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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 sell a few things on line from my website. In a years time maybe equal to one good show., Its all from past customers or booth visitors that take my business card. It would be rare to get an order from an on line site like Facebook Etsy, or others I have tried. To be fair I have not paid hundreds of dollars to buy their marketing programs. I just think the odds of someone looking for non essential impulse buy items like I sell is very low. No one is really looking for an original painting of two chickadees on a branch in the snow. At a festival I get”wow is that original. I would like to buy this”. Impulse buy. If you have the right thing you might do well on line . If not you could waste a lot of money 

You've more or less described my situation right now. The best way I've found of marketing my site is festivals, and most of my online customers saw me at a festival or show somewhere previously! Art is so specific it's hard to imagine anyone searching for it online but at a festival, everyone is like "oh wow look at these cool shirts!" In total I also make about as many sales online in a year as i do at one good show, and most of my online sales are during the holidays, which does not bode well for right now. It seems the search oriented nature of online doesn't really work well for art. Sadly there being no shows takes away one of the main marketing avenues for my website! I have social media but it's pretty much all people who've seen my work at shows as well. I really hope I can do shows again starting in June, but I'm not too optimistic about that yet.

You like most are at major turning points as we all go thru this.

I am a textile artist also. Original clothing, just re-starting out.

My plan was summer, my spring shows were wiped out, and I am back to other work as I struggle each day trying to decide which direction to go.

However, prior to this, I had built up my Shopify online shop, and was getting my marketing plan in place for that. I also do a lot of IT work for other businesses and find there are very specific areas literally every single one struggles with - how to get found and close the sale.

With you, partly its a tactile thing along with visual, value, life enhancement and quality. Especially when developing new customers.

I am going to recommend you seriously look into getting your online presence known. Depending on your age and your target audience, will depend on which avenues you go down.

I recommend you start with joining as many Facebook groups as possible where they are focused on original clothing design, as consumers, fashionistas, make a plan of "who" your target customer is and "how" and "where" they would want to be in FB with those interests, start your own specific to your business - but a group that you invite every single person you know of to come and join and ask them to post on their FB you are doing this. Within that group - they will be very nosey about you - AND will become your ambassadors. Expect to start sharing photos of you working, sketches, tips, techniques, how to fit, the fabrics you select and why...and the list goes on. The more they know, the more they will support you, and tell others. This is a start okay? The sooner you start the better.

As to the rest of it - yes, I have a massive plan and training in place. I take countless courses thru my SBDC, a good 100 hours a year AND I repeat many of them yearly because methods/how they do it/etc change that quickly online. If you decide to be an artisan on Amazon - which takes a little while to get it all in place, once you are accepted, they have a 6 part training program for you. Whether you decide to sell on it or not YOU can decide after, but making that decision without understanding the process itself is doing yourself a disservice.

I would look at this time right now as the opportunity to explore a minimum of 2 hours a day online including taking webinars, etc. Go to Constant Contact and sign up for their training, because it's not all about emailing there either AND it's free. To date, I have already done 60 hours of training for 2020. And now with this situation, I am ready for all the new that will be coming out.

I hope this gives you a different way to look at how you are going to do business. I have a boatload more but there is a point where I have to go do my own work.

Just curious, "SBDC". What is that?

small business development center... check out your local SBA

It's a tough one, for sure. I agree with the previous statement, build it with social media. As for online sales, I make most of mine from my website and from Etsy. Your mileage may vary! Use lots of photos with good light. Good luck.

There are so many people looking for help navigating the online art sales world.  We're trying to run some workshops for them. If you feel you are very comfortable with one or more of the online platforms and willing to be on an online seminar please let me know right away so we can get artists the information they need!


Was your comment aimed at a specific person? Or?

 I create watercolor paintings.  By it's very nature, watercolor has to be under glass. To complicate things, I collage my florals and leaves meaning they really need to be protected by the glass and in a frame.  This makes them very unwieldy and heavy to mail.  Online sales work if it's in my delivery range (50miles or so).  I've been continuously boosting Facebook posts of my work to an audience that enjoys art and gardening in a 50mile radius of my home.  Last year I sold several that way and brought many to my summer art shows to see them in person.  Summer art shows, sigh....  My state if Illinois just announced a platform to showcase art online as well as applying for monetary grants.  I'll be looking into these options. 

I live in Illinois as well and would love to know more about the online platform thet just announced!

I am a watercolor and acrylic artist, and I've had some limited success selling through Etsy.  But sales for the year are only equal to one really good show.  And most of what sells from my Etsy shop are request for custom commissioned work.  Prints would be the next most frequent sales.  Originals only sell when they are small and inexpensive.  I've had my Etsy shop for five years now, and have seen an increase in sales every year - up till this one, lol.  Call me pessimistic, but I think there will be a lot of belt tightening across the whole country, and don't expect to see as many sales of art and non-essentials going forward no matter what the platform.  Still gotta try, though - not going to stop creating!


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