Online Sales

podcast: Increasing Trust in your Online Business

Selling your work online. One of the easiest ways to sell your work online is through etsy. Here’s a great big listing of places you can sell your work online.

There are a number of things you have to take into account when selling work for yourself; selling online adds another dimension. Paying taxes, collecting and paying sales taxes, bank fees, shipping, protecting your customers’ privacy and transaction security are all things to pay attention to when making online sales.

Here’s a great article about setting up your own online store in Entrepreneur .

My latest takeaway from the research I have done for this class is invest in Shopify. This service integrates, website, online sales and in person sales and has the unique ability to integrate with your social media. It also helps with Shipping! Heres a pretty comprehensive list of pros and cons for this service.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a web application that allows you to create your own online store. It provides you with a wide range of templates that can be customised to meet individual users’ branding requirements, and it allows either physical or digital goods to be sold.

One of the main ideas behind Shopify is that users without much in the way of technical or design skills can create a store without the involvement of a design agency or web developer; however, people who are familiar with HTML and CSS will be pleased to discover that Shopify allows you to edit both, giving you a lot of control over the design of templates.

Because Shopify is a hosted solution, you don’t need to worry about buying web hosting or installing software anywhere; the idea is that pretty much everything you need to build and run your store happens ‘out of the box’ (that said, you can customize a Shopify store to meet more individual requirements through the addition of apps – more on which later – or using custom code).

Shopify is a software as a service (‘Saas’) tool – this means that you don’t own it but rather pay a monthly fee to use it. As long as you have access to a web browser and the internet, you can manage your store from anywhere.

There are other options and these comparisons might help you make a decision:

What about shipping charges? Online shopping breaks down most often over shipping charges. Imagine this: A customer sees a great price for just the product she’s been searching for. After entering the information on the electronic order form, she is startled to see a huge shipping fee tacked onto the price. The result? By barely lifting a finger, the shopper clicks off the site and goes elsewhere.

Some online companies absorb shipping charges; others include them in the listed price and offer “free” shipping. All the major postal carriers have websites that allow merchants to calculate the shipping charge for any item, based on weight and location.

Shipping efficiency and pricing can be major competitive advantages or hand grenades in an online store’s shopping cart. Try to make a profit on shipping charges–your store is more likely to lose the sale than gain the margin.

Customer Service: Because customers expect to be able to contact a company with questions, special requests or problems related to ordering, online businesses should offer an e-mail address or phone number for customer service inquiries. Not only is customer service a great way to build loyalty, but it’s also a valuable feedback mechanism–customers are all too ready to sing your praises or call out improvements that need to be made to your product, service or image.

An important aspect of customer service is deciding how quickly the business will respond to customer inquiries and complaints (phone or e-mail). This response time should be realistic and consistent. If the policy says all phone calls will be answered within two minutes or returned the same day, that timeline becomes a pledge to the customer. Nothing frustrates an online shopper more than sending an e-mail to an address listed on a shopping site and waiting hours, days or interminably for a response. To keep customers on the site, businesses must keep them in the loop.

Accepting Payments Online

Cash flow can make or break a company, especially in its early stages. That’s why many online businesses often encourage credit card payments, although it’s also helpful to give buyers alternative opportunities to pay with checks and money orders. Offering a variety of methods for shoppers to pay online increases the opportunity for these buyers to pay in the method they prefer.

Accepting payments online increases revenue and cash flow because money goes into the account immediately. Even more compelling is that there are more than 1.2 billion consumer credit cards worldwide. Credit card payments aren’t returned for non-sufficient funds–and credit card holders tend to do more impulse buying than those who write personal checks.

