Fine Art America provides great tools for artists to market their work, including a personal website and blog, event announcements, unlimited free broadcast email, and press release services
FineArtAmerica.com is an online marketplace and social networking site for painters, photographers and other visual artists. Artists can use to the site to connect with collectors and other buyers. As its founder, Sean Broihier, says, “Fine Art America puts the business side of artists’ careers on ‘autopilot,’ leaving them more time to create art.
As I checked it out, I found FAA provides visual artists, photographers and galleries an extensive and impressive array of the free art marketing and e-commerce tools. At $30, its only upgrade to Premium paid option is a bargain. I also found an inspiring human-interest story on its entrepreneurial roots and growth.
FAA’s success proves providing consistently improved products and services with competitive pricing is a hard to beat business model. Although FAA has only three full-time employees, it successfully competes with companies that have had substantial outside investments and large staffs. This is due to using a fully automated system, and outsourcing printing and framing services to named US-based topnotch professional partners.
The basic service is to allow photographers and artists to upload an unlimited images where art buyers can order them through a complete turnkey operation. This includes print-on-demand services for canvas, paper, and acrylic prints with a variety of framing options. The orders are fulfilled and quickly shipped within days and includes a full 30-day refund policy.
I uploaded and ordered a framed sepia portrait of my father and could not be more satisfied with the quality, shipping and fulfillment for it. In its niche, providing full services print-on-demand printing, online sales and order fulfillment, FAA stands out as the leader. No wonder it has 100,000 artists and millions of web hits each month.
For only $30 per year, artists can upgrade their free membership to paid status. For this, they get a free artist website, earn 5% commission on accessory sales including framing, substrates and assembly charges, have their images placed on Amazon.com, and art licensing opportunities to get their work shown on television shows, such as Desperate Housewives, with ABC Studios.
Artist, Bob Nolin, in a blog post about FAA mentions how customization on other print-on-demand websites is difficult, and often requires a solid understanding of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). He found FAA’s website to be remarkably easy to use for implementing the customized header he created in Photoshop, which gives his site a unique look.
Broihier provides artists with a neat slideshow widget, which you can see over on the right here on my blog. When I add artwork to my gallery, the slideshow automatically picks it up. The slideshow’s movement attracts the visitor’s attention, and shows off my work at the same time. I think it’s really useful.
FAA also automatically provides buyers with color swatches based on the main colors in a piece of artwork. Again, I can’t think of a similar site that does that. Along with visitor counts, there are visitor comments. These help build buyer confidence.
Spontaneous art sales are out-of-the-norm flukes. If your business model is hoping to convert new, prospective buyers to paid customers on the first encounter, it is fatally flawed.
You need to connect with your prospects and buyers on a regular basis. You cannot rely on your buyers to seek you out. It takes an organized systematic approach to create steady art sales. To do these things, you need to use available tools.
FAA provides a host of useful tools to help you stay in touch with your customers. These include such things as your FAA website, blog, event announcements, unlimited free broadcast email, and press release services. If you already are a member and haven’t started using them, then you should. It only takes your time.
The free broadcast email service is unrivaled. FAA gives you free unlimited email marketing. With a small list, you would pay $10 – $25 per month for this service. Larger lists can run to hundreds of dollars a month. It’s here for the taking all you have to do is use it.
The Artwork Ordering Catalogs FAA makes available are a powerful sales tool. These essentially are PDF sales sheets. You create them online and can print extra copies yourself or at a copy center. Get them in the hands of buyers. Give them to your family and friends and ask them to pass them along to interested buyers. Take them to art shows and fairs.
Get creative. Put copies in public areas of convention and tradeshow hotels. Let’s say you paint dogs, a highly popular subject matter, and you learn a dog show is in town; then find the designated hotels and leave copies in public areas, or where other literature is distributed. This is just one wild, creative idea for uses. How many more can you come up with?
There is so much to explore and use with FAA, and this blog post will not come close to covering it all. It is a massive asset for artists in the print market. When you get most benefits free by joining, there is no reason not get started using this service.
I respect there are artists who want a higher level of production than can be met with a maximum 20 MB upload. They also want to work closely with their printer to assure the final prints meet their exacting standards. It comes down to those artists are working to fill the requirements of other buyers, with different expectations and price points than buyers who have mass-market needs.
Fortunately, it is a sizeable market with opportunity on multiple levels. In its niche, FAA provides a tremendous service for artists on a budget, or with no staff to help them, or who primarily want to sell in the open edition market, FAA is a perfect print-on-demand fulfillment and marketing partner.
I mentioned FAA is an entrepreneurial inspiration. Sean Broihier founded and built the FAA website. His story is one right of Gary Vaynerchuk’s bestseller, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion. He wrote all the code and managed the business for more than two full years while working full-time at his engineering day job. With only two other full-time employees, he has steered the company to a projected $5 million in sales in 2012.
As mentioned above, he manages massive numbers of artists and photographers, uploaded images and order fulfillment by using well-respected outsourcing partners to handle most of the tasks required to get the art in the hands of its buyers. In the first of my multipart series on art marketing, Making Successful Art Careers Happen | Part One, I mentioned using kaizen, or continual improvement, in making your art and building your career. In Sean’s hands, FAA is a kaizen exemplar.
Broihier works to make constant improvements and additions to FAA. Some of you might notice, such as adding art business and art marketing blogs to the weekly FAA newsletter. He is trying to help his artists and photographer users learn new and better ways to market their art. Or, it could be he is working on improving critical and highly competitive keyword rankings which helps buyers find your art on FAA.
In talking with him, I found him open to new ideas and eager to implement those that will improve the FAA site, or help its artists to sell more art. If you are working your day job with a dream of moving to full-time status as an artist, you can use Sean Broihier as an example of how to juggle your job and your passion until you get to the point where you no longer need the day job. If you wisely and diligently use the array of tools FAA makes available, you will leverage your ability to get to the top and full-time status quicker.
For those of you interested in learning other ways to market your art, check out How to Profit from the Art Print Market. It is a 300-manual on how to successfully get your work into the lucrative print market. Right now, it comes with a bonus e-book titled How to Price Digital Fine Art Prints. Combine the FAA marketing tools with the knowledge you gain from my books, and you can leverage what you are doing to take your art career to new heights.