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Sean McDunn

1 Year Ago

Transparency In Discussions

I haven't been in the discussions in a very long time, but Abbie keeps me up-to-date each week regarding important questions that get posted, bugs that get identified, etc.

Last week, we made a small change to our search engine, and like clockwork, the inevitable "sky is falling" post got started about how FAA is terrible... the change to the search engine is killing sales... FAA only cares about big sellers... FAA is lying to everyone... FAA is on the decline... FAA is turning in Walmart... etc.


Those sort of posts have occurred after every single website change going all the way back to 2006.

In the past, I used to come in and explain why we're doing what we're doing, but as you all know (as active forum participants), it's almost impossible to change anyone's opinion via a back-and-forth on the internet. The discussions always go nowhere. If you think that a change is bad for you for some reason, no amount of explaining will change your mind. Sales might go up by 20% this year on FAA, but if your sales go down by 10%, then FAA is terrible in your mind.

So - for years, instead of engaging in all sorts of discussions that went nowhere, I just let people continue to post inaccurate statements and wild theories that would go unchallenged. This weekend, however, as I read through some of the advice that was being dispensed here in the forum by certain artists and the statements that were being treated as fact, I started to feel bad for the artists who are here to learn.

When a "sky is falling" post gets started, there is a lot of bad information that gets thrown around as if it's fact, and that's got to be very discouraging and confusing to the artists who are here to learn.

So - we're going to do something about it.

In this post, I'm going to correct some of the wildly inaccurate statements that have been posted in the forum over the past few years and also discuss a new feature that we're releasing which will help you distinguish fact from fiction.

I've written every single line of code that runs this business... have access to every data point regarding every single sale... and am the person making every major decision from high-level strategic partnerships all the way down to graphic design changes on the homepage. After reading through everything below, if your reaction is to say that I don't know what I'm talking about, then there's nothing that I can do to convince you otherwise. That's just the nature of the internet. No one wants to change their mind.

So - here we go.

Transparency When Discussing Sales
There are 500,000+ artists on FAA, but only about 250 participate in the discussions. That is a very small subset of the overall artist population. Unfortunately, none of our Top 50 sellers participate here. That's unfortunate because many of the artists who are here in the forums each day are here seeking sales advice, and ideally, you want to seek advice from someone who is selling successfully on a regular basis.

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems with our discussion forum, in particular, occurs whenever discussions turn to the topic of "sales", and artists start giving advice to other artists.

There is no nice way to put this. There are a lot of artists in the discussion forum who don't make any sales on FAA. In the following discussion about the search engine, for example, there are a total of 20 artists currently participating:


Of those 20 artists, there are four who haven't made a single sale in 2018. That means that 20% of the participants who are expressing outrage that a minor change to the search engine has negatively affected their sales actually have no sales, at all, to affect.

Half of the 20 artists have made less than 10 sales, total, in 2018.

Abbie and I are the only two people who know that information because we can see the sales numbers. For everyone else participating in the discussion, it's very difficult to know what to think and whom to listen to.

To compound the issue, there are other artists who routinely dispense sales advice, advertise their own "how to sell art online" books, etc... and never generate any sales, at all, on FAA. I've mentioned this several times over the years. One artist who routinely dispenses advice has only made one sale since 2015.

There is nothing wrong with not selling. After all - many artists are here to learn how to sell. The big issue is when someone who isn't selling is telling you how to sell... or is getting you all worked up by telling you that his/her sales are plummeting when the sales were non-existent to begin with.

In order to address this issue - I've given Abbie the ability to flag certain discussions as "sales discussions". When she flags a discussion as a "sales discussion", our code is going to automatically show the "average monthly sales volume" beneath the headshot for every participant in the discussion.

Here's how the average monthly sales volume is calculated. Our code adds up the total number of items that you've sold in the past twelve months and then divides it by 12. The average will look something like this:

"8 Sales / Month"

It's not a financial disclosure (i.e. a dollar amount). It's just a count of how many products you sell, on average, in a given month. Note - it does not count products that you purchase for yourself.