Businesses have several options when setting up an e-commerce function and accepting payments online, which include:

    • Process payments through a merchant account. To accept credit cards online, a small-business owner must first apply for a bank merchant account and then find a way to process transactions. At a brick-and-mortar store, the processing takes place when a card is swiped through the card reader. At an online store, the processing is done when a shopper types in the credit card information, which is then verified by a merchant account processor.
    • During most online checkout flows, a shopper is asked which method of payment is preferred. If the shopper selects a form of credit card payment, he or she will be redirected to a secure page within the store to enter the credit card information. After the shopper selects “submit,” the credit card information will be sent to the correct merchant account, where it will be verified and either accepted or denied by the merchant account service provider.Merchant accounts may have drawbacks for some small-business owners, however. Most charge set-up, monthly and per-transaction fees. Additional fees may also be involved if a business owner has a pre-existing account for a physical store, and wants to convert that account to accept payments online. Moreover, some banks won’t approve small online businesses for merchant accounts, considering them high-risk operations.It may take 30 days or more for a merchant account to be approved and the integration process can be burdensome for business owners to do it themselves. Fortunately, the growth of online sales has given rise to an entire industry of merchant service bureaus that will grant a merchant account and everything else needed to accept online payments.
    • Integrate an online payment service. If a business doesn’t have access to a merchant account or the fees are just too high, one solution is an online payment service, like PayPal . PayPal allows businesses to accept credit-card transactions and payments safely and conveniently. It also allows buyers to send payments directly from a bank account. When a buyer indicates the desire to use PayPal during checkout, that person will be directed to sign into or sign up for a PayPal account to then complete the transaction.For merchants there may be benefits for offering PayPal. There are no setup charges, monthly charges, minimums or gateway fees. PayPal charges a per-transaction fee, which ranges from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. PayPal also actively fights chargebacks on behalf of online merchants. If a transaction meets all of the requirements of PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy, then the merchant will not be liable to for the chargeback by the customer.
    • PayPal
    • Apple Pay
    • The Cash App
    • Google pay

  • Selling through Social Media: As we move more into using social media as the primary tool- rather than as a tool to drive traffic to websites, it is becoming easier to sell directly through your social media sites. There are a couple of pitfalls of course. First, until you have a large number of followers on Instagram, you may spend more time than you like negotiating sales via Direct Message.

Instagram Sales

Instagram has become a powerhouse for businesses around the globe. Scrolling through your Instagram feed allows you to get an up-close and personal view of products, places, and experiences that your friends recommend and share. Brands are taking advantage of the word-of-mouth marketing features offered by Instagram, and they have quickly recognized the platform as one of the best places to make money.

However, Instagram ads cost money. But it’s possible to sell on Instagram without ever having to spend any of your hard-earned cash. Creating an Instagram storefront that takes your sales up and away is easier than you probably think. You’ve already got followers, prospective customers, and loyal ones waiting to buy. You just have to engage with them. Here’s how you can sell on Instagram without ever having to spend a single dime.

No links make it harder to sell on Instagram If you’re new to marketing on Instagram, you may not know that links don’t exactly work on photo posts like they do on other platforms. That’s why it’s harder to sell on Instagram in comparison to almost every other popular social networking site. On Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can post links that accompany your images to direct users to landing pages or product pages where they can make purchases. On Instagram, you can post a pretty product image and a description, but clickable links that take users to your site can’t be added. Try and add one in and the link won’t turn into a clickable hyperlink, which might distract from the description or photo altogether. Talk about a huge mistake. That means that if users want to buy the items in your posts, they have to visit your site and find each product on their own. Most sites feature a long list of products, and most users don’t have the time or patience to sift through them all to find what they saw on your page. This is what makes it so tricky to sell on Instagram. In fact, Instagram only gives you one clickable link that you can place on the entire platform: the link in your bio. We’ll talk more about that later. Despite Instagram being a difficult place to make sales, it’s always been a great place to promote products.

An engaged follower on Instagram is actually worth more than an engaged Facebook follower by about $10. Luckily, there are ways around the link problem that let you unlock the value of engaged Instagram followers, like shoppable posts.

Sell directly through posts with a shoppable Instagram

According to Yotpo Instagram data, 72% of customers believe that seeing Instagram images of a product increases their chances of buying it. The same research revealed that as many as 38% of customers said that they frequently buy products that they see on Instagram. That means that it’s up to you to let customers shop your Instagram page with ease. One way to accomplish this is with shoppable posts.

