Friday, May 11, 2012

Could You Repeat That Please?

In the early 1990’s I left my corporate job at the telephone company in my quest to become something other than I was.  The first thing I landed on was a decorative wood painting business.  I bought a scroll saw, table saw, drill press and belt sander and transformed our little ranch-style home into a virtual carpentry shop.  I began developing my own designs to cut out of wood, paint and sell in the local craft markets. 

I had two driving age teenage sons and car insurance was astronomical, so I needed to bring in a fair amount of money.   The name of my business was Corn Street Designs, and I was able to develop a great customer following by offering what I call “multiples”. 

The term, “multiples”, means nothing more than repeat business.  I cut six foot lengths of 2 x 2” pine into little squares and painted one side of them with seasonal symbols like pumpkins, ghosts, holly, candy canes, Easter bunnies, sunflowers, crows…etc.  I sold them for $2.95 each.  They were like potato chips, you couldn’t just buy one.   The other line of items was a Welcome sign to hang on the door, with three hooks for interchangeable, seasonal symbols.  The signs sold for $12.95 and all the symbols sold for $3.95.  So if you bought the sign you had to buy at least three symbols, and you HAD to change them out for each holiday.  There are several other examples of the multiples concept, but I think you get the idea.  My income per month averaged about $600 a month with sales before the big holidays well over $1,000.
"The Diva"
6 x 6 Pastel on Paper

How does that translate to selling art online?

Well, I think I’ve mentioned this before and if I haven’t I should have.  You’re not likely to be successful if your approach is all about having a "happy accident" painting in your studio and then deciding to list it in your Etsy shop.  You are more likely to build a following if you have a strategy.  A strategy consists of what your art “brand” is about with listings supporting your brand, what sizes you will offer, and consistent pricing for those sizes. 

I stumbled across an Etsy shop the first part of the week, the art was wonderful, but the shop was not user-friendly.  There were some interesting types of art mentioned in the shop banner, but the categories did not reflect those types of art, and when I clicked on the category of mixed media and 10 art pieces appeared no sizes were apparent and the prices were all different – so confusing. If you don’t make it easy for the customer to buy in your shop, it will be difficult to make one sale, let alone multiple items or repeat business.

We will be visiting this multiple sales concept more in the upcoming posts.

Today’s Nitty-Gritty Nugget:
Think “multiple” sales in your marketing strategy with like-sized paintings, pricing, and categories.

"Yellow Chile Pepper"
5 x 7 Oil on Board

What’s Next?

1.   Do you offer items that are grouped into consistent sizes?  Or are you painting a 2 x 3” today, and a 4 x 6” tomorrow, and planning a 10.75 x 16.325” painting for next week?
2.  Are your prices consistent for your groups of paintings? Are your 4 x 4" paintings all the same price, your 20 x 40's, etc.?  Don't price based on how good you think the painting is.
3.  Are your categories set up to let collectors compare apples to apples? Or coconuts to kumquats?


  1. redoing a shop I have
    going to have multiples of sizes and subjects
    I almost feel like you're in my head and reassuring some of my thoughts
    Thanks once again
    Love how you share

  2. Sooooo glad to be of help Donnarose!