These days, every artist wants to learn how to sell artwork online. It used to be that you could only sell your work through a brick and mortar gallery, and give them a substantial cut of your profits. While many artists still take this route, more and more are choosing to sell artwork online as well.
Selling online has its own unique challenges, though, such as visibility, conversion, and, of course, turning a profit. However, with a good eye, a creative streak, and a little hard work, you can sell artwork online successfully, and make money! Roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started.
How to Sell Artwork Online (and Keep the Profits)
2. Scope Out Your Gallery Location
3. Frame and Display
4. Invite People to See Your Work
5. Connect With your Local Art Scene
First thing’s first. Show the people what you’re making and selling. Get together high quality images of your work, for each piece that you aim to sell. Some artists are content for their images to make the rounds on social media anonymously, but generally speaking, it’s important that you are always credited for your work. To ensure attribution, watermark your images or add an unmistakable signature to them. This will ensure that that every time someone sees the image online, they will know where it came from.
Next, create a price list. In theory, you should be able to charge the same amount that a gallery would, and maximize your profits. However, the cost of buying art online is often lower. Research what similar artists sell their work for online, factor in your time and expenses, and price accordingly. Keep an eye on the cost of shipping as well- remember that art can be both bulky and fragile, which may result in more expensive shipping.
2. Scope out your gallery location
Just like finding the right gallery to display your art, you will want to find the perfect eCommerce platform to showcase your work online. Many artists make the initial mistake of trying to sell artwork online primarily through social media with eCommerce platforms like Gumroad, or joining marketplaces like Etsy. This can slow your growth, and cut into your profits.
When you sell primarily through social, as with Gumroad, you limit how your customers can interact with your artwork. Social media apps generally require you to close out of a link before being able to continue using the app, and don’t always make it easy to save or return to the product page later. This means that unless a customer has a credit card in hand the moment they find your artwork, they are unlikely to complete the purchase.
Another common mistake that artists make is jumping into a big eCommerce marketplace like Etsy. This creates a challenge with name recognition among their own customers, because customers simply think of the artwork’s source as “Etsy” or “Amazon,” rather than the actual artist. Artists who sell on marketplace sites can expect to be plagued by anonymity, and when they do succeed in making consistent sales, high transaction fees can slash their profits dramatically.
Instead, consider building a proper online store. This way customers will be able to easily navigate the site, explore and connect with your work, compare different items, share and save items, and return later to complete their purchase. Choose an online store builder with pre-designed themes and templates, with generous customization options. This way you will be able to tailor your online store to complement your work, so that is serves as a perfect frame.
The Selz online store builder makes creating and customizing your store easy, and any artist will appreciate the beautifully designed themes available to choose from. This gives you a better shot at converting customers. Features like abandoned shopping cart emails essentially capture sales that would have otherwise evaporated. Transaction fees? 2% in lower tiers, and absolutely nonexistent with a premium plan. Choose a plan that works for you and your budget to maximize your profits.
3. Display your artwork
Now that you have images of all your artwork, go ahead and get to work creating product pages for each piece of art. Create categories to organize your artwork. Simplify your selection by creating variants of certain products, such as different sizes for prints, or colors for sculptures. Add images and a brief product description that includes details like the piece’s dimensions and medium.
It may seem counterintuitive to upload work that is no longer available, but consider creating product pages of these and marking them as “sold” or “sold out.” This allows your customers to see more of work, and build a stronger connection to your portfolio. At the same time, it adds a sense of urgency, reminding your customers that your work is unique, desirable, and limited.
It’s also worth noting that since you sell artwork online, rather than in a physical gallery, you have an advantage. You don’t actually need to ship anything. Photographer Ronnie Goodwin uses Selz to sell digital downloads of his work, encouraging buyers to use the high quality files in a variety of creative ways, from printing them for wall art to adorning coffee mugs. This way, he is able to shift his focus from traditional fulfillment to constant creativity. If you choose to go this route, for example, and you think your artwork would look great printed on a t-shirt, you don’t necessarily have to get into selling clothes online. You can simply make this suggestion in the product description, and let your customers do the rest after checkout.
4. Invite people to come and see
When you’re showing work in a gallery, anyone who walks in will see it. When you sell artwork online, it can be hard to stand out. With a little research and hard work, you can use social media and SEO to increase your artwork’s visibility, ultimately attracting more potential buyers.
Platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest run on eye candy, and can be a great way to get discovered by aesthetes. While you can choose to sell directly through these platforms, it’s more important to utilize their ability to share and connect. It’s also worth using sites like Behance, which allow artists to share their projects and discover others. While you may not connect with many potential buyers and actually sell artwork online here, you will be able to connect with other artists. Visibility is key in online art sales, so having your work shared by others can make all the difference.
Your relationships with other artists can help you to enrich your SEO. When fellow artists provide links on their site back to yours to show their appreciation for your work, they actually improve your search engine ranking. Consider starting a blog where you can use specific, clear writing, and link to your artwork for sale. This will also improve your SEO.
5. Connect with your local art scene
Selling your art online allows you connect with buyers all over the world. However, there is something to be said for being part of your local art community. Use hashtags and location tagging to let people know where you’re coming from. You may be surprised by how many consumers will go out of their way to support a local or regional artist. You might also be able to connect with buyers who enjoy visiting your area, and want a piece of art as a souvenir. At the same time, emphasizing your location shouldn’t deter sales to distant collectors who also love your work.
Don’t be afraid to get out of the house and reach out, as well. Leave a few well placed flyers and business cards at popular neighborhood cafes and event spaces, directing people to your website. A tangible invitation like this can introduce people to your work who might never have stumbled upon it otherwise.
There you have it! You’re armed with the tools to reach and connect individuals to your art and maximize your profits. If you’re the creative type, but are looking to start a different type of online business, check out 10 Simple Things to Make and Sell Online Today. It will guide your maker efforts towards best-selling products.