May 19, 2010

How prepared are you to handle that FIRST sale?

As I mentioned earlier, I sold my first painting couple of weeks back. It was received by my customer and she wrote back to me saying she LOVED it. Yes, LOVED written in bold. The customer's delight was indeed because of the quality of the painting. But, part of it was also because I shipped it to her promptly with a nice handwritten note of thanks and made sure it reached her by the time she wanted it. This wasn't without hiccups though. As I was packaging and shipping the painting, it struck me how unprepared I was for the whole process of handling the sale. So I just wanted to share some thoughts on the same. Let me repeat again that this is only for artists who are making their work available for sale but have not yet sold any. Are there a few of you who fall into this category? Then, read on.

So, you have put your heart out into a painting and taken great photos of it, presented it nicely on your website and/or your online stores. Everything's great so far. As long as the work itself is good, it is not impossible for a prospective customer to fall in love with a piece and buy it. While that feeling of having sold a painting is great, our job ends only after the customer receives it neatly packaged and likes it as much in person too, as he/she did on seeing the image. It is our responsibility to ensure that the actual painting doesn't underwhelm the client. This customer delight in my opinion is a factor of how neatly the piece is packaged, how timely it is shipped, how intact it arrives, and the X factor which is our personal touch.


The main issue in my case was that I never anticipated a sale in the first place. I had never sold an original so far, and did not expect to. I do make all my work available for sale, but I think you don't believe you can sell until you actually do. Whatever be the reason, the bottom line is that I did not expect a sale. So obviously, I wasn't prepared.

Knowledge about packaging and shipping

Depending on what kind of work you do and sell, are you up to date with how best to package the piece? For instance, do all of us know that bubble wrap is not a good material to pack paintings in, and that foam wrap is better? You definitely do not want a scenario where your precious piece of art is unintentionally damaged by wrong kind of packaging. Not only do we lose the sale in that case, but also have a permanent stigma to our name. A good word of mouth spreads linearly, but a bad one does exponentially. In my case, I was prepared with this basic knowledge and knew how to package it. And though I had not sold work, I had enough experience in packaging and shipping thanks to a lot of art exchanges. There are a lot of articles and helpful tips available from various art bloggers. Read through them and prepare yourself.

Packaging materials

Do you have enough stock of packets, wraps etc? It could be something as simple as missing some tape to seal your package. Is the required inventory readily available?  When you are eager to make a great impression, even something insignificant can make you panic, so it pays to make sure several times that everything is organized and available.

A note/thank you card/business card

If you have business cards with your images on them, are they fairly recent images? Even if not recent, do they relate to your current style? In my own case, the kind of work I am doing right now and what I did a year back are vastly different. And it is not a great idea to attach a card that has an old painting of mine when my style itself has considerably evolved. If you are sending a thank you note, do you have note cards for the same ready? When you are attaching a business card with your images, I don’t think you need a note card with an image too. A simple plain card would do, but it needs to look professional. Not like it was written on some scrap. Each and every little thing together contributes to the impression that we make on the client, don’t we know that too well?

In my store, I specify that shipping will be done within 3 days, giving myself a good buffer to get prepared. But my customer in the US wanted it in a week, which again I did not expect. Though international post from Germany takes about 10 days, the least I could do was ship immediately. I realized that I did not have some other packaging materials, which I did manage to get and ship on time. It was a Saturday and the post works on Saturday here. Now if my sale had happened by Saturday evening, I would have been able to ship the painting only on Monday. Worse still, I’d have waited till Monday to even package it and would’ve been cursing myself for the lack of preparation.

So, go ahead and make yourself prepared as if you have a couple of pending orders to be shipped. So that when it actually happens, you aren't caught off guard!

1 comment:

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nithya Swaminathan. Nithya Swaminathan said: How prepared are you to handle that FIRST sale? #art #arttips For artists inexperienced with selling ONLY. :) [...]


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