Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Top Ten Tips for Selling Designs Online - Guest Post by Doreen Erhardt

Doreen Erhardt is a photographer, artist and designer who has grown a highly successful online business.

You can see Doreen's work at:

Salon of Art Gifts & Apparel
Salon of Art Greetings
Salon of Art on Facebook
Portfolio for Doreen Erhardt

Doreen has generously agreed to share her Top Ten Tips for selling designs online:

For the artist who is just starting out selling their art online, it can be daunting and many of us learn these lessons the hard way, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share them freely with Judy’s audience in the hopes that some of you may find a smoother path to success than I did! 

1.  Design for the product and market you’re after, don’t stuff your design into a market that isn’t suited to the design. 

2.  If you want to be successful at selling your work online, you need to stop thinking purely as an artist and start thinking as both a consumer and as a business owner.  Would I buy this product?  What market am I going after? Wearing three hats is mandatory for success in this business.

3.  Use templates!  Make sure your design fits within the printing guidelines and looks like a professional product.  Don’t put a 5x7 card image on every product at Zazzle and think it will sell. 

4.  If you add text to your cards, make sure it’s legible without overpowering the artwork AND be sure the text/verse you are adding fits the mood/emotion of the image and the category.  Making age-specific cards for example is fine, but not all images are right for all ages.  Making hundreds of cards with the same image is not necessarily going to bring more sales.  Be selective, create your best work and it will sell.

5.  Keep your online presence professional.  Bright colors, loud patterns and lots of flashing java script such as auto-music are turn-offs to most customers and are not considered professional. An ‘in your face’ attitude does not work with car salesmen and will not work for an online store.

6.  Branding is key to the success of any business, online is no different.  Create a business name and a professional looking logo to give your business a recognizable quality.  Keep your URL’s properly capitalized and be consistent throughout your online presence.

7.  Successful site promotion involves creating back links, having strong, valid content and keeping your sites updated.  Sites that sit stagnant for weeks at a time lose ranking in search engines. 

8.  Social networking is not just a craze; it’s an incredible tool all business owners to attract new customers and communicate with existing customer base.  Learn how to use it not abuse it. Don’t just post sale after sale after sale.  You have to offer content, know what you have to offer and they will follow.

9.  Promote other artist’s work along side your own.  Take advantage of the diversity you can add to your blogs, the increase in traffic their following can bring to your site and the affiliate dollars on any sales you make.

10.  Have a ‘mother ship’ in cyber-space, i.e., your own .com so people can find you without having to remember the long URL’s store owners are assigned.  People can type in your store name and navigate everywhere you are online from one location.  You can do this for as low as $10 a year for the .com registration and creating a small site on one of many free hosting sites.

11.  Submit you sites to search engines every six to eight weeks.  Be consistent, but don't abuse this part of your promotion strategy.  More frequent submission will get your site banned.

Doreen Erhardt

Well, I actually make that 11 Top Tips - I told you that Doreen was generous, didn't I!

Here's a small selection of her many imaginative greeting cards for Father's Day:


Doreen currently has more than 2000 cards in her Greeting Card Universe store, Salon of Art Greetings, so go ahead and enjoy a browse! I'm sure you'll find something that's  just what you need!



Ulla Hennig said...

Great list! It is #2 which I struggle most with. Some people say it is 80% promotional activities, and 20% making art! I find it hard enough to keep up with "art production", not to speak of keeping up with my promotional activities...

Corrie said...

Excellent advice, Doreen! And thank you, Judy, for hosting this informative guest blog.


Sadami said...

Dear Doreen&Judy,
Thank you so much for sharing the precious information. Very timely and helpful, I'm just doing market research for online sale.
Kind regards, Sadami

Doreen Erhardt said...

Thank you Corrie and Sadami! Nice to be able to share and know that it's appreciated!

Doreen Erhardt said...

Ulla, I understand the power struggle between time to create and time to promote. Here's what I do; I spend 4-weeks creating and putting new work in my stores, followed by 2-weeks of promotion where I update my online newsletter, submit sites to search engines and so on. This puts me on a 6 to 8 week consistent schedule that really seems to work.
Thanks for tuning in!

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you all for your comments! I'm sure we'll all find Doreen's advice really useful.

Ulla, I think it's harder for you because you have a full-time job as well. But I do think it's important to treat this as a 'job' if one can and have some sort of routine to ensure that all bases are covered.

The way I try to do it is that I design on Saturdays, make into cards on Sundays, upload to GCU on Mondays, to Zazzle on Tuesdays, my own website, catalogue and setting out for printing on Wednesdays and blog writing, reading and commenting on Thursdays. That leaves Fridays for anything else that comes up and believe me, something always does!

Bambi said...

Very clever Doreen! A zillion thanks for your advice!

Jean said...

I am still thinking about selling items with my best photos.This is a very helpful post. Thanks Doreen and thanks Judy for having her as your guest!

Myshelle said...

This is a most interesting read.
Thank you both for your time in doing this.
Also an interesting comment for me to read was, spending time to create and then promoting after. I have been doing this altogether including following other store owners and blogs. It gets a might confusing, I shall have to change my ways.
Thank you again.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment, Michelle. I don't actually think it matters how you organise your creating and promoting. The Zazzle newsletter suggests creating something every day and promoting it straight away. To me that seems more logical as it keeps your 'web presence' consistent. But it's a matter of personal choice. I work on a weekly cycle to keep myself from getting confused about what I have/haven't done.

Fliss said...

Great info Doreen; thank you. I love how you organize your week Judy, I really must try and organize mine and get some sort of routine going.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment, Fliss. :) My weekly schedule had changed somewhat in the past couple of years with the POD-stores changing their terms (eg less time spent on GCU since they halved their commission) and now having opened three Zazzle stores. But I do find I need some sort of framework to stop me getting carried away with the designing and never getting around to uploading or promoting!