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How art galleries make money - 2023

20 December 2022

How art galleries make money - 2023

While the art industry has taken its fair share of knocks during and post-Covid, there are a number of ways to approach 2023 positively. 

The post-Covid artworld is a very different playing field to what it was before. Historically, collectors and buyers relied heavily on galleries to acquire their art. While this may still be true of the more traditional collector, the millennial collector/buyer is different. They look to the internet for their art.  This may threaten a gallery’s influence and ultimately the gallery’s bottom line.  Because a gallery’s overheads are generally high - think rent of prime space, staff, artists' commissions, and shipping to name but a few, it has become imperative for gallery owners to think out of the box. Art sales statistics still show galleries as the primary source of art, but this is shifting. Here are a few easy and quick wins to help you grow your gallery and get the sales you need:

  1. Art Tech is the new black

“The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art” - John Lasseter

The pandemic forced the artworld and the tech world into an initially-hesitant friendship as the artworld had to rely solely on tech to keep it afloat during the global lockdowns. The forced closure of galleries, museums, exhibitions, and fairs led buyers and collectors to source their art online. Galleries have had no other option but to embrace a hybrid business model to stay afloat using online platforms and physical gallery space to sell art. Additionally, more and more, technology is used to create, promote and sell art. It is therefore essential to understand how the advancement in tech can be used to its full advantage to grow your bottom line.

Here are a few pointers to save you both time and money:

Art inventory management software

This is an absolute must for even the smallest gallery. Your entire inventory database, with each work’s relevant information, location, provenance, and condition, can be managed with a touch of a button.  

Industry-specific website builders  

Gallery websites can be created quickly and managed with no third parties, at a fraction of the usual cost. Being able to access and manage your website from anywhere in the world enables it to become an immediate and interactive digital extension of your real-life gallery.

Creation of PDFs, Reports & Wall Cards 

As all your artworks and artists' information is stored on a software system, it has never been easier to create catalogues, reports, or wall cards in seconds - even while on a call with a prospective buyer. 

Most of these art software platforms are intuitive and easy to use and most offer free onboarding sessions. 

For more information on what to look for in art software and the benefits thereof, read here


  1. Mine your existing database - it’s worth gold!

“Without big data, you are blind and deaf in the middle of a freeway” - Geoffrey Moore

Having a database is one thing but segmenting it and using it strategically is entirely another. At the very least, each one of your contacts should be tagged according to:

  • Where you met them

  • Home language

  • Preferred categories, artists, periods

  • Buyer/collector/showed interest/once-off buyer

  • Bought in the last 6 months

  • Total number of artworks purchased

By having all this information at your fingertips, it is easy to tailor-make and customise your email campaigns to your potential buyer's needs.  Therefore, the more information you add, the better the response to your emails will be. And a response is one step closer to a sale.

Regular connection through newsletters, exhibition notices, and general emails will help you stay connected with your database. Sending out a survey occasionally will help you understand the needs of your potential customers. 

Automated CRM software saves time and money. For the top email automation software, read here

Read more: How to write the perfect email campaign for your art business

  1. Grow your customer base through lead generation

“The lead generation process starts by finding out where your target market ‘lives’ on the web” - Wayne Davis

Having a good database is great, but constantly growing your database can generate new income streams to ultimately grow your art business. 61% of marketers say that lead generation is their number one challenge. Generating new leads can be daunting and it starts with identifying who you want to talk to and then where they spend time on the web. To better understand and identify your target market in the artworld, read here

Here are a few quick wins you can implement:

  • Start blogging - on average, companies who blog produce 67% more leads per month (Semrush). How to write the perfect blog for Artists and Galleries.

  • Promote your gallery on Facebook and Instagram

  • Use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator  - a sales platform that helps you find to target the right customer

  • Use Google Ads to promote your gallery or retarget website visitors. Try it out here.

  • Subscribe to lead generation software - this is more tricky as you will need to manage the entire process. Top lead generation software

  • Hire a qualified digital agency to generate leads - for a free one-on-one consultation book here.

  • Create a website contact form automation where you can direct your contacts through a responsive email sequence and initiate and cement a relationship with them. 

For more information on lead generation in the artworld, read here

  1. SEO

If you’re going to post content on your site, anyway, you might as well make sure Google takes note of your effort - The Content Factory

The purpose of Search Engine Optimisation is to appear (rank) in the top google results. Google and other search engines rank certain sites above others depending on a number of criteria:

  • Loadability of site 

  • Relevant and user-friendly sites

  • Source Expertise

  • Location

  • Settings

  • Updated and fresh content 

  • Keywords (how your user searches for information) are a pivotal part of SEO 

Initially, you should have a site audit done, this will give you quick steps to maximise your website’s SEO. The audit will highlight any setup issues with your website and how to overcome these. This could include ranking, slow load time, visual stability, and issues on particular pages. If you have low organic traffic, this could be a result of a low or drop in google rankings. 

Once you have optimised your site, you can focus on keywords. Your keywords will include existing keywords ie. how your website users search for your site and identify new keywords ie. what competitors are using etc. 

SEO is a must for every gallery. Read: How to use SEO to grow your art audience

  1. Google Analytics & Google Ads

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine” - Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president, Gartner Research

Use Google Analytics to track visitors to your website and get an understanding of who they are and what they searched for. Additionally, the following information can be gleaned from a Google Analytics report:

  • Number of new and returning visitors

  • Who your visitors are ie. language, country, age, etc. 

  • The journey the visitor took to get to your website ie. via organically searching, referral, social media, or advertising 

  • The key search words they used to get to your site e.g. Contemporary Art from Africa

The reports can be pulled monthly, weekly, or daily depending on the requirement and it's free! Here is a 5 step guide to set up Google Analytics from Semrush. 

In closing, the art industry is worth approximately 65.1 billion U.S. dollars, better than in 2019. Collectors are buying art and there is a whole generation of new collectors in the artworld today. By going for the quick wins, you CAN achieve the art sales you want and deserve. Good luck. 

Artfundi is on a mission to make it easier and faster to succeed in the artworld. 

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