How I Made $50,000 Selling Art on Facebook

Black-and-Gold-Fire-Jewelled-Tree-by-Natasha

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Natasha Wescoat for a few years. She’s a force of nature. Her work is colorful, powerful, and exciting. On top of that, Natasha is as technology savvy as any person that I know. She’s a rare artist who really gets the online world. I’m so excited to have Natasha guest post today – not only because I’m a big ‘ol fanboy, but because she really knows what she’s talking about – and quite frankly, I’m astounded that Natasha lays out here exactly how to do what she’s been so successful with. (Thanks Natasha)

For the last 8 years, I’ve offered my work online through various venues, with the support of my own website and organic marketing (social media, word of mouth, etc.). But it was in 2010, that I recognized a potentially sustainable source of income in one particular social network.

I have made over $50,000 selling my art on Facebook, and I will show you how you can too.

Facebook, despite it’s constant scrutiny, is a growing giant and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. According to allfacebook.com:

  • Facebook currently has 845 million active users.
  • Facebook accounts for 1 out of every 5 pageviews on the internet worldwide.
  • Facebook users share over 100 billion connections collectively.
  • Over 50% of the population in North American uses Facebook.
  • 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily.
  • There are 2.7 billion likes every single day on Facebook.

Since they’ve gone public, along with it’s growing integration into every website and social network in the world, it’s becoming a force we cannot ignore. Everyone’s mom, grandfather, cousin, dog is on Facebook. It’s becoming a rich resource for finding current and new audiences. Everyone is on getting on board.

HOW I BEGAN

A year after I created my own page, I began to actively post and correspond with fans. People loved to share pictures of their favorite art or ask me questions about my work. I wasn’t really into it too much, and didn’t see the potential of the site so I rarely logged on or answered questions. I had no idea how effective or useful it would be. Within a year, I had stopped selling work on sites like eBay or Etsy and took time off to work on other endeavors. When I wanted to sell an artwork or offer prints, I’d just post them on there to see if anyone was interested.

To my surprise, they WERE.

By 2010 (a year in), My fanbase grew from 300 to 1000 as old followers and new found me on Facebook. I began to share the link to my page on Twitter (where I had 4000-9000 followers) and on my blog, which I’d been writing since 2006. I realized the potential and began to experiment on what worked and didn’t work for me and my personal following. By 2011, I was selling art on Facebook exclusively, making over $50,000 in sales from my original paintings and fine art prints.

So, HOW exactly did I make this work in 2-3 years? Here are some practices/methods I’ve used that helped not only build my fanbase, but increase engagement, develop interest and increase sales.

7 KEYS TO CREATING YOUR FANBASE AND SELLING ART ON FACEBOOK

The first thing to understand is, it’s most important to develop a reputation with your collectors/fanbase before you can really start selling your art. It’s important to engage with your collectors and build relationships. This is particularly wonderful for us as artists, because you really don’t have this opportunity in a gallery setting unless you have the time to be out and about all the time!

ENGAGE

1. Start conversations/use engaging tools:

- Post a photo of work you are developing (Progress pictures).

- Post an artwork from your past, childhood, present. Show where you’ve come from, what you’re working on (series) or an artwork you want to offer.

- Ask a question: ask them questions about themselves, ask about your work, ask about current topics. Use topics that relate to your work or your personal audience. Everyone is different.

- Start a topic: talk about your process, what you’re working on, what you did today, etc.

People respond most to things that are visual or involve THEM. People love to talk about themselves, and they’ll be interested in sharing their own stories, thoughts, interests! Get them going!

2. Make it fun:

- Create contests: photo contests, commenting contests, liking contests. You want to create things that inspire them to share or participate in. With the new Timeline, other people are going to see their friends’ likes, shares and comments. Offer an incentive: Winner gets print of the month (or choice), someone gets discount in your shop, one of 10 commenters will get a free print, etc.

- Encourage fans to share pictures of their collections, favorite artwork or their dog. Whatever it is, that could be related to your artwork, your brand or your web presence.

3. Don’t ignore the stats:

- Research your audience: Use Facebook Insights to understand the type of people that are “liking” and engaging on your page, and from there you can learn and develop your audience.