If Abbie flags a discussion as a "sales discussion", the sales numbers will only be displayed for posts that occur after Abbie changes it to a sales discussion. Also - before you post, you'll see a big warning telling you that you're about to disclose your sales numbers so that you don't disclose the number by accident.

If you have any questions, let me or Abbie know.

Myths 2018

Now, I'm going to address a few of the statements that seem to get tossed around as facts in all of these "sky is falling" posts each year.

Myth #1: FAA doesn't promote our artists.
If you're reading this, you're probably an artist. As a result, you're on our artist e-mail list, and you get artist-related e-mails.

You don't get the buyer e-mails.

If you're on our buyer e-mail list, then you'll see that we're promoting individual artists, groups of artists, and themed collections all the time. Take a look at some of these buyer e-mails:


A new e-mail goes out to the buyers on our e-mail list two times every single week.

We pay to run ads for our featured artists on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

We pay to load our products onto Amazon and get them featured there.

We hand-select artists to appear on our homepage:

We hand-select artists to appear in our curated collections:

We hand-select artists to appear on our Featured Artist pages:

We publish comprehensive success stories about our featured artists:

We feature new artists on our social media accounts each day.


I've always let the myth that we "don't promote our artists" exist because it stops artists from constantly asking us to promote them. With 500,000+ artists, that's impossible. That's why we always tell you that you have to promote yourself - which is definitely true. However, if you think that we don't promote our best-sellers and heavily feature artists that we think are up-and-coming, that's crazy.

We're the largest art site in the world, and we advertise and promote like crazy.

You have to leave the confines of the discussion forum, contests, and groups, and when you do, you'll see that certain artists are heavily featured throughout the site. We're constantly adding new artists to the mix, as well.

If you want to become a featured artist, the easiest way to get on our radar is to A) generate some sales on your own... B) drive a lot of traffic to your images via your own newsletters and social media... C) get yourself mentioned in an art-related publication / blog... or D) be nice and helpful to other artists on the site.

A and B are self-explantory. If you generate some sales or traffic on FAA, we have algorithms in place that will immediately bring you to the attention of someone on our staff. Also - think of it this way. Every time you make a sale, someone at FAA has to, at the very least, review your images for quality, cropping, etc. You've immediately brought your image and your entire portfolio to our attention, and the person reviewing your image has the ability and the authority to promote your images throughout the site.

I wrote a very lengthy article about kickstarting your sales many, many, many years ago. Here it is:


I'm sure that a lot of links in the article are out-dated, but you get the idea.

The one thing that I can guarantee doesn't help you become a featured artist is constantly being a thorn in Abbie's side, causing trouble for her in the discussion forum, and complaining endlessly about how terrible and unfair the website is to you.

Every month, our staff works with a select group of new and existing artists to promote them both online and in the real world.

Here are two of the many artists that we worked with just last month, alone:


Our staff spent days getting to know both artists... interviewing them... taking them out to lunches... editing videos for Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube... coordinating social media posts... writing press releases... and ultimately paying to drive hundreds of thousands of viewers to the final videos on Facebook and Instagram.

Those sort of personal interactions happen between our staff and our featured artists all the time, and we chose to work with artists who have great artwork and are fun to work with.

Focus on A, B, C, and D, and maybe you'll be featured some day. There are absolutely no guarantees, and that's why we tell everyone that you have to promote yourself in order to be successful. However, if you generate some sales on your own or otherwise bring attention to your artwork through visitors or the media, we'll definitely notice. That's the way all online marketplaces work.

Myth #2: FAA doesn't advertise.
This one is always amusing whenever I see someone write it.

FAA spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising each year. We advertise on Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Amazon. Take a look at Google Shopping, for example, and search for "fineartamerica.com".

