Maybe you have been painting for years or maybe you are just getting started, but either way transitioning from creating to selling can be a daunting task. However, with the rise of online marketplaces like Etsy, website tools like Squarespace and Shopify, and social media, it's easier than ever to sell your artwork to a global audience. If you are wondering how to sell art online then this is for you. In this guide, I'll cover everything you need to know about selling art online, from setting up your online store to promoting your work and building a loyal customer base.
Choose the right platform for your art.
When it comes to selling art online, choosing the right platform is crucial. There are many options available, from online marketplaces like Etsy to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs and goals. Consider factors like fees, audience demographics, and ease of use when making your decision.
Most artists that I️ talk to start on Instagram or Facebook. It is as easy as sharing a post and then using their storefront to sell or simply having the customer message you to arrange payment. This is a great and free way to get started, but know that most artists use this as a starting point. If you want to be more professional, taken seriously, and want the flexibility to raise your prices, then you might need to move beyond just selling through social media.
A level up is using something like Etsy or Chairish. These are robust platforms created to help artisans get their work in front of millions of buyers. You only pay commission fees versus a platform fee or domain fee for a personal site. Another benefit is they assist in finding you an audience because people already come to their platform to buy and you can come up in those customer’s search results.
Finally, if you are wanting to create your own website, I️ recommend starting with Squarespace or Shopify. Both are built to make selling easy. You can go from no site to having an up and running store in a day!
The main things to consider are: do you want to pay platform fees for your own site or pay commission fees to a storefront like Etsy. Do you have an audience or are you trying to use someone else’s? Where are you in your art career? Can you use something like Instagram or are you selling pricier work that needs to sell through a website to seem credible? Consider the options and know that you can always do both or change your mind later.
Create a strong online presence.
In order to successfully sell art online, you need to have a strong online presence. This means having a professional website, social page, and/or online portfolio that showcases your work and provides information about you as an artist. You should also have active social media accounts where you can share your art and engage with potential customers. Consistency is key - make sure your branding and messaging is consistent across all platforms. Additionally, consider investing in search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your visibility in search results and drive more traffic to your website if you choose to create one. If you don’t have the budget for a site, then consider a strong social media presence and creating an online PDF portfolio that can be sent to interested buyers.
Take great photos of your work.
When it comes to selling art online, high-quality photos are essential. Your photos should accurately represent your artwork and showcase its details and textures. You don’t have to hire a professional. An iPhone camera is good enough, but I️ would recommend in learning more about how to photograph work well. Take a class or ready this blog if you are planning on shooting the work yourself. Make sure your photos are well-lit and taken in a neutral background to avoid distractions. You can also consider adding lifestyle photos, showing your artwork in a home or office setting, to help potential customers visualize how it would look in their own space.
Price your artwork correctly.
Pricing your artwork can be a tricky task, but it’s important to get it right in order to make sales and attract the right audience. Research artists at your level both in terms of talent and time in business and see what their similar pieces are selling for. Consider factors such as the size, medium, and complexity of your artwork when setting your prices. Don’t undervalue your work, but also be realistic and don’t overprice it. You can read more about pricing here or sign up for a session with me to set your prices.
You can also offer limited-time discounts or promotions to attract customers that might want your work but have a lower budget. I️ recommend limiting sales to a maximum of two times per year, otherwise your customers might wait around for a sale. Finally, remember to factor in any shipping or handling costs when setting your prices. You can include these in your prices or add them as a second line item.
Promote your artwork through social media and email marketing.
Social media and email marketing are powerful tools for promoting your artwork and reaching potential customers. Create a social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, and regularly post high-quality images of your artwork. Engage with your followers through sharing your work and about your process and inspiration to build a community around your art. You can also use email marketing to send newsletters and updates about your latest pieces, exhibitions, and promotions. Make sure to include links to your online storefront or website in all your social media and email communications to make it easy for customers to purchase your artwork.
I️ hope this gave you the confidence to know exactly how to sell art online and get your career up and running. To hear more artists’ stories on how they began selling their artwork, tune into the podcast every Tuesday or sign up for our membership to ask your questions to me and a full community of artists.