Selling Online? Help!

I’ve printed a load of screen prints which I’m aiming at the ‘Something For Grandma and Granddad For Christmas’ market. They’ve been done mainly with a local art fair I’m at next weekend in mind. They consist of an old-fashioned background image (flowers for granddad’s Potting Shed Prints, and a teacup for grandma’s Kitchen Quotes) which I’ve downloaded  from Graphics Fairy. (This is an excellent site if you’re not familiar with it. Karen scans and uploads images from old magazines and catalogues, which are out of copyright simply because of their age. There are a lot of ads on the site (Karen has to make some money from her hard work) but there are thousands of free images.) Anyway, I’ve overprinted this basic image, after manipulation in Photoshop, with an appropriate quote. This one from my Kitchen Quotes range:


Now my question is about the ‘leftovers’ from next weekend’s fair. OK, I know I’m being optimistic about my sales, but what the ****. What practical experience have people had selling art online? Etsy? Folksy? Ebay? Own site? I’m asking about your own experience – not that friend of a friend who always seems to be able to make a fortune!

I’ve just been reading an article called Is Etsy Dying? on the site. There are 285 replies to the article. Call me cynical (“Hi, Cynical!”) but replies which say stuff such as “but after a friend suggested to join I realized that was a Etsy  alternative. For your sales to shoot up and to have the traffic driven to your  website, you must try this place!” may be genuine but …

I just want to be able to sell the prints to someone who wants to get something different but cheap for a (probably elderly) relative or friend, and want to know which way to go. As Lady Bracknell said, I merely desire information. Here is a print from the Potting Shed Prints range:



About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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13 Responses to Selling Online? Help!

  1. Like the prints very much, John. My experience with Etsy was not that great, although I think it may be my own fault – I wanted to produce high quality prints (the ones I ordered from Metro Imaging were beautiful), which drove my prices up. It was a slow business getting people “into” the shop (I was one amongst hundreds or maybe thousands of other B&W photographers), so I bought advertising. It was about five months in that I realised I was never going to shift the number of prints necessary to justify the time and money I was investing in it. Hope this helps. Off to check out Storemate…

  2. Nancy Power says:

    Hi John, well, this is the same question I am asking myself. I’m not keen on going down the Etsy road as they take quite a big commission and it’s a bit too ‘crafty and cupcake’ for me. I do think that having your own website is the way to go but it depends how techie you are, to an extent. I was planning on adding a ‘shop’ button to my wordpress blog and adding a paypal button (which I think is free or at least not a huge expense). I have a domain name which costs £24 a year and will add this to my wordpress blog url so it will say just my domain name and no mention of wordpress. For me, for now, I like the idea that people can see my blog then click on a shop button to buy without having to go to another site. Also, it means that you are in total control and don’t have to pay another site for the privilege of listing your work.
    You can get a domain name through wordpress which makes it really easy to update your url. Obviously, getting your website known and ‘out there’ is the next thing but there are ways of optimising that through google too.
    Sorry for the long post, hope you didn’t fall asleep half way through!

    • This is the information I desire. I have a website technically buy haven’t updated it for ages and have no way of seeing if anyone has visited it. A button on my blog to a shop would be a great idea which I’ll explore. Thank you.

  3. Nancy Power says:

    Oops..feel like I have just suggested how to suck the proverbial oeuf! But, if you are going to give out cards with a web address, it, dare I say, should be live and working or people will be put off ;o)

  4. Nancy Farmer says:

    Hi John, I have not seen any signs of Etsy dying…I have used it for some years. It’s not a huge income for me but it is definitely worth the effort – looking at my stats I seem to have an average annual income of about a thousand dollars from Etsy, (there was a peak at nearly two thousand in 2008, but it may be that there are just a lot more sellers on there since then), and it’s pretty low maintenance. Have to admit what I mostly sell is my naughty greetings cards of dolls, but I do sell a few prints. I also sell on my own site and through This last one is originally German, but if you sign up on the UK platform it is currently free to list items, though they claim they are going to bring in charges this year (have to say though that I do put up listings in German and English and I don’t know how much it would affect sales if I only put them in English). Etsy is the largest in terms of sales.
    One other thing to consider – if you do not have a website of your own where you currently sell things, I would definitely consider setting up a shop on Etsy or DaWanda because aside from the potential footfall of unknown people it can also be somewhere that you direct your own customers to.
    Oh, and one last thing is that to stay visible to potential browsing strangers on Etsy you have to add items regularly (or re-listing expired items) – you can of course always direct your acquaintances to your shop, but in terms of anyone stumbling upon your stuff by putting in any search terms, your stuff is most visible when you have just put it up, and drops from sight amongst everything else as time goes on.
    Hope that helps!

  5. It is the last paragraph that interests me in particular. I tried setting up a shop some time ago and listed a couple of items. As far as I could see after the initial listing they seemed to sink without a trace. The thing about the Potting Shed Prints and the Kitchen Quotes is that I have a lot of different ones so I could list a couple everyday and hopefully get people to check out my shop that way. I know the big problem is getting people to find your shop. Do you know if people who buy from you via Etsy have found you there or have they been referred via, for example, your website? If the former, do you know if it is via a recent upload or have they searched for ‘obscene dolls’ or something similar?

    • Nancy Farmer says:

      Yes, I would agree with you that that is the way to go – drip-feeding your shop with items so as to keep something visible.
      No, they do not see the dolls cards on my website as I haven’t had a website for those for years: it sat there having had no updates for years so in the end I just let it expire, and only some time later did I start to make cards from the photos. I sold them on Ebay first, before Ebay became both grabby and prudish…
      A lot of Americans buy from my etsy shop, and mostly Germans from my DaWanda shop, so i would say they are to a large extent finding me on those sites first, rather than finding my website first.
      I’m sure there is a correlation between putting up new stuff and getting sales, but it is very hard to judge. It seems that sales come in clusters, which i think might be because when something sells I renew it, so, this in itself increases the chances that the new stuff gets spotted.
      All the same it is very weird when i have sold nothing for weeks and then I sell from both sites within hours of each other… this has happened more than once. Gremlins in the Internet, possibly.

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