It’s undeniable that eBay has all but become a household word with a worldwide audience. Many are making their livelihoods through it or using it as a means to unload what’s overflowing in their garage or storage. But, can an artist make a living or supplement their income by selling their art on eBay? The answer is yes, but it will likely take an adjustment in attitude as it did mine for any hope of success. Read on to find out.
I never considered eBay in selling art; after all I’ve been a professional artist for 30 plus years, I show my work in galleries and I’ve had one person shows in a museum setting with my landscape paintings consistently selling for several thousand dollars. So why would I consider it? Because it’s another potential stream of income you can add to your marketing mix.
Another reason is this: If you read my other post titled Pricing and the Value of Art, I mentioned the art market. As with any type of market it too will fluctuate. Sometimes an artist can’t keep up with the demand, other times the market slows for various reasons such as a downtown in the overall economy, and those wonderful sales have now slowed to a crawl, but your bills haven’t. They just keep on coming and seem to multiple like rabbits all the while your savings are disappearing like green grass during a drought.
So what is an artist to do? Some artists feel forced into taking on a “regular” job to pay their bills, or other part time work, knowing this can often leave little time for their art and sap their creativity. Or they can look into other potential streams of income using their art. Many artists, teach art, write art books whether hard print or electronic, have prints, cards and so forth, or they even start hitting the art show circuit in an effort to put their work before more people. Each of these has their own costs involved and some more so than others to make them pay off. However, in making choices, try to work smarter, not harder.
I knew for myself that I already had a full plate, but I wanted to add another source of income into the mix, so that if one income stream slowed I could fall back on another for a time to compensate. I think that’s called not keeping all your eggs in one basket. What I wanted was something that could be done without a lot of cost in overhead, time or leave me spent of my creativity, but at the same time advertise my work and get my name out there before a larger audience.
This is where eBay entered the picture. You might think; “I don’t know how to sell art on ebay,” or “Oh I could never do that. That would be beneath me to put my art on eBay. That’s selling out!” OK fine. Go fill out a job application and take on extra work as your other income stream and one which you’ll probably hate. Or you can adjust your attitude towards eBay as I did.
Maybe this will peak your interest. In just a little over the first 30 days of my eBay experience, I put up 13 small paintings, sold all 13 and retailed nearly $2000.00. I now have new collectors, I’ve shipped work out to two different states and within the local area I have sold to new clients who have never purchased work from me before. Additionally in reviewing the bidding history,and the bidder’s area codes I have seen bidders in the United States from the North, South, East and West. This means my art work and name has been put before others that I have not met or who have unlikely been in one of my galleries, but who are now familiar with my work. Instead of spending $2000 on advertising hoping for a return on investment, I felt like I was getting paid to advertise instead! Also the amount of time and cost to my creative energy was less than what it would have been if I decided as an alternative income stream to take on part time work that’s unrelated to art.
However, I was not going to sell my regular gallery work on eBay. That I knew for certain. The materials and time I spend on creating those would make my overhead too high with not enough return, plus I did not want to undermine my gallery sales. So I decided to create another product which kept my costs down, but still produced a great product that would be a good match for an eBay audience. I liken it to a sketch, study or plein air work, that is not a part of my gallery work. Some of you artists may already have alternative works in the way of sketches or plein air studies that are not a part of your regular studio work or that you would be selling in your galleries, yet are nice art works in their own right. We’re not comparing apples to apples here. They’re a totally different fruit and you may already have a studio full of them. If they’re not of a particular use to you anymore why not sell them? Shouldn’t you at least be able to get something back from your labor and have the advantage of creating a little more studio space in the process? Would you give a thumbs down to a sketch by Rembrandt just because it wasn’t his “regular” work? I don’t think so, so don’t give a thumbs down to your own work. Alternatively, can you use your talent to make a product that differs from your regular if you don’t have a studio full of alternative work that can help advertise your name while still providing a great value to your eBay audience? Think about it.
In Part Two of Selling Art on eBay, I will discuss what I did and what you would need to do in order to sell your own art on eBay. Plus I’ll tell you about a great book I read that helped change my point of view as well as serving as a valuable guide to eBay selling.