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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 15 of 22

Make Money Selling Your Own Work


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 15 of 22

Make Money Selling Your Own Work


Lesson Info

Make Money Selling Your Own Work

Before we talk about make money selling your own work, which is the title of the next segment, I wanted to just check in with my studio audience in particular and anybody out there and internet net land wants to share what, um the answer to this question, what will you be doing differently tomorrow? And I in particular in particularly interested in in reference to the last segment I know this can feel really overwhelming to some people pretend potentially daunting, potentially even heartbreaking that you actually have to have to use social media so much toe to promote your work these days because they were a lot of people, it feels unnatural or not this place that they're terribly familiar with. So for some of you and I feel actually kind of exciting and fun and like a new adventure and I hope that's how it feels to you and that's the attitude that I hope you'll have so anybody want to share what they're going to be doing differently tomorrow? Yeah, I am going to be realistic that this...

is the world that we live in and that I need to sign up for a few accounts that's going to be my beginning? Yes, right that's great, thank you for sharing that anybody else? Yeah, I want to I am going to do the same and I am convinced now you've convinced me that I not only do I have to do this, but it's worth it and that this is going to be a big step in building my career. Yeah, and I'm excited about that that's great and I want to add, and this is something I didn't talk about enough. I feel like in the last segment, but this is also a way to build your community. This is a way to make friends with people, other people who are artists or people who follow your work. I have been on the internet and using the internet in all of its iterations since about two thousand five, even before I was somebody who was known for making art, even when it was back in back in the days when it was my hobby. And this is how I've met some of the most important people in my life, people who have become mentors to me, people who I have now mentoring people who are now my friends, people who I visit when I go to places like france or scandinavia. So the internet is also a great place to meet people and to connect with people who who enjoy what you do or you enjoy what they do and, um and so it's great for that reason to not just to build your brand and build your business, but also to connect with people. Anybody else? Yeah, I am going teo sort of make that attitude shift about work not necessarily being work, but figuring out what it is for me that you know, embodying the poetry store is in alignment with my core values and doing the social media work that like, makes me feel excited and makes me feel like this is a great way to be in contact with people who I want to be in contact with and make it habit like that's the biggest thing for me is putting those numbers down and saying, ok, having these goals and being able to set attainable goals that, you know, works with what you said like it's, your livelihood, it's how you make it happen and it should be exciting and and as fun as making a piece of art, so I think the habit part is really important. Every morning I get up, the first thing on my to do list is block post sometimes I write them the day before if I know I'm gonna have a busy day and I still want to make sure I post something, but I'm one of those people who does. A lot of what I do is in real time, I don't even use those platforms that you can use where you can pre post things on social media if I posting something, I'm literally usually at my computer or my phone posting at that moment? Um although that doesn't work for everybody, it's just kind of how I liketo be um so the habit every morning get up right a block post again if I'm busy, I'll just grab a photo of something or a scan of a drawing I've made or a a piece of hand lettering and I'll put that up there, but after a while, once you get into blogging, you'll realize it doesn't take you very long. Of course, sometimes if you write a really long post, especially that involves writing or your re sizing a lot of images that can take twenty minutes, thirty minutes, sometimes even an hour, but most the time, this is something that takes five or ten minutes, especially once you get into the habit. So the habit part is great um, and then also not giving up and not abandoning it after a week because you don't see anything changing like stick with it, it takes time to develop a following. It takes time to convince people that you're the right person if all they have to see you in many places sometimes before they think that they want to follow you and even one of those places so stick with it um one more hand together, rachel think just touching on things that we choose to share on social media, I think I tend to want to impress people a lot that's like a natural desire, I think that we all dio way, whether we admit it or not. Yeah, and I think, you know, with you talking about, uh, the horse painting yesterday and a lot of the other people I follow on instagram will post a lot of in progress shots or even both post about, you know, when they had a kind of a stopping point full of question like, how should I move forward? Is the stun? Does this look like crap? You know, they even and I think I aspired to include more of that in what I post and kind of opened myself up a little a little bit more to that, yeah, I think that's great, it feels vulnerable, but that's actually the place where other people see you as a human being and then they're like, oh, she's, this real person, I I want it, I want to interact with her, um, and your art takes on a whole new meaning to people when you show them that you're human. Yeah, we actually had some coming from the chat room to beckett, kitterman says, good lord, what won't I be doing such a great course? But she says my website is getting a makeover, stat julie tillman says I'm gonna be ordering some updated business cards and pierce alice is going to open an instagram account and get back to blogging awesome yes I cannot wait for all of that. Okay, this is ah, a similar segment, teo