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How to Sell Art Online: A 6-Step Guide to Starting an Artist Shop

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Confused about how to sell art online? Many artists face the same issue: they create amazing artwork but don’t know how to sell it online.

Luckily, starting an online art business is easier than you might think if you learn how to do it right.

This post will provide a step-by-step guide to setting up your online art gallery and making your first sale.

Why You Should Consider Selling Art Online

Many artists all around the US are selling their artwork online today. Here are four reasons you may need to consider doing this as well:

  • Countless lucrative opportunities: The US online art market value reached $6.3 billion in 2022. This massive market value creates numerous lucrative opportunities for artists.
  • Millions of potential buyers. Online art marketplaces and platforms allow you to reach millions of potential buyers easily. You won’t reach these massive numbers without using online channels to market your work.
  • Affordable method: Most art marketplaces, including the largest ones like Etsy, allow you to list your products at low fees. Plus, many platforms offer an on-demand printing service that can save you high printing costs.
  • Convenient and Flexible: You can launch your online art gallery within a few minutes. You can also manage it from anywhere.

Problems with Selling Art Online

The tremendous lucrative opportunities of selling art online come with a few drawbacks. Here are they:

1. The First Sale May Take Several Months

Listing your products online doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve quick sales. Many artists reported making their first sale after six months or more.

For beginner artists, this might be a frustrating experience.

2. The Market Is Highly Competitive

Although the online art market is immense, it’s crowded with other artists. Etsy platform alone has over seven million artists.

So, you’ll need to spend considerable time and effort differentiating your artwork and creating a trusted brand name. This is the only way to stand out from the crowd.

3. It’s Harder to Showcase Your Artwork’s Quality

When listing your artwork for sale online, it’s much harder to demonstrate its quality than when selling it in person.

So, you need to put in more effort to emphasize your art’s quality by including high-quality images and detailed descriptions.

4. Your Art is More Prone to Piracy

The online art world is full of incidents of intellectual property piracy. That way, showcasing your art online makes it more susceptible to theft.

You need to take appropriate protective measures to prevent any attempts to steal your artwork.

What You’ll Need to Sell Art Online

You’ll need a few requirements to start and maintain an online art business. Here are they:

  • A collection of high-quality artwork: You need to prepare a group of your best art pieces to list on your online gallery.
  • Materials: You need to source a continuous supply of materials to create artwork regularly. This includes canvases and paints and so on. Set a monthly budget for the required supplies.
  • A smartphone with a high-quality camera: You’ll need to take clear and appealing photos for your artwork. This is to showcase as much detail as possible about the listed items to your potential buyer.
  • A platform to sell on: You need to choose an online art marketplace to list your artwork for sale. You may also consider creating a website and making it your artwork gallery.
  • A printer and scanner: If the website you’re listing your artwork on doesn’t offer an on-demand printing service, you’ll need a good printer with a scanner. This is to produce high-quality copies of your artwork.
  • Packaging materials: When picking your packaging materials, don’t only consider their aesthetic purpose. You need to choose materials that protect your artwork from any potential damage while shipping.
  • Business registration and license: Before selling your art, you need to register your business as a sole partnership or LLC. You may also need to apply for a business license if your state requires it.
  • A PayPal and a bank account: Most art platforms will pay you your sales revenue via PayPal or a bank transfer.

Where to Sell Art Online

To sell your art online, you need to list your artwork on one of the numerous art marketplaces. Creating a website for your artwork gallery is also an excellent option.

In either case, here are our top-recommended platforms to sell your art on:

1. Fine Art America

A homepage of the fineartamerica screenshot

Fine Art America is the destination for over 6 million art enthusiasts.

Those millions visit the website every month to sell and buy art.

Registration as a seller on this platform is straightforward.

What Makes This Platform Great

Fine Art America offers on-demand printing, packaging, and shipping services that take much of the responsibility off your plate.

The platform is also an active community of artists where you can engage in many artistic discussions and conversations.

  • Fees and commissions: listing your artwork is free. For each sale, the platform charges you a 30% fee of its total value.
  • Payment methods: PayPal or checks (only for US-based sellers)

2. Etsy

A screenshot of the etsy homepage

Etsy is one of the largest online marketplaces for paintings, designs, and crafts. The platform attracts  93 million potential art buyers a month.

What Makes This Platform Great

Creating and running an online store on Etsy is straightforward, even if this is your first time selling online.

Additionally, because of Etsy’s popularity, you’ll get many visitors to your shop on the platform with little marketing effort.

  • Fees/commissions: A flat fee of $0.20 for each listed item. For each sale, the platform charges you 6.5% of the total sale value plus $0.25 transaction fees.
  • Payment methods: PayPal and bank transfer

3. Shopify

A screenshot of the shopify homepage

Shopify is a platform that allows sellers to build their e-commerce sites easily. You can use  Shopify to build a website to sell your artwork on.

What Makes This Platform Great

You don’t need design or coding experience to build your website with Shopify.

The platform will provide thousands of ready-to-use templates you can customize according to your needs.

