Hooray! People are buying your art!
It can be exciting to see the dollars start rolling in, but too often we turn around and spend a lot of that money on business expenses. Here are a few ways to keep costs down so you can pocket more of that money!
1. Buy online.
Buying supplies in an art store is a lot of fun, but doesn't always give you the best deals. I suggest turning to Amazon Prime or sites such as Cheap Joe's and Jerry's Artorama for lower prices on things you buy often. This has the added benefit of allowing you to read reviews before purchasing an item! A bonus tip is to buy products in bulk. I buy my watercolor paper in huge rolls, which requires a little more work on my end, but ultimately saves me lots of money!
2. Frame art yourself.
Getting art framed professionally is a beautiful and convenient option, but not all of us are able to shell out for hundreds of dollars worth of framing! Framing at home is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it, and there are loads of good tutorials online. I like to buy D rings and wire, as well as frames on Amazon. Etsy also has some great handmade frames if you're looking for something unique. Another upside is that you can often find frames online in sizes that are difficult to find in stores.
3. Get creative with packaging.
Packaging art to ship can get pricey quickly, but with a bit of a DIY spirit, you can cut costs dramatically. First of all, save boxes! If you order a lot online, you probably have plenty of boxes laying around. Save them. When shipping large, framed art to galleries, I reuse the boxes that my frames came in! Smaller works can be shipped in envelopes, but be certain to back them with sturdy board so they don't get bent. I cut my own backers from the ones I receive from my print shop. You could also use cardboard. When including a thank you note, don't buy a pricey card. Make one yourself! It will add a lovely personal touch that your customers will appreciate.
4. Make small work.
This is a fairly obvious solution, but should be stated. Small work tends to sell better and ship cheaper. I can ship a small piece for 4-8 dollars. Usually I ship pieces unframed because it is more cost-effective for me, and allows the customer to buy a frame that they like.
5. Create intentionally.
Instead of making whatever suits your whims at the moment, create art that has value to your target market. That way it has a better chance of selling and you won't be wasting supplies.
There are, of course, a few things you should not skimp on. Here are a couple:
A high quality print on good paper will look so good that customers may not be able to tell it's not an original! Printing your art at Kinko's will be affordable, yes, but it won't give your customers the quality they deserve.
As I said previously, most materials are cheaper online, but don't fall into the trap of buying the cheapest paper, pens, and paints on the market. You will be able to tell the difference, and so will your potential buyers. Good watercolor paints are miles away from the kind you played with as a child! Bad materials lead to bad work.
A well-placed ad can do wonders for your business. I know it can be hard to spend money promoting an instagram post or creating a facebook ad, but they often reach people that you'd never be able to access otherwise. For example, for my last workshop, I spent $15 in facebook ads, and gained around 5 new students, who were each paying $40. That's a profit of $185!
I hope that these tips allow you to save money so that you can invest it back into your art practice. Please let me know if you have any questions about this topic!