the one we did yesterday on um the fine art world I'm gonna be giving you a lot of information you're gonna have time to answer questions but, um this is really input for you. This is information this this session falls in this sort of research goal setting in planning rung here um and I'm gonna give you information that's potentially going to help you revise or change your plan um or update your plan with information um so that you could take action. So in this segment, by the way, I'm sitting right now because my forty six year old lower back was hurting for pretty much anything so much in the last two days so I may get up in a little bit if I feel like I need toe I have two more physical energy, but for now I'm going to sit I hope that this is a segment that is, um exciting and interesting for you because again the internet were in this time where you get to take control over a lot of things that formally somebody else had to do for you and now the internet allows us um not just to promote our own work but to sell her own work and those things go hand in hand so I'm really hoping that you get a lot out of this segment and here we're talking about selling physical work so originals prince if you're a potter your ceramic pots if you're a photographer prints of your photographs if you're a painter reproductions or originals or products that have your art on them um if you're a graphic designer products with your designs posters with your designs not the rights of to your work or images of your work we're gonna talk about that um where somebody else buys them we're talking about selling your own work physical things that you're going to send in the mail to somebody as opposed to the rights to your work we're gonna talk about that an illustration in licensing segment okay everyone understand the distinction all right? So the distinction here between selling physical work, actual paintings or drawings or print reproductions and sighing the rights to images of your work is important but another important distinction is selling your own work versus having a gallery or an art dealer sell your work which is sort of what we were talking about yesterday you know that's why you get gallery representation or that's why you show your work at a number of galleries even if the gallery's not exclusive thes people sell your work for you have shows even when you don't have work in a show there still always working to sell your work they take your work to art fairs um, that kind of thing but here we're talking about the direct sale of your work where you are acting as your own cellar in other words, through etc or other online venues which we'll talk about first through artur craft fairs and I don't and I mean ardor craft fairs with the small a and c things like runner, renegade and bazaar bizarre and others as opposed to our affairs with a capital a which are unique gallery representation for shows like art basil and the hla and venice um those are more sort of high end highbrow art fairs were talking about in this case regular everyday craft and art fairs in your community through wholesale to stores and also through commissions okay, so the first thing we're going to talk about today selling through an online venue wholesale to a storefront either brick and mortar online now they're both some stores have both an online store and a brick and mortar brick and mortar means a physical store front on a street in a city or town. Consignment commissions, art and craft fairs like renegade so first one sell your work online so there are three different kinds of online venues one is an online marketplace we'll talk about that first and the most common one is that sea sand alone store solution examples of that are big cartel or shopify or even society six those are places where you can set up a shop but you're not necessarily part of a larger market place um e commerce on your site that's where you build a shop into your sight and sell your work directly through your website that you have a shopping cart solution built into your web site okay um online marketplace so important things to know in these situations people can find you through the marketplace and that is because everyone who posts a listing on a place like etc their work they're listing is included in the in the searchable database their inventory is included in the searchable database so think of it as a giant online shopping mall, right? Maybe you don't go to the shopping mall much anymore but when you were a teenager you went to the shopping mall and you might say I'm gonna go to the shopping mall to go to this store because I know that they have the levi's that I want but while you're in the mall what happens? You pass other stores and you go in you may not have gone to the mall to go you may have gone to them all to go to the levi's store but then you pass the gap and you find jeans you like more so it's kind of like that you let you put this in quotes you walk in and you can search the director you could even go to the directory in the mall and it says you are here but you wanted to go all to the and then you say oh what all their clothing stores are there here what other women's accessories or what other what food do they have in the food court so person has a shop in an online marketplace people confined in search for particular keywords and they confined you even when they have not gone there just to seek you out and that's one great benefit now another thing we also know is that these places uh that's he now has like some million's sellers and they just change their policy and now things don't have to be handmade so there's all kinds of things going on with that c I still love etc I think that's he's a great place and it has a great support network for people who sell um and it's important to keep your shop uh updated um and to keep your stuff well promoted and there's all kinds of tricks to doing that um but it's saturated so you're competing with a lot of other people in the search engine um but there is a beat built in e commerce system you don't have to know anything about anything you literally set up your shop and all of you know you I think you have to enter your paypal account information and that's it and you could even and then there might if you want to take credit cards that might be something else you have to enter but really easy and it's all set up for you um I love the