Episode 244 – New Markets for Artists / eBay as a Launching Pad

eBay as a Launching Pad

After at least three years of selling on eBay, and as their fame and fan bases grew, both Ryan and TMNK began to get offers for shows. TMNK got an offer from one gallery in Milan and one in Norway. Both of those shows sold out, and now he’s making work for another one. Selling on eBay and on the street on a regular basis helped him to launch his career. He doesn’t have a big gallery representing him, but he has enough shows now that he no longer needs eBay the way he did. He has gone from what may sound like a modest beginning to driving a Jaguar and living in a half-million dollar home, and he has an assistant in his studio. Abbey Ryan has also pulled her work off eBay, or is at least putting things up for auction much less regularly, as galleries have begun to contact her.

So there you have it: two examples of artists who went from self-promoting on eBay to having galleries selling their work. This is something you can do, too—starting right now!

Online Choices

Your online sales can also extend to other items, such as print-on-demand books, prints, and DVDs. If you are trying to sell video work or prints, this may be a good option for you. With prints—by which I mean high-quality printouts of photographic images of artwork—you have a lot of choices. You can make prints of paintings, drawings, and even sculpture, because the prints are being made from a high-quality digital image. You do not have to make work just for prints; you can photograph anything, as long as it looks good.

That first image that is taken with a camera is crucial, because it must be perfect. That means you shouldn’t do it yourself unless you are a professional photographer with a light kit and umbrellas. The reason for that is when an image is reproduced, not only must it be in crisp focus, but also the colors have to be right, and it has to be perfectly square in the frame or cropped in Photoshop so that the image is squared. I know you have been using your iPhone or camera to repro- duce your art, and that’s ok as well, but if you experiment with hiring a real photographer who reproduces artwork, it will make a huge difference in how your work is perceived online.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 243 – New Markets for Artists / TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street

Your Niche: TMNK and Selling Your Art on the Street

Perhaps you think that this approach won’t work for you, because your work isn’t like Ryan’s. Well, there are plenty more artists I could give as examples, like the graffiti artist who goes by the acronym TMNK, which stands for The Me Nobody Knows. He also sells work on eBay and operates as a free agent for himself, and he has a very different presentation from Abbey Ryan. As a so-called “street artist,” he has created a certain persona for himself by calling himself “nobody.” However, if you take a look at his website and blog, you can see that his efforts are getting quite sophisticated, and his style of presenting himself as a nobody is increasingly fine-tuned. In an interview, I asked him about how he began his career, and his beginnings are similar to Abbey Ryan’s but with a few key differences. He had worked as a graphic designer for ad agencies and decided to quit his job and begin selling his art on the street. He was living in New York at the time, so he was selling his art there. The laws differ from state to state and country to country, but usually you have to get a sales permit, which is fairly easy, and find out what the laws are for artists selling work on the street. In New York almost anyone can sell their work on the street in Soho and in front of museums and many other places, getting some of the best real estate in New York for nothing! Normally, when I mention this to artists, they don’t accept the challenge, but it can be incredibly lucrative.

TMNK sold his work on the street and still does, but he also began selling it on eBay. Like Ryan, he posted things regularly and sent out emails to everyone telling them what he was doing. Over the course of a few years of promoting and selling his art with only the street and email as his show space, he built a career as successful as Ryan’s. The difference between TMNK and Abbey Ryan is that his art is graffiti-based and he used the streets as a way of building a fan base and driving sales. If you search for him on the web, you’ll find his work, just like his fans do; you could say that that’s his main studio, because that’s where most people find him. I am often asked if artists can sell work online. The answer is yes, but it de- pends on how they do it. TMNK puts his artwork on eBay all the time and its value is in- creasing. But it’s also a marketing tool. A lot of people see items listed on eBay. The value of his work continues to grow and as a result he has begun to move away from eBay, as Abbey Ryan has done as well.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 242 – New Markets for Artists / Commitment


