Generating Revenue

Generating Revenue

A few thoughts

  • Many artists specialize on how to make something and get paid nothing.

  • It is easier to buy a product than to sell one.

  • Don’t think of web-commerce as a way to get rich, but as a way to diversify your offerings to create more brand (artist) awareness.

  • Think of it as more of a marketing tool than an ATM.

  • Consumer culture trends are tied into buying something to belong.

  • Consider the implications of creating editions or work and shipping it to buyers (fulfillment can be expensive). You may want to participate in an edition site to sell your edition work.

Online Sales: Third Party Sites

Remember, when you put your work on a third party site, you embrace the “brand” of that site. Make sure the brand is a match for your work.

  • EtsyMost people know Etsy- start by asking the group what Etsy is. This will show that sites have a brand (crafty, artisan, inexpensive), and that you adopt that brand when you put your work on there.

Jen Bekman/20×200: 20×200 sells “art for everyone” creates price points where any art lover can be an art collector.
Can apply to be part of this site. Hosts annual “Hey, Hot Shot!” Competition.

  • Artists get half of all sales
  • Specifics of each edition are determined with Bekman.
  • Subverting traditional gallery model, 20×200 got some controversial write ups.

Other Examples of third party edition sites There are more of these popping up everyday! Look at the artists that are selling on these sites, and the overall branding of the site itself to decide which might be a good match for you!

Cafe Press A good website for selling merchandise. You can design and sell products off this third party site.S pecializes in more commercial products like t-shirts, mugs, souvenir-type items. Perhaps a good place to sell t-shirts from your theater show or dance-company?

Selling Music on iTunes iTunes controls 60-80% of digital music sales. There are many third-party digital distributors that will help you get your music on iTunes

  • Tune Core A music and video distribution company that allows you to distribute your work on iTunes and other third party sites. You pay on a yearly subscription basis.

Skill Share: Teaching Artists Allows you to create courses online, and provides a platform for you to sell tickets to attendees.

The Subscription Model:
“Taking Part in a Subscription Model can expose your work to new audiences, you won’t make your rent, but you will get something for your effort.”

  • Alula Editions People subscribe for $200/year. Artists are commissioned $500 to make a silkscreen-based edition. Alula takes over production costs.

  • The Present Group (Similar to Alula, but $150/3 pieces per year, artists get $500)

  • Community-Supported Art ChicagoA yearly art subscription service of locally produced art operated by three walls ([WWW]http://www.three-walls.org/). Much like Community Supported Agriculture, in which shareholders invest in a local farm and receive a monthly payout of fruits and vegetables, CSA Chicago asks shareholders to invest directly in the arts community with a “buy local” mentality. Can you do something like this locally in your area?

Direct Sales from Artist Websites:

Below are some examples of artists who have interesting strategies to sell their work.

  • Nick Cave SoundSuits storea line of products, separate from but related to his larger body of work. Mass produced and packaged. Works with a partner. Uses Google Shopping Cart.

  • Tom Sachsexample of excellent “relational shopping cart”. If you can’t buy the work, you can buy the catalog, the DVD, and edition, etc. Uses humor to direct the user through the site.

  • Ligorano/ Reese Another example of product related to larger work, but made with mass appeal in mind. Show video as good example of promotion of product.

TOOLS to help you set up an online store:

  • Google Checkout: Easy integration with your website. 2.9 service fee + .30 per transaction (for items under 3,000)

  • Paypal: Buy it now buttons. Same fee structure as Google.

  • Steve’s Paypal Buttons: Take a few minutes to talk about the buttons in relationship to idea of e-commerce in general. An opportunity to comment on issues of labor in artmaking. Also talk about the whole trajectory of the project- Lecture-to-Poster-Button. Project embraces many of the strategies that we talk about in the workshop.

  • Wazala!: a service that simply adds a shopping cart page to your Blogger, WordPress, or Squarespace site.

  • Band Camp Use this site to create Widgets that you can put on your site, so that your fans can download and stream your music. You retain all rights to your music.

  • E-Junkie Provides shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads and tangible goods on your website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, CraigsList and other websites. No transaction limit, no bandwidth limit, no setup fee and no transaction fee.

  • Stripe.com: more intense (you may need to work with a programmer) but very flexible. Probably useful if you have high volume sales

  • VHX for Artists: helps you distribute your video using the “Louis C.K. model”

  • Don’t forget, WP Plugins! There are a number of plugins to help you add shopping cart features to your pages and posts. Do a search in the WordPress dashboard…

Ticketing Services


Collective funding for a project or opportunity by your network of supporters.

