Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seven Reasons Why Many Writers and Visual Artists Make No Money

Writers and artists have several things in common. We like to create, we're sensitive, and we are mostly independent. We normally think in concepts instead of numbers so it isn't surprising that we often make the same mistakes that hold us back from success. Here are a few reasons why you might not be successful selling your writing or artwork online.

  1. You are not publishing in the right place for your type of work
  2. You are not doing enough promotion of your work
  3. You are not very patient
  4. You are not very productive
  5. Your prices are too high or too low
  6. Your finished works could use more finishing
  7. Your work's descriptions and keywords (tags) are not very good
You are not publishing in the right place for your type of work.

There are several different ways to publish both books and artwork online. There is print-on-demand like Lulu or Blurb for books and Imagekind, FineArtAmerica, Zazzle, CafePress, Redbubble, and many more sites for artwork.  For ebook sales there is the option to publish them for Kindle (at Amazon) and other sites using Smashwords.  Just because you don't get any sales on one site it doesn't mean you won't have better luck at another. It normally doesn't hurt to upload the same works to multiple sites so people have options when searching on those sites for your keywords

You are not doing enough promotion of your work

With so much competition, you have to work to get seen. Blog, create a website, use social bookmarking, Facebook, Twitter, and anything else that comes to mind to get your artwork in front of others without spamming. Do your best to establish friendly relationships with people who like your artwork or writing. If you are a writer offer a sample perhaps the first chapter of your book. Artists should include thumbnail images of their artwork.

You are not very patient

Sales take time and effort. Whoever told you that selling online was an easy road to riches was probably trying to sell you an expensive get-rich-quick e-book. There is no honest get rich quick. If it were so easy to make money online, everyone would do it.

You are not very productive

Did I mention the w-word? Yes, it takes work too. You must always be working on new books or artwork, post them for sale and promote them.  The moment you stop working you will start to lose future income. Also consider the more work you have available to the public, the more likely people will remember you and your personal brand.

Your prices are too high or too low

If you price too high you lose impulse purchases and bargain hunters. If you price too low, people will think your work isn't quality. Better yet offer different price points like e-books and hardcover books and postcards as well as canvas prints.

Your finished works could use more finishing

Always proofread and edit any book you plan to publish. Always post process your photos and other artwork even minimal editing and post processing makes a big difference. The image your work has will make a huge difference in sales. Would you buy a book without cover art or a photo where the subject is out of focus or with poor composition? As a general rule, only post for sale works that you are proud of. 

Your works' descriptions and keywords (tags) are not very good

Often people will find your work online because of keywords in your work's description and tags. If you don't write a complete description with good tags, your work might not appear in the results and you lose the sale.


  1. Great post. I'm a visual artist too but I think it never really crossed my mind that I could seriously make money with my art.

    Thanks for sharing your tips.


  2. Hola Javier, gracias por visitar mi blog. Entonces solo haces arte para compartir con tu familia y amigos? ó vendes a la gente en tu ciudad?

  3. I'll 2nd that Christopher, great post! Although I'm not a visual artist, I do enjoy writing. Of course that mainly relates to my blog posts and articles. I've written a few free PDF's as well and my next venture is actually selling some in the future.

    I think with anything related to promoting online, you covered all the necessary requirements that are needed in order to succeed.

    The only thing I will add is NEVER give up. If this is your desire and the direction you want to go, stick with it!

    Thanks for sharing.