You should begin by making the decision to commit yourself to at least a year, but three years is better, because you can see how Abbey Ryan’s success grew very slowly. Next, you have to choose a platform for your daily postings in addition to eBay, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. I would choose just one of these to start with, not all four. Twitter is one of the easiest, because you can write a small sentence and post a picture. If you want to write more, then you should choose Facebook or a blog. If you only want to post an image, Ins- tagram is wonderful. Ryan started with a blog because that way she could write more about her work. She told me that at first she thought she didn’t need to write about her art; she felt that the image said it all. But then she found that people wanted to know more and that it helped to sell the work. So if you are armed with dedication and knowledge of eBay and blogging, you may be ready to go. If you want to hear the entire interview with Abbey Ryan, you can listen to it on this website: yourartmentor.com.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 241 – New Markets for Artists / Lessons from an Independent Artist

Lessons from an Independent Artist

It’s important to remember that this is not the only kind of art that Abbey Ryan produces, but it is how she earns a living. She works on other art projects in addition to her daily paintings, but her daily paintings remain consistent and familiar. In other words, she doesn’t experiment all the time with her daily paintings; she takes greater risks in her studio work that is not on eBay. The images she uploads every day are similar, and her audience knows what to expect.

There are many lessons to be learned from Abbey Ryan’s story, but more than anything it shows what can happen in today’s online markets, no matter where you live in the world. At the very least, it proves that eBay can be a legitimate resource for selling your work and earning a living. If you want to make a start in this kind of market, there are several things you take into consideration. Begin by thinking about what kind of work you could sell online, consistently, every day. Imagine yourself doing it. Does it feel exciting, or does it feel overwhelming? If it seems like a possibility for you, then the next step is to begin to formulate your strategy.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 240 – New Markets for Artists / Success for Abbey Ryan

Why Success for Abbey Ryan?

There are many painters who follow this type of process, but Abbey Ryan has been particularly successful, so let’s examine why that is. To begin with, she was very consistent in her approach, especially during the first year. To put up a painting on eBay every day takes more than work; it takes dedication, especially when the prices are low and people aren’t bidding. In her first year, Ryan worked very hard and wasn’t making much money. Could you do that?

Ryan’s commitment was certainly one of the keys to her success. But let’s look at how she managed her online market. She was using three sources at first: eBay, a blog, and her website. That’s a total of three forums to update and manage every single day. It wasn’t very hard work, but she had to learn how to do it, and that takes time. That was some of what she learned and worked through in her first year. Also, she wasn’t shy about promoting her work and sending links to blogs and news outlets that might write about her. Now, if she gets press anywhere, she high- lights it right away on her website and blog and shares it with the world. She has added Facebook and Twitter to the mix now and also offers giclée prints of her work at $50. All of her knowledge on this type of selling was gained in less than three years, so no matter what age you are or where you live, in a few years you could potentially have a whole new education and career.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 239 – New Markets for Artists / eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Chapter 6

eBay and Selling Art Online: Two Cases

Traditional methods still survive, but options are multiplying all the time for selling your work. Rags-to-riches stories are much more common today because the Internet has provided loop holes in the playing field so that emerging artists can suddenly gain fame through a blog or a viral video or other methods.

Abbey Ryan, the Painter Who Made a Living on eBay

The way art is marketed and sold keeps changing with the times. Now with eBay, Amazon, and other retailers, wholesalers, and trading services online, you have many, many options, and you can use one or several of these resources to sell your work.

To give an example of one approach to selling art online, I interviewed an artist named Abbey Ryan, who uses eBay to sell her work. Her process is fairly straightforward and very profitable. She began the practice of painting one canvas every day, a small, square canvas that was always the same size. The paintings were usually of a piece of fruit or a minimal still life. After she finished each painting, she would post it on eBay and also on her blog. She also sent out an email to friends telling them what she was doing.

For the first year she did this, the minimum bid on her paintings was around $50. At first, her paintings sold for well under $100 each on eBay. In fact, for a whole year, her paint- ings were selling for under $100 each, and some didn’t sell at all. But after a year, her prices began to increase because people were bidding higher on eBay. Now three years have gone by and each painting sells for $800 to $1,000. Since she makes over three hundred paintings a year, she is bringing in at least

$200,000 a year from this. For some artists, that might seem like a dream. Here she is in her studio—which is not in a major city—working away, shipping her art all over the world and making a living at it. There are other painters and writers who have used the Internet to create one work a day and get the word out to potential buyers. In 2011, there was a “draw every day” campaign running on Twitter, and many people simply took photographs of their daily drawings and uploaded the picture to their Twitter accounts. Commitment to this kind of a process can work well for writers and artists, because it helps them to put their work out there every day and feel supported by others doing the same. It’s also a great way to get constant feedback on your artistic output.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 238 – New Markets for Artists / Examine Ads That Get Your Attention

