November 15, 2013

Selling What Sells: How to Get People to Buy More of Your Art

If you’re an artist trying to sell art you’re leaving a lot of money on the table if you’re literally just selling prints or originals of your work. This is because home decor is one of the tougher categories to sell in general.

Don’t believe it? Check out this graphic from Target’s 2011 annual report. Target is a brand that works hard to promote their housewares line and yet apparel and consumables like food and laundry detergent outsell housewares both individually and as a whole.


The story is the same at Walmart, where home goods make up a mere 6% of sales while apparel comes in at 13% (more than double). Even health and wellness beats home goods.

JC Penny’s sales tell the same story.  Home goods make up 21% of sales, almost all the other sales are comprised of clothing and accessories.

Macy’s sales mix looks the same. Home goods make up only 16% of sales while clothing and accessories make up the rest.

Why is it that retailer after retailer has less success in housewares than any other category?
All of these retailers certainly sell a lot of home decor products and do plenty to market these products in advertising, wedding registries, etc. The issue is consumer shopping habits. Home decor lasts for a long time and people rarely need to restock. People are in the market for home decor usually after they move or when they have a life changing event like a marriage or a baby. Moves, weddings and babies don’t happen for the average person all the time.

On the other hand, the average person replaces their toiletries, clothing and accessories pretty often. That’s why these are such great products to sell. Once you have a customer who enjoys your brand they’ll keep coming back if you sell products they need to purchase more often.

If that’s not good enough reason to get into selling your art on apparel and accessories, there’s more!
If your customer is buying your art for her home, the number of people who will see that art, comment on it and go seek it out to buy for themselves is a tiny sliver. If your customer is wearing your art out in public she is showing your art to thousands of people every day just by walking around. Your customer basically becomes a walking billboard for your art every place she goes. She’s likely to run into more people who will see your art, notice it, ask her about it and seek it out to buy for themselves.

Do you want to make more money?
If yes, it’s time to look for ways to get your art onto products people consume every day. I know this strategy works because I use it for my own brand. While we do offer our art on prints and in the past we’ve offered a few other home decor items, our t-shirts outsell decor items 100 to 1!  Most of our online sales come from word of mouth. People ask our customers where they got their shirts and our customers send those people our way. Most of our traffic from search engines is people searching for keywords from our designs.

So how do you get your art onto products people want to buy?

  • Consider putting your art on functional items like t-shirts, bags, wallets, belts, pendants, etc. You can customize these products yourself or have them made for you.
  • Look for products with great margins. If you can make something for $2 and sell it for $15 that’s a great margin. If it costs you $5 to make something and you can only sell it for $7 that’s a less attractive margin. Only consider items like this if you think you can do a really substantial amount of volume to make up for the poor margins.
  • Look to other retailers for ideas. Take a stroll through a store like Pier 1, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, gift shops, etc. Notice what sorts of products they offer that feature graphics — things like candles, t-shirts, soaps, pendants, belts, etc. Take note of what they are retailing these products for and think about whether you could produce a product like it featuring your art.
  • Get creative with sourcing. Sites like Etsy are full of makers, often based in your home country, who might be able to produce bespoke goods for you at a wholesale price if you order in bulk. Also check out sites like and other promotional product websites. They have a huge assortment of items you can have customized to feature your art. Check our suppliers that specialize in custom products like Ink It Labs. They create custom laser-cut accessories featuring your submitted art.
  • Consider private label manufacturing on-demand, such as, which allows you to sell your art on t-shirts without any up front costs. Or check out Art of Where which allows you to sell your art on device cases and leggings.
  • If you’re going to have products made featuring your art be sure to request samples, especially a sample featuring your art if possible, so you know you’ll be happy with the finished result.


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September 2, 2010

My Site Re-Design Part 3: Adding Cross-Sells

Filed under: Ecommerce — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 9:05 am

In the marketing world a cross-sell is an attempt to sell a customer an additional product, related to a product they’ve already expressed an interest in. You see this all the time on major online retail sites. If you click a book on Amazon you’ll see a section on the page that says ‘customers who bought this also bought…”  If you click a jacket on the Express website you’ll see a column titled “may we suggest” with a list of products similar  to the one you’re viewing.

Huge online retail sites like Amazon may use complicated formulas to decide what to display to customers. These sites may have millions of products and millions of sales records to comb through and rely on to make product recommendations.

For a smaller business like mine (or yours), it’s a less daunting task. For my own site, I set it up so that any time I add or edit a product, I have the option to select related products. Those selections are what produce the cross-sells for my website. So now my product pages look like this:

Monday I talked about how I added tabs to my product pages. One of the tabs was a listing of current coupon codes. Since my coupon codes require a certain dollar amount spent, having cross-sells right under those coupon codes is a great way to encourage customers to select a second item.

I also added a cross-sell section to my view cart page so customers can get product suggestions based on items they’re likely to purchase.

If your shopping cart has a built in cross-sell feature, why not try it out. If it does not, but you have access to your cart’s source code, you (or a programmer) may be able to build in a feature like this quite easily.

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August 16, 2010

4 Ways to Merchandise for the Holidays

Fall is drawing close and that means holiday season isn’t far behind. To maximize your sales, it’s best to plan early for holiday merchandising. You want to make it easy for customers to find the perfect gifts. Presenting your products in a gift guide format also gives you some built-in search engine optimization and landing pages for your ad campaigns. Here are some ways to present your wares:

1. Under $25.00, $10.00, $5.00
Everyone’s on a budget, sometimes we even get into Secret Santa pools with set budgets we have to stick to. That’s why it’s a good idea to present merchandise by price. It immediately allows a site visitor to peruse products within his or her budget. Clicking products just to see prices can get frustrating. I’ve abandoned more than a few sites for this reason alone.

2. Gifts for Him/Her/Kids
Help your customers find something perfect for everyone on their shopping list by breaking items down into categories for gift recipients.  Be sure to think about different groups like co-workers, men, women, teens, children, babies, mom, dad, grandma and grandpa.

3. Gifts for Artists/Foodies/Runners
If you have items in your inventory that appeal to niche interests make separate gift guides for those people. This type of categorization is fantastic for search engine optimization. Such specific phrases tend to convert well and have lower levels of competition. Think about all the different specific niche audiences out there who might enjoy your products and do a gift guide for each one.

4. Stocking Stuffers
Small, inexpensive products are perfect for categorizing as stocking stuffers. Think of items like notepads, buttons, hair accessories and other fun little items people can fit into a stocking for a low price.

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May 7, 2010

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Every day I check out the 100s of subscriptions in my RSS feed about marketing, PR, advertising, branding, social media, and a host of other topics of interest to small businesses that sell online. Most of what gets posted isn’t earth shattering but I reserve Fridays for the best reads of the week. So here you have it, the most valuable things I read in the business blogosphere this week:

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