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Top Three Mistakes Artists Make When Selling Paintings

Updated: Jan 16

I see a lot of artists making a lot of mistakes when they begin selling their paintings. These are mistakes that even slightly more polished artists make and they are not that hard to correct. You simply need to become aware of them. It's super important to avoid making these mistakes, especially if your goal is to build a career with your paintings.

Keep reading to learn how making a few small adjustments in your approach can change the way clients view your work and increase your ability to create income with the sales of your paintings.

Mistake #1 -

Showing and promoting everything you make.

This first mistake is the most common I see artists/painters make and the easiest to correct. Making and selling too wide a variety of work.

If you want to differentiate yourself from every other hobby painter on the planet and stand out in an ever-increasing pool of capable artists you must stop with the show and tell of everything you have ever created.

Maybe you've been guilty of this mistake or seen others making it. Have you shown a hand-painted ceramic kitsch one day, an acrylic painting the next, and an embroidery project the next week? Or for that matter, an abstract in acrylic one week, a watercolor landscape the next, and then a figurative painting done in oils the following?

Let's get even picker about this. How about a bird painting with abstract shapes, a landscape in the old masters' styling, and then a pop art painting? All of these are examples of what not to do! If you want to make yourself stand out and have a better shot at promoting/marketing your art, while also increasing your odds at sales and income - get focused!

Instead of showing everything you've made or are interested in, get focused on what I like to call a "bread and butter" product line. Why do I call it "bread and butter"? Because this is what puts food on your table!

Focus on what you do best, then market and promote it like a boss!

You'll soon find yourself discovering your ideal client base, growing your email list, and making sales.

Mistake #2 -

Getting your pricing all wrong.

You see, most artists will price a piece they really like or think is extra magnificent considerably higher while pricing a piece they think they may have failed at, much lower. This is not a good pricing method!

One of the most important aspects of selling your paintings is getting them priced just right. If you set your pricing too high or too low you'll be wondering why no one is buying. If it's too low people will wonder what's wrong with it. If it's too high people will wonder what's wrong with you!

If the price is just a bit out of whack and you feel wonky about your pricing you will be putting out a wonky energy that repeals clients and it could be sending your customers down the road to someone else without you even realizing it.

Pricing is one area that might be worth learning a bit more about, but more importantly, you should take a deep dive into how you really feel about your work & prices, and how you feel about accepting cash in exchange for your work. Because, when it comes to pricing, your mindset matters!

Get yourself thinking about, what you are thinking about when pricing your paintings. Selling something as personal as a painting you created has challenges in every aspect.

Decipher what you think about letting a piece go, what you think about your own abilities, and what you think about what you deserve for your time, effort, and talent.

Then, as a beginner, price ALL of your paintings according to size in alignment with what you think the value is and stick to it no matter what others have to say. Stop listening to your friends, your mom, or your sister. None of them know what you think and feel about your work and what you think trumps all other input.

Mistake #3 -

Not realizing you are operating an art business.

Mistake number three is a doozy and could cost you in the end if you don't get this right! The third most common mistake when starting an art business is not realizing you are an art business. (I understand if you are scratching your head right now)

If you are a painter and selling your artwork, you better be thinking like a business owner. The IRS will see you as a business, so you might want to also!

Making just $500 a year is enough to start thinking this way, but if you make $600 or more and are not thinking of yourself as a business you could be missing out on an opportunity to write off all those expenses you've incurred over the past year and the opportunity to reduce your overall tax obligation.

Plus, if you get caught by the government collecting funds and making sales that you did not report, it could be a headache or a nightmare. I personally know someone this happened to and I definitely don't recommend you skip this step, especially when it could be a potential savings for you, in ways you probably can not imagine right now.

So, get legal with your art-making when deciding to sell your paintings. Starting out this way can help you manage your expenses, be prepared for tax season, and grow your sales & art business bigger and faster.

Conclusion -

Avoid these three easy mistakes almost every artist makes:

  • Showing and promoting virtually everything you have ever created. Instead, determine what your "bread & butter" income will be and promote the heck out of it - everywhere - like a boss!

  • Getting your pricing all wrong. Instead, take time to discover the right price for your work and stick to it no matter what your friends say.

  • Not realizing you are an art business. If you are selling art, make it your business.


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