In part one of How to Sell Art on eBay, I discussed the reason why eBay could be looked at as a viable avenue for artists, in having another stream of income added to their marketing mix. In this post I’ll describe a little more about what I did and what you will need to do in order to sell art on eBay.
First set up your eBay account if you don’t already have one. When it comes to setting up your user name, don’t use something obscure. Such a name does nothing in helping to brand your artist name. So use your artist name. If it’s too long like mine I used the more unusual part of my name and that’s my last name Hagerman. So I used hagermanart which also coincides with my website address.
Next I decided I wanted to offer works only in the 9×12 size or smaller. I normally use linen for my studio works, but to keep canvas cost down and time spent on stretching, I ordered pre stretched cotton canvas from Sunbelt Manufacturing in Longview, TX. They offer a medium weave, portrait and gallery wrap styles at a fraction of what you would normally pay.
Next in order to make this eBay venture successful I needed to reduce painting time. To do that, I’m working with a technique whereby I block my work in with acrylic and over paint with oil highlights and embellishments. Again, this is a whole different product than my gallery work. Not only in materials, but, technique and time spent. I liken them to studies and sketches. Some of these have allowed me to experiment with ideas, and even try out different color schemes. They are still art works in their own right, but not on the same level as my regular stuff which is more detailed. Remember they’re a whole different fruit. However, in so doing these new clients have also become aware of my other studio works. I send a card along with their shipment featuring my studio work and web address and contact info along with a personal handwritten note.
Next you’ll want to get your shipping supplies in order. I ordered free regular priority mail boxes online from the post office (usps.com) to ship my work in. You could also pick some up at your local post office. You will also need a good postal scale to weigh your packages. I won a brand new digital scale from an eBay auction for next to nothing. I also ordered from eBay some shrink wrap and some poly bags to package my art with. In so doing and paying promptly I got some positive feedback which you want. That’s imperative to establishing yourself as trustworthy. Vow to never receive anything but positive feedback. Think GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE as your motto whether you’re selling or buying. Negative feedback can be death to your business. You may want to consider separating personal purchases with another account and keep your business separate and not mix the two if you’re concerned with privacy as other people can look at your feedback profile and see what you’ve purchased.
Also when it comes time to list your work, take good clear digital photos. This is what viewers are going to judge your work by. Bad photos may mean no bids. There should be no camera flash glare. Square them up. Crop out any unnecessary background using a photo editor program. You’re a professional so present it professionally.
In your eBay account you will go to the section on selling. The category you will want to list in is art direct from the artist. Write a good description for the title using good keywords for your art so people can find you. Think about what you would do to search for a particular type of art and if you didn’t know the artists name, how would you search for it? Don’t write a “beautiful joyous day under the clouds”. The only valid word would be clouds. Someone might search for that if they wanted a painting featuring that. Use those other adjectives in the descriptive field where you will write about your work.
Also set your work as an auction with a starting bid of only a penny. Did I hear you gasp in horror? That’s right I said a penny. Don’t set a reserve amount or bother with a buy now option. Why? People who go to eBay are looking for a deal. Not to pay full retail. They are not there to buy but to WIN. Setting your auction at only a penny encourages bidding. When someone else notices a bid they sometimes want what other people want so they too want to bid, but then the other person doesn’t want to lose so they bid again and so on. This is what has the potential to drive the price up and up. So far in my own experience the results have varied in winning bids from $41-$400. I still consider this as being positive for just starting out. In part one of selling art on eBay I mentioned that within just the first 30 days, 13 paintings sold with a retail of nearly $2000. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results, but, if you’re prolific enough in offering several pieces each week you increase the potential amount of your earnings. Also set the time of your auction to run for 7 days and set the start and end time to 6PM Pacific Time. I first chose Friday evenings, but many people are out and about on Fridays, so I switched to Sunday. If you have multiple offerings, select the start and end times for each auction item 5 minutes apart. The reason is if someone misses out on one item they may have time to bid on another of your works.
If you were going to strive to use eBay as a primary source in your marketing, it would be best to have 4-6 artworks to sell each week. I try to at least have something every week, but life happens and I may not get something out due to other priorities. However, if you’re going to do this, don’t give up or quit too soon. Do it with a mind set of sticking with it. In essence you’re trying to develop a side business with your art that can help get your name out, but do it just as professionally as your other endeavors and realize it may take some time to get noticed. Even if you do not want to develop it as a side business, you could look at it as a means to an end. For example: You want to make a painting trip or to scout out galleries in other cities and you would like to fund the project, eBay could help you to achieve that goal.
There’s a lot more to this and I’m not trying to write a book on it because there’s already one out there that’s very good. What I have just shared includes some of the points that I learned from the book “The Mystique of Marketing Art on eBay” written by Jack White. If you think selling art on eBay would be of interest to you I would suggest buying his book. I did. It’s an easy read and it’s short and gets to the heart of the matter. Reading it will help you from making needless mistakes that could hinder your success. The tips you will learn from this book will save you time and disappointment and help you decide whether or not eBay is a good fit for you. You can take a look here as well as Jack White’s other marketing books. http://www.senkarikstuff.com/books.htm
If I have something listed on eBay at this particular time, you can see an example of how I set my listing up by visiting http://www.ebay.com/usr/hagermanart and click on one of the listings. If nothing is listed, I’m probably working on a studio painting.
Hope this will help you consider selling art on eBay as an alternative to taking on a “regular” job should circumstances lead you to consider that as an option or simply consider it as an added revenue stream to your current art marketing mix or as a means to fund some other art endeavor.
If you have other thoughts about using eBay or you’ve had experiences with it, negative or positive, please share.