Tips for Artists: Frustrations of an Art Buyer

This article is a guest post by artist and art collector Savina Francisco. It was first shared in the Women in Fantasy Illustration group on facebook and have been shared here with permission from Savina. You can find her on facebook here: facebook.com/amberwingart.

Savina Francisco

I’ve recently started collecting art & I thought I’d share with you some of the challenges I’ve run into in hopes that my experiences will help those of you who sell your personal art. You’ll notice that all of these issues are PRE-BUY. I was trying desperately to buy art for two weeks and kept running into the same issues.

As a buyer, I’m not so concerned about shipping, which artists have no control over or even about things like broken glass, etc. (I had one item damaged in shipment). As long as the artist makes me feel like they still care about their item and about me as a customer after I’ve bought from them, then I’ll not only still feel good about them, but I’ll actually feel better knowing they’ll take care of me should something go wrong.

I also included “fixes” that I, as a customer, would hope to see happen.
Sorry it’s so long, but I tried to include as much info as possible:

1. Problem: can’t find a link to see more artwork and/or can’t find a link to their shop.
I’ve been shocked how many artists have no way for people to find their artwork or to buy it. I’ll see an artist post something I like on Facebook or Instagram, so I go to see more, but can’t find a link to their website/shop anywhere. So I have to go to Google to find them and sometimes I have to go even further than that to figure out how I can purchase from them. I’ve literally spent 20 minutes sometimes just trying to figure out how to see more of an artist’s work OR to figure out where I can purchase from them. ESPECIALLY if you have a common name, you can’t always count on people just Googling and finding you. Most people would give up after the first few minutes.

Fix: Make it easy for your buyers – put a link on your Facebook personal profile to your website and then put links to all of your social media channels at the bottom of your website. These are the first places both my husband and I look when we want to find out more info about an artist.

2. Problem: Post artwork or announcement about an upcoming sale/event/auction/Patreon happening but don’t post a link to it. A lot of times I’ll be interested, but if I don’t see a link, I’ll just keep scrolling.

Fix: Please include links – always! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen artists post about how they’re doing something exciting on their Patreon…and then don’t post a link. That actually happens more often than not, from what I’ve seen. I’ve actually been looking through Patreons too, so it’s frustrating when I have to ask for a link. Let me give you my money!

3. Problem: Take a looooong time to respond to private messages or emails. I’ve literally been trying for 2 weeks to purchase an original from an artist. 2 weeks. Because I can’t get a response. You should see the thread – it’s so short it’s silly. But it takes days and in one case a week to get the simplest response, even though this artist posts on social media daily. I was ready to buy 2 small originals the very first day I emailed but had to wait 3 days for even the first response.

Fix: Respond within 48 hours at the absolute longest if at all possible and, if you’re going to be at a con or something and you can’t respond within 24 hours, set your Facebook private messages and your email to send an “away” message that tells the person when to expect a response. And definitely, don’t discount impulse buying; the other night I bought 2 prints because the artists responded to me right away. I feel so devalued right now after this experience, so I definitely don’t feel inspired to buy again, which is disappointing because this is an artist whose work I REALLY wanted to collect on a regular basis.

4. Problem: Urls on profile don’t work.
Going back to #1 – half the time, even if an artist has links on their profile, the
Urls listed on an artist’s personal and pro page don’t work, so I can’t visit to buy (that just happened today). If I can’t find you, I usually give up.

Fix: Check all of your About info on your social media channels regularly to be sure it’s all up to date. But don’t just check the links, CLICK THEM to be sure they’re working. The links I saw today looked fine, but when I clicked them, it kept giving errors because they weren’t formatted properly.

5. Website/shop not up to date with what’s available.
I’ve been to a LOT of Etsy and website shops in the last 10 days while I’ve been on the hunt for artwork to buy and one of the biggest frustrations has been that websites and shops are either empty, almost empty or they don’t have any of the pieces I see being posted about on the artist’s Facebook page, so…I can’t buy it. I have to take the extra step to contact the artist and that entails waiting – I often just want to buy now.

Fix: Keep your store current with your inventory and be sure to include how someone can purchase the piece you’re posting about. If you think your merchandise is just sitting in your shop forever, never selling, it’s likely because you haven’t been sending people there. When you create something new, list it in your shop FIRST, then include the link to it in your posts on social media so that people can go buy it immediately. People are impulse buyers – we want to buy it right now or we’ll forget about it.

6. Problem: Can find one social media channel, but no Patreon links, Etsy store links, etc.

Fix: When I like an artist’s work, I want to see everything on all of their channels. And if I love their work, I want to take part in their Patreon. Add your links to everything – to everything. Post them ALL on your Facebook page, on your Etsy shop and definitely at the bottom of your website. Be sure to include at least one of them in every one of your Facebook art posts. Think of all of your channels the way you connect the pages on your website: you want buyers to be able to jump around your entire social presence easily because you want to keep them connected to you and excited about your work. Even if they don’t buy right this second, if they’re connected to you, they’re more likely to buy from you at some point.

You may not think you have any buyers on your FB personal page, but I guarantee you’re wrong. I know this because anyone who’s friends with me on FB has at least one potential buyer on their friend’s list and didn’t know because I’ve just started.

7. Problem: Has a newsletter sign up but never sends out a newsletter.
When I sign up for an artist’s newsletter, I’m excited to hear from them. I want to see what pieces they’re working on; I want to read about what projects or cons or Patreon stuff they’re getting ready for; I want to know about any interviews or features they have coming up, what techniques they’ve tried and failed at, etc. But most of all, if I’ve signed up for an artist’s newsletter, the truth is that it’s because I like their work and I’m hoping to get the first crack at upcoming pieces of theirs. So when I sign up for a newsletter and I get nothing, I’m disappointed. Even if you make it super short, try to get something out to your subscribers every month – those are people who have actually asked you to market to them because they like your work and they’re like gold.

My background is in marketing & the most important thing is that if a potential buyer has to make extra efforts to either find you or buy from you, you’ve probably lost them. I happen to be very determined and experienced at finding things on the Internet – most others aren’t, so if they can’t find you the first time they try, you can pretty much bet that they’ll give up.

And when they contact you either with questions about an item or to purchase an item, they’re excited – if it takes more than 24 hours for them to hear from you (48 hours max), you’ve made them feel unimportant and they will probably have lost their excitement for the purchase.

Two of the artists I contacted got back to me within a couple of hours, which kept me excited. So now I’m not only excited to get my first piece from them, but I also feel really good about the experience and I’m already shopping their shops to plan for my next purchase from them. I want to collect from them because they fed my excitement for their work and for the experience. A huge thank you to Kaitlund Zupanic and Sheila Rayyan for giving me really excellent experiences! After all of these other frustrating experiences, it was so great to have things just be easy.

If you have any to add, please do add them to the comments below!

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

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