Examine Ads That Get Your Attention

Look at other ads and see what jumps out at you; this will help you get a sense of what gets your attention and what doesn’t. I just went to my Facebook account page and found two ads by artists on there, which is no coincidence. The first ad has the artist’s name at the top of the ad, and the text—  to the right of the image—says “View Original Art by Award Winning Artist [her name].” In the second ad, the artist put his name at the top followed by the words “View the Art of Figurative artist [his name].” In both cases, the artist included an image of their work. Now when someone looks at that ad, they have two options, as opposed to a Google ad, where the only way to interact with the ad is to click it. On Facebook, there is a small thumbs-up symbol underneath the ad with the word “Like” next to it, followed by a number that tells you how many people have “liked” it on Facebook. In addition to clicking on the ad, which links to your website or Facebook page, people can also “like” your ad. You see, people may be too busy to click on your link and look at your art, but if they are getting enough information from your one sentence and the picture next to it, they can just click the thumb and “like” it. They don’t even have to look at your page, and you get that person’s name. But how do you get their name?

In the case of both of the artists’ ads I described, the ad links through to their Facebook page instead of their website. OK, it gets a tiny bit complicated here. Either of those artists could have made the link go straight to their website, so why did they choose to send people to their Facebook page? For one thing, they would not get the “like” link below their ad if the ad linked to their website. Having that “like” link is very nice because you will be able to see the individual’s name without their having to sign up for your mailing list, which takes much longer. Then, you can send a newsfeed story on Facebook to all the users who liked the page. However, this is where Facebook keeps changing policies, which we can expect endlessly, so it may be different when you are working on your ad, but it is the same idea. Remember, through experimentation you will learn most of this, not by understanding it all first, but by jumping in-make an ad.

As with Google AdWords, you will be asked to make a decision about your search criteria. On Facebook, you have much more to choose from. You can target certain areas, like the city or state you live in, or you can target Facebook users who are artists, collectors, curators, or even people with certain birthdays, meaning people in a particular age group. There are many, many criteria to search through, so take your time on this step, but also remember that you can always make changes; nothing is set in stone and Facebook itself keeps adding new tools all the time. And don’t worry if this seems confusing; when you go to Facebook and begin the process, it will guide you through many of the decisions you have to make.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 237 – New Markets for Artists / Watching Your Ad Work

Watching Your Ad Work

Once your campaign is up and running, you can log into your AdWords account and see exactly how your ads are working. You will be able to see where the traffic is coming from, which of your ads performed the best, and which keywords were the most effective. As you look over that data, you might notice that some keywords worked better than others, and you can judge this by how many seconds people stayed on your home page after clicking on your ad. If they stayed for less than two seconds, then chances are they knew right away they were on the wrong page; that means they were searching for something else. Based on these results you might want to stop using some keywords and try others instead. Your goal is to make each click count, and that means having people stay on your page for five seconds or longer, which would indicate that they are actually interested. The other criterion that you can adjust is location. In the case of the Thomas McNight ad I discussed, he probably specified an area around his studio as the target location for his ad, or maybe even several states around his studio. That way, the people who found his site could actually go visit his studio if they wanted, and that’s a big plus. Those people would come to think of him as a local artist whom they could meet. These are all considerations when creating a Google AdWords campaign. You can find the help you need to set up and maintain your campaign online, but Google also has a customer service phone number you can call. It’s worth noting that Facebook does not offer this kind of personal support as of 2012.

A Facebook Campaign

To start a Facebook campaign, you need to have a Facebook account. When you are on your Facebook page,  search for “Facebook ad,” and you will find easy instructions on how to get started. In many ways, it’s very similar to the Google AdWords setup process (probably because that’s where they got the idea from). As I said earlier, the difference with Facebook is that you can include a picture and you have more information about the people you are reaching. Now the fun begins. You begin by creating an ad for your campaign that includes a photograph (uploaded from your computer) and also some text (which you’ll have to write, and which will appear next to it). It may seem obvious to you, as an artist, to include a picture of your art, but that depends on how well your art reads when the dimensions are so small, about 1” x ½”.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 236 – New Markets for Artists / Advanced Targeting

Advanced Targeting

Since Facebook knows its users’ birthdays, hometowns, schools, and interests, your ad can target people with very specific interests and backgrounds, making Facebook something really new and precise in advertising. Never before have so many people so willingly provided so much information that could be accessed by advertisers. For ages, advertisers have been trying to figure out how to better know and target their audiences, and here it is—all the work done for you, all the data collected.

