Online Auctions for Artists

galleryFine art dealers have long known that face-to-face sales are at the heart of their business model, but with the advent of so many self-service online auction and classified platforms there are many great opportunities for dealers and artists themselves to expand beyond a simple storefront. Here are a few tips that every seller or artist should pay attention to when testing the waters of online sales.

Don’t Give Up on Offline Marketing
Rarely is there such a thing as an all or nothing preposition when it comes to marketing and sales channels. Just because online marketing offers a low cost alternative to maintaining a storefront or attending live auctions doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Establishing and nurturing in person connections in addition to casting a wider net through the web is a great two pronged attack for any independent artist or dealer.

Social Networking ≠ Social Sales
There is a big difference between publicizing your wares through sites like Facebook and Instagram, and driving sales in auctions and classified ads. Sites like Artnet.com and Proxibid.com are the places where you’ll want to drive any traffic from social networking platforms where you advertise your work.

Cast a Wide Net
When you’re first beginning to advertise and sell online you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Creating listings across several websites is a good way to see what circles your buyers may be running in. While it will likely take a bit more time to manage this approach in the beginning you’ll eventually be able to determine which outlets are the most effective, and which ones can be removed from the mix.

Keep the Information Coming
Make a plan and determine how frequently you’ll be able to contribute to your new online marketing channels. While you won’t need to dedicate all of your time to maintaining an online presence, it will take time. Scheduling out regular features and content can help you to keep information fresh and appealing without occupying too much of your work time.

Protect Your Funds
While the online market opens up amazing opportunities, it also opens you up to risks. Protecting your funds and avoiding fraud is paramount, and can be done easily through the use of online escrow services. Online escrow protects sellers by verifying and holding funds with a neutral third party – completely removing the risk of non-payment, insufficient funds, fraudulent checks and credit card chargebacks. Buyers are also protected as funds aren’t released to the seller until they have proof of shipping, or have given the item a final inspection after arriving.

For more information about buying and selling fine art online, see our posts on how to work with commissioned artists, protecting against fine art fraud, and tips for shipping framed art safely.

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