features and etc in particular that are like you can calculate postage when you're shipping and you can make shipping labels um you get data like in the moment data about how many people are visiting your shop and where they're coming from things like that so and there's all kinds of people there to help you not just people who work at sea but there are all these forums the cellar for inns where people are actually complaining about things they don't like so there are all these kinds of ways that you can get support as a seller through etc cost is based on listings which is minimal and a percentage of your sales so it's like twenty cents now per listening and you khun post is many things you want used to be twenty cents per item and now if you list five prints in a shop it's twenty cents whether you list five or one and then a percentage of your cells so the more sales you make the more fees you incur um but they're they're not huge they linked to social media so sharing is easy again, similar to the block people can share your shop on their facebook page and there's. Other ways for people to sort of favorite you and like you standing out can be challenging, as I mentioned earlier, there's, so many people selling stuff, and at the end of this segment, I'm going to talk about tips for for having a successful shop, whether it's on etsy or anywhere there's a catch twenty two, you join a marketplace like etc, and people may find you who have never heard of you before. I would say, probably fifty percent of my sales are people who just who aren't coming from my website or instagram or blogged or whatever, they're just searching for our that I have managed. Teo, I have enough keywords, you know, that they're looking for that, they find me, you know, they might be searching for, um, inspirational quotes, and I do sell a few of those in my shop, and I've tagged things, and because I have a fairly active shop, my stuff comes up pretty high on the search results, so, um, standing out can be challenging, but, um, the great thing about etc also is that it's a fantastic, fantastic opportunity, teo teo, to share your work with people who have may never have seen it before, including people like curator tze and art directors they don't necessarily goto etc to buy things they goto say to find talent, people who want a wholesale things look on etc. I get an email last week from somebody who was designing a set for a television show and she found me because, um she was looking for art to hang on the set of this television show and asked if it was okay to use something that she had found on there. So lots of different reasons that people we'll find you on. If this is a screenshot of my etsy shop, you'll see here this is a screenshot of claudia pearson's etc shop we we talked about claudia yesterday you can see that bye etc shop and claudia's, etc shop look pretty much the same, except our headers are different. They're the same size and that's one of the things about etc that is fairly limiting, right? You can't design it yourself, everything looks the same. The way your shop looks everybody's shop looks the same, your products are different, you're header is different, but your customer service messages, maybe different your description, they're different but is a very sort of standard format and it actually hasn't changed a lot in the last few years okay, so uh so that's another thing to know about. See if you want to have a site or a shop that has a really unique design. You need to go to another format. A lot of people is like was saying yesterday have both an etsy shop and a built in store solution, or they have an etsy shop and big cartel shop so that they haven't there's a place there's multiple places for people to both find them and options for where people want to buy. Some people don't want to sign up for a sec account. They don't want to buy original artwork, and at sea they feel better about buying it somewhere else that you might consider having two different kinds of shops. So in addition to the marketplace at sea is the most popular. We have standalone store solutions, so a standalone store solution is something like a big cartel or shopify it's a great option if you're not interested in a cellar community like etsy or a marketplace like etc, and many people would prefer to stand alone but not necessarily have a shopping cart integrated into the code of their own site examples of standalone shopping solutions big cartel shopify, they offer designed templates hosting and shopping carts all in one so again, super easy toe set up you, um you pay based on what the shop opposite options you choose I used to have a big cartel shop I don't anymore I decided to integrate everything back into my etsy shop it was just easier for me to manage with my busy schedule and I thought big cartel was great but so when you sign up you it'll sail so do you want their different sort kinds of accounts and that might be like gold, silver and bronze let's just say I don't think that's exactly what it is but something like that and if you sign up for the gold account you get all the bells and whistles you can list unlimited product it's you can you have probably more options in terms of um the freedom use you have tio design make the design your own um the more expensive the account you sign up for, the more options you have if you have a standard account you can maybe on ly list a handful of things on dure your people can only see you can only maybe oak upload like one or two pictures of the item so your options are more limited so you pay for what you get but when you sell something there's no feet taken away your fees are all about like the monthly fee you pay and I I was paying about ten dollars a month I think I had like the lowest cost option that they offered um and you're designing expertise can come in handy I'm gonna show you next a screenshot of, uh, really awesome big cartel shop you can really personalize now through sites like big cartel, especially if you pay money for more bells and whistles. Um some offer marketing tools like social media sharing and stuff, but the downside compared teo a place like betsy is that you are responsible for driving the traffic to your shop. It's not you're in your people might people can only find you outside of the marketplace, where in etc they find you inside the marketplace people who don't already know who you are. Okay, um