Creative Selling: From Etsy to Instagram

In the Creative Selling Series we will dig into ways to leverage your unique talents and creativity to exceed in personal and professional goals – from tech sales to your selling your passion.

I love my day job of working an Account Executive in technology sales. I enjoy solving business problems with clients to improve their day to day.

Outside of my ‘day job’ I have been turning my passion for painting into a side business. It has been a fun challenge and I thought it would be helpful to share my journey so far.

Background: I have always loved art and won an art award in middle school. While, I’ve always been creative, I didn’t focus on formal training until a few years ago. I started taking online classes and painting landscapes regularly. With the pandemic, painting and coloring/drawing became an outlet – a fun activity after a hectic day of work and cabin fever.

Online instructors like Ginger Cook, Angela Anderson and The Art Sherpa provide excellent YouTube classes and a community of support. I also have learned a lot from Tricia Robinson.

I knew I wasn’t ready to sell art right away – in fact the thought didn’t cross my mind, until several friends encouraged me. My initial goal is to earn enough in profit to invest in more painting supplies.

As discussed in ‘Start with a Plan’ post, when I decided to launch my art business in November/December 2021, I first took time to research the industry and come up with a short and long term plan.

  • What is my target audience?
  • How do I make a profit (selling art)
    • How do I get my art into the hands of the buyer?
      • In person? Online?
      • How can I make the purchase process easy and effective both for me as a seller and for the client
  • What are my initial goals (3 months, 6 months)

I spoke with other similar artists and leaned into their feedback.

The plan set me off on a good path – and believe it or not when you own a business you are always planning – because business is not stagnant. A good business plan, whether in your day job or side gig has to be agile and organized.

Tip: every week and every month reflect on what is working (data and experience) and see if there are gaps or things you need to adjust

SCALABILITY is key – start small but have a plan in place to scale as needed.

Two months in has been a bit of a firehose, but having a plan has helped me to feel calm as I’ve launched my side business.

What I’ve done so far:

  • I’ve continued to take time to paint and learn throughout the week as time allows. You need to balance the sales side of your side business without compromising mastery of craft and execution/production
  • I used Canva to create a logo – I highly recommend Canva – it is an easy to use tool for marketing – especially social media. It is a nominal fee of $12.99 per month
  • Based on my initial research I decided to launch my shop on Etsy. Etsy only charges .20 cents per listing and has a built in client base and name recognition.
    • The issue with Etsy is that it has over 2.5 million sellers and without a built in target that you can bring in you will not drive sales there.
    • I am now looking at Artstorefronts and/or Shopify to have a destination shop that can be tied to
      • is my ‘creative site’ – it is where I blog about my art and also post my creative writing (cozy romances a la Debbie Macomber)
  • Key with Etsy is to use all the resources to make it look professional
    • I built out my store with at least 10 paintings and add them regularly
    • Tags are critical – you need to make sure you leverage the site SEO (sales engine optimization)
  • Etsy Ads: I would not recommend Etsy Ads when you are first starting off because the value is going to pay bigger dividends once you have already sold some paintings and have reviews
  • I am still working on getting reviews/sales off etsy.
  • I am running an Etsy ad campaign soon to test the waters – but only after research and speaking with other sellers.
  • Facebook: I created a fan page, but haven’t promoted it much outside of friends. It is a target priority in the next few weeks
  • Instagram:
    • Instagram is the surprise power tool for artists. I didn’t actively use Instagram until I started my business. However now that I am on Instagram I am addicted – it is a great place to connect with other artists and art fans in a non obtrusive way.
    • Instagram is not necessarily going to lead to direct sales, but it builds your brand reputation and helps you get your message across to followers.
    • With my IG I try to post daily and tell a story. I also support other artists with genuine messages of support.

Next steps on my journey:

I need to get in front of my customers and am working on figuring out the next ad campaign and how to promote my shop.

Consistency is key and focusing on what is working and continuing to paint and update regularly.

Art is a long game and it often takes a few months to even get your first sale (online). I also plan to start selling at some in person events (that is down the line).

I appreciate your support and will continue to share what I’m learning from this journey

If you are interested in purchasing one of my acrylic paintings check out Etsy or email me.

Follow me on Instagram

Now share your small business journey…

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