#1 Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile

Instagram profiles are becoming the new homepage, as more and more consumers are turning to Instagram instead of Google to search for brands. This means you should be spending as much time and effort curating a beautifully-designed Instagram feed as you would creating your website.

Your Instagram Business profile should include:

Profile photo: Choose a photo that is on-brand (like a logo) which makes your company easy to identify.

A Well-Crafted Bio: Your bio should include a clear description of your business that speaks to your audience. Let them know exactly what you have to offer.

Link to shop: The URL section of your bio is the only clickable link you can add to your Instagram page – so make sure you’re using it! This is a great place to drive traffic from your individual posts and Stories. Creating a unique URL for this section will also give you the opportunity to track visits to your website from Instagram!

#2: How to Sell on Instagram Using Instagram Ads to Reach Your Target Audience

Once you’ve set up a Business profile on Instagram, you can then decide how much you want spend, where you’d like the ad to be seen and how long you want to run it for. Instagram allows businesses a variety of targeting options to best suit your businesses needs.

Running your own Instagram ad campaign isn’t that difficult, but it can be intimidating to many small business owners and influencers who haven’t done it before. Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think! The easiest way to run ads is by promoting posts you’ve shared on Instagram. Just select the post you want to boost, then hit the “promote” button once it’s posted. Instagram will automatically pull in a “similar audience” that you can share the post to, or you can easily create your own audience in the app by choosing an interest, age range, and the genders you want to promote to. Once you’ve set up your audience and budget, make sure to give your ad one last look over before hitting “Confirm.”  You can start with a small budget and run your ad for a few days to test things out. To track how your ad is performing, click “View Results” in the bottom left corner of your ad. Remember, Instagram Ads can take practice, so make sure you continue to tweak your boosted posts and audiences until you get the results you want!

The best Instagram ads for driving ecommerce sales includes messaging that clearly explains how to make a purchase.

How to Sell on Instagram with Instagram Stories Ads

These ads pop up in between Instagram Stories of accounts you follow and can make a large impact on potential customers: You’ll notice a small “Sponsored” tag in the top right corner and a Call-To-Action (“Learn More”) at the bottom of these ads. Again, adding an additional call-to-action at the bottom of your ad can also be helpful for those interested in learning more.

You have a choice in Instagram Ads to create either a video or a photo. Whichever you choose, make sure your initial clip is attention-grabbing. You’ll need to catch the eyes of those who quickly tap through stories.

Instagram Stories have become a great way for businesses to make deeper connections with their followers and show off their brand’s personality. In 2017 Instagram reported “one in five stories on Instagram gets a direct message from its viewers.” Instagram Stories offer you chance to connect with their followers on a daily basis, without cluttering up your feed

How to Sell on Instagram: Creating Instagram Stories With Product Links

Instagram Stories is exploding in popularity, and the feature has over 300 million daily active users A great Instagram hack to get around the algorithm is to take advantage of Instagram Stories engagement opportunities, including the polling feature or “Swipe Up” option (if you have over 10k followers).

#4: Building a Shoppable Instagram Feed

Uses Shopify. Shopify plugins like Shoppable Instagram Galleries makes it easier than ever for your business to make sales. Their Instant Purchases feature lets visitors add to cart and buy the liked items directly from images on your feed!

Selling on Facebook

There are a couple ways to go about this. You can set up a shop and get paid directly though Facebook- though this is in the early days. Or you can set up a shop page which links to your website or etsy shop. If you have shopify, there is a third party app which integrates all of these things. Set up shop: A Facebook shop lets you show and sell products to people right on Facebook. Your customers can buy your products directly from your Facebook shop without leaving your Page. Set up Payment: This feature is gradually rolling out to the US only. It may not be available to you yet. When a customer purchases a product from your shop, you’ll need to link a valid bank account so that the payment processor can deposit your earnings. Regardless, Create a business page

Best practices for your shop section

Build Trust Create a Page username. A Page username is a unique name that people can use to easily find your Page. Respond quickly. Fast responses to messages from customers can build trust and show customers you value them. They also increase the responsiveness rating we display on your Page. If potential customers see that you’re very responsive, they might be more likely to reach out, and view you more positively overall.

