Anybody who has thought about or wished they could publish their work online has probably seen a whole host of places out there in cyberspace claiming all sorts of things for their particular version of an online art gallery.
Are any of these virtual galleries really going to help you sell your work? Are they as effective as having your own website? Should you pay for the services of such a gallery or should you go for the tempting FREE option? Are they all simply a way for someone else to make a quick buck off the back of your talent?
If you have already asked yourself these questions, well, good! As with all things in life, it is essential to shop around before jumping feet first into a nest of vipers. If you have already considered using the services of a third party to host your online art gallery but remain undecided, I hope that this article will help in your decision making.
To the first question – will any of these places genuinely help you to sell your work? Certainly yes, in many cases – particularly the sites who deduct a commission from each and every one of your sales! If you object to someone else collecting commissions from your work, remember that most galleries do exactly that and although these online, or virtual galleries may have lower overheads than an upmarket “walk in”, they still have costs to bear, and they are providing you with a service and a place to showcase your artworks. So, shop around, check carefully at the sites you visit, you will see a huge variation in the levels of commission you will be expected to pay. If you do opt in to a gallery that gets its revenue from commissions, don’t forget to factor it into your bottom line.
A number of sites that give a decent number of features for free will charge commission on all sales made through their site. Most places that charge the artist either a one off fee, or recurring monthly fees, do not deduct anything from your sales. A number of sites will give you very limited (or, if you prefer, restrictive) gallery space and features for free – in the hope that they can persuade you to upgrade to a paid account in the future. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you pay, you will automatically see a sudden surge in sales – it ain’t neccessarily so! In my experience, the “free” galleries that only allow you to list a couple of pieces of your work, generate little or no sales, or even interest. Did I rush to upgrade? Most certainly not.
The one question I often hear is:- “Are these online galleries a genuine substitute for my own website?”
Not an easy question to answer, but on the whole I would have to say that no, they are not. Your own site gives you far more control, but of course, it also involves a lot more work and time – time that you could probably better spend on your art. Your own site definitely gives you more options and freedom but, ultimately, not everyone has the knowldge, time, or skills to produce one. If you fall into that category, then perhaps the services of an online gallery are exactly what you need.
Even if you are an artist with your own website, you can still get a lot out of joining other sites, not least of which is the ability to use them to drive more traffic to your own place on the web. If you have a site that is struggling for traffic, and you just aren’t getting the visitors you need, membership of other online galleries can definitely help. Search engine rankings, like it or not, are important, many would say vital, and if you don’t have a big budget, improving your rankings can be time consuming, difficult and frustrating. Several of the galleries to which I took out memberships, have, without doubt, made me more visible online.
So, after all this, what can I recommend to all those anxious artists out there just quivering to make a sale? Well, the bottom line is this…try out some of the free offers, after all, you have nothing to lose. Knock yourself out, join as many sites as you can find – it’s not going to cost you anything (except maybe a commission) and you will have sold some of your artwork – that is a great feeling whether it’s $50 or $500,000.
If you are the sort of artist who has feelings of guilt about making money from your talent, you probably won’t be reading this anyway, but I look at it this way – my work is about me, it is of me – it comes from a place that dollars simply cannot touch. I do not see myself, or any other artist, who can make money from their skill, as a sellout. Is it art or is it commercial? Who has the right to say or decide? It thrills me that someone out there enjoys and appreciates what I paint or sculpt, I love knowing that others can look at my art and gain pleasure from hanging it on their walls. I feel as if I have genuinely added value to the lives of others around me, and so should you. Ok, short rant over..back to the matter in hand.
After reading this, you are probably thinking, ok, so what sites can I choose from? Which ones are best, or free, or both? I can only speak from experience, and from that experience there is one site I wholly endorse, particularly for those of you who are entirely new to showing your art online. Before I say any more I do not have any commercial or business ties to this site. I recommend it because it is one of the best, most cost effective and fully featured programs out there at the time of writing.
Artmajeur.com offer artists a fully featured site with many customizeable options. They allow you to post a large number of works, even with their free gallery. You can optimize your site with keywords, you can add your own links, you can build a mailing list….the options go on and on. If you decide to become a paid member you can gain a whole lot of other genuinely useful features and you need only pay for exactly what you want. With a little work you can have a very nice web presence and a decent ranking in most of the search engines. Go and have a look around – yes, there are hundreds of other artists on the site but don’t let that faze you – I have personally never paid a penny to Artmajeur (sorry guys) and their service has led to several sales in the past nine months. Am I tempted to upgrade my gallery?….Yes, I really am. I think they have put together a wonderful package for all artists out there and perhaps I owe them a little something for the hand up their site gave me when I was a newbie to the online art gallery game. Will it work for you? You can only give it a try!
Other sites of note can be found in the Links section of my blog. I have used all of them with reasonable success. In the meantime, dear reader, good luck, and I hope to see your work on Artmajeur.com. Thanks for reading!
For those of you awaiting new paintings I am very excited about my current project although it is going more slowly than I had originally hoped. I do still have several pieces for sale, three from the Wild Wild West series included. Keep an eye out at The Online Gallery Of Nickola McCoy where I will show the new pieces first, come back to this blog for future updates.