Art Business

5 Reasons Why Your Art Isn’t Selling

August 5, 2020


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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While the title of this post sounds like a bit of downer, before we get started I want you to know that my goal for today’s topic is to help you walk away feeling hopeful.

If you’ve been trying to sell your art or products, and you aren’t making sales or aren’t making enough sales, let’s shed some light on why this could be. 

Your first thought might feel something like: “My art isn’t good enough to sell” or “No one is buying art right now” or  “I just don’t know where to start”. 

Well friends, there are quite a few factors that go into successfully and consistently selling your art and products. And if it’s a struggle for you, I highly doubt that one single issue is the cause, and that this issue isn’t fixable like you may think. 

Let’s go over some potential factors and solutions. 

1. You’re not sharing your art consistently.

Picture this from a potential customer’s perspective: you’ve been quiet on social media or with your email newsletter for weeks. Or you’re only sharing personal posts. All of a sudden, they see a post from you about a new piece of art for sale. There’s no context like: how was this piece created? what’s the story behind it? is it part of a larger collection? how long have you been working on this? 

There was zero or little discussion from you about the artwork before you offered it for sale. This potential customer maybe didn’t even know you had a website!¬†

Customers want to see the full picture. Before they buy a piece of work from you, they want to get to know you and the story surrounding the work. Buying art, or even other products, can actually be a very personal process. They want to feel like this piece they are investing in is special, and not suddenly offered for sale without any context. And as I explain in the next reason, sharing consistently does NOT mean selling to your audience everyday. 

Action challenge for you:¬†Before offering an artwork or collection for sale, share about the process and story behind it and you as the artist, 1-2 times a week for 4 weeks across multiple channels (Instagram posts, stories, Facebook posts, email newsletter, etc.). You can adjust this schedule for what works for you, but that’s to give you a starting point.¬†

2. You’re only selling. 

Another reason your art may not be selling, is if every post is only about selling, like directing them to your shop.

No one wants to be sold to all of the time, and I believe people will become desensitized to it and possibly never buy from you. 

Remember to share your process and story. If you’d like some more specific tips on what to share online, download my free mini Instagram guide for artists right here

Action challenge for you: Spend the majority of your time online sharing your process, story, and providing value to your audience. A small percentage of time (say 20-25%) is spent selling.  

3. You’re focusing on only one marketing channel. 

This is a big one! I suggest to have at least 3 marketing channels where you are sharing about your work. A few channel ideas: 

  • Sharing to your Instagram feed
  • Sharing to your Instagram stories
  • Sharing to your Facebook business page
  • Sending emails to your subscribers
  • Word of mouth / local events

Other ideas for spreading the word about your business: 

  • Getting press about your art
  • Selling your artwork wholesale to shops
  • Teaching classes online or in-person
  • Licensing your artwork to other brands¬†
  • Blogging on your own or other’s websites
  • Collaborating with other creatives

Try not to overwhelm yourself with different avenues, especially in the beginning. Make sure that whichever options you choose, you’re able to commit to them to do them consistently and professionally. 

Action challenge for you: Experiment with a new marketing channel.  

4. You don’t have a website or it’s hard to navigate. 

Is it difficult for someone to buy from you? Do they have to message you to purchase, ask for a price, etc.? Is your website clunky, crowded with text, or hard to navigate as a customer? Do they know you have a website?! 

A few tips for setting up your website for success: 

  • Use sites with simple, beautiful templates like Big Cartel or Squarespace
  • Make sure your website URL is easy to find – like right in your Instagram bio!
  • Keep the design of your website simple and clean
  • Make sure your shipping prices, policies, and all details are clear
  • Have an FAQ page and contact form on your website
  • Get outside help! Ask a friend to check out your site and see if they have any issues or don’t know where to click
  • If it’s in your budget, hire someone to help you design or tweak your site. Find someone who is a specialist for your website host (like if you use Squarespace, find someone who specializes in that. I recommend Marianna of Desk & Design!) 

Action challenge for you: Ask someone to take a look at navigating your site as if they were your customer. Ask them specific questions for the most useful feedback. 

5. Your audience isn’t the right fit for your art. 

If you have done all of the above and you still find that your art isn’t selling, you’ll want to take a look at the audience you are sharing to. 

This can be the most complex problem to solve, but certainly not impossible! Doing all of the above steps will be a great place to start naturally attracting an audience who loves your art. 

Growing an audience who adores your work is tied not only to marketing but to branding as well. Getting specific with things like: are the stories I am sharing about my art interesting to my audience? does my branding (logos, colors, values as an artist) come across clearly and consistently? does my branding match with the aesthetic of my art or is there a disconnect? Is my audience engaging with my posts/emails/marketing, and if not, how can I adjust my messaging? 

Action challenge for you: Write down the kind of customer you would love to see purchase from you. What kind of price points can they afford? How do they decorate their home? Where do they like to shop? 

Then look at your current audience, do they fit generally into this ideal target audience? If not, which marketing channels (see #3 above) can I use to reach the right types of customer?  

I hope these tips help you see that any of those initial negative thoughts you may be having about your art, could very well be far off the mark as to why your art isn’t selling! 

If you’d like deeper insight into starting an art business in general and all of the possible income streams, check out my¬†mini-course Creative Clarity here.

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  1. Tisha says:

    Your blogs are always useful!!!! Thank you so much!! ūüôā

  2. Kelly Shelly says:

    Thank you Juliet! Your information is so valuable and thank you for sharing it with artist who need a bit of help!

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