I’ve been working for at least four years to improve my artwork’s ‘findability’ online. And I’ve recently begun making sales to random collectors who found me via internet searches. So that’s a win. A random internet searcher finding one of my paintings and then following through with a buy is a big win. But as the title suggests… you win some, lose some. A return/refund of said painting would definitely fall into the lose category.
A Pending Sale Type of Anxiety
So, here’s the source of my anxiety. A painting sold through my website and was delivered as of yesterday afternoon. Now the clock is ticking. The buyer can keep the work or send it back for a full refund. She/he has 15 days to make up her/his mind. I offer this window because no one I know would spend significant money at an online shop without some guaranteed recourse if the item turns out to not be what they expected.
Dealing with Fear
Putting things out there to sell is scary for a lot of people, especially artists. That’s because the work we’re selling is so close to our hearts and souls. Thankfully, I’ve never given in to the fear of rejection, and I’ve put my art out on the world wide web for years now.
That’s not to say I don’t have the fear. Au contraire. In the days since putting that painting in the mail I’ve been nearly sick with anxiety.
Win Some Lose Some Risk Analysis
It’s impossible to reach the ‘win some’ part of that balance without risking a bit of ‘lose some’. And so I do it in spite of the fear of ‘failure’, even though it’s not really a failure in the sense of me feeling like *I* am a failure. The key is in identifying what failed. If it fails, it is that the sale failed. And that is all. That feels a lot less scary, doesn’t it? It is, to me, unless I’ve made the bad move of spending the money already. In this case, I haven’t, though, so the fear is limited to only my bruised ego and dashed budgetary dreams.
We can’t help but wonder why a failure happens, though. I believe it’s almost always a subjective decision when a potential collector decides they don’t like a piece. Unless I’ve committed some gross faux pas at some point, it’s not a personal judgement on me or my business, and not really on my execution of the artwork. This is why I try hard to make sure my paintings’ images are very close to how the real painting looks. That’s hard to do online, though, as everyone’s monitor will display the color differently.
The Waiting is Hard
As I write this, I don’t know yet whether this particular sale will go into the win some or the lose some history of my life as an artist. While I always do send an email to make sure the item arrived in good condition, and I’ll ask if they’re happy, sometimes the customer needs to think about the commitment. I’m still waiting to find out on this one. I’ll add an update when I do!
UPDATE: the collector bought this as a gift for someone else, and so the wait was to see if the recipient loved it … and she did! So I will breathe easier again now until it’s time to hold my breath again for a pending sale 🙂 May there be many such instances in my future, lol.
Mitigating Losses in a Tiny Business
These are some things I do to mitigate losses in a scenario like the one giving me anxiety right now.
- Don’t allocate (and definitely don’t spend) the money until the grace period has ended. In my case, that’s 15 days after receipt of the artwork.
- Put that money in a separate account so it can be refunded easily if it comes to that.
- Make sure your online shop has a publicly posted refund/return policy, so there can be no misunderstandings about the way you’ll handle such an event.
- Don’t let your disappointment sour the chance of future dealings with this customer.
If you’re working on a tiny budget as I do, you’ll find it’s impossible not to imagine the ways the money can be used. Just make sure you don’t actually use any of it until the refund period has passed. Otherwise, you’ll add a whole new level to your anxiety when you start stressing over where you’ll come up with the money to refund if it becomes necessary.
Making sure you have a public page to outline your return/refund policy will help to avoid legal issues down the road. If everyone knows the plan, then everyone can know what to expect. Mine is here, if you’re interested in how I handle them.
Losing on Audience
To simplify everything, I don’t make shipments of original paintings overseas. Eventually, I’d like to learn how to offer my art abroad, but every time I’ve tried shipping something as simple as a small package, it is inevitably troublesome. While this is also a win some lose some scenario, I do think my own fear is holding me back on this issue.