Podcast | Finding Success Selling Art on Facebook – An Interview with Robert MacGinnis

Many artists wonder if marketing art on Facebook is a viable strategy. Oregon artist Robert MacGinnis, who describes himself as “old school” was reluctant to join Facebook when a collector encouraged him to join in 2015, but he quickly discovered that Facebook was an extremely effective way for him to sell his work and connect with collectors. Facebook sales now account for over 50% of MacGinnis’ annual sales. In this episode, you’ll hear the artist’s simple approach to Facebook marketing.

View MacGinnis’ work on his website at www.macginnisstudio.blogspot.com

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Other Posts in This Series

The Benefits and Challenges of Marketing Your Art Through Social Media

Podcast | Finding Success Selling Art on Facebook – An Interview with Robert MacGinnis

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

42 Comments

  1. Do you know if Robert’s page is a personal profile or is it a business page? I could not find it on FB. If it’s a personal page, does he do anything on there that’s not art? For example, does he respond to posts of his friends that show up in his newsfeed?

    1. Maggie, I originally had trouble finding it there too, but realized my computer’s autospeller had changed the spelling of his name after I typed it. When I checked the spelling from the podcast above and made sure it didn’t change in Facebook’s search bar, his page was the first one in the results. I knew it was the right one, because it tells you he’s in Gresham, Oregon. I saw many paintings on his page that were not on his website, so it was worth the search. Good luck!!

    2. Hello Maggie! I’m glad to hear that you listened to our podcast. To answer your question, it’s a personal page and yes I do post quite a bit of other things on there. And yes, I get and give responses to other peoples pages because it’s all personal to me. Thanks !

  2. Thanks Jason and Robert for an informative and enjoyable podcast. Could certainly relate to reluctance to join Facebook, but it is the reality. Reassuring to hear some similarities regarding approach and picked up some new ideas also. Wondering if either of you could share what method is commonly used/requested for payment when sales do occur between artist/collector through Facebook. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.

  3. Wow, great podcast!

    Robert thank you for sharing, so candidly, your process with FB and social media. I especially liked hearing that you were resistant at first, and that through time (& a friend’s trick) you made it your own. Also I loved hearing about your rules! I am truly inspired by your story and have heard many useful things from this podcast that I will start weaving into my business. I’m sure I’ll listen to this again.
    I gotta admit that I’ve never really considered selling directly through social media. Now, I see that I considered my social media presence functioning solely as informational while sharing my process and studio news. Listening to your story and all that you bring to your art business, brings up my own deeply rooted reluctance of ‘me being the salesperson’ for my work. Maybe I will open this box and see what is worth keeping.

    – Robert, here are a few detailed questions: on your FB posts, does your price include tax? And what say about shipping?

    Robert and Jason, Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Hi Betty!
      Thank you for your comments and I’m so glad to hear that you got something positive from it.
      To answer your questions, no the price does not include sales tax. We did not have sales tax here in Oregon so I don’t bother with it.
      Also if it’s an out of area sale that needs to be shipped I talk in private with the buyer and ask if they would consider paying half and I will cover the other half. Since they are mostly small paintings it doesn’t come to much. The larger ones we have to do more negotiating though.
      Best regards, Robert

      1. Thank you Robert for replying. Of course, I forgot that Oregon has no state sakes tax! I grew up in Lake Oswego and spent many years in Oregon. I was even a gallery director at Oregon School of Arts and Crafts (now Oregon College of Art and Craft) back in my early days out of undergrad school.
        Cheers!

  4. This is the best pod cast I have heard to date. What a gracious gentleman. I recently did a Facebook page for my art but it is getting muddled with to many personal comments and dog pics, and other things that are not condusive to a professional page. So I need to redo it and follow these wonderful ideas and guidelines. I do get a lot of likes on my paintings but no sales yet.
    Once again, thank you Jason for introducing us to this wonderful artist and for all you do for your followers. I learned a lot.
    .

