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Monetizing a Fine Artist Site/Etsy

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by pandabukkake, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    My wife is an artist, we are from Russia and moved to the USA last year where we are trying to build an art business online. One of the hardest things I have found in SEO is how to get organic traffic for her art. I want to know how to better monetize her art.

    The current format is Blog + Painting, and the main site attracts about 100 organic visits a day, PR2. The artworks are mostly of a political nature and of current events so sometimes there have been 3-5k vistor spikes depending on who has linked in. These spikes have converted to a few big money customers willing to spend thousands on originals. Unfortunately it is few and far between with these types of people no matter how you market in the art world, especially online.

    The goal however is not to convince people to buy original work, but prints which have an unlimited supply and the highest of ROIs of anything. Here's a list of things we have tried:

    ? Ebay

    We had moderate success relative to traffic on eBay selling a couple hundred poster prints of some works. Unfortunately eBay slapped us frequently with bogus complaints due to the controversial nature of the artwork. Extremist political groups in Europe got our listing removed for no reasons, and corporations filed bogus takedown claims. All of these matters took too long to resolve (always in our favour at least), and the traffic went continually down in our store. eBay made a bunch of changes which made being a TRS impossible for us, and if you are not a TRS you get no traffic. Our profits were very moderate, but it did lead to some new fans. We have removed all eBay listing as of now as etsy is much better.

    Fun fact eBay: People buying art there are very fickle. I have put an original work (that I wouldn't actually sell for less than a few thousand) as a test for $75 next to a poster selling for $20. The posters and original received reasonably similar traffic however 5 poster prints sold and the original remained unsold. I believe this is because the psychology of people who buy original art online is so different from those looking for a fun poster. Also, the poster buyers think it must be good art if someone made a poster of it, and they couldn't possibly afford an original of such quality (actually true).

    ? Etsy

    The site is mostly sellers and not buyers, but it's not all bad. Etsy is spending plenty of money to attract buyers and we turn a profit on our listing fees because for every 20 cents takes from us, we see about $1.50 worth of organic incoming traffic from google and other referrals they are paying for. Our conversion rate is very low on Etsy though compared to eBay (4% of clicks bought on eBay). We have had only 23 orders in some 25,000 views worth of traffic. I imagine this is actually pretty good compared to most etsy sellers who go a year without a single sale. Etsy SEO is exploitable in the tags, but I keep it white hat because they can easily ban you and there is no point in risking that.

    Etsy has also lead to a lot of cool stuff, magazine covers, contact with art directors from major production studios, and other international coverage which has brought in offline business.

    Etsy buyers won't pay more than $200 for anything, no original has sold directly on the site. The people who buy spend a long time reading the site before making their decision and with etsy sales the people are browsing both etsy and the homepage even if they don't buy.

    ? Selling Direct on the Homesite

    Experimented with listings on the site, created a satellite store as well which ran ad campaigns directly to it. It didn't work out and was a huge money loser. Selling directly on the site has proven to be a poor choice from the integrity and duplicate content standpoints. The idea of buying organic traffic just to read the blogs on the site doesn't work either.

    The organic side of things I can't figure out either. Google doesn't know what to think of the site as evidenced by the keyword traffic. Some of the referring words are really hilarious, like "winning roulette strategies", and "gay sex when married".

    ? Facebook Ad Campaigns

    Facebook ads are great and easy to target an exact demographic. I had conversion rates on some campaigns above 2%, and CTRs and .0250 (which is triple what I would expect). The problem hoever is that the traffic only converted to singleton poster purchases which did not offset the campaign costs. I started off at -90% ROI and made ads that "only" lost 40%. I think the pricing of facebook makes sense for only branding and hooking people in long term to a product or subscription given the rates.

    ? Demographics

    I have found no logic to the profile of the customer besides being male and under 60. The majority orders come from the USA, but we have had orders from almost every nation now. The non-USA traffic buys at 5x greater rate per capita.

    What does everyone think of adwords as a product showcase campaign? And what about directing paid traffic to etsy? Any advice for making steady money out of this online?

    *The site is: nxdixkhuzinx.com Replace the x's with a's. It has a link to the etsy store in the left sidebar as well.
     
  2. Pekton

    Pekton Regular Member

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    I'd look at more social traffic : Pinterest, twitter, Reddit, facebook but having a facebook page that showcases your website. Contact political websites that are in line with your art about direct ads on their sites. Competiton to win some of the art to generate a mailing list or solo ads on someone elses political mailing list.

    As well as the prints would some of the artwork translate well to t-shirts?
     
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  3. tubeincreaser

    tubeincreaser Regular Member

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    This is it, I do a lot of work for one of the top sports artists in America and a lot of his work that I get for him comes via Twitter from either reaching out to players, fans or executives. It is a great way to showcase what art talent you have to people that have not been able to see it.
     
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  4. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    Do you think Pinterest is that valuable?

    As for social networking, I think we have been doing it all wrong. I am reading ways here to improve. A good example is most of the likes are form other artists. They don't buy anything and it is just a circlejerk the various artist and political groups. The Russian social networking goes better, it generates decent views and Russians are much more appreciative of it. They don't read English, and only the wealthiest actually by something. Russia only got paypal this year and it is send only.

    I am thinking to get a good landing page on the business page, etsy offers a nice app too for it. I didn't try too hard, but from what I gathered at first is that facebook ads directly to the site or the etsy page were far more productive than just getting likes.

    We have also made a youtube page, but this is very time consuming and it is better I think to sponsor videos or put up other non art related videos to drive traffic rather than always be creating original content.