Sites make crowd funding possible and operate on a rewards model:


  1. Think about choosing the right moment to fund your project. You are asking your supporters to donate. You can’t do this every 2 months. You are going to lose supporters.
  2. Should have a marketing strategy in place. Be prepared to take the time to make a good promotion video)
  3. Weigh time spent putting into setting up the project vs. how much you are asking for.

Sunday Soup Microgranting Program

Brand Awareness with Integrity

  • Brand awareness makes me feel like a “product”- I am an artist not a consumer good!

    • Selling a product can make you feel cheap and amateurish.

    • Advertisers sell useless products to people who don’t need/can’t afford them and that is bad! What about integrity??

    • So…maintain your integrity and be careful how you choose to sell your art (or products) on the internet.

  • Make your art (product) unavailable and sell the accessories.

    • Books on Amazon that cite your work or relate to your work.

    • Directly sell your catalogs from shows.

    • Sell another type of product (that is not your art) that relates to your work. Clothing perhaps?

    • Partner with Advertisers that reflect your sensibilities.

Online Donations

  • Any individual or entity can donate money, goods, or services to your ongoing work or a special project.

  • However, having a non-profit fiscal sponsor is the best strategy. It enables you to receive grants and other donations from every kind of source: government, foundation, corporate, and individuals. It also provides donors with a special incentive: a tax-deduction.

  • Good fiscal sponsorship programs, like the ones at [WWW]NYFA or [WWW]Fractured Atlas , enable donors to make donations to sponsored artists online by credit card (all donations must, of course, go through your fiscal sponsor).

  • Once sponsored by a program, be sure to create a link on your site directly to your fiscal sponsor’s donation page.

  • When you are ready to begin fundraising, craft an appeal letter to send out by email. Be sure to include links both to your site and your fiscal sponsor’s donation page.

  • This method is particularly appropriate for fundraising from individual donors and small businesses (like your gallery, agent, etc.).

  • Fundraising tools – kickstarter, artistshare, indiegogo, fundable.com

Affiliate Programs (types)

  • Affiliate Marketing Companies:

    • sets up and manages affiliate relationships between you and the Advertiser

    • you choose from a searchable list which advertisers you want to work with and the apply to them. If they accept you, then they give you the tools (ie. trackable links to their products) that you can put on your site.

      • Ex: Commission Junction

  • Direct – go directly to the publisher

    • Ex: Amazon and many major sellers have their own affiliate programs

  • Remember:

    • For many artists and visitors, ads on a portfolio site are seen as distasteful.

    • Most Affiliates require that you maintain a terms and conditions and privacy page that has a direct link from your landing page

    • Make sure ads reflect content on page

    • The commission is usually a small percentage (4-6%) so dream big but be prepared for the reality of the numbers.

    • Most affiliates will have reports on how many visitors were directed to their site from yours and what percentage made a purchase. This can be helpful when trying to understand if a product is a good match for your readership.

Advertising on your Published Artist Web Page (“Adsense”)

  • Google Adsense – finds partners, connects them and sets up the relationship.

    • Two main components:

      • Publisher (ie. You the Artist): provides content that attracts unique visitors.

      • Advertiser: pays Google to redirect YOUR unique visitors to THEIR site.

    • How does it work?

      • Content from Adsense appears in window ( you get JavaScript from Google that you can insert yourself).

      • Google robots crawls the content of your pages and delivers ads that are relevant to your audience and your site content based on found keywords.

      • Publisher has some controls and can opt out of certain kinds of content.

      • You get paid on how many clicks per page. Most people never make more than $100!

Advertise your Artist Web Page on Google (“Adwords”)

  • You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business.

  • When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad appears next to the search results.

    • Now you’re advertising to an audience that’s already interested in you.

    • Pay only if people click your ads. Set up your budget limits.

  • Why pay for ads, when I can use meta-tags and referring links to drive traffic?

    • Meta-tags are a big business and the ones that get on the top of Google are usually dynamically generated and complicated to set-up. Not a good use of an artist’s time.

    • Easy way to drive traffic for a small investment. Usually can spend under $100 to drive several hundred visitors to site.

    • Great way to see what visitors do when they come to your site via “Analytics” component.

      • Analytic reports show which pages have the most popular content, time spent on site, how many pages visitors go to, etc.



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