  5. I’m curious if Robert is working from his personal FB page or is he using the professional/business page. Has he paid to boost his reach via the algorithm
    FB determines? Do his customers provide payment through a payment button on his page, say PayPal? Or is the transaction completed all through private messages? So many things to take into consideration on this venture. Thank you for such a pleasant and interesting podcast, both Jason and Robert. I enjoyed it!

  6. Great post Jason and Robert, I made notes. I’d love for you to interview someone who is selling at higher prices than $500 consistently, and compare their approach to the excellent points Robert made. Thank you.

  7. Wonderful post, Jason and Robert. You are making me lean toward more FB — confession here, I posted twice today — and will consider ramping up my efforts while enjoying the experience!

  8. I agree, this was a fantastic podcast and SOOOOOO helpful ! He covered many specific points on dealing with Facebook members… I’m going to listen to this again and again to make sure I get them all. REALLY grateful for this one!

  9. I just wondered how Robert is really making a living out of selling paintings for a couple of hundred dollars about once a week. Is there some information that is missing? Good information on his personal rules about Facebook that many juts don’t get. Good podcast.

    1. Hello Mike!
      Thank you for looking in and taking the time to listen to our conversation. And I can answer your questions for you.

      Yes, you are correct there is some information missing. What wasn’t mentioned was the much larger commissions that I get because of the smaller painting sales. Also, it doesn’t take into account my sales away from Facebook and art shows throughout the year. So it all adds up.

  10. Brilliant interview there. This should motivate a lot of artists to explore the social media as a strategy for showcasing their works and also earnings a living through their passion. One of the major stumbling blocks for most artists the fear of their works being pirated. pirated. I was actually expecting a question in that area. Did MacGinnis at any point in time feel constrained because of the fear of his works being pirated? If yes, how did he overcome this fear. Your experience is a great testimony to the power FB. As artists, we should learn to put our fears behind and maximize the opportunities abound in social medial. The question is, if no one have access to your works, how would they know what’s unique about you? I was also impressed to know that MacGinnis is using blogger.com as his website; he did not invest in a personal domain as often preached. Yet still successful. This goes a long way to show that your success is really dependent on you. Just as we say in photography that its more of the person behind the camera and not the camera. What have you got to offer? Thanks so much for sharing. Best regards

  11. Jason, thank you so much for putting out your podcasts and newsletters. I have come to look forward to them, there is always something relevant. And all of it is free content! I can imagine the value of your fee based content…. I’m going to look into it.

  12. Thank you Jason and Robert for the podcast, much appreciated. I would like to give this avenue of selling a try, but I’m nervous about the means of payment because I often receive suspicious requests to buy my art. As others have asked in their comments, I also would like to know your direct-to customer methods of payment, Robert, and how you protect yourself from potentially fraudulent clients.

  13. This was great. Lots of good information. I especially found Roberts point about not all people know how to buy a painting interesting, and the point about being clear what your goal is for using facebook. I’ve been posting my paintings on facebook for over 2 years now. I’ve been using it more as a way to get personal encouragement. It’s become my way of finishing a painting. I Finish. Then photograph (with iphone). Then post. But I would like to sell as well.
    I’ve only sold one painting related to my facebook activity, and had another friend ask me in person if I do sell my paintings.
    My fear is seeming too salesy but I do want people to know I am selling my stuff. Most of my followers are friends or friends of friends, which makes it harder for me.

  14. Fabulous podcast to both of you! I think his point of “helping people buy art” by posting the price is very good! That is something I have not done, it is one less step for people!

  15. I have my personal FB completely separate from my Art Studio page … followers meet me at the professional level and I prefer that; rarely casual references to family, and there are reasons for that.
    I have far more artists follow me than “fans,” for lack of a better word. I post my daily progress through a painting because I am working daily and know they appreciate the commentary. I get quite a few pm’s about technique and questions. Between paintings I may post an article from the art world in general. My FB is more about the art than a selling tool … that was my purpose for doing it. It is more an art blog.
    I’m pleased Mr. MacGinnis talks about his paintings … the “backstory” of a piece is so important and should engage the viewer.
    I had to smile about the iPhone photos … sometimes mine will take superior images than my expensive camera.
    My initial experiment with FB advertising was somewhat successful. I tried a second a year later and for whatever reason, was bombarded with some really odd friend requests. I had some peculiar ads pop up in my news feed and stopped the ads midway through. I may have had the settings improper but the ad campaign wasn’t worth the hassle.
    I have also made artist friends through FB and there would be no other way to make these introductions except through the Internet. We live in an amazing time.

