The state of online art sales, heading into 2023
The Abundant Artist founder Cory Huff recently shared the trends he’s seeing in online commerce over the course of the last three years of the pandemic.
In March 2020, when businesses across the U.S. put everything on hold, a lot of artists braced themselves for a dramatic decline in sales.
For most, the opposite happened.
- A lot of businesses, especially businesses that were only online, saw a 20-30% boost in web traffic beginning in April 2020.
- Shopify, one of the largest online website hosting platforms, said their overall network went to Black Friday levels for six months in 2020.
- However, at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, that trend reversed itself and online sales declined by about 15% as people began returning to brick and mortar stores and travel. In second half of 2021, the company started to see a drop in sales and, in 2022, laid of 10% of its workers.
If you’re an artist selling art direct to collectors online, how do you account for this fluctuation and plan for 2023?
- If you started your business before 2020, you may want to look back to your numbers in 2019 as your baseline.
- If your business began in 2020 or 2021, know that your baselines (2020 or 2021) may be skewed. What did well in those years may not hold in 2023.
- Continue with the workbook and also consider ways in which you can focus on your customer/partner relationships as you plan for 2023, not your year over year business trends.
- We are seeing that it’s easier for artists to develop a sustainable business with strong relationships with a smaller group of collectors, rather than the large scale/high volume print sales or free prints plus shipping and handling business model.
2023 will be a difficult year to forecast.
- Global web traffic is on a downward trend due to post-pandemic readjustments, privacy regulations, and corresponding changes in tracking.
- Web browsers are now more likely to block tracking tools—you may (or may not) have more visitors than Google Analytics shows.
- Big social media platforms are either fading in utilization (Facebook and Twitter) or are highly dependent on novelty and video (TikTok and Instagram). The result is that it’s harder for smaller accounts to be seen by their audience and it’s become very difficult to get in front of new audiences. New works shown are typically from artists with very larger followings.
- What makes the difference? People you’ve interacted with through comments on their page and your page or in DMs.
- How we find our people, especially new collectors, is changing.
- What isn’t changing?
Here at The Abundant Artist we are here to help you plan, even when the future is uncertain. While we won’t know how the coming year will turn out, having a good plan in place means you will be more successful—even if you have to modify your plan part way through the year.
To support you in planning, we are pleased to offer The Abundant Artist’s Get Your Art Business Ready for 2023 2-day workshop, complete with an updated workbook. Led by TAA’s head coach, Sarah Guthrie, the course runs December 28-29 with two live coaching calls (that will be recorded for replay) at 1pm Pacific Time. Register here and get the planning support you need for 2023 for just $39.