this is a screenshot of jessica issues a hand letter and illustrator of her big cartel shop and you can see she's got you know, things sort of arrange an interesting way, and there are lots of different templates that you can use and customize. Another option is e commerce on your site, so that just means you're hosting your own shop on your own site with a built in shopping cart solution really can be very expensive to hire a developer to integrate a shopping cart into the code of your website so just know that sometimes like five figures if it's some if you're at a point in your career where this feels really important to you and your brand especially if you sell products and not necessarily artwork and you really want your shop teo be integrated into your brand in your sight and you don't want people to be leaving your sight and you want to keep all the traffic on your site it could be a great investment they have great features like automatic emails and inventory systems that don't necessarily exist in some of these other stand alone and marketplace systems um and the best part is I mentioned is that you can completely integrate this your shopping into your brand keeps people on your site and not going to places like big cartel or etc the onus is on you to drive traffic here shop and if you have a built in audience for your work um this is great this is my friend claudia pearson stand alone show just a screenshot she has an etsy shop and a built in shopping cart solution she does a lot of wholesale she, you know, has a lot of people who come to her site. And so she's integrated a shopping cart solution into her website in addition to having an etsy shop also so there's a couple different ways people can buy stuff from her um and I'm sure that you know that she's probably gonna have some system set up to make sure that she's tracking the inventory in both places any questions so far in on any of these three sort of shopping cart solutions? We have a question here, just sort of a general question from and pose of, iata who says, when you were starting out, what was your offering in these stores, as in, how much did you offer? Was itjust one illustration of a couple of paintings, how much you need to be selling once you set up something like this, I joined at sea in two thousand seven, and I remember at the time I had not yet bought the printer that I now used to make all of my own prints, and I'm not going cover printing too much today, although I'm happy to answer questions about making printer productions, and I also cover it at great length in art inc. So if that's, an area interested in reading and knowing more about and understanding best practices in its in here, um, but I started out, and so I went, I had a few a handful of, like, maybe two different limit edition prints made by a print house, so that was two different listings, and then I think I also made my own sets of greeting cards that I had printed at a local printer, I think I started my shop with maybe three or four items, and maybe a couple of them were some originals I remember I was working really hard at the time it was one of the only things I was doing because I wasn't yet a full time working artist but I was you know, using my time after work and on the weekends to create work specifically to go in my shop now years later I sell primarily prince I ended up buying an eps and printer I make print reproductions of my work I can print on demand as opposed to having some printed I also do work with a print house that makes limited edition prints for me. Um so with my other prince I don't have to keep track of the inventory with those I do and um uh mostly fell prints occasionally I have notebooks in there for sale. I sell my own books in there well, art inc and my other book whatever you are be a good one and I've now got some coloring books coming out that I'm gonna list so my inventory is changed a lot and I think as you can see if we went back I have like thirty items in there and I think the more you have to offer the better and this stuff you can rearrange the order of things in your etsy shop but if you do have a lot of stuff you want to make sure the stuff you I think is the most likely to sell stays towards the front so people don't miss it um but I would say you know, start with five things you know so it looks like you've got enough to fill most of the front page of your but you know you've got to start somewhere and if that's all you've got then start there you follow question that you sometimes list items that haven't been printed yet or sort of speculative items to see if people are going to get well and that's the great thing if you have if you are an artist who's work is is conducive to selling us prince our print reproductions and you print your own prince you can print on demand so I've often listed prince thinking I have no idea of people are gonna be interested in this but because I only print when an order is placed because I have my own printer um if an item doesn't take off it's no loss for me and that's a great reason if you're interested in selling prints to eventually by something like an fc and epps and thirty eight hundred or thirty eight eighty because those are great high quality professional grade print printers that where you can make your own prince when you go to our print house you have to maybe to a minimum order of twenty or twenty five um and you might actually you know you know how you will actually have to put some money up front for that, and if you don't end up selling them all, you might have some dead stock in there that you eventually have to go on sale or whatever, and that never feels good. So, um, so, yeah, a lot of times I list things, but usually only when I don't already have the inventory. When it's something I'm making order. A lot of people also will list things in their shop that they haven't made yet for the purpose of commissions, and we'll talk about commissions in a second, but they'll say pet portrait and have a you know, like, you know, I lot of people do personalize work for people, and you purchased that, and then you end up working with the artist, too paint a portrait of your dog the photo example in there listing might be another one that they did that's, just an example. So some people list commissions or made to order personalize things on their ex teashop is, well, that's, another way to do it.

