Just starting your retail journey? Or, you just sold your first artwork? Wohoo! Congratulations!
This post is for you.
Let's talk money, packaging, building a client base and customer appreciation.
How to collect payment.
1. Do not accept personal checks. Too many artists have been cheated by taking a personal check, only to find days, and sometimes weeks later, the check account had insufficient funds. I know there are folks who tell you to write down the driver's license number of the check writer. Frankly, the time and energy required to recoup payment from a bounced check is not worth it.
2. If at all possible, get yourself a Square Register Account, a Paypal account or any other account that has the free credit card reader that plugs into your phone or tablet. The accounts are free to open. You can program in the sales tax (no last minute arithmetic required). And best of all, it collects the buyer's email address! This will come in handy later.
List all your artworks that are being sold into the Register account. Then, at the time of sale, all you have to do is tap on the item that was just bought. Price, tax will show up on your phone/tablet screen as an invoice. Swipe the credit card - or use the chip card slot. A signature page shows up on your screen - ta daa!
The buyer signs for the purchase. You then send the receipt to the buyer's email address. No paper required.
If you don't have time to acquire an electronic card reader, use a simple receipt book. Paper and pen worked for a long time before everything became digital. It still works. Just make sure you get their email address on that receipt form. (See Building a Client Base, below)
If you are using a receipt book, make it easy on yourself and construct a sales tax chart. In the moment of completing the sale you can just scan the list for the amount of money you have to include for sales tax.
Thinking of not collecting/paying sales tax?
Remember, it is a criminal offense not to collect/pay state sales tax. Just collect it and send it to the state. Your life will be so much easier.
Occasionally, buyers mistakenly believe they bought your artwork, and therefore, own the copyright. Your best move is stop the incorrect thinking in the moments of the purchase.
Here's one way to protect your copyright.
You have the ability to design your receipt page (in your Square or Paypal account). I recommend you add a statement to the invoice page reminding the buyer that YOU still own the copyright for the art and they do NOT have permission to use your artwork in any way without your permission. (You may want to put a sticker on the back of your artwork with the same statement.)
If you are using a receipt book, make stickers with the same information and place it on each receipt page.
You don't have to spend a ton of money to accumulate packing supplies. Obviously, if some of your art is breakable, you'll want some cushioning. A couple past issues of the Sunday Washington Post, or Sunday New York Times are sufficient. You just wad up the sheets and stuff them around the piece you just sold.
You can wrap the pieces in leftover large textile scraps - if someone in your sphere of friends sews. Smile sweetly and ask to take those accumulated scraps off their hands.
Larger pieces may require cardboard corner protectors, corrugated cardboard, or bubble wrap for protection. You can acquire these very inexpensively at many of the Big Box Stores. You can buy cardboard corner protectors from the big art catalogues such as Dick Blick or Jerry's Artorama. Quickest option? Approach your local framing store and ask to buy some.
And let's not forget your two-day delivery friend - AMAZON! Have prints? You can buy boxes of mounting backs, framing mats, and clear acrylic bags all included in one set! I have several boxes for varied sizes of prints in my studio/office. So convenient...
Don't forget the tape and scissors!
You may want to finish off the packaging by wrapping with brown paper, tied in twine or ribbon. I buy ribbon in bulk from Sam's Club right after Christmas. Delightfully less expensive! And if you remember your Scout days and knot-tying skills, you can actually construct a handle to facilitate ease of carrying the piece.
Building a client base
It's easier to retain a current client versus trying to recruit new customers.
You're in luck! If you're using any kind of electronic payment (i.e., Square Register or others) you can send the final receipt to the buyer via their email address. The address will be saved in your online records.
Make sure you transfer that email address into your client/customer database. Don't have a customer database?
Start one, now!
You can use the database as a growing email list to notify customers of new works, new shows, new events, special projects.
You want to stay in touch with your buyers!
And while you're staying in touch with your previous buyers - show 'em some love.
Start at the very moment you are wrapping up that piece he/she just bought. Find some way to stand out in the minds of your buyers. You want them to remember you and think of you for future art purchases.
I package freshly roasted, ground coffee beans - enough for one good cup - into a small cellophane bag, then drop it into a small black velvet jewelry bag. (Hello, Nashville Wraps). I attach the bag to the ribbon on the package along with a small thank you card and a card welcoming them to my referral club.
What does the referral club card say? "Hi there, give this card to a friend. If they buy artwork from me and use this card with your name on it, you'll receive a 15% savings on your next art purchase."
You don't have to use my methods but do consider some "celebratory" recognition for the buyer. Purchasing art can be a scary proposition. You can help the buyer feel a little more comfortable by honoring this special moment.
Actions like these help to grow your client list. Have we talked about how important that list is?
Make sure you send a thank you note to the new buyers, one or two days after they have the artwork in their home/office. This is a good time to remind them of your referral club - if you have one. And use that email list to stay in touch on a periodic basis - not to sell anything to them - just to stay in their minds. Let those buyers know how much you appreciate them.
It is these small acts of customer appreciation that make you stand out in their memories.
There you have it
We've talked about how to collect payment, packaging, building your client base, and customer appreciation.
The bonus point was protecting your copyright!
I hope I've given you an easy explanation of how to complete the sale of your artwork. Questions? Just drop me a line in the comment section below, or over on the Facebook page.
And if you found this helpful, share it with all your friends. Let's make the exciting moment of completing a sale easy for everyone!
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
P.S. Several freebies are stowed in the Awesome Vault! Click here to join us and collect your freebies.