Sometimes we tell people we are just an artist…but we are so much more!
When I started this art business, it couldn’t have been at a more oportune time. The housing market was on fire and people were buying and selling like crazy. All of that moving and redecorating kept me super busy. I worked 16 hour days sometimes just to keep up! My income was only limited by my ability to work and the time needed. Back then I was only selling originals which meant a lot of physical labor for me. I definitely paid a price for that, but the profit I was making was out of this World.
Then it all came crashing down. The bubble burst!
Like many artists I found myself lost and barely able to stay afloat for many years. I had thousands of dollars worth of supplies sitting in my studio, but no one was buying much. I kept creating, but watched so many paintings languish in storage. I had sales. I worked harder. I spent more hours marketing. I decided to start offering prints. Then I marketed those like crazy. 16 hour days came again, but for less per hour than servers make without tips. But I kept the faith. I held on.
So many of my artist friends let go and went back to regular jobs. I considered it many times myself. Some got angry and bitter, and I lost a few along the way over petty jealousy (even a small sale could cause snarky remarks). Others held on tight and stayed the course right along beside me. We celebrated even the small triumphs together.
I am so happy that we are FINALLY seeing the turn around. My income is right where I want it to be and I no longer have to kill myself for it! My prints are selling at an amazing rate and commissions come a few times a week. I take 2, 3 and sometimes 4 days off each week.
It’s really perfect. Finally. Yes, it could all crash again, but for now I will just keep a big smile on my face and keep on creating!
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I will summarize it for you to save you some effort. Fine Art America is warning artists that all other Print On Demand (POD) sites are moving to a percentage business model. By in large, the new payment to artists will be a mere 5%. That definitely sucks. Fine Art America claims to be one of the few remaining POD sites that still allows a “set your own price” model. Some sites like Society 6 do allow us to put in our desired profit for some of their products. Others are set for us. The same is true for Redbubble. I agree that it is not ideal, but I find benefit to those two sites nonetheless.
I like Fine Art America and am currently making an amazing income with them. I am making more selling prints through FAA than I ever have for my entire print career. But what I have learned with online selling is that all good things can come to an end.
So are you flexible? One thing is constant in online art sales and that is change. Things WILL change. Sites that are booming today may go belly up tomorrow. But there are always new business models to take their place. Years ago I was on a site called Boundless Gallery. It was the BEST art site going for years and I made a TON of money with them. It was perfect and all of the best selling artist were very happy. Then they changed their business model and I saw the end coming. Instead of bitching and moaning about the inevitable failure of a terrific site, I made sure I was FLEXIBLE and I branched out into new territory. I tried different things until I found a few ideas that worked. And those same ideas that worked back then no longer do. But new ones have taken their place.
I have NEVER been without steady income in spite of things like eBay changing to a model that completely demoralizes artist. I got off of that horrible site. Boundless Gallery died a quick death and I survived. Other sites have come and gone too. The housing market crashed and I STILL made a great income every single month.
I remain flexible. I do not panic and worry about the future. I simply keep creating and marketing myself. I focus on the tools that are available to me today and I use the hell out of them! If new tools are offered in the future, I will use them too. I will always find a way to get my work out to the people that desire it. Always. The selling platform doesn’t matter to me as long as I am willing to market myself.
If Fine Art America changes their current business model to artists disadvantage, it may be that I set up my own print shop in my garage. I have enough space and enough money to invest in my career. I’ve been poised for this for the last 3 years. I already KNOW how to market myself! Or another site might come along that is even better. I am ready to bend and adapt.
For now I believe FAA is the best POD site out there. I hope it STAYS that way! If you have not tried them, have a look: http://www.fineartamerica.com
As an artist, I implore you to constantly be willing to change. Do not stay stuck in “one way” mentality as it will be your downfall. There is so much out there for us!