Artists need not starve for their passion. With the Internet, outdoor shows and brick-and-mortar locations, more avenues are available than ever for creative entrepreneurs to sell their work. However, selling art is extremely competitive, forcing artisans to produce quality and beautiful work that is priced competitively. To successfully sell your wares, crunch the numbers and build your business slowly, creating sales in low-cost venues before moving on to bigger arenas.
Calculate how much profit you need to call yourself a success. This number will be different for every artist and crafts person. Some will be satisfied with moderate income to supplement their day job. Others want to live exclusively on the money earned from their creative enterprise. Determining the profit you require will determine how much you need to produce, how often and at what level of markup.
Determine your costs. To make a profit on your art, you need to know how much you're spending in materials and promotion. Keep receipts from craft-related purchases and track your expenses as they occur. Don't forget overhead, such as studio costs, and income taxes. Depending on your state and the size of your business, you may also be responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax.
Sell first in low-cost venues. If you're just beginning to assess the marketability of your work, sell on online through marketplaces such as eBay.com. Etsy.com is geared specifically to handicraft, and Imagekind.com lets you produce prints and cards from digital reproductions of your artwork. All of these sites charge nominal membership or listing fees. To make a significant profit online, list a variety of items frequently. Attach appropriate search tags to your listings and write complete item descriptions. High-quality photos are key because customers will not be able to handle your item before buying.
Consider craft fairs and seasonal markets. Craft fairs can include artists of all mediums and price ranges; before participating, visit the show to establish if your work is of sufficient quality to compete. Get a sense of the size and type of crowd; visitors might be passers-by or serious art buyers. Decide which crowd is more likely to buy your crafts. To increase the chances of turning a profit include not only your material costs, but your booth fee and travel when calculating the appropriate markup for your goods.
Visit galleries and shops that might sell your work. Wholesaling your work involves selling your work to a retailer or gallery owner who will, in turn, sell it at a markup. To be a successful wholesaler you must provide a product cheaply enough to the retailer that she can sell it at a significant profit. This can mean accepting a lower margin on your artwork than you would if you sold it yourself, or reducing your production costs by creating smaller items or using lower-cost materials.