  16. Well, that was really informative and encouraging. I am one of those who has avoided facebook. I’ve been thinking I “should”, but have not done anything about it yet. I’m looking forward to more info on this blog. Maybe with more info I will be more confident about doing it.
    I’d like to know more about a business page vs. a personal page.
    One of the reasons I’m hesitant is because I don’t want to deal with stupid and obnoxious political posts which come from a couple of relatives that would be hard to refuse to be “friends” with. Would a business page make it possible to deflect all that trash?
    Thanks.

  17. That you Robert for taking the time to tell us about your experience on Facebook. You gave some great tips. I went in today and added prices to the paintings I posted (which are in galleries) yesterday on my business page. I’m hoping the discussion will go more in-depth on the best way to take payments when selling something seen on Facebook. I have Square and Paypal accts setup, but not sure how to connect them to FB.
    Jason might be able to help with his opinion on artists trying to sell on FB that have gallery representation. At the moment I just steer clients to my galleries and have not attempted to sell directly on FB. I have considered painting a collection of small works that would be like samples that I could sell myself in hopes of gathering interest to my larger works at galleries without stepping on any toes.
    Thanks

  18. Robert, Jason,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am going to be better about posting on facebook. Of course, first I need to learn how to move around the site.

  19. Thanks for a great interview Jason. I have had some success with marketing on Facebook, having just sold a painting for £1,000 two tickets to a car rally & a commission to paint a picture of the collector’s vintage Jaguar car! The painting I sold is of a vintage car so I joined a motor club on Facebook & found my collector there…

  20. Thanks, Jason and Robert!
    As an Art Business Academy student, I’m still compiling a list of galleries to approach–currently in the low 70s–which is really frustrating me because I have another 7+ months’ worth of assignments to complete as well in addition to painting… Simultaneously, have been finding myself becoming increasingly confused by the social media scene: LinkedIn seems to apply mostly to non-creative job networking as opposed to art promotion, and it’s REALLY easy to get caught up in a wide range of non-art-business-related conversations on Facebook. These two are all the social media for which I have energy, especially as I feel they’d be useful if I could only “crack the code”. This podcast cleared up several conundrums of my own, as well as presenting a clear sense of direction. I like that Robert’s selling his lower priced work via FB–most of the galleries I’ve IDed as possible fits for my work host artists whose work is priced way above mine–which would make sense for me and most of the people with whom I’m already connected. That would separate the larger, higher-priced paintings for gallery representation, which is what I really need assistance with. I will also scout out Facebook groups regarding potential audiences for specific subject matter. In short, Hope has returned and I feel like I can breathe again. All the best!!!