- Study how to use insights so that you can better read the data that is offered to you. Find other tools that might help you engage with your audience.

BE CONSISTENT

4. Create a schedule/system:

- Decide what time of day, how many times a day, how many times per week you will post. And what ‘type’ of content you will post.

- Create a day/time for what content is shared: New art on Fridays? Studio Sales on Sundays? Illustration of the day Tuesdays? Fanchat Thursdays?

5. Sell your art with a plan:

- Create sales goals and develop a system that will help you reach those goals.

- Determine what you are willing to sell your artwork for. Will you offer prints? Will you offer just small artwork or everything you create? I never allow an original artwork to sell for less than $200, but this is all dependent on your fanbase, how many follow you on Facebook, what you offer, how long you’ve been an artist and who your audience is.

- Do you want to offer your art directly on Facebook or promote your other sites where the art is available?

CREATE URGENCY

6. It’s important to create an urgency and rarity for your work on a social network because everything is posted in real time, exposure on Facebook is short term and not every follower will see your posts. 

- With original art, I’d give them a chance to make their price: I say: Make an offer & it’s yours! which creates an open opportunity for them to name what they’d pay. Allow yourself as much time as you want to see how many offers you get. The longer, the better, but if you feel it necessary to keep short, do so. I only offer originals for up to 24 hours for bids. After that, if there is nothing, I delete and move on. I might offer the original later a different day and time because some days are either bad timing or most people aren’t really on their Facebook.

- Use sayings like “The first (number) of people to comment-” or “The first one to say “SOLD!” can purchase-” to create the urgency to reply. I’ve found that if I simply post payment information for artworks or link to an artwork, there is less of a chance at making a sale.

- Create rarity with limited times or limited offers: Certain prints or specials will be available from this day to that day, or for 24 hours, or until the Friday of that week. Something of that nature, where the special will not be available anywhere else and is not done on a REGULAR basis. It’s completely genuine and legitimate as a form of selling art. Disney does this with their classics and it has worked well for them.

Creating urgency not only helps keep your fans’ attention but help increase engagement which in turn will help increase the exposure of that particular post across other timelines. More likes, comments or shares equals more exposure for that post.

INVEST IN PROMOTION

7. Advertise your page

- I’ve found that with even the smallest investment in advertising, you can increase your fan base as well as potential sales through the use of Facebook ads. Really study your Facebook Insights and determine the best plan for advertising. Sometimes I only advertise with my spending limit at $30-50. at a time. Facebook offers a wonderful system that makes it simple even for the novice. Play around with the advertising system a few times and you will get the hang of it. From there, decide how much you’re willing to spend each month, every few months or year. Perhaps you only advertise for a week or few weeks around a special event or artwork you are working on.

8. Promoting posts really works!

- You are able to promote a particular post (perhaps you are offering a limited print or original artwork for sale) for anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 to reach a certain amount of your audience. That particular promotion will last anywhere up to 3 days. Promoting pages increases the chances of that post to be seen by your fans for a longer period of time. This is great because, in reality, not everyone will see that post. People log on at different times, for different lengths. Not everyone goes directly to the page to read what’s happening. I have fans who follow me regularly but might miss one post or they happened to be on vacation that week or don’t see that artwork I offered three times that month.

- And if, at any time you wish to cancel or pause a promotion, you CAN. Sometimes I’ll reach a certain amount of sales that I wanted and pause the promotion. You might only spend 30 cents or $1.40 when you promote a post.

So, how do I do it?

- I post regularly – almost every day.

- I offer art weekly, through Studio Sales, special limited edition offers and print sales.

- I promote my Etsy shop, eBay auctions and other sites through Facebook.

- I revisit old events, old artworks and past experiences for content.

- I syndicate my blog and social networks to the page to increase content, social engagement and product awareness.

Check out the Course

UPDATE from Cory: This  post was so popular that we put together a course on How to Sell Art on Facebook. Click here to check it out!

