I am a clothing artist who does original apparel designs (T-shirts, hoodies, tank tops and the like). >=90% of my sales are at festivals and events, particularly in the summer months, when I normally do a show every weekend. I've always found it incredibly difficult to generate any kind of online sales (I blame Amazon). 

With the cancellation of events due to COVID 19, where is everyone selling besides festivals and events, if anyplace? What sites/strategies online have worked?

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  • I'm in a similar situation. Fortunately, I came across a blog that Connie hosted about a year ago with David Emmons a Vermont artist that created an online tutorial on how to market you work to specific audiences on Facebook using the FB algorithm. I was very skeptical initially (see my previous posts on this matter in 2019), but eventually decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did because my FB presence has increased dramatically and I'm reaching people that are interested in my work. If you want more info, here's a link to David's intro video about the classes: https://www.daveemmons.com/p/step-by-step-success-with-facebook-mar...

  • People who have bought belts, holsters etc, from me before, find my web page and contact me personally. I do not sell off the web site as most work is custom. For saddles I market to a group of trick riders worldwide. Facebook reaches them and I post progress on saddles being built in studio. A client posted her finished saddle and is big time pro. As of today over 350 views and 50 comments on her post promoting my work. I have canceled all my shows for 2020 which are summer CO resort area events. If necessary and if they occur, I may do some gun shows in Denver/Colo. Springs area this winter. I'm posting, antique saddle/gear restorations, new saddles, and holsters on Facebook. Also, I share postings by artists I know in other mediums too. 

    • I started checking with my fellow artists too about cross posting. They are still lukewarm and don't understand what an opportunity it is for both of us, they have NO problem with me doing it for them...but "in kind" seems to fall on deaf ears at this point...so I move along.

  • We had a slow first week, but our website came whirling up in sales the past two weeks at a pace like that approaching Christmas sales.  Our business is a husband and wife duo, I paint silk, and my husband makes wonderful cold processed soap.  The soap is flying off the shelves with record pace.   Our soap is not like store bought... we add additional oil to the formula resulting in superfatted soap. That means as you wash your hands (or body) the oils in your skin are not stripped away, but rather replaced with this additional oil.

    how do we generate sales?

    • repeat customers, some generated from art fairs, others from galleries now closed that carry our products
    • mailing list email newsletter
    • social media posts
    • word of mouth

    I try to  provide so nuggets to go with each email....this last newsletter talked about ideas for coping with the quarantine.  I don’t want to just send out advertisements but rather to educate, encourage and serve my mailing list.  

    while we maintain an Etsy shop, our focus is our own website, with all of our marketing funneling to us... sales have grown using our own website only.  



    barb bloom

  • I'm a contemporary painter, so my comments won't help Chris, but may help someone else.

    I've had my paintings on SaatchiArt.com and Singulart.com (the latter is by invitation only, they hand pick their artists), and sell very well. By very well I mean 12-15 large paintings a year. Singulart.com is newer to me (only on 5 weeks) so I have only sold one painting (60”x60”). SaatchiArt takes 35% and pays for shipping. You cover the cost for you to package/crate your artwork and build that cost into your price. Singulart is 60 (artist)/40 I think and they pay for shipping and reimburse for packaging costs.

    I also of course sell at 18-20 art festivals/year and am diligent about getting emails from any and all interested collectors even if they're not ready to buy at a particular festival. If they're interested in my work, they're pre-qualified. They may not be ready to buy at the art show, but I’ll be able to connect with them when they are ready to purchase.

    I have an online sale for my list once a year near the holidays which is equivalent to 2+ worth of art show $, and have now launched an online sale due to the covid19 situation. So far it’s going quite well. I’ve had 14 buyers so far, with the largest purchase at $4000. I also know other artists who ARE selling online from their websites even during the pandemic, at discounted rates to their collector lists.

    I use Constant Contact to house my email contacts by geographic location. This way I can target emails to areas of the country where I am having a gallery show or will be at an art festival. For my annual online sale and my current sale I use bigcartel.com. I use Big Cartel because I'm only having the sale up for about a week, and it's cheap and easy to use. $9.99/mo for 50 products. (https://www.bigcartel.com/pricing)

    I'm currently deciding between Shopify and Squarespace for my regular website. In other words, I want to turn my regular website into an e-commerce site because this is where things are going IMHO (in my humble opinion). All of the galleries that I show in have websites that allow someone to purchase online. Some gallerists I've spoken to have less foot traffic in these recent years and are relying more and more on online sales.

    My current website does have pricing and a paypal button but the website hosting entity I use feels/looks a little clunky to me. That's why I'm deciding between Shopify and Squarespace, who are both more polished options.

    I hope this helps give you some ideas, especially if you have an email list.

    I read Inc magazine, they also have a great online newsletter. Here is a list of their “survival guide” for businesses during the covid19 crisis. It’s meant for large or small private/public companies, however, there are tidbits of information that you may find helpful:


    • Go with Shopify. Hands-down for countless reasons I will be covering in a few weeks on here. I read what you wrote and what you need and will want in the future, and Shopify is a great match for you, but there is a learning curve. And, I have NO pony in their show. I just know both platforms. Once you work through that, the rest is smooth sailing.

      • Thanks Carol - appreciate your expertise :)

  • I have a mail list of over 1200 names I've collected over 10 years. I started marketing to them in mid-March and have sent a follow up email each week. I was able to make enough to pay all my bills through April. I offered 30 and 50 percent off select pieces (not on everything) and a teaser of what to look for next week. I don't know if I can maintain that volume of sales for multiple months, but there are buyers out there and that's what marketing is all about.
  • Unfortunately one of the best tools for your web site is no longer available. That's the exposure you get when you do an art show and have a sign with your web site domain name hanging in your booth.

    We've always recommended a domain name that doesn't need to be spelled when you tell someone. Preferable your first and last name with the first letter of each word in upper case so it can be read easily. I can't count the number of times I've seen domain names for businesses on their vehicles, all lower case letters and it was impossible to read as they drove past.

    Now though marketing has shifted to social media, you still need to target your potential customers any way you can. That should be the focus of this thread.

    Larry Berman

  • I feel a podcast coming on ...

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