UPDATE from Cory: While this post is a few years old, and Facebook’s algorithms have changed, the principles outlined are still relevant. The idea of creating a conversation, engaging with your collectors, and using solid marketing techniques all still apply.
If you are concerned about getting buried by FB’s algorithms, the only surefire way around it is to learn to use FB’s ad platform. Ultimately, it’s now a pay to play system and you have to play by their rules if you want to see consistent, scalable success. We have a course on FB marketing that is updated twice per year to keep up with the latest trends.
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 become a force we cannot ignore. Everyone’s mom, grandfather, cousin, and dog is on Facebook. It’s become a rich resource for finding current and new audiences. Everyone is 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 Facebook 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 to build my fanbase, but to 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!
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.
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?
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! This 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 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 helps 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 that the post will 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.
For tips on creating a sense of urgency, check out this post on limited-edition print runs.
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!