There are millions of FAA products loaded in there. Visit FAA in an "incognito mode" in your browser, and once you leave the site, you'll find yourself seeing FAA ads everywhere that you go online (e.g. on your favorite news site, on Facebook, on YouTube, on the blogs that you read, etc.).

What is "incognito mode"? It hides the cookies from your browser and makes you appear to FAA like a first-time visitor. We run re-targeting ads constantly to first-time visitors. Guess who we don't run ads to? Artists. Once you login to FAA as an artist, we drop a cookie in your browser which tells us that you're an artist, and then you'll almost never see an FAA ad anywhere online. It's a waste of money to run ads at artists when we should be spending our money going after buyers.

Myth #3: The sky is falling.
As an individual artist, your sales are going to fluctuate from month-to-month. As the owner of the company, I can see the sales numbers for every single artist on the site, and I have 12 years worth of sales data at my fingertips. Sales go up and down for individual artists. That's just the nature of the business. You might earn $2,500 one month and then $100 the next. It happens to our best sellers, and it happens to our newest, smallest sellers.

If you're actively marketing yourself, the fluctuations will be smaller, but they'll still be there. One month, one of our wholesale buyers might purchase 10 large prints from you for use in a hotel project, and then the next month, they'll buy zero.

That's going to create a big fluctuation in your sales, and that's completely normal.

When your sales fluctuate, the sky isn't falling.

Too often, a few artists will post in the discussion forum that they had a down month, and all of the sudden, the sky is falling for everyone. It's not.

FAA has been growing non-stop for 12 straight years. We're the largest online art site in the world. We're powering the online sales for 500,000+ independent artists and an ever-expanding list of global brands.

If you want to read about the current state of FAA and the print-on-demand industry, in general, take a look at this article:


My biggest advice is to spend more time focusing on what you can control (e.g. creating incredible artwork, building your online following, building your e-mail list, developing a marketing strategy, collaborating with other artists and brands, building relationships with local art galleries, paying for online ads, etc.) and less time on what you can't (e.g. the FAA search engine, the FAA homepage, the FAA collections, the FAA newsletters, etc.)

If your sales strategy is to upload images to FAA and then sit back and wait for sales to come in, you'll never be happy. I must have written that sentence at least 50 times over the years. If you're in the business of selling art, then you have to treat it like a business and do all of the things that I mentioned, above. You can't just sit back and wait for sales to roll in.

You've probably heard me use the following analogy many times before:

Let's say that you're a musician and that you upload your songs to Apple Music. After a few months with very few sales / streams, you mention to all of your friends that you're not earning any money as a musician, and the reason you're not earning any money is because Apple Music isn't featuring your songs.

Your friends will look at you like you're crazy. They'll ask you if you're playing bars, restaurants, and open mic nights in order to promote yourself and build some buzz. They'll ask you if you're going out on tour to play small festivals. They'll ask you if you've reached out to radio stations and promoters to try to get your songs promoted. They'll ask you if you've reached out to Apple Music, directly, to try to get in touch with their playlist curators.

Everyone knows that music is a business and that musicians need to hustle in order to get their music heard. Musicians know that, and their friends know that. If you just create songs and upload them, it's almost guaranteed that you won't be successful.

It's no different with art. Selling art is a business. You've taken the first step by adding your art to the world's largest marketplace. The next step is to stand out from the crowd, and that takes a lot of hard work. If you do manage to stand out from the crowd... and you're the type of person that people want to work with... then lots of doors will open up for you.

Reply Order

Post Reply

Good info. Thanks Sean.


Cynthia Decker

1 Year Ago

Thank you! The Sales Discussion idea will be really helpful. I only wish it was retroactive!


Excellent.Thank you.


Gill Billington

1 Year Ago

Thanks for taking the time to explain all this Sean and thank you for still allowing us to have a forum despite the negative posts.

I have leaned so much from people who have posted here, I am so glad that I found this site 5 years ago.