  • Fees and commissions: hosting fees of $29–39 a month based on the plan duration + 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction.
  • Payment methods: PayPal or bank transfer

How to Sell Art Online: Step-By-Step Instructions

Selling art online involve multiple responsibilities, making it seem complicated for beginners. However, by following these steps, you’ll do it successfully:

1. Conduct a Market Research

image showing how to sell on etsy - selling on etsy screenshot

One of the most significant tips for selling a product is to know the target audience’s preferences first. Art isn’t an exception.

A thorough look at what’s popular in the market can make all the difference in boosting the success of your art business.

That’s because it’ll help you keep your artwork as close to your target market’s needs as possible. That way, you’ll have a high chance of making sales.

Researching the market will also help you price your art competitively.

2. Determine What to Sell: Originals vs. Copies

When selling art, you need to decide whether you’ll sell your original artwork or copies.
Selling originals makes it possible to price them at a high price point.

Still, selling copies can generate more revenue if you make many sales. You can also decide to sell both the original art and the reproduction of it.

3. Capture Compelling Photos

When exhibiting art, visual representation is vital. So, to boost your artwork sales, you need to showcase them clearly and attractively.

Use your smartphone or a digital camera to take appealing photos of your artwork. Ensure you use suitable lighting and background when shooting.

If you’re selling 3D artwork, make sure to capture and present all its dimensions.

4. Price Your Artwork

When pricing your artwork, you need to consider generating enough profits to keep running your business. You also need to price them appropriately to attract a decent number of potential customers.

To do this, here are the top factors to consider when setting your prices

  • The cost of the materials
  • The prices at which other artists sell similar artwork
  • The time you spent making the piece
  • A decent profit margin
  • The size of the artwork
  • The type of the artwork, whether it’s original or a copy

5. Set Up Your Online Shop

Choose a suitable platform and set up your shop on. You can launch your artist shop on a well-known online marketplace like Etsy and ArtFinder, build your website, or do both.

As a beginner, it’s a good idea to start by selling on a popular art marketplace. As you gain more audience, you may consider building your own website.

After setting up your shop, start listing your artwork on it. To optimize your listings, you need to include the following for each item:

  • High-quality images
  • A description of the artwork. Writing an artist statement would be great.
  • The size of the item
  • The price
  • The delivery method

6. Build an Online Brand

To increase your online sales over time, you need to build a wide audience base for yourself as an artist. To do this, you should establish an online brand for yourself.

Utilize social media to share your work with a large audience. Post about your art and how you craft it.

You can also make and publish artistic tutorials on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

There’s no size fits all; choose the branding strategy that suits you and start working on it.

Things to Consider When Selling Art Online

With a few tricks, you can run a successful online art business. Here are a couple of pro tips:

1. Don’t Limit Yourself to One Platform

When first starting, you may use only one platform to sell your artwork. However, as you grow your art business, you need to diversify the marketplaces you use.

Still, you shouldn’t list your artwork on too many platforms. This is to avoid distracting your efforts and achieving little to no results on any of them.

2. Pay Significant Attention to the Packaging

If your artwork experiences any damage while being shipped to your customers, you risk your reputation as a seller.

That way, you need to pay significant attention to how you package your products.

Depending on the nature of your art, search for the best way to package your items to protect them. This is to deliver them to the buyer in their original condition.

3. Protect Your Work From Pirates

As more people view your artwork online, there’s a high probability someone will try to steal it.

You need to take some protective measures to prevent any attempt to pirate your artwork.

One of the simplest protective measures is adding a watermark to your art. Registering your artwork for copyright is another effective procedure to take.

4. Join a Popular Gallery

Popular art galleries are excellent places to gain massive recognition and boost your online and in-person sales.

Make a list of all the galleries that exhibit the type of art you produce and try to contact them. Offer to list your artwork there.

However, if you’re a beginner artist, you need to gain some experience before taking this step. That’s because most galleries won’t accept your artwork unless you’re an experienced artist.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about selling art online:

How Much Money Can You Make Selling Art Online?

There are no thorough statistics about how much money selling art online can make.

Though, Artfinder platform provides some data that offer a glimpse into how much total revenue its artists generate.

The website reported that its 7,000 active artists gained a total of $8.3 million in 2020.

Which Type of Art Sells Best?

The types of paintings that sell the best, according to Feltmagnet, are the following:

  1. Landscape paintings
  2. Abstract art
  3. Wildlife paintings, especially dogs
  4. Nudes and figures

As for the best-selling themes, here are the top five:

  1. Traditional landscapes
  2. Local city views
  3. Modern landscapes
  4. Abstract charts
  5. Dog paintings

Similar Tutorials to Check Out

If you want to learn how to sell different types of art online, these tutorials will come in handy:

  • How to Sell NFT Art: NFTs are one of the most popular and lucrative types of art nowadays. Here’s a complete guide on how to make your first NFT sale.
  • How to Make Stickers to Sell: If you’re passionate about creating creative stickers, this post will help you turn this passion into a source of income.  
  • How to Sell Digital Downloads on Etsy: If you plan to sell digital downloads on Etsy, reading this guide will help you do it right.

Wrapping Up

By learning how to sell art online, you can generate much more revenue than you can make selling in person.

Use this guide to help you go through all the necessary steps to launch your online art shop.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments. Share this post with an artist friend who wants to start selling their artwork online.

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