97 comments
Zach
Zach

I work for a company called ShopTab, and we have several artists using our Facebook shop app to sell their work. Paintings, crafts, woodwork... all kinds of things. If you open a PayPal account you can sell through us on Facebook without creating a separate e-commerce site!

amy marie adams
amy marie adams

Mostly great tips, however, FACEBOOK has changed radically since this article was published and even though many tips are still relevant - people just don't see posts anymore - as you are well aware - due to their policy changes unless you pay. I think there are many other awesome social networks that engage people in real time.........twitter and tumblr for instance.

ConnieO
ConnieO

Mmmm, mmmm,, now that was some good eatin! As in I feel like I just ate a fine meal with all the richness of advice "cooked" by Natasha! Ahh, Facebook, you are a wily beast I will tame one day!! I'll be returning to this article for advice when I'm ready to invest the time; right now I allow myself less than two hours a day for reading FB & artist business blogs & artist research and schedule the rest of the time to building more original paintings and jewelry designs. I should say the time I work in the margins around my dayjob. Thank you and please keep "cookin" these great articles up to serve us! I'm always "hungry" :)

paulpaulo
paulpaulo

Hey Natasha thank you so much for the great ideas. I'm currently researching for ways to promote my father's artwork. I totally agree that facebook will be an awesome way to give some exposure to my father's artwork. English is my father's second language. Is there any advice you could give me on promoting his artwork for him on Facebook? Would love to know what you think :)

ashar
ashar

Oh by the way my work sells in the region of £300 - £600 do you think that is feasible on Facebook or is Facebook not my market? best ashar

ashar
ashar

Wow that was really frenetic I cannot work at such a pace. I will have to print this off as Facebook is my nemesis I find it hard to get on with, and its constant changes. However I will have a go at what you have suggested. Off now to take a look at ‘how to sell art on Facebook’ thank for the post Best ashar

Karin Schultze
Karin Schultze

I need help with my facebook page and business method. I was using Craig'sList.com and Thumbtack and IGuru and IFreelance but your review as an artist using Facebook was inspirational. My sales to the general public don't match my internet sales. Can you recommend a link where you explain your methods? Karin

Mike England
Mike England

I'm currently posting my work on fineartamerica.com> I am looking at programs that would allow me to add a digital signature to my artwork as I am concerned that the images will be downloaded and printed without permissions etc, How do you or have you approached this? Of you get a chance to reply, I would greatly appreciate any advice, Thanks. Mike England

Queena Mack
Queena Mack

I got Artwork aroud the earth. I love to draw to make people happy. I got Art on line and I love my Artwork .

Sanath Kumar
Sanath Kumar

I am capable to draw and paint. But I don't know how to market it. I need your advice. sanath kumar

Karin Schultze
Karin Schultze

Hello! I love your column. I've tried Craig's List.com, ifreelance, iguru, facebook and twitter but had limited results. Since I get a lot of customers when working with the general public outside of the digital social media relm, I'm writing for a 'how to' guide into facebook (in case I set this up wrong). Thank you!

Terri Lloyd
Terri Lloyd

Also, what sort of art are you selling on Facebook? I think it's not just about numbers but about who your audience is or isn't on FB. I know a lot of high end fine artists that don't sell on FB because the price point is not an FB thing and the conversion is a much longer process. And then, on the flip side, there is decorative and more folksy types of art that do sell because it's under a thousand dollars...

Daneeta Jackson
Daneeta Jackson

Thanks Cory and Natasha! This was a very informative post. I have been using FB for several years now, and I get business off of it, but would like to get more. Your post has motivated me to come up with and implement a plan to maximize FB potential. Thanks again.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Thanks for the great tips. I was wondering what your numbers were like in 2013? You talk about 2011 but I know that with the rapid changes in our world, I wonder if your numbers are still consistent in 2013? Thanks.

Daniel Locket
Daniel Locket

Thank you so much for posting this. Its inspired me to at least try it and you've given me insight on how to make it work. :) ~D.Locket

julianna
julianna

im looking into ooening a page to sell my work, but im confused in how you would collect payment and handel shiping. please help?

Janice Cordeiro
Janice Cordeiro

I am a bit confused on the information. You state: "Within a year, I had stopped selling work on sites like eBay or Etsy and took time off to work on other endeavors. " Then at the end of the article you further state how you did it:" I promote my Etsy shop, eBay auctions, and other sites through Facebook." I'm missing something. Janice

Eddy
Eddy

very helpful.