Mike Savad

1 Year Ago

that sales thing should be interesting. what i would love to see -a useful member check box. if someone helps others, there should be a check box. and that member would have something under their avatar that shows how useful or helpful someone is. it would only be a check going up. and each time someone thinks your answer is useful, then you would get higher up.

i suppose if there were a reward system for those helping other members, features, higher rankings etc, that would be nice. i think it would make the forum an even nicer place and encourage people to give good advice.

---Mike Savad


Hans Zimmer

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your time and all the explainations, Sean. Very appreciated! :o)


Cynthia Decker

1 Year Ago

"helpful" is subjective. Sales results are not. I'd rather have facts than a popularity contest, and that's what a reward system would become.


Abbie Shores

1 Year Ago

Agreed, Cynthia. We have some people that come in and may only help once, but that help is worth a lot to the one helped


Mike Savad

1 Year Ago

it would be accumulative, available to anyone that wants to check it off. i thought of a down button too, but that would be abused.

---Mike Savad


Patricia Strand

1 Year Ago

Brilliant, and thank you, Sean!!

Mike, you are the most helpful of anyone here, so I can see where you're coming from. However, I agree with Cynthia.


Michalakis Ppalis

1 Year Ago

Good Info. Thank you


Mike Savad

1 Year Ago

never hurts to try to get higher, or to cash in on the help or something.

---Mike Savad


David Bridburg

1 Year Ago


Thanks for openly discussing things.

I have often said, I have very few sales, but.....here is my thinking. It is openly known I am not selling well. I am possibly the only person with few sales to state that. I also expect ideas from any of us to get knocked down form time to time when better ideas are offered.

If you do an average on me for 2018.... you are at 0.125 per month.

Straight forward ideas and a decent attitude matter more.

David Bridburg - My Artwork


A big THANK YOU to Sean for all of the work you do to build and promote this site! We are incredibly happy, no THRILLED, to be part of the Fine Art America/Pixels family!
This is no lie and no exaggeration to say that our art careers started right here and blossomed right here because of the FAA site. When we became members, it took just a couple of years before we were actually making a LIVING on our art sales here and with the licensing deals that came our way because of Fine Art America.

Yes, we have been blessed and it has always been my Debra-ism to say, We are not lucky, We are blessed. But as Sean has said in his very informative article here, you have to work to bring your art to the next level. It simply does not just fall in your lap. And we do work hard, creating new and interesting top quality work every single day and promoting it out in the real world to bring folks into our site. It has to be a passion for you the artist and it is with us.

So again, THANK YOU to Sean and to Abbie and the rest of the FAA/Pixels staff for creating, marketing, building, and keeping this top art site going!
Now, I have to get back to creating some great art!
Much success everyone and keep celebrating life,
Debra (and Dave)


Mike Savad

1 Year Ago

i might have missed it, but is the total going to be a grand total for all the years we have been here? otherwise it will reset at the start of the year, and it would be zero for all.

---Mike Savad


Lindley Johnson

1 Year Ago

Very interesting, Sean - thank you.


Jim Whalen

1 Year Ago

Sean, thanks for being so frank with us, it's appreciated!


Phyllis Beiser

1 Year Ago

I join in with the hallelujah chorus here and say thanks Sean for the in depth explanations!!! And thanks for having Abbie's back!


Sharon Mau

1 Year Ago

Aloha Sean . . it's so good to hear from you at last . . .
Good to know you're doing well . .

Thank you so much for such an informative update!

Mahalo . . .



Design Turnpike

1 Year Ago

Shoot, hoped I was approaching Top 50. Well, there's the next goal to shoot for!


Lara Ellis

1 Year Ago

Thank you for the info, very helpful. I'll continue to try and plug my work wherever I can as I always have. :) I'm certainly not a rock star artist but I do get some sales and I'm certain that it's because I try to share my work whenever and wherever I can. It's nice to have a website and a place to print everything for me too! You have certainly made it easy for artists to turn their images into beautiful prints and products with this site! Thank you for all you do behind the scenes to keep it up and running and for providing this website in the first place!