Class Description

"This is an incredibly helpful class for anyone who feels intimidated by all the "giants" in the land of art, and wonders if it's really worth keeping trying to make money from their talent. Lisa breaks everything down into manageable steps, while not dumbing things down. Her manner is very approachable, so that you can imagine yourself doing what she does. Her generous spirit means too that she is sharing really useful stuff - not just some fluff, and keeping all the good ideas for herself!"
 - Janet and Craig Mathewson (CreativeLive Students)

An enthusiastic audience that appreciates your art is waiting for you. Join Lisa Congdon, illustrator, artist, and author of Art, Inc. for Become a Working Artist and learn everything you need to know to make a living as a fine or commercial artist.

In this class, you will find out exactly what it takes to break into the art world and reach new, diverse audiences. Lisa will show you how to:

  • Identify the characteristics that make your style unique
  • Map out the vision and goals that will drive your artistic career 
  • Navigate the fine art market and break in to it
  • Land and negotiate art licensing deals
  • Develop effective techniques for promoting your work
Every artist faces rejection and setbacks on the road to finding an appreciative and paying audience. Become a Working Artist will teach you how to navigate the inevitable disappointments and push through to build a vibrant, rewarding career in art.

Making money as an artist doesn’t have to be far-fetched dream, Lisa Congdon will show you how to make it a reality.  



I was very happy and inspired to be able to attend to this class! It helped me so much to understand which are my goals as an artist and what I need to make to make them happen. Lisa is amazing and I cannot be happier to have been part of this, thank you so much!! I am now more than inspired to create beautiful things and make the tasks I need to make to become the professional artist I aim to be. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful generosity and Creative Live for hosting and creating such a wonderful event!


This course was fantastic! The format was great and Lisa was extremely helpful, knowledgable, and engaging. I was so inspired and loved that she gave very real information and great advice. I came away with a great new plan for my business and a renewed excitement for growth. I would highly recommend this class!

Simply Stated Architecture, PC

Professionally, I am an architect, but I also dabble in some watercolors as well as wood and metal work. When I started my own architectural office, I found good resources for business information were scarce. Most of what I found applied to retail or service businesses that really did not apply to a creative professional. One of the best resources I have found has been my local art guild - The Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I found that the painters, jewelers, potters, fiber artists, and other artists faced much more similar issues to what I was dealing with than the contractors, store owners, financial planners, insurance salesmen, and other business people that I was finding in business groups and classes. Lisa Congdon's class is the first CreativeLive course that I've taken. I had signed up for the CL email recently and Lisa's class just caught my eye. I'm glad that I took the time to sit through the sessions. A few of the segments - such as that on illustration and licensing or fine art - really did not have any practical application to my own situation. But there were items of value in pretty much all of the segments that I could take away to adapt in my own business. For someone just starting off in a creative profession, I'd highly recommend Lisa's course as a roadmap of items to keep in mind and plan for in their business. But by no means should you consider this to be a "beginner only" course. I started my business four years ago and I really wish that I had found something like this course in those first months or first year. But even after four years, I found great value in this course. The information on setting goals, actionable tasks, and the final segment on managing your success were extremely valuable and gave me many items to work into my own business in the coming weeks and months.