With our world being turned upside down by COVID-19, virtual art festivals are trying to help fill the gap between now and when we can meet in person. I understand that the artist experience at these events varies widely. While they can never take the place of an in-person festival, the fact is to have ANY sales, you need to put much more effort into attracting your clients to the event.
For festivals that are not using an inclusive e-commerce system (Eventeny, Booth Central, etc) but allow the artist to manage all sales from their own websites - keep the following in mind.
E-commerce website. Your website may not be enough! If you don't already have an ecommerce website, there are a number of free sites (Click HERE to see the 9 most utilized sites) that look very professional. You don't need a ton of bells and whistles on your ecommerce website. Keep your design clear, clean, and simple. Keep the focus on the sale!
Photographing your available inventory is now a necessity. Even if you are using a professional photographer to help you, keep the following in mind.
- Clear, sharply focused images are vital.
- Do not over-photoshop images, avoid pixilation.
Good lighting makes a difference. Use natural light or 2 well-balanced symmetrical light sources. You can find great tips at - Photographing 2-D Art
- Photograph your work against a solid or gradient background.
- 2D art should be shown as they will be sold. If a mat and frame are included, show them.
- Photograph the work in its entirety, straight on, preferably on a wall.
- Jewelry should be shown one to an image. Earrings shown as a pair.
- The art should be as large as possible to dominate the space.
- A cohesive look for all images as they will be seen together in your online gallery.
- Size your image files the same so that they will present well online.
Interact with your customers during the Virtual Festival. Most festivals are offering to promote you with links to a scheduled "live booth visits" on a platform like Zoom or Facebook live. Think out what you want to showcase, (your studio, a brief look at your process, or as some artists have been doing - setting up your display and showcasing your art as if you were at the show). You may be great at talking to people in your booth, but these platforms require some practice and ideally someone else to help you by monitoring questions.
Pay attention to the background of your Zoom/Facebook Live. There are some rather amusing stories about people who forgot that everyone can see what they are doing in the background. See what's visible in the background before the call, and check that you're comfortable showing that on a video call.
LOOKING YOUR BEST
Highlight your face
Dress how you would for an inperson art show
Raise your camera - Camera level should be at your face
Test your video before the call
Find a quiet space to host your call
Have a computer charger plugged in
Prepare a short video about your process and your art. I am referring to video of 1-2 minutes in length - short, snappy, engaging and not the full, edited, professional quality longer-form video you might see on YouTube. If you are as camera shy as I am, my suggestion for you is FLIP THE CAMERA.
Making it about your art or a tour of your studio can be just as effective! Its surprising but very few people bother to film a great video hello or thank you. This is the perfect way to welcome your clients to your booth at a virtual festival.
Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! It cannot be stressed enough that you are going to have to do a considerable amount of marketing to your patrons (your entire list, not just where the show is located) to drive sales. Unlike a physical festival, that combines the marketing power of the show, artists, sponsors, volunteeers and associated groups with the promise of FOMO (fear of missing out). A virtual event is all about getting the attention of one.
Strategies to Bring Patrons to the Virtual Show
- Send emails about the show to your entire list starting 3-4 weeks before the event. Send a new email each week to build excitment.
- Include images of your art that are currently available for sale in the email
- Entice your patrons to shop the event with an exclusive promotion or sale
- Post consistently on social media platforms
- Optimal: 1 post per day on all your platforms (can be scheduled in advance).