  21. My artist story about facebook follows below, first I want to add my best advice for an artist on how to approach fb (or any social media platforms) as a art sharing and selling venue:
    1. Make art. Make good art. Make your best art.
    2. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break about how you may be feeling overwhelmed or reluctant about doing anything on fb. Don’t listen to the part of yourself that tells you not to do this. Tell that person to sit down and have a snack or something. Open your mind. Suspend old notions and judgement. Follow Robert’s advice about not being afraid.
    2. Learn how to photograph your art, like Robert advises so well here. Take some time to get this right. Crop out frames and cluttered backgrounds, don’t photograph at an angle, use proper lighting so the photograph is strong.
    3. Find a notebook where you can write down your login info and password in a place where you will be able to access it (not on a scrap of paper). I use an old fashioned address book, so my log-ins passwords are listed alphabetically for each place. Use the notebook to keep notes on how to do things on social media as you learn them.
    3. Join fb (and other social media platforms) and claim your name, even if you think you will never use that platform. When you join, you are making a “Profile” and not a facebook page as many people call it. This is done with your real name. Add just some basic info about you and especially a link to your website (another discussion on how to do this), address , phone number and ways to contact you. Make your fb profile all public on your privacy settings. You can tighten the settings so no one cam post there (your profile’s timeline) without your approval. Just make sure all your posts are “public”, so they can be shared by anyone. Allow people to “follow” your profile. This way you can the accept friends you want and also have followers, allowing for more exposure for your art.
    —According to fb’s “rules”, you are not supposed to sell things on a Profile, only on a Page. I don’t know how actively fb polices this regulation. But, you can share posts that are selling art on Page to your Profile. This is why you need to go to step 4.
    4. Then, make an official “Page” that is called something like your artist name and the word art or artist. Don’t use a name for the page that does not include the name you use as an artist. Facebook is the #2 search engine on the web, second only to google. So you want to use your name in case someone hears about you and wants to look you up.
    Here are the steps to make a page (I found this on google) Go to facebook.com/pages/create. Click to choose a Page category. Select a more specific category from the dropdown menu and fill out the required information. Click Get Started and follow the on-screen instructions.
    5. Post all the images of your art on your artist Page first and not your Profile. You can share them from your Page on your Profile. LIke Robert said, post all the pertinent information about the artist when you post the image…title, medium, size, price. Adding a description is really good. I also make sure that I add the symbol © with my name on al my art images.
    6. Every time you post an image on your artist Page, share it to your profile. Here you will be able to add extra info if you wish, something to start a conversation about the work.
    — So at this point, this is where you may feel way over your head. You may figure out how to do some things on fb and totally forget what and how you did the next day. If you come to a frustrating point of not know how to do something, go to google and type in your question. Google will bring to the right place in the fb help section to answer your question….most of the time. OR, if you have a good friend or someone else who won’t mind helping you during the first weeks or month of getting the hang of it. You can ask them, too. Write down what you learn in your notebook.

    I know several artists who are timid and even adament that they will not be on facebook. I also know several artists who sell most of their art on facebook. I joined facebook 7 years ago because I was promoting a local Studio Tour I organized and I was advising artists to claim their (artist) name on facebook. So I decided to follow my own advice and joined fb, even though I was very disdainful of it then. I was so surprised by what happened. I discovered that I could reach more people within the 100 mile radius of the Studio Tour than with other forms of advertising ( I live in a small foothill town). I did not know the difference between a Profile and a Page on fb when I first joined, so I made a personal Profile with my name and another Profile (which should have been a Page) to promote the Studio tour called ThreeRivers (first name) and Arts (last name). On this profile I ended up with the 5000 friend limit because I found people who were interested in local arts and asked to be friends, or I phished for them by local at other art venue facebook pages and asking them.
    A couple of years ago, fb began cracking down on Profiles that were not useing a real person’s name, so I made the decision to delete my original personal one and change my Arts one to my real name. I did not want to loose all the good contacts (and interesting newsfeed) I had with the 5000 friends. I made a new Page for promoting local arts envents and artists. I also made another Page for my own art.

    I love fb for seeing art and being inspired by what others are doing. I have sold my art on fb and I am still working on makeing that happen better. I created an online shop. I post all new art there first. When I post an image on my fb artist Page, I now add the link to that art on my shop. Now my main job is back to making art and having fun with it. If you put my name in the fb search box, you will be able to find both my Profile and my Page.

    Hope this info helps….Robert’s story is a very important one. I am so glad you posted this interview, Jason…AND I found the link to it in my fb newsfeed!

  22. Thank you very much, Jason and Robert. Just what I needed to hear to keep me motivated and open to new things. I’m very glad to be receiving information via Reddot!

  23. Thanks, Robert, for sharing your experiences with Facebook. I often post my art, but fail to add a story, or the pricing. I learned a lot from your interview. I will be improving my Facebook presence.

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