Get ahead of the holiday rush with this month-to-month guide for artists to maximize their art sales—and reduce your stress along the way.
As the holiday season approaches, it's about time for artists to gear up for one of the busiest times of the year.
We understand that the busy season comes with a lot for artists—deadlines to meet, artwork to create, orders to fulfill, customers to satisfy, family commitments to juggle, and the challenge of staying motivated through it all.
That's why we've prepared a comprehensive month-to-month game plan to help you navigate the holiday rush. From essential tasks like ordering shipping materials and updating your pricing to refining your marketing plan and keeping your sanity, we've got you covered.
Looking for the best way to prepare for holiday art markets, specifically? Take a look at "Holiday Art Market Success: A Comprehensive Roadmap for Artists."
Use our Artwork Archive checklist to make sure you’re on track and maximize your holiday profits.
Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash
Check off these to-do items in early November to ensure you are prepared for the holiday art season rush:
▢ Order any last-minute shipping/packing materials:
Order any remaining package/shipping materials now. There's nothing worse than running out of shipping supplies when you're knee-deep in holiday orders.
The last thing you want is to be caught in a shipping scramble during this busy season. By ordering ahead of time, you can ensure a smoother and more stress-free shipping process for both yourself and your potential customers.
You'll thank yourself later.
▢ Ensure that you are stocked up on supplies:
Make sure you're well-equipped with the tools and materials you need for your creative process.
Having an ample supply of paints, brushes, canvases, pencils, clay, glazes—whatever materials you require, means you won't find yourself scrambling when it's time to create.
It's a lot easier to tackle a busy season when you're fully prepared.
▢ Finalize pricing of your artwork:
Pricing can be a tricky task for an artist, but take some time to review and adjust your prices if necessary. Remember, holiday shoppers may have different budgets than they would the rest of the year.
This time of year can inspire some gift-givers to splurge on something special for a loved one, while others may need to be more budget-conscious.
If it works in your art practice, consider offering prints or reproductions during the holiday season. That way, holiday shoppers with less disposable income could still find a meaningful and affordable piece of your art to gift to someone they love.
Artwork Archive Tip:
You can download this free Guide to Pricing for Profit for Artists to learn more about how to price your artwork.
▢ Refresh your artist website:
Your online presence is your storefront. Give it a little sprucing up with updated artwork and a polished look. First impressions count!
A well-designed, inviting website can make all the difference in capturing a potential buyer's attention—especially when they're bombarded with holiday advertisements as soon as Halloween is over.
Artwork Archive's web embed tool makes updating your website incredibly simple. Add new artwork, update your prices, or make changes to your listings within your Artwork Archive account. With the embed tool, these updates will automatically reflect on your website, so you don't have to do double the work.
▢ Get a second pair of eyes on your sales process and website:
Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. If you have an online checkout option for smaller works or prints, ensure the checkout process is smooth.
You may not have an online checkout option if you're selling original or commission-based work, but your website should still make it easy for interested buyers to connect with you and express their interest.
A hassle-free experience can make a big difference in sales. Send the link to your artist website or Artwork Archive Public Profile to a few friends and have them test what it's like on different devices.
Potential buyers should be able to effortlessly explore your artwork and understand how to make inquiries or initiate the purchase process.
▢ Update your art inventory and keep track of sales:
Stay organized—it's your secret weapon for a successful holiday season. Knowing exactly what you have on hand is crucial for managing your sales and fulfilling orders efficiently.
Using an inventory management platform like Artwork Archive can help you effortlessly manage your artworks, track their availability, and keep tabs on the pieces ready to find new homes.
▢ Stick to your marketing plan:
Outline your strategy for promoting your work during the holiday season. A solid plan can help you stand out in the crowd.
Try creating a strategy tailored to the festive season. What unique aspects of your artwork can you highlight? What stories can you tell that resonate with holiday shoppers? And how can you reach your audience where they are?
Your plan may include leveraging social media platforms to showcase your art, collaborating with other artists or local businesses for holiday-themed events, or sending out holiday newsletters featuring special offers.
Remember, your marketing plan should reflect your unique artistic voice and vision.
▢ Apply to any last-minute holiday art markets, fairs, or pop-ups:
If you haven't already, consider applying to and participating in holiday markets and fairs.
These events offer artists an incredible opportunity to mingle, sell, and soak up the festive spirit.
It's a chance to set up booths among fellow artists, crafters, and artisans who are just as passionate as you are. Art markets draw in enthusiastic holiday shoppers looking for unique, meaningful gifts, and your art could be just the treasure they're searching for.
Here's a comprehensive checklist specifically tailored to help you prepare for holiday art markets this year!
Photo by Liz Pullan Pattathy on Unsplash
Check off these to-do items in late November to ensure you are prepared for the holiday art season rush:
▢ Promote yourself (and your holiday offerings) on social media:
You've made your marketing plan, now it's time to put it into action. Ramp up your social media game and share your artwork with your online audience!
It doesn't stop at posting—make sure you're also engaging.
Use the holiday spirit to your advantage by sharing your work and engaging with your audience.
▢ Reflect on what is working and what can be improved:
Take a moment to assess what's been selling well and what hasn't. What strategies are working? If your sales are sluggish, think about any tweaks that can be done to your marketing plan, or consider adjusting your prices for certain pieces.
