How to Make Your First Sale—and the Next

A mysterious voice in a cornfield somewhere in Iowa once said, “If you build it, they will come.” The same is true for your Artist Shop, but when they come, will they buy? Luckily, you won’t have to wait for an apparition to answer that question if you follow a few simple tips on how to make your first sale. There’s a lot of variables in converting visitors to customers, but the following suggestions can help you lure fish in the seemingly infinite pond that is the online marketplace.

Make a Strong First Impression

You walk into a boutique and the jeans are mixed with the blouses, the staff is apathetic, and the mannequins are passed out drunk on the floor. What are the chances that you’ll leave with a fresh piece of swag? Probably pretty slim. Put yourself in the mind of the customer and make sure your Artist Shop delivers a user experience that’s neat and intuitive, and fosters repeat visits:

  • Make your stuff easy to find with specific, clearly titled product pages (Sweatshirts, Mounted Aluminum Prints, etc.) and learn the best strategies for naming your products for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Establish a unique brand identity. Is it lighthearted and bubbly like a Saturday-morning cartoon? Or is it cold and dark like an abandoned meat locker? The tone of your work should permeate your entire Artist Shop after you fully customize it with your own logos, lifestyle photos, and color schemes.
  • Pull back the curtain. Your About Page gives potential customers a chance to learn more about you and experience the human behind the brand. If they feel like they know you, they will be more likely to purchase your art, so fleshing out this page is essential.

Understand your Market and Hone in on it

Your target audience should be like The Rock’s rippling abs—well defined and ready to take action. Trying to sell to everyone at once is the best way to get lost in the vast sea of e-commerce, so it’s important to think about exactly who you want to sell your products to:

  • Identify your target market. Does your art cater to sci-fi horror junkies, pug owners, or any other niche audience? Determine who will like your stuff the most and tailor your brand voice and product selection to appeal to those people. Narrowing down your target market will motivate potential customers to seek out your business, rather than the other way around.
  • Gather data and adjust your approach. Use tools such as Google Analytics to find out where your site traffic is coming from, the demographics you’re reaching, and which products people are clicking on the most. This information can help you determine which designs and strategies were the most successful and which you should reconsider.

Meet the Next Social-Media Influencer: You

People practically live on social media nowadays, so reaching out to them on Instagram, Twitter, and other popular apps is pretty much like knocking on their door. As long as you don’t approach them like a desperate car salesman at the end of the month, you should have no problem getting their eyes on your social-media content:

  • Regularly update your social media with fresh images, pictures of friends wearing your merchandise, and even the obligatory meme to drive engagement. Every post expands your internet presence and increases your chances of reaching your next customer.
  • Be social. Commenting on posts by the accounts you follow is a great way to build interest in your brand and attract new followers.
  • Pepper your captions with relevant hashtags, which helps Instagram users discover new content that exists outside their feed. Make sure your hashtags aren’t too general, and keep tabs on trending words or phrases that make sense to use, such as “#TBT” or “#TIL.”

Think Outside the T-Shirt

We know, shirts are important. You can’t get service in most places of business without wearing one. But tees aren’t where your inventory should end. Variety is the spice of life, so be sure to bring the heat:

  • Give the people what they want. In addition to t-shirts, the top five products to have in your Artist Shop include hoodies and sweatshirts, wall art, stickers, and mugs. Consider making designs that look great on those items, and add them to your shop to attract customers who aren’t just in the market for a tee.
  • Seasons change—your shop should, too. Even if you live in a tropical climate that’s warm year-round, think about potential customers who don’t. Your homepage should always have lifestyle photos and other imagery promoting products that are in season, and you should make sure your product lineup is complete for approaching holidays.

Give Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

There’s at least one thing that Mister Rogers and a good deal have in common—everybody loves them. Regularly running promotions and sales in your Artist Shop might be the nudge visitors need to finally make a purchase, and could create repeat buyers:

  • Plan your promotions in advance. Adhering to a well-thought-out schedule will keep your shop prepared to launch an array of promotion styles, such as pre-season, end-of-season, and new arrivals. The timing of your promotions can have a dramatic impact on whether a customer buys or not.
  • Jump on trends. If your shop features products inspired by a recently released movie or an emerging pop-culture phenomenon (think Tiger King), run promotions and sales for those products to ride the wave of publicity before it subsides.
  • Make the demand high by offering products and designs that are only available for “a limited time only.” This puts pressure on customers to act fast before the product they want disappears from your shop.

These tips for your Artist Shop should put you on the path toward making your first sale, however, there’s still a lot more to learn when it comes to bolstering your shop’s success. Dive deep into our Creative Resources for in-depth guidance on everything from lifestyle photography to protecting your art from being stolen.

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