Numbers matter if you sell art online

art online

If you want to sell your art online, the numbers you need to reach your product page can be mind-numbing.

Let me share something with you. I have a Flickr account to which I upload my pictures, flag said pictures to certain groups on the site, usually get around 50-200 hits with about 4 or 5 comments and likes.

Thus it has been for the last five or six years since I joined the site.

It’s the norm.

Yesterday, I woke to find a message from me old mucker @jrobinsondesign with the message: “Crikey, have you seen how many views and faves your sunset shot has got.”

Bemused by my over-excited colleague, I picked up my phone and checked my Flickr page. I’d like to say I jumped out of bed with a superhuman whoop of joy but to be honest I went and made a coffee and came back rubbing the top of my head like Stan Laurell in a Hitchcock movie.

At time of writing, 5,538  views have been logged against the “sunset” picture, 121 people have favourited it and 14 people have actually left comments.

Pretty fecking impressive huh?

It turns out that someone or somebot (see what I did there) selected me to go in Flickr’s “Explore” section. Very gratifying, not sure why it happened but there you go.

The result is that I’m momentarily famous (in Flickr terms). My euphoria lasted for a short while. Well I wouldn’t call it euphoria exactly, just a gentle hum at the back of my age tempered loins.

5,538 views, eh! 121 favourites, eh! 14 comments, eh!


That lasted about 4 minutes while the coffee woke me up.

Then I got to thinking numbers. Yes, numbers people. It’s all in the numbers. Numbers are truth. Numbers are…truth, baby. Especially if you are selling your art online.

I worked in sales once and the mantra was “It’s a numbers game” and the same is true of selling on the internet. Get my meaning, Diego? NUM-FUCKING-BUUUUURS!!!!!!

So, deep breath my friends, this is how it goes.

It took 5,538 people to end up with the favourite tab being clicked/selected 121 times. It took the same number to leave a comment 14 times.

So, roughly speaking, which you shouldn’t do with numbers, 2.18% clicked favourite and a stunning 0.25% bothered to leave a comment.

Got that?

That’s not that bad a success rate compared to other selling on the web. Let’s say it’s average. We’ll pretend that it is. Though someone will tell me it isn’t.

Anyway, let’s play a game.

Let’s pretend those figures relate to you selling your book or your work of art online. Let’s pretend you’ve sent a tweet promoting your book to your less than loyal following. Let’s say you’re lucky and 5,538 actually see it. Of them, according to the above statistics 2.18% or 121 people will like it enough to leave a reply.

14 people actually go in and buy your book. Yee-hah! You made sales and you’re jumping around the room with a rose between your teeth, humming the theme from Dexter.

Okay, here’s the kick in the nuts, I mean if you truly want to make a living out of your lovely work. Stay with me my friends. Hold your breath, pull your gut in.


You’re selling your book on Amazon for £2.99.

14 people buy it.

That means you’ve made a stonking £41.86. That’s not bad, go get a bottle of wine and sit and drink it with artistic élan.

Not too bad. Phew! But wait…

Suppose you want to live off it.

Okay…okay, lay it on me monkey man…

Let’s say your bottom line is £20,000 a year. Can you live on that? Goooood.

To make that, you would have to sell 6,668 copies of your beautiful novel. Let’s say it’s a book at £2.99 each.  Easy peasy lemon squeazy.

According to the model above, the internet dictates that you will need about 396 people to see your tweet just to sell one book.

396 = £2.99

Therefore, if you want to sell all 6,668 copies how many people do you think you will statistically need to see your tweets?

Here it is:


That’s 7,234 people a day.

The population of the world is around 7 billion. That means you need to rope in 0.4% of the population of the planet to earn twenty grand a year.

Have I just made that up? Fuck, someone check my maths for god’s sake before I put a butter knife in my eye.

But you get my drift, right? The numbers don’t lie. They don’t lie baby…they don’t.

Now, I have to admit, I am slightly pissed at the moment and I will post this before I sober up so someone out there will have to check my maths but I don’t think I’m that far off the mark.

I got the 5,538 hits in one day, so according to my plan it would probably take a year and a half to earn that £20,000. But what if I was still only getting, let’s say 20 hits a day. (Normally if I log 100 hits on a picture it takes about 7 days. So let’s just say I get 20 hits every day.).

Here we go. Ready for this?

2,640,528 hits, divided by 20, that’s 132, 026 days which is, I think…yep…ummm…

362 years.


And that, my friends, is why most of the people in the world are poor and work for “The Man” because, alas, the numbers are against us…selling your art online is just another example of that.

1 thought on “Numbers matter if you sell art online

  1. informative, enjoyed this , thanks!

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