    I like your idea for t-shirts very much and have already experimented. This is really a skill unto its own. Printing direct to garment fades the beautiful colours, so I am messing around with some photoshop filters myself to see if I can nail something. T-shirts demand a catchy phrase or some sort of text as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012
  5. s7evin

    s7evin Newbie

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    Try adwords.
     
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  6. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    >s7evin I am actively experimenting with adwords, the problem is making a positive ROI. The keywords that get people to buy art are pretty random from the organics, and my choices and targeting have all been a miss. I am reading/experimenting everything I can to improve this though, I believe it is definitely possible. I'm down about $2k on adwords though without much result.

    I think etsy as a landing page is really hard, and targeting specific demographics to various articles doesn't work either. I have made a couple landing pages that had good copy and a call to action, but it just didn't result in sales. The copy and CTA were good given the stats, but obviously something isn't working.

    I think people would be much more likely to buy a clever t-shirt from an adwords campaign, but given the nature of the work (parodies) the POD sites are not an option. So that is probably good for us, it's just a matter of making something good at a low price point. The tshirt manufacturers here like tshirt-mart are very expensive (PODs cheaper but shitty quality and still too expensive), and a silk screen machine ordered form china is about $6k. I'm sure I could figure out how to run it. There's a lot of good info too on the internet about pricing theory in this realm, just a matter of having something that sells well.

    I know someone who does the tshirt thing very successfully, but of course he is the opposite of helpful and nice unfortunately. He gets most of his sales through etsy and homepage via social media. I don't think he spends much on adwords. He selling 10k shirts a year of his own designs. That's a metric f-ton.
     
  7. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    >tube Sorry about the delay in replies, it was moderating my reply and I can't figure it out, maybe it was because I asked to message me the name privately who if you wanted. Obviously it's not Leroy Neiman :), but I have seen a few such artists online. Always interested in networking with those who do things and are interested in making money, rather than the usual artist mindset that they must die before having success. We have rule in house about critique of artists, if they make more money than us, they are currently better than us.

    I'd like to add wife and I both post on Reddit, I just troll around, she posts her work and has got good response and fun discussions going. The traffic is low quality, but it is so much you cannot ignore and plus a lot of people really appreciate all forms of art there. She's made the front page once for a cartoon about SOPA.

    The twitter thing is something that hasn't gone off so well despite some good connections. Definitely need those with good authority and followers to post a thank you etc...Right now wife has 8 followers. I don't use twitter and am never going to. I know a few Russians that have made bots to friend accounts on twitter, but cheating the system is pointless after a certain point. You need to actually be popular, but I know there are ways to manipulate this in your favor a bit. Getting a 2000-1 ratio from botting won't help imo, it will just be like the useless artist likes who aren't the target market. Could I be wrong about this and volume volume volume actually make sense?

    And any sort of method you use to spam them on twitter? The real life contacts we have haven't been much of a help despite promises for a tweet. We are tantalising close to a lot of good things, its just that some people aren't as motivated and lazy. Being blown off seems standard for Hollywood. :p
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  8. tubeincreaser

    tubeincreaser Regular Member

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    Feel free to PM me and we can talk more about this!
     
  9. SolidTactics

    SolidTactics Regular Member

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    Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing to monetize. Also maybe look into offering a private training course or vip club.
     
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  10. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    Sure, let me get to 15 posts first. :)
     
  11. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    There are direct no competitors on the internet because nobody is making real money besides the huge POD sites. The art world is very much stuck in a different epoch. I am pretty good with business otherwise, just my head is lost trying to make this a huge winner. I just discussed this with my friend who's a BHW member and owns a moving company. The seo game for a moving company is so logical and straight forward. The keywords all make sense and the traffic is never random. I think Etsy is even struggling getting buyers with 80% of people being sellers there so I heard.

    As for Etsy the artists making the most are selling originals for 200-400 with a sugary abstract style best suited to women. Etsy is mostly women as compared to eBay which is mostly men. The readership of the main site is equally split.

    I have thought of doing the abstract stuff myself (it is very very easy), but it just a pure seo game with branding meaning zero. There isn't that much profit at say $300 anyway with originals. You can do a couple per day in abstract style while a painting like my wife's takes about 2-3 weeks form conception to completion. They are difficult.

    The training course idea I don't like given that we are selling a brand of politics as much as art. Premium content seems like an ok idea, but what art related could be a locked downloadable and worthwhile?

    I was thinking a forum on the site might be good. The readers don't comment at all, I think that is a problem. People are buying 100x more than they leave a facebook connect comment. Our edge ranking on Facebook is probably pretty low, and they changed the groups system so it is very difficult to get traffic from groups as absolutely nobody reads them now. There are probably 10 visits a day from these links.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2012
  12. tubeincreaser

    tubeincreaser Regular Member

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    Way off on that, I know a few guys who bank an easy $20k a painting because of clients they have found on the internet. But then again, his work surpasses that of almost anyone on the planet.
     
  13. pandabukkake

    pandabukkake Newbie

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    You might have misunderstood me, that's an offline lead not a direct sale. We have sold work for about half that off an Etsy lead too. They bought the print and wanted the original. These flukes seem to happen after every decent press coverage. I wish we could get more days like this.

    A client list is what the high end game is about. I want to play both games as the small sales should in theory be much more predictable. I think that over time all the originals that are popular will have prints that far surpass the original's value. We have one painting like this so far after one year.

    I don't see any independent artist selling consistently online, it is just flooded. I'm curious how much someone as visible as say Steven Wiltshire is doing through his low end online sales. I'm sure he is doing plenty of business offline.
     
  14. apolinar1

    apolinar1 Newbie

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    Very interesting!!