on your own blog. I do believe that it's only by being honest about our struggles with this stuff that we can all make progress. I can certainly relate to the idea of being focused on creating and exhibiting - that's been my main focus for the last five years and while I don't regret that, I do think I need to come to grips with this idea of selling and why I'm blocked with it.

    Good luck with the business classes, I hope they're useful.

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  6. Post author

    You're welcome, Sheree.

    I'm glad you found my words helpful, and thanks for the linking back to this post on your own blog. I do believe that it's only by being honest about our struggles with this stuff that we can all make progress. I can certainly relate to the idea of being focused on creating and exhibiting - that's been my main focus for the last five years and while I don't regret that, I do think I need to come to grips with this idea of selling and why I'm blocked with it.

    Good luck with the business classes, I hope they're useful.

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    Reply
  7. Post author

    Hi Kim, thanks for the comment. I agree that it's hard to make art to sell when you're working in a stressful fulltime job. I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with giving away your art - not everything in life has to be about selling and commerce and it's surely far better that your work is out in the world making other people happy instead of sitting in a cupboard in your house. Selling is also a LOT of work and I can certainly understand why people don't want to deal with it - not to mention that for many of us, myself included, it alters how we feel about our work. Right now I'm working on the concept of making work to sell without thinking about the fact that it's selling work while I'm making it because as soon as I start thinking about that, I get all uptight and find it hard to create as freely.

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  9. Hi Kim, thanks for the comment. I agree that it's hard to make art to sell when you're working in a stressful fulltime job. I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with giving away your art - not everything in life has to be about selling and commerce and it's surely far better that your work is out in the world making other people happy instead of sitting in a cupboard in your house. Selling is also a LOT of work and I can certainly understand why people don't want to deal with it - not to mention that for many of us, myself included, it alters how we feel about our work. Right now I'm working on the concept of making work to sell without thinking about the fact that it's selling work while I'm making it because as soon as I start thinking about that, I get all uptight and find it hard to create as freely.

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    Reply

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