How to Sell Art Online: 5 Ways to Get It Done
Pursuing a career in art doesn’t mean you’ll end up as a starving artist. With the internet providing limitless opportunities to gain a global audience, you can make money doing what you love — even straight from home. How do you turn your passion into an earning opportunity? By knowing where you can sell art online.
Whether you want to become a full-time artist or simply rake in extra cash on the side, allowing your art to be seen is the key to getting started. Local art galleries, art fairs, and coffee shops have limited space, which means you may not have an ongoing opportunity to display your work. Going digital is the best way for you to amplify your talents for a mass audience.
In this article, we’ll explain how to effectively sell art online using your own website as well as top online marketplaces.
How to Sell Art Online With Your Own Website
For some artists, the best place to start selling art is on a personally owned website. There are several benefits to this, including:
- Your platform will directly represent your work and your brand.
- You won’t pay any listing fees or monthly fees on top of credit card or PayPal transaction fees.
- You won’t have a limit on how many art pieces you can have in your store at once.
If you don’t already own a website, you can easily create one with an online website builder. Just make sure to select a platform that offers excellent e-commerce functionality, such as GoDaddy’s GoCentral.
If you have a WordPress site, WooCommerce is a popular tool to build your website’s payment processing capabilities. Shopify is another well-rated e-commerce site builder that will allow you to sell art online.
Before launching your store, some items on your checklist should include:
- Purchase a domain name, if you’re creating a new website. This isn’t necessarily required, but it will make your website look more professional than a domain that ends in “.wordpress.com” and the like. GoDaddy offers very affordable domain options.
- Set up a payment gateway. You’ll have to set up a method to accept money. This is typically done by setting up a PayPal or Stripe option on your website.
- Create consistent product listings. Make sure to take high-quality pictures or scans of your original work with clear descriptions and pricing.
As soon as you’ve launched, we recommend creating social media accounts dedicated to your artwork and linking to your website.
Then, consider reading up on search engine optimization basics. This will ensure your audience grows beyond your original network, so you can continuously sell your artwork once your personal connections have been exhausted.
Top 4 Marketplaces to Sell Art Online
While selling art through your own website is the easiest way to avoid unnecessary fees, it’s not necessarily the most effective method to sell. Even if you use social media to promote your products, the art industry is saturated with thousands of competitors that can effectively drown you out.
Plus, hosting fees, custom domains, and other website-related costs can add up quickly — and your site may still not look perfect without a developer’s hired help. Unless you’re already at a point where you can sell a couple thousand dollars’ worth of original artwork each month, it may be cheaper to opt for another tactic.
To circumvent website-related issues, many artists turn toward online marketplaces to sell art. Art marketplaces, online galleries, and websites offering general goods allow you to showcase your work where your potential audience already is.
Instead of putting the responsibility on your customers to find you, you make your art easily accessible to all potential buyers — and you do it without having to manage every aspect of your online store.
Here are four of the top digital marketplaces to help you sell art online.
Etsy is the leading e-commerce website for handcrafted goods, which means many of its visitors are seeking unique pieces for their homes or offices. This platform allows you to sell anything from digital art to canvases and pottery, while attracting customers from all over the world.
Each product you have can be listed on Etsy for only 20 cents every four months. You’ll only be charged a transaction fee (5%) and payment processing fee (3% plus 25 cents) when you make a sale. You won’t be charged any monthly fees, as your Etsy account itself is completely free. That said, you can upgrade to membership packages that help you grow your brand and sell more art.
This platform is ideal if you’re interested in offering customization or on-demand services, instead of just premade art prints. This is because Etsy has built-in features for you to add product options and for customers to add notes for their purchase.
As an Etsy seller, you also have access to an app and company support team that makes store management incredibly easy. You can also easily add discounts and specials to entice buyers to select items from your store.
2. Fine Art America
If you’re interested in selling anything in printed form, Fine Art America will print on demand when you make an art sale. Whether you want your design or photography printed on a T-shirt, in a frame, or made into an iPhone case, this platform is the best option for you to sell, print, and ship items worldwide just by uploading your images.
