What are we selling? Art many ways. - Ep. 7

We love artists.

Our mission is to empower artists to be their own patrons. Broadly, we believe in creating a world where anyone who is willing to do the work, can be financially independent. We aim to support the unique small businesses of artists by serving as an advocate for their amazing work, and by providing affordable, original, local art for sale. We’re selling art, many ways.

Original Art

All of the art that we offer is original, unique, and handmade. Most pieces are sold ready to hang. Many can be purchased with or without an artist picked frame. The artists retain possession of their art so they can sell it on their own, and can display it wherever they like. We work this way to provide as much opportunity as possible for each artist to sell their art. When a purchase is made, the art ships directly to you from the artist.

Art Rental

Sometimes it’s nice to see something new every once in a while. The art on our website is also available for rent. The rates are a fraction of the purchase price, and rented art can be switched out every six months. Interested? Let us know.

Art Services

Our art services allow artists to create something special for you. These services take in your goals, preferences, and feedback to create a custom piece of art. Some examples of art services include:

We want to connect people to affordable, original, local art. To do this, we are starting simple. We are focusing on relationships, authentic conversation, and making friends. So. Where to start? Who better to have conversations with than people you already know, right?

Even though the people who I’m personally connected to on Facebook I still call friends, the reality of Facebook friends is something less than connected. I’ll hazard a guess to say that somewhere around half of the 321 friends that I show are really more acquaintances, people who I’ve met once at a party, or are friends of friends. We aren’t strangers, but we aren’t necessarily friends either. And, we certainly wouldn’t recognize each other out in the real world.

Of these 321 connections, I was able to send 309 of them a message. The 13 people I didn’t sent a message to likely had their privacy settings configured to keep out messages from friends like me. Of the 309 people I messaged, 89 sent me a reply, and six who said that they might be interested in purchasing a pet portrait. Over the two weeks it took me to do this, there were 99 unique page views on the link I shared from 85 new visitors to the website, but there were no purchases. Unfortunately, I found out through this process that one of my Facebook friends had died. If you saw a message on Facebook from me, I hope it didn’t feel too spammy.

The six people who said they might be interested were closer friends. People who I know in real life. I asked all six of them for some feedback. Four of them replied with nearly the same response, the pet portraits were too expensive at $225. I understand that there are a lot of variables that go into setting a price and soliciting significant feedback. And, my connections on Facebook don’t necessarily represent the population of art buyers.

I know that for some people $225 is a drop in the bucket. Maybe the people who gave me feedback don’t see value in original painting, or maybe $225 is their entire bucket. Either way, this isn’t something that I can judge. So, in an effort to honor the feedback, I reached out to the artist and asked his thoughts. He mentioned that he already offers smaller, less expensive pet portraits that start at $125. Apparently I had missed the smaller version on his price sheet. I am so very thankful for my friends’ feedback. It helped me see something that I missed, and it might help someone end up with a portrait of their pet.

I’ve also reached out to local businesses over email. I’ve sent out 51 emails to Wisconsin businesses who I thought might be interested or know someone who would appreciate a specific piece of art that is relevant to their business. For example, Bruce Bodden has a picture of sailboats. He is based in Neenah, WI, so I reached out to a local yacht club that promotes sailing and sailing education. They did not respond to my email. This pattern repeated itself over and over for each artist’s work:

  • picture of a horse>horse stables>no response

  • picture of a collie>vet clinic>no response

  • picture of outdoor scenes>outdoor and hunting clubs>no response

  • picture of a cow>dairy producers and cheese makers>no response

  • picture of vegetables>popular locally owned restaurant with empty walls>no response

  • local interior designers move out of their house and into a retail location>opportunity for our businesses to help each other>no response

Of all of these 51 emails, I only heard back from a single autoresponder. With a total of 360 messages sent, and no sales, I need to adjust how I’m reaching out to people. The numbers are telling me that these direct messages and emails are not working for me. At a minimum, I need to adjust my message, my delivery, or both.

So, what next? I’ll adjust my method of connecting with people, and reach out over the phone instead of email to see if that works any better. Random emails, especially from strangers, are not likely to lead to authentic connections. We’ll chalk this one up to obvious after the fact. I guess I had to have the experience to be able to learn from it. I’ll also be circling back around with the businesses I’ve already emailed, and see if a follow up phone call helps. Hopefully, I’ll make a few friends.