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According to Zoom Info Aefraser.com is hauling in 3.8 Million dollars in yearly revenue. This is not true; please don’t believe everything you read on the internet. I also do not have a staff of 19 employees, unless you count my wild animal friends who are paid in hugs and kisses. They aren’t on the books, and neither is that yearly income, as much as I wish it were true. So what was the point of sharing this amazing but seriously erroneous financial news?
Okay, here is my drama; I’m here to shout from the rooftops that I have an issue with these so called “experts”, these self proclaimed Top Selling Artists! I am fed up with people getting away with delusions of grandeur, false identities, and fictitiously padded resumes and generally fake information on the internet. These self labeled Top Selling Artists are published all over the place. Yes this is probably because they are shrewd and ambitious, but they seem to have no idea how much harm they can cause with their over inflated statements, or they just don’t care. These How To articles are setting other, perhaps more naive or emerging artists, up for failure and disappointment. I think it’s cruel and irresponsible and I would like to help set the record straight.
Here is the deal; the art world is not the place to go to make a quick buck. No, not even the Print on Demand websites where it is implied that putting up your artwork is as good as printing out your own money. You’ve seen them, the arrogant artists, Hey! Listen to me! I am one of Blah Diddy Blah’s Top Selling Artists. I know everything, I’m making money hand over fist, and you could too if you are as awesome as I am! Just follow these few simple instructions… sure, go to their links, their blogs, buy the pamphlets, flatter them by purchasing their work, sign up for the online classes, and read it all until your eyes cross. No matter what, you are not going to get rich any time soon. And the truth is they didn’t either.
If you investigate further you may come to a point where you see the Top Selling Artist’s actual sales. I did, I was horrified. I discovered these artists, with possibly good intentions and maybe even great advice, aren’t really all that they want you to believe they are. At a POD company I partnered with, they try to put a reality check on the false Top Selling Artist impersonators. In fact it was mentioned that the Top Selling Artists don’t actually participate in the discussion forum. I guess the over inflated art advice was reigned in a bit when they finally decided to include an actual sales number under the artist commenting in sales discussions so that no one was fooled by the big talkers (most likely basement trolls). One person in particular was selling an average of 20 products month. We are talking a profit of maybe $10 a sale? So what’s that, $200 a month income, before tax and expenses? Even if you belonged to four POD companies and were doing as well as the example above, you still wouldn’t have enough income to pay the rent.
If you are thinking that extra cash still sounds really good, don’t forget to include the time it took to make the art; then the time to properly photograph and edit it to make it print worthy, then the time to upload it where you will also need to write great descriptions and add intelligent and relevant keywords. And wait, that’s not the end of it, there is more! If you want rank and status you will also need to participate in the social aspects of the site, for instance Likes, Favorites and Comments. And don’t forget to participate in the “contests” where the hosts more often than not win for themselves. Sounds pretty rough huh?
Still interested? Well good for you! After all of the above, you still must market that art all by yourself. The others artists you have been flattering in order to gain incremental internal SEO rank and status, are your competition. They are not likely to buy your work, no matter how many nice comments they made about it. So now what do you do? You market outside of the POD Company that makes your art products. What is commonly recommended is that you accomplish this through social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. However, you might want to go back to reading those art marketing discussions, it doesn’t sound like the artists who are busting their butts doing the social media route are having enormous success at that either. Of course you may consider the 20 sales and $200 a month worthy of that level of time and emotional investment. I am not here to judge, or crush your hopes and dreams, but to shine a light on the reality of the situation.
There is no magical insert art, print money out option; those Top Selling Artists are not just passively collecting piles of cash. In fact the whole idea of Print on Demand as a Passive Income Generator is a horrible illusion. There are no easy ways to make money with your art. Starting a Print on Demand Gallery is in fact easy, anyone can do it, as most are not juried, but getting seen and making actual sales is a whole other level. You are not going to get discovered just because you put your art on the internet. Patrons are not going to just find you because you believe your work is amazing. You have to fight for it and the odds are terrible. The reality is that you would do better financially picking up a few shifts a week at a fast food restaurant. Print on Demand is not, and will never be a Passive Income Generator. It is not a get rich quick plan for artists. Most, even super amazing artists such as yourself, will need a supplementary income and realistic long term goals with plans for real world art selling opportunities. I am not trying to discourage you; I just want you to know what you are facing so that you won’t be terribly disappointed when you are not rich and famous overnight.
So why am I doing Print on Demand? Because I have always believed in myself; I have known I was an artist since I could first know anything. I put the time and money into my art education, I have started a number of art business ventures from the ground up, obtaining varying degrees of success and accomplishments in each and I expect nothing less from this new business plan. I’m willing to commit, put in the hard work and slog through the disappointments. I also have realistic goals, expectations and the experience after being in the art business for almost 30 years. And lucky me, I have support from my family and I am in a place in my life where I am financially stable and still young enough to appreciate it.
Good luck out there Artists! Work hard and ignore the posers! Worry about you and your own accomplishments. Be patient, be diligent, your time will come.
For more Amy E. Fraser art and information go to Aefraser.com.