If you’ve ever used Redbubble, Fine Art America functions the same way. Except that Fine Art America has a reputation for using museum-quality materials when you sell prints. Fine Art America will also provide embed codes that you can use to sell straight from your own website without creating an online store by yourself.
Your final earnings are straightforward on Fine Art America. You set how much you want to earn from each piece, then the platform will automatically add their base price.
For example, if you say you want to earn $20 and Fine Art America’s base price for manufacturing a print is $30, you’ll always earn $20, but your customer will see and pay a total of $50.
Fine Art America lets you freely list original artwork on your profile, which will allow users to contact you directly about your pieces. If you sell original pieces, you gain full commission, but you have to handle all the payment processing and fulfillment on your own. The site is also great for handling online sales and even the commercial licensing of digital downloads.
3. Saatchi Art
Saatchi Art doubles as an online art gallery and marketplace that helps you sell your high-quality artwork for a significant amount of money. Of all the marketplaces on this list, this website attracts the largest audience of fine art connoisseurs who are willing to pay anywhere from $200 to several thousand dollars for paintings, prints, photography, drawings, and sculptures.
Saatchi Art is especially appealing because of its commitment to supporting independent artists who sell on the site. The company’s curators create special collections each week that feature their sellers’ work on the homepage.
Saatchi Art also reinvests the commission they take — 35%, which is lower than the 50% that most physical galleries take — to promote artists to over a million social media followers and through PR efforts.
Other than the 35% fee, you won’t have to pay for anything but the packaging of your artwork. Saatchi Art handles the entire transaction and even provides a courier to pick up and deliver your artwork for you.
It may not seem like a traditional place for customers to purchase art, but eBay provides opportunities for artists to be featured on the front page of their Art page. Who wouldn’t love the chance to be featured on a website that attracts millions of users each day?
We specifically recommend this online marketplace if you already have some sales coming in, and simply want to expand your customer base. This is because eBay charges a monthly fee (a basic plan costs at least $19.95) that is only worth the potential audience if you already have some income streaming in.
While the monthly seller fee can be a bit pricey, you will be able to list as many as 50 items with no charge. Then, eBay will take 10% of your earnings when you do sell. This isn’t too far off from Etsy’s fees, and you could potentially reach users who aren’t specifically seeking handcrafted goods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have a handful of options for you to sell art online, consider these frequently asked questions to help you decide which platform is right for you and your art form.
1. How does Etsy differ from Amazon Handmade?
If you’ve been on Amazon recently, you’ve probably seen a new handmade crafts section that directly competes with Etsy. The biggest difference is that Amazon Handmade doesn’t allow just anyone to sell goods. You need to be an approved artisan that meets all Handmade requirements.
In addition, you won’t have the benefit of Etsy’s low fees. There’s no direct cost to create your shop or list products on Amazon, but you are required to purchase a fairly expensive Professional Selling plan that’s already $39.99 per month (fee waived through the end of 2019). You’ll also be charged a 15% referral fee when you successfully sell your artwork.
Though it comes with larger fees, Amazon Handmade may give you access to a far larger network than any other platform.
2. Do I need to set up an LLC to sell art online?
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll need to set up a limited liability company to sell art online. Artists traditionally earn money as sole proprietors, which means that you are your own art business. You’ll need to make sure to track all your transactions, as you are required to pay self-employment taxes on the money you earn from selling art.
3. Are there limitations to what type of art I can sell online?
If you create your own e-commerce store, there are no limitations. However, if you’re using an online marketplace, you might be limited to selling art that fits into a provided category. (In the case of Fine Art America, you can only sell artwork that the company can produce.) Of the platforms listed, eBay likely has the least amount of limitations on what type of art you can sell.
Make Money With Your Talents
In today’s tech-driven world, there are numerous options to help you sell art online. Conquering the art world and making extra money (or even a living) with your talent isn’t just a dream, it’s a real possibility. Use this guide and you could be well on your way to growing a global audience for your artistic endeavors.
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