Sonia Van Kell
Sonia Van Kell

I am not an artist, so I am not trying to sell my work. However, I have a lot of artwork that I would like to sell. Most of them are Tarkay lithographies, but two of them are originals and some are hand brushed. I also have a Mouly and a Daly. I am not proficient in using computers, so I need someone to help me sell those and I would pay a commision Please let me know if you can help me or if you know of someone that can help me with this. Thanks,.

Karin Schultze
Karin Schultze

Hello! Note: My site is still under construction, thanks for checking back in 6 months. In the meantime, I'm glad to see you on-line, I've been looking for digital art gallery tips. Excellent feedback about facebook. Is this a newsletter or blog where I can post my tips as well? Sincerely yours, Karin Schultze RF Design

patsy
patsy

Cory...how old is your course "How to sell art on FaceBook"?

Rich
Rich

Hi Cory and Natasha: I read the interview with great interest and seems like a wonderful way to do it. The thing that concerns me is the current discussions as to who owns the rights to the image once you up load it to social media. It seems as though f.b. is the worst of them all. I certain don't want any one stealing it, let alone give them the right to use as they wish.... I would appreciate your insight sight on this.... Thanks

LexusPerry
LexusPerry

What about making sure no one steals your art!! Are't you afraid of that?? I'm terrified of this happening!!

Paul Scragg
Paul Scragg

A very interesting informative and informative text, thank you Cory for putting it together and I really like Natasha's web page.

muzi
muzi

Tasha u're the best. Thanks

Veronica
Veronica

Hi! Cory and Natasha. I totally loved this article!, it really opened my eyes, I've been trying to make my page work with no much success. I guess, with this great tips you gave us I will be able to improve it and is going to change something in my life as an artist on Facebook pages. Thank you for sharing and keep being so great and successful! Vero

pierino
pierino

Excellent advise .thanks Natasha .

Marque Todd
Marque Todd

I have read this post TWICE and recently signed up for the How to Sell Art on Facebook course mentioned above. To be honest I haven't set up my biz page but it is going to happen soon. One question I have is what the market is like for selling art on FB. I have pieces that I am selling right now in the $500-$1000 range and hopefully my prices will be going up since I am at the beginning of my art adventures. Is FB a good venue to sell art in this range and higher??? Thanks for all the great articles on this blog! Marque Todd San Diego, CA TabascoCatArt.com

Melissa
Melissa

Hey guys, I just wanted to say that this post is awesome! It's so true that Facebook can be amazing for selling art due to that community connection that you get. I think that in the past artists have been seen as quite anonymous and mysterious, but social media has opened that up and really allowed artists to show their personalities, which is great because art relies on both a visual and emotional connection. It's also a nice way to get around the problem of going through a gallery to get your work out there. I'm just starting to get back into painting and drawing myself, so haven't made the leap to selling it yet, but when and if the time comes I will definitely be using social media to connect with people. I also work for a company - www.selz.com - which lets you take credit card payments on Facebook (and other platforms) really easily. I promise I'm not trying to get spammy here, but I think that anyone considering selling on social media should give it or something similar a try, it really takes the headache out of organizing payments with the buyer. Anyway, back to art, I have found a bunch of artists that I would never have known about if it weren't for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, particularly younger artists, and illustrators. And many of them don't even have a website, they operate complete off their social networks. So if you're not on there, you should be! Even if you don't want to use it as a sales tool, you never know who's out there waiting to like and share and #OMG your work.

Lucy Chen
Lucy Chen

Thanks for the post, Cory and Natasha. The "urgency" is something I really have to work on...

Susan Sawyer
Susan Sawyer

I am totally, nearly totally unsavy about how you even get people out there to see your work. Do I have to change my settings on FaceBook; at this point I have 2 followers from two different continents; I have no idea how they even found me. People have said I could make a ton, but somehow I have to find the people. How do I do even that step? Any help would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Lessie
Lessie

This has been very helpful and motivating for me to get my art out there. I do have a question that you did not cover though. How do you go about the exchange of money for your art? I'm not very business savvy.

gary
gary

Hi cory and tash cheers for the tips, I'm a known artist at my home town and now I'm having time off work to start my art business selling my art online, cheers ye

Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor

So many great suggestions that I need to start following as I start to explore the wonderful world of Facebook.