Encourage customers to leave ratings and reviews.

Add the address of your physical store (if you have one).

Increase Awareness

Don’t just add products to your shop, share them on your Page timeline regularly.

Don’t just share your products, add content. To make posts about your products stand out, add content and context to them. Are you sharing this product for a specific reason. For example, are you having a sale? Make sure you include that in your post so your customers understand.

This seems like an unnecessary duplication of processes though and I would recommend spending the $ to bundle this activity into Shopify

Plenty of artists sell plenty of art on Facebook, but selling art on Facebook and other social media websites involves more than loading your page up with images and waiting for sales to roll in. Not only do you have to make a good case for yourself and your art, but you also have to be active and consistent in how you get the word out, attract an audience and work to cultivate a loyal following. It’s not enough for people to simply know you’re there; they need reasons to come back for more… and more… and more. Here’s a list of tips and pointers to help maximize your chances for success, grow a fan base and sell more art:

* Make sure your art is organized into galleries of related works. Way too many artists dump all kinds of art into their photo albums with no curatorial oversight whatsoever. Dividing your art into groups, series or categories not only makes it easier for your fans to click right to the types of art they want to see the most. Even more importantly, well organized art is easier for people to understand… especially those who are visiting your page for the first time.

* Regularly update your page not only about your latest art adventures but also with fresh images. Posting new work and works-in-progress with reasonable regularity is a great way to show how productive you are and how serious and committed you are to being an artist. If you post updates or introduce new art only every once in a while, people won’t have much reason to take you seriously or visit your page because hardly anything ever changes.

* Make your entire page public. The reason you’re on Facebook is to increase the audience for your art. Don’t limit that potential by making sections of your page private, not allowing people to tag you, or otherwise restricting who can see, comment on, respond to, message or chat, or otherwise interact with you and your page.

* Your page should be much more than a place to show your art. It’s where you welcome people to your artistic life, introduce yourself and your art, and talk in ways pretty much anyone can understand, relate to, appreciate and get involved with. The better you do this, the more followers you attract. More and more galleries are paying attention to artists with large followings… and offering them shows. Followers have literally become the currency of social media and can play a key role in your success in both the online and gallery worlds.

* Think of your page as an illustrated ongoing commentary on your progression and evolution as an artist. Make it a good read… and a good see. Develop a consistent storyline or narrative. Focus on your art-related activities, on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it… like what you’re up to in the studio, your latest shows, recent sales, how you decide what to make next, the challenges you face while working on a new piece of art, where you go or what you listen to or read for inspiration, and so on. The best artist Facebook pages make people want to come back for more. Like a page-turner book or a great TV series, fans can’t wait for the next exciting episode or adventure.

* Consistency is really important whenever you post. Make sure everything connects up, that there’s a flow to what you write and show, and that no matter when or where on your page people join in, they can feel like they’ve got a grip on things and a sense of who you are and what you’re about as an artist. If your page gets too confusing, people will stop following you.

* Make sure your posts relate to your art and art life in one way or another. In other words, stay on topic. Posts on unrelated subjects or aspects of your personal life that have nothing to do with art should probably go elsewhere, perhaps on a personal page viewable only by friends and relatives. If you do decide to post off-topic, make sure you provide enough in the way of explanation so your art fans can understand.

* “Likes” are OK. “Comments” are better. “Shares” are the best. The lowest level of engagement is clicking “Like” and moving on. Not much action there. Commenting means more and lots of comments on a post often leads to an interesting discussion thread. You know what happens when a thread gets interesting? More people spend more time reading it which also means they’re spending more time around your art. You know what happens when a thread gets REALLY interesting? It gets shared. And “Shares” are what you want; that’s the highest level of Facebook engagement and the single best way for new people to get introduced to your work, by friends who share your posts (and art) with their friends.

