image courtesy Boy Obsolete
Flickr.com is a huge online repository of images. It’s a massive site that gets hundreds of thousands of visitors. People use it to share images with friends & family, display their art work, and also to find art work to buy for personal collections and for publications. For an artist, those last two can be a great source of income.
Here are some guidelines for using Flickr to sell your art.
Put up really good stuff. This should go without saying. No matter how good you are at marketing, you need to have a quality product, and you need to take good pictures of your work. Give yourself the best chance for success.
Put up lots of stuff, with multiple pictures of everything. Cheeming Boey, an artist who does pen-and-ink drawings on coffee cups, has pages and pages of content on his Flickr account. He’s prolific, which helps, and he takes tons of pictures of his stuff from many different angles, so people can usually see exactly what they want from any angle they want. Boey has had lots of luck with Flickr, including picking up a PR agent who saw and purchased his work on Flickr.
Link to your Flickr account from your other Web profiles. Boey told me that he didn’t have much traffic to his Flickr page until “someone saw what i did and placed it on Reddit, Digg, and Metafilter,” which caused his images to be seen by a lot of people.
Put links in your descriptions, your profile, and your group profiles. Placing links to your Web site in as many places as possible is always a good idea. Not only does it help people find you, but it also helps you move up in the search engine rankings. (For those of your who care, Flickr comments are nofollowed, but citations are still great, especially for local search).
Put your prices in your item descriptions. You may want to wait to do this until you are getting some traffic to your photos, but when one anonymous artist noticed that he was starting to get shared a lot, he decided to start putting prices on his photos. This has resulted in multiple sales. UPDATE: Thanks to alert reader Aaron Hockley for pointing out that Flickr’s terms of service state that you aren’t supposed to use Flickr for commercial purposes, although there is a great deal of grey area in the interpretation of what commercial purposes means. Flickr is highly inconsistent in how they interpret and enforce this rule. While many people use Flickr to sell images, real estate, and other things, some accounts do get deleted. User beware!
Use key words in your descriptions. Instead of typing, “This is my painting of a field by my house,” try typing in descriptive keywords that people may be searching for. You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to do research to see what people are typing in when they are looking for your kind of art. Be as specific as possible. “Sunflowers in a field at mid day. oil on canvas. 8×10. $299″ is better than “Sunflower painting.”
Make use of Creative Commons – Share Your Stuff for Free. I spoke with an amazing nature photographer by the name of Janet Loughrey last week and she shared with me the struggle that all visual artists are having: images get used without permission on the Internet. I understand that it’s frustrating to see your work being spread around the Internet without getting paid for it, but you may as well stop fighting against it. Instead, you can embrace it and allow bloggers and online magazines to use your digital images for free, as long as they link back to your Web site or image. You can specify this within yoru Flickr account under Creative Commons licensing. If you are lucky, you’ll get picked up by a major site like Huffington Post or Consumerist.
Other cool ways to use Flickr:
– Moo.com allows a person to import their Flickr images to create a set of business cards. This is the ultimate way to differentiate your business cards.
– respond quickly when people ask for use of your content. Fantastic Books, a small publisher, told me that they are often looking for content that they can turn around within a few days. When artists take weeks to respond to their queries, they miss opportunities.
– any more ideas? success stories?