VJ Wim Flanders JR
VJ Wim Flanders JR

Wow, Great, Very good article, You must be having a great heart to give away these tips! thanks to this you are an interesting person, i follow! VJ Wim Flanders Jr, Belgium

Matthew
Matthew

Natasha, thank you. did you use a Facebook Page (the one for business or for fans, bands artists ) or Profile (the one for friends). I know artists that do both. thank you, Matthew

ilham
ilham

loved it......very helpful tips.

Glenn Holbrook
Glenn Holbrook

Thanks to you Facebook just punished me for trying to contact other people about my art through Facebook like you suggested. I got a nasty letter from Facebook saying that Facebook is just for people you know personally. Now I have been banned from using Facebook or anything related to it for 14 days and they threatened to kick me out of Facebook if I tried to contact anyone else I don't already know.

Cory Huff
Cory Huff

Thanks for the comment Amy. You're right that FB engagement is way down. We are running an updated version of our FB Marketing for Artists course on July 31. If you have an advertising budget and are willing to learn to tackle FB's ad platform, you can see a significant return on investment. That said, you're also right that there are other social networks where people can engage without paying - but that free engagement there is facing the same future constraints that FB faces now.

Cory Huff
Cory Huff

Terri, you're right that most of Natasha's work sells for under $1000. I've seen artists sell for more, but most artists selling on social media are doing it for under $1000.

Cory Huff
Cory Huff

Hi Janice - I think what Natasha means is that for a time she stopped selling on eBay because she was so excited about Facebook. Any good marketer remembers to include things that have worked in the past, and to supplement that with new things that work well.

Cory Huff
Cory Huff

Great question Patsy. We just revamped the course a month ago, so it includes almost all of the latest updates to Facebook, as well as case studies from artists who are doing well right now.

Marque Todd
Marque Todd

I think the question about art being "stolen" online is an on-going one that artists struggle with all the time. Maybe Cory could put together a post on the topic?? I think it depends on the artist and their artwork. For me, I put my images out there as much as I can - Facebook, my own blog, Pinterest and other blogs if I am invited. I figure the more exposure the better. I have tried to think through the "stealing" issue for my art. If someone takes a pic of my art and makes it a screensaver or even puts it in the banner of their FB page - is that bad? Not to me, I am flattered. What if they don't acknowledge that it is my work? Still no biggie - if I came across it I would thank them for sharing my work! What if I found that someone was selling notecards of my work on Etsy? Would I tell them to cease and desist? Nope - I would contact them, thank them for their interest and try to get a licensing deal. Is it wrong that they did it - yes. Is there more than one way to handle it - yes. What if I don't discover it? Then I don't, but that doesn't deter me from getting my art out there. After all, that's what I want as an artist - for others to see and enjoy my work. Other artists may feel very differently about this and that's OK too. The big thing to remember - if you put your art online it will assuredly get spread around no matter how hard you try to stop it and it will likely get used inappropriately a some point. If you know this going in you can deal with it when it happens.

Salkis
Salkis

Hi Marque Todd, Im a new artist too and I do sell original artwork from my facebook fan page, but my price points have not been beyond $500 dollars, Im interested to know where you sell your $1000 dollar pieces, I want to go up on my work also

sumeetpal singh
sumeetpal singh

price depend on the art .. i m artist too . i respect all type of works . so price depend on hands of maker and eyes of buyer

sumeetpal singh
sumeetpal singh

i had a huge collection of finest painting that i want to sell ,, thats my work iand want to sell it , if u allow i wil send the pics

Cory Huff
Cory Huff

Hi Glenn - I sent you an email, but I wanted to make sure you saw this. Were you trying to sell your art through your personal account? FB's terms explicitly state that you can only conduct business on a business page.

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  1. [...] you remember my guest post on The Abundant Artist, I shared how I made $50k on Facebook. Yes, I made that. One time. That was more than a year and a half ago that I managed that. I [...]