* Get people involved with your life as an artist. Post images of your art along with descriptions or comments that encourage discussion and invite others to respond. Whenever possible, relate your art or artistic perspective to larger ideas, issues, concepts, beliefs, philosophies. Connect your art up with topics we can all appreciate or identify with, or experiences we all share. The more people engage with your posts, the better. When people comment on or share your posts, those comments and shares appear on their pages. People who don’t know you will be exposed to your posts, and if they find them interesting, will likely click over to your page. If they like what they see when they get there, they might “friend” you, message you or otherwise start to follow what you’re up to. This is the Facebook equivalent of the “ripple effect,” of expanding your circles of friends and contacts, and people’s awareness of your art. In the long run, it’s how you attract new collectors.

* Whenever you post an image of your latest art, say something about it. Briefly introduce it. This is essential, especially for people who are seeing it for the first time. Provide enough background information or explanatory so that people who like the way it looks, but who may not know you, will have a better understanding of what it represents and who you are as an artist. Descriptions or comments always deepen people’s experiences of your art. One to three sentences will do it in most cases.

* In addition to posting images of the artworks themselves, show them hanging or on display at various locations. This way, people can get a sense of what your art might look like in their homes or offices.

* Give people reasons to want to own your art. Present it in ways that make it more than just another pretty picture or decorative object. Is there a story behind it? What inspired you to make it? What does it mean or communicate or represent. Give it a significance and value that extends beyond the visual. Anyone can buy a good looking piece of art anywhere, but as for one that enriches, fulfills or has meaning beyond the visual, art like that is a lot more difficult to find. The more deeply people connect with your art and what it stands for, the greater the chances they’ll want to make it a part of their lives.

* Avoid the temptation to show too much art. Curate your page the way you would any exhibition. Sometimes it’s better to regularly remove older works and replace them with new ones rather than add and add and add. There’s a fine line between impressing people and overwhelming them.

* Mention prices every once in a while to remind people your art is available for sale. You’d be surprised how many artists never ever say a thing about selling or post about their art in ways where it’s difficult for anyone to figure out whether anything is for sale or not. Don’t inundate people with prices and sales pitches, but make it clear that if anyone is interested in buying anything, they’re welcome to contact you. Another good reason to mention prices is that many people are either afraid, embarrassed or too shy to ask. But if you tell them first and they see they can afford something they like, they’ll be far more likely to respond.

* If you have a page where your art is for sale like Etsy or Saatchi or FineArtAmerica for example, post a reminder every once in a while that includes a link to that page. Also have the page permanently linked on your Facebook page in your “About” section so anyone can click over to it at anytime.

* Return all emails and messages promptly, especially when someone is interested in your art. For many people, art is somewhat of an impulse buy. Take too long to reply and that impulse might cool.

* Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Your website is where you control the show, where you present your art at its absolute best, where there are no distractions, outside interference or reasons for people to leave and go elsewhere (like there are on Facebook). So learn how to link your Facebook posts and images of your art directly to pages your website so people can click over as easily and effortlessly as possible. If you can’t figure out how to do this yourself, contact your website’s tech support or the people who built it and ask.


* Don’t post images of your art with no accompanying descriptions, explanations or text (this is the worst way to present work). Far too many artists post image after image after image of their art without saying a thing about it. I go to these pages and all I see is “My art” “My art” “My art” “My art” and all I’m thinking is, “Great… another artist is making more art.” Even brief descriptions or explanations deepen people’s appreciation and understanding of the work.

* Don’t post images of your art on other people’s walls or promote your art on their pages or their discussion threads unless they ask you to do it or give you permission.

* Don’t message people you don’t know and ask them to visit your page, look at your art, give you feedback about your art, or otherwise reply to you about your art… unless you have a really good reason.

* Don’t post images of your art and then tag other people so they see it. People do not appreciate this and often have to waste time removing the tags. Only tag an image when it’s relevant to the person or people you’re tagging.

* Don’t send emails or messages about your art to groups of people unless every person on the list will know exactly why they’re receiving them. If you’re hosting an event, set up an event page and invite your friends that way.

* Don’t add people to your page or group without first asking their permission. Instead, either invite them to join or follow you.

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