Hello dear Internet Stranger who may or may not have an artsy side hustle, business, Etsy shop, Redbubble page, etc.

You’ve been there, you receive a message from a fan on Etsy or a DM on Instagram.

“I love your work and would love to buy it. I have a couple of questions”


Your customer service rep takes over and responds to the inquiries. They want to know if you offer fast shipping or if you can tweak something. You reply with however you do things. Then radio silence. Weeks turn into months. At this point, you know what’s up.

The dreaded flaky prospect. 

I’ve had a ton of these types. No offense to flaky prospects, I believe everyone flakes out on things one time or another. I think as artists it can feel more personal, you know. You put a lot into your artwork. It’s a piece of you.

So to protect your artists heart(and sanity) I’ve come up with some signs that someone may flake out on you. This isn’t to say if someone fits all or one that they will flake, it’s guide. This also isn’t mentioning choosing beggar types or people who just say they like your work. This is for the person who inquires about buying.

They don’t give you a specific time frame of when they intend to buy.

    When someone says they’re looking to buy on this paycheck(usually Fridays) it gives you an expectation to start the process.  I’ve found that flakes tend to be vague about when they want to buy/own your work. They can be very detailed about how they want it, how large they want it, ect.

They don’t follow up after the initial contact. Me personally, I don’t reach out to people who reach out to me about buying. I’m not the type to spam you by email or text asking if you’re still interested. I feel that if someone wants something , they’ll get it.They postpone the date of buying/ordering multiple times. 

    Life happens, sometimes people genuinely mistake a budget and have to postpone a purchase. I think if this happens, give it 2 weeks(a typical pay period) to see if they still stick to ordering. If not, keep it moving.

They have a “sob story” of why they can’t make a purchase. 

    This sob story usually takes place after the initial contact, around the time they were supposed to pay. When I say sob story, I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a lie(though it could be) but the person simply isn’t at a point where they can buy art.

I once had a girl say she wanted one of my dolls around her birthday which was a month away. When the month came she went into a long story about how her she had race problems with her grandparents about her interracial relationship and that she suddenly had just got out of jail.

In summary, there are some signs that can help protect you as an artist. It can save time, money, and sanity to have an idea on who to spend your artistic creativity with and who may not be as suitable.

This isn’t to say don’t give people chances. Of that someone who flakes will flake every time. You may even want to sell to the flake anyway.

Just be mindful when that exciting flutter pretty a hopeful sale that it can be just a fleeting moment.