These insights can help you make informed decisions as the season progresses.
Artwork Archive Tip:
▢ Offer gift wrapping & personalized notes:
Add that extra touch to your service by offering gift wrapping and personalized notes.
This can enhance your buyer's experience—allowing you to connect with them on a deeper level. It also hints that each piece is created with care and attention.
A small gesture can go a long way.
▢ Double-check your inventory:
Keep a close eye on your inventory—especially if you're offering prints or reproductions. Running out of popular items can be a missed opportunity.
Think of Artwork Archive as your ally during this time—helping you track and manage all the moving pieces efficiently.
▢ Stay on top of your shipping:
With the holiday shipping rush, make sure you stay on top of your shipping schedule.
Your buyers will likely want to receive their items in time to celebrate the holidays, so make sure that's possible before accepting any orders.
Be honest with yourself about your creative timeline. Can you create the work, package it properly, and get it delivered to your buyers on time? Assessing your own capacity is the first step in avoiding last-minute stress and disappointing customers.
Try setting up a system that streamlines your process. Designate different stations or zones in your studio for each task—one for creating, one for packing, and one for labeling/shipping.
▢ Make sure to take care of yourself:
It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of this time of year. But remember, self-care isn't just a buzzword—it's essential for creating your best work.
Take a leisurely walk, drink some cozy hot cocoa, or follow these self-care tips—anything that will give you just a little bit of a break from the chaos.
Take care of your well-being. You'll create better art when you're feeling your best.
Photo by alex geerts on Unsplash
Check off these to-do items in early December to ensure you are prepared for the holiday art season rush:
▢ Monitor inquiries:
Keep a close eye on your inbox. Timely responses can turn a potential sale into a confirmed one.
Set aside time in your schedule each day to genuinely engage with your inquiries. When you have dedicated time for this specific task, you ensure no messages are inadvertently overlooked.
Answer your customers' questions, and provide the info they need as clearly as possible. A little extra attention can go a long way in closing the sale.
▢ Manage your schedule:
As things get busier, a well-organized schedule is your best friend. It helps you stay on top of tasks and reduce stress.
Use Artwork Archive's Schedule feature to set reminders and prioritize your to-do list.
Make sure you allocate time for creating, packing, and marketing, and don't forget to pencil in some well-deserved breaks. Your sanity and productivity will thank you.
▢ Don't forget to photograph your artwork:
With all of the moving parts, multiple orders, and shipping deadlines, photographing your new artwork can get lost in the chaos.
Make sure you have stunning photographs of your pieces ready to showcase online during and after the holiday rush. Remember that high-quality images make a powerful first impression, so pay special attention to good lighting, proper angles, and the use of high-resolution images.
Here are some tips that will help you photograph like a pro.
▢ Set shipping deadlines:
Clearly communicate your shipping deadlines to your customers.
Whether it's the last date to order for guaranteed Christmas delivery or a notice about potential shipping delays, transparency builds trust and keeps your customers informed.
▢ Follow up with customers:
Your relationship with your customer doesn't end with the sale. After they make their purchase, follow up to ensure they're happy with the artwork they received.
It's not only good practice but also a fantastic way to build customer loyalty and gather valuable feedback for anything you may need to tweak in the future!
Artwork Archive Tip:
Artwork Archive's integrated CRM can help you streamline your follow-up process. Keep track of each customer's purchase history, and fill in important details that will help you nurture your relationship. Plus, you can create Contact Groups for those you have yet to follow up with and schedule reminders to check in.
Photo courtesy of Canva
Check off these to-do items in late December to ensure you are prepared for the holiday art season rush:
▢ Finalize promotions and let customers know about special discounts:
Finish your holiday promotions strong. Consider special deals or offers to entice last-minute shoppers.
A well-timed discount or bundle deal can be just the push someone needs to make a purchase.
▢ Record your art sales and prepare for tax season:
Don't let your financial records fall by the wayside.
Keeping meticulous records of your sales with Artwork Archive will not only make tax preparation less stressful but also help with future business planning.
Trust us; your future self will thank you.
▢ Conduct a Year-End Inventory
Once the holiday rush draws to a close, take a moment to review what's left in your studio.
Artwork Archive can help a lot in this process. Not only can you maintain an organized digital inventory record, but you can also monitor sales and expenses, gaining essential insights into your art business's performance.
Additionally, there are some things you can do to manage your finances and simplify tax planning.
Check out last year's Year-End Tax Planning Checklist for Artists. While some information may differ slightly for 2023, you can still get a general idea of what you can check off your list this month.
▢ Clean your space/studio:
Start the new year fresh by tidying up your workspace. A clean and organized studio can kickstart your creative energy.
Here are some tips to make your studio cleaning session more efficient.
▢ Reflect on the past year:
Take a moment to sit back and reflect on your artistic journey over the past year.
What were your highs, lows, and everything in between?
This self-reflection can be motivating and help you refind and set goals for the year ahead.
▢ Take a break, take a breath, and enjoy the holiday season:
Finally, don't forget to take a well-deserved break and relish the holiday season.
Give yourself the gift of some well-deserved downtime.
Recharge your creative spirit, spend time with loved ones, and come back ready for an amazing year ahead!