Joseph C Hinson

1 Year Ago

Yeah, seeing the sales in those discussions are depressing. I'll just say it now. I've yet to make a sale this year. I won't participate in sales discussions even if it's to suggest that someone work on their keywords and descriptions which even as an almost non saler, I know to be a wise move.


Mike Savad

1 Year Ago

i'd like to have a higher number, but the average makes it seems better some how. because i've had some terrible time getting sales this summer. but the average makes it seem better.

---Mike Savad


Carol Groenen

1 Year Ago

Always happy to hear from you, Sean, and to learn of the "bigger picture" when it comes to Fine Art America. Thank you!

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Rick Berk

1 Year Ago

Thanks Sean, the explanations are much appreciated!


Anil Nene

1 Year Ago

This is very very useful indeed.
Creating art and selling it are two separate activities.
I have been spending an equal amount of time for both.
Then only I could garner some sales.
Thanks a lot!


ahh these two articles may help in the long run to understand something about the selling side of art:



the first article is by a man who has been in the art business for many years and the second has many different negative comments but who does not get loads of negative comments perhaps is not saying anything and touching some nerves now and then -


Aliceann Carlton

1 Year Ago

Thank you, Sean, for providing clarity in the operations of FAA. Both my husband and I have had online galleries here for years. We are immersed in multiple life issues and certainly acknowledge the marketing and promotion responsibility we need to create sales. While life swamps us in the meantime, we are glad to have an online gallery site where members and visitors can browse, have a few minutes to see parts of life we see as artists, and tuck a piece of creativity in the their minds.

We live 178 miles from the nearest city, and further still from the artist havens of Maine and NH where the network easily encompasses Boston. Our exposure through FAA is global. That is remarkable in itself.

Best regards,
Aliceann Carlton


Christopher W Cook

1 Year Ago

I'm so impressed with the ton of invaluable information in this thread. I can't wait to start marketing!


Clyde J Kell

1 Year Ago

Can you believe this.. I've been a member of FAA for three years, and only TODAY


Carmen Macuga

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much Sean! I felt very secure choosing FAA, as I'm a retired teacher and teachers do research. I read all about the history. I read EVERY informative FAQ post. I literally spent weeks researching this site before I joined. That being said, there's still this huge learning curve to experience. I haven't sold anything yet, but I know I'm still struggling with promoting myself. I was following discussions that were bringing me down a bit, so I chose to stay away from them and continue to do all I could to push forward. I know I'll get there, but I'm just so glad you wrote this. It validates all I know to be true...it's mostly up to me...and FAA is there to assist.


Floyd Snyder

1 Year Ago

Bumping because I think it should be on the first page of the threads.


if anyone is interested I have found a person that has a program to help with understanding and utilizing Instagram for artists


Over the years I've seen FAA's "successful artists" mentioned a lot, but I don't ever remember seeing it shown anywhere
"who" they are.


Abbie Shores

1 Year Ago

That is for them to say. A couple of them have popped in here and given us tips over the years.

JC Findley is very successful and has said many times he could live on what he makes here. Obviously I know this is true. The only reason I am mentioning him in particular is because he HAS said it in here himself. Otherwise it is a private matter and only the artist themselves can tell you if they are successful or not, not the site.


I too know some artists here that are making some pretty good money.

I know them because I interact with them regularly.

