As with all things, the rise of web-based art sales and promotion has its downfalls as well. These include: people using your work without the proper compensation, and leaving your business open to hacking.
To keep the dangerous aspect of selling and marketing online out of your equation, check out my tips on getting started with selling your art with as little risk as possible.
Set Up a Game Plan for Your Online Work
Obviously it’s important for artists to feature their work, and of course, the internet is a great place to do that. From Tumblr to Etsy, there are big opportunities for artists to get their work out there, but it also presents a challenge when people can steal your work and not give you credit.
While copyright infringement is possible, there are a few things that help make it harder for people to steal your work without proper credit to you. First, make small images available, with a low dpi, so screenshot copies won’t work for most purposes. Next, place watermarks, your name or a border on your work. Doing this means you can show a brilliantly large piece without sacrificing the entire work. As long as you place it properly, it won’t take away from your work for online purposes.
Get Some Legal Advice
When you get ready to start selling your masterpieces, I always suggest getting legal advice from a business attorney and a few tips from a tax specialist to make sure you understand the regulations for your state concerning income liabilities and tax earnings that are associated with freelance businesses.
Additionally, they can give you advice on how to make out your contracts, commission fees and deposit fees so that they make sense for you and your work. These precautions can save you from being disappointed, or ripped off, by clients. Take it from these pros. With a few precautions, the gain outweighs the risk. After you have it done a few times, you can start working a bit more on it yourself. The security is worth the initial investment.
Be Careful About Uncertain Online Marketplaces
It’s not just about how you’re selling online, but where you’re selling online. Stick to marketing your site and using a few verified sites such as Pinterest, Artfire, Flickr or Etsy to spread the word about your work. When it comes to these sites, especially ones like Paypal and Etsy who take commission from each transaction, it’s important to know where your money is going, and also that it’s being done legally.
Another good tip to remember is never to set up or manage your shop on an unsecured connection without the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It can mean a lot of extra work on your end if your information gets stolen during one of your transactions. Instead, try a VPN (Secure Thoughts has recommendations), which will encrypt your connection no matter what network you use. It’s also perfect for mobile use, making it great for art fairs and other events.
Beware of Fraud
While it’s less likely on major sites, purchase fraud is still something vendors have to be watchful for when completing a sale. Sites like Craigslist are notorious for scams. Keeping your art off those sites is the easiest way to keep yourself becoming a victim, but if you have a local art show and feel it’s necessary to list, here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.
First, it’s better to accept cash and credit cards unless you’re not relying too heavily on the purchase, because checks can bounce. Next, never accept payment in the form of credit card, or cash that is more than your buying price. This is a scam to get you to give the customer “change” for money they don’t have. Finally, don’t release your product until a wire transfer has come through.
Have I left out any tips that you feel are relevant? Leave us a comment below and share your tips for keeping your business free of scam artists and hackers.