Is Facebook more effective than Google AdWords? I think so, but Google AdWords are also very powerful in another way. Facebook may have millions of registered users, but in order for them to see your ad they do have to be on Facebook. With Google AdWords, all you have to do is perform a search on Google. That’s very effective because it means that people are actually looking for something, so they are more likely to be actively interested in your ad, whereas on Facebook, your ad appears and draws interest, but the people who see it, are not actively seeking what your ad has to offer. If you can afford to experiment with both Facebook and AdWords, that’s what I’d recommend. If not, I would start with Facebook.

Your Campaign: Getting Started

First, take a deep breath and know that this is not a complex process, though it may seem so at first. All you are doing is placing ads targeted to a specific audience on the Internet, so that your art will become more visible and attract buyers. You are doing this instead of placing ads in traditional media like magazines or putting up posters around town because not only do Internet ads reach people worldwide, they can target a specific audience.

The next step is to begin with either Google AdWords  or Facebook. Let’s say you are beginning with Google Ad- Words. Just search for the phrase “Google AdWords” and you’ll find the site very easily. The best way to get started is to call them up on the phone. If you would rather do it all online without speaking to someone, then you have that option as well.

Once you have opened an account, you have a few decisions to make. The main one is how much you’re willing to spend. How much can you afford to spend each month? Your budget is important because it will determine how far your ad will reach, and if you decide to spend less or more in the future, you can see how that affects your results and compare.

Once you’ve made that decision, you can  begin  to create your ad. In the case I mentioned, where I Googled “contemporary art,” the first ad that popped up  in the right hand column of  the Google search page was “Thomas McKnight ORIGINALS paintings, prints and more for less. Official site for Thomas McKnight.”

Let’s examine this ad for a moment. I found this by typing in “contemporary art,” so we know he probably chose these as keywords. The keywords are the words you’ll enter when creating your AdWords account so that people searching for something in particular will find you. Thomas McKnight’s ad mentions his name twice, which is probably unnecessary. He is very traditional in his approach as an artist, and yet he uses Google AdWords to advertise, so they must work for him.

If you don’t have a history like his—he has had artwork commissioned by the White House and has pieces in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian—you might want to take a different approach. If your work is abstract, or figurative, or something else, you might want to say that in your ad. The text of your ad can’t be very long, but you can experiment. You can make four or five ads, run them all at once, and see which ones get clicks and which ones don’t. As for the text, start with something easy, like your name and the kind of work you have for sale, and then create more ads that speak to different parts of your art practice that you think people might be interested in. If you paint landscapes, say that, and if you’re a sculptor or performer or conceptual artist, say that too. The idea is to play with it and experiment.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


Episode 235 – New Markets for Artists / Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

More and more I am seeing ads by artists on Facebook. This is a new way to reach an international audience, or a specific audience bounded by your location or other criteria. When I see ads on my Facebook page, they are all related to the arts somehow. There are ads for galleries, museums, artists, and yoga businesses. Why do I get those specific ads? Because when you use Facebook, you are constantly feeding personal information into it. You tell Facebook where you went to college, where you work, and what your interests and hobbies are. That is a lot of information to give out but, remarkably, millions of people do it.

The Facebook Advantage

Facebook’s popularity and its ability to glean personal data from its users give it an edge on Google AdWords in some ways. As of the writing of this book, there are more than 500 million active users on Facebook, and it’s growing all the time. Google has access to more people, with about 100 million searches a day and growing, but Google can’t target a specific audience as effectively as Facebook. That’s because Google does not have all the personal information about you that Facebook has.

Also, when you make an ad for Facebook, you can use a picture, and for an artist that makes a big difference. Ads created for Google AdWords only use text, which makes it very clean looking when you search, but not as visual as Facebook. Facebook ads work in more or less the same as the way as Google AdWords. You pay per click and the process of setting up a campaign is very similar. The big difference on Facebook is that you can include a picture with your ad and the ways in which you can define your search.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.