Might want to try that Paul.


from a certain perspective - I think that it is the most amazing thing that I can post an image and then within a few days from that posting quite a few people from all different locations will have seen that image without much effort - although I do have some marketing programs going on - overall I have say that things have changed agreed deal from 61 years ago when I took my very first photograph and began to wonder if anyone in the world would every get to see that image - I was actually wondering about that before I even had that film developed - and now if people are interested they are able to see that very same image -

as far as selling - over the years - before FAA and Pixels - I have sold images as prints - photographs and abstracts - but I honestly cannot ever feeling that I really knew why a person purchased what they did - it is something I believe only they would know - and I think the only way to overcome the uncertainty is to do my best to make sure that as many people get to see the art as is possible - and of course what methods that I utilize to accomplish this fall into what feels comfortable for me and also what fits within a certain budget that I have allocated for such activities -


Susan McGillicuddy

1 Year Ago

I think it is important, not to sit back and let people get upset. It may seem to you that responding does not good. I disagree. The top sellers most likely wont share the advice that makes them successful because they want to remain top sellers. It would be helpful if people find out what top sellers do differently to make sales to post about it.

Thanks so much for this post!


Floyd Snyder

1 Year Ago

JC must be making a fortune! I would have to imagine that the cost of just the "snakebite" rider on is health insurance is more than my County Club bill.


James McCormack

1 Year Ago

I know three who sell well here who do not generally participate in the forums.

One does a lot of original work and markets locally, selling originals and prints.
Another produces huge amounts, markets loads, sells very well (apparently everywhere).
The third has a niche market and although I am not aware they do much marketing, I always assumed they market to that niche.


Robert Yaeger

1 Year Ago

This link to your open letter is an excellent read. (https://fineartamerica.com/why-every-artist-and-photographer-in-the-world-should-be-selling-on-fineartamerica.html )Thanks for sharing it.


Dianne L Gardner

1 Year Ago

Enjoy reading this. Thank you!


Cassi Moghan

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for this. I have made it my goal to be more active in the forums and to spend time each day promoting myself. I'm totally new to selling but that's the goal! I want to be one of those 250 or so active artists :)


Renato Sensibile

11 Months Ago

Thanks for all the tips Sean.
I remember the line of a movie (can't remember which one, nor even the actors, sorry) where one of the main character say to the protagonist: the art merchant is the real artist.
You give us the chance to show our jobs.
The rest is up to us.
Thanks again.


Lesa Fine

11 Months Ago

Thanks Sean and Abbie for all you do. I’ve enjoyed my time with FAA and have found so much valuable info in the discussion threads. Thanks to all those who contribute and chime in to help all of us who may not have a great deal of marketing experience. I have sold numerous times on FAA and this year things have been better and I continue to be hopeful they will increase this year and next.

I enjoy the photography and the creation process of creating art rom what I shoot. People occasionally buy and I’m happy with that.

Wishing all on the site much continued success with their work. I appreciate all the help I can ASR’s from the site and am grateful too have access to it!


JustJeffAz Photography

11 Months Ago

Thanks! Required reading for new comers?


Catherine Solovay

11 Months Ago

Definitely useful perspective, especially for a newbie like myself! Thank you for your candid discussion.


Laura-Lynn Greenberg

11 Months Ago

Excellent! Thank you very much.


Thomas Young

11 Months Ago

Thank you Sean and Abbie.


Walter Paul Bebirian

11 Months Ago

I was thinking the other day and then - pff

I came up with something in one of my dreams - *(they usually pay off for me -

somehow I got to comparing Entenmann's cakes cookies - pies and everything else that they have been selling for years to my images here up on Fine Art America - these products are available throughout the country to the local baker - who produces a limited about of products fresh and available to those that walk into the baker's shop -

the Entenmann's products are available in many many many different stores - shops grocery stores - drug stores - you name it you can find their products in many available places and the FAA and Pixel images are like that - available in all parts of the country and world and throughout anywhere there is an internet connection while galleries and museums and local art shows are viewable to a limited number of people - and in reality a totally different market - as far as I can tell -


Jean noel Le junter

11 Months Ago

I don't know if it's the right place to write this ...
I keep receiving regularly messages from fineart america and when I try to read them I get the following mention:'You are not authorized to view this message.' So why send them? ):

Jean-Noël Le Junter


Walter Paul Bebirian

11 Months Ago

Joel - have you logged into your account -?


This discussion is closed.