Want to Sell Your Creative Art and Make Money Online? Try These 6 Data-Driven Tips [Real Life Example Included]

By Bill Acholla May 6, 2020
How to Sell Art Online - The Complete Guide and Tips

Came up with the most beautiful art pieces, but don’t know how to sell them?

We’ve got your back! If you want to master the process of selling your art online just as you mastered the fine art of stroking your paintbrushes, you’ve landed on the right page. 

As artists, we understand the amount of hard work and passion that goes into your art, and you’d only want the maximum value out of it.

Today, digitalization can be seen everywhere.

And with the growth of several online marketing agencies, websites, and eCommerce platforms, it only makes sense to use such mediums in order to bring your art and prints to the public and gain potential customers.

In this ultimate guide, we provide you with all the insights you need to know about art and how to sell your art online.

After a detailed study, we have brought up the top six tips for all artists on how to sell their original art and art prints online. 

But, before anything else…

What is Art?

In the simplest term, art is anything you visualize and put into work.

Your work of art expresses your ideas, imaginations, or technical skills and talents, mostly, with the intention of being appreciated in return for the beauty you created.

Your work of art can be anything from showpieces, handicrafts to beautifully framed paintings.

You may wonder if selling art online actually works or how much does an artist earns from selling artworks online.

Real Life Example…

To give you a better idea of this, we’d like to draw your attention to the exceptionally talented artist Marcy Criner and how her hobby of painting horses turned into a legitimate online business.

Marcy Criner is a passionate horse lover.

She had no degree in art or any other professional experience.

All she had was her hobby of painting, her love for horses, and lots of passion.

With everything she had, she started on a blank canvass. She took up online courses, read books on art, and started doing everything she could to better her art.

After three months of continuous practice and hard-work, Criner reached out to various horse lovers who followed her previous blog about horses, titled “Phatmare.”

She emailed them about her new project on “HorsesofUs.com,” and asked if they could be a part of by sending in some good pictures of their horses and be interviewed for ten minutes.

One of her followers, Candice, replied right away, and she turned out to be Criner’s first customer.

Candice, being a horse fan, was all intrigued by Criner’s proposal and sent tons of great pictures of her horse.

Criner painted Shark (Candice’s horse). And when asked about the cost of the painting, Criner, without thinking much, said $500.

Criner immediately regretted it and thought if her painting was not worth the price.

However, to her surprise, Candice readily accepted the deal and bought the painting.

From that day on, Criner started getting a number of referrals from horse owners wanting for her piece of art.

And this is how an aspiring artist started an online business out of her passion for art and, of course, horses!

Criner’s business bloomed.

She continued to reach out to more and more people, even on Facebook groups and communities. 

She garnered huge fame, and her art got featured in different horse magazines and art galleries.

However, while these were great ways of gaining exposure, she never did gain any customers.

She realized the thing about her growing business was the emotional connection of her customer with the art she created and her own personal touch.

Thus, she redirected all her focus to Facebook groups and continued building what she likes to call a relationship-based marketing business.  

As of today, Criner sells her paintings for up to $1200.

Her story is truly inspiring – that if you have the drive in you, everything is possible! 

Now that you have the inspiration and the art, let us jump into the top six tips to get you started for your online art business.

1. Use eCommerce Platform
2. Create a blog
3. Build an email list
4. Sell directly to collectors
5. Submit to online galleries
6. Sell using social media connections

Check out the infographic below, which was created by me to help you get an idea on how to sell art online.

Infographic About Selling Creative Art Online and Make Money.

Ready?

Lets dive right in…

1. Use eCommerce Platform

There are several eCommerce platforms out there- Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, etc.

eCommerce platforms have significantly improved online transactions of goods and services.

All these platforms offer great features that you cannot deny.

According to research made by Square and Mercury Analytics, about 56% of Gen Xers and 67% of millennials prefer online shopping, then going to a physical store.

Thus eCommerce platforms are a great way to reach more and more people and gain customers for your art.

Let’s take a look at one of the trendiest art-based online businesses, Flash Tattoos.

They deal with jewelry-inspired temporary tattoos for everyone. Even celebrities like Beyonce, Rachel Zoe, and Lady Gaga are big fans of the business.

Now, you may wonder how they grew so big and successful.

Flash Tattoos attributes its initial business growth and exposure to BigCommerce, one of the most sought after eCommerce platforms.

After they started working with BigCommerce in 2014, Flash Tattoos has gained immense exposure and sales, growing more than 100% each year.

Editors note: Below are expert tips when it comes to using eCommerce platform:

1. Here’s what Veronica Winters founder of Veronicasart has to say:

Yes, Artists can and should sell art online. Galleries often go bankrupt and it’s difficult to get into the gallery.

A lot of times galleries want to see a track record of sales from the artist to begin with.

So selling art online is a natural stepping stone to financial freedom. However, any kind of online shop/store is just the platform.

Just by being there, you won’t see sales coming. Platforms don’t do sales, you do as an artist.

That’s why avoid paying for high end ecommerce platforms that give you promises of sales (unless they can deliver on their promises).

Because at the end of the day, you must bring traffic to your store. They won’t do it for you.

So here are my tips to sell art online.

a. Choose the ePlatform you want to upload your art to. The best option is to have your personal ecommerce website.

I use woo commerce pug in to power my shop. Many people use Shopify because it’s very easy to set up.

Others, use squarespace because of the same reason. If you’re afraid to start your site from scratch, I recommend registering at SaatchiArt.

This is also a platform. They take the cut but they also provide good service and promotion you need as an artist.

b. Make high-quality pictures of your art. Good light. Cropped. Sharp. Write good descriptions.

c. Show art in the actual interior space! It’s difficult to visualize the size.

That’s why some commercial platforms like Amazon use actual views set in a space.

d. You must bring traffic to your site/shop!

How?

Guest post.

Use social media with active links to your shop.

Make posts with call to action running promotions. NETWORK.

2. According to Laurie Williams founder of Artbugle, simply posting a photo and price for your art is not going to cut it.

Regardless of the eCommerce platform you choose, you need a compelling product description, along with a story.

You need to connect on a deeper level with potential customers and build a brand for your online business.

Artists can accomplish this through the strategic use of social media engagement, advertising, and overall branding.

Additionally, it is also smart to choose a niche (or niches) and target your audiences appropriately.

3. Here’s what Katherine Tyrrell founder of Artbusinessinfo has to say:

I’ve summarised LOTS OF TIPS for artists wanting to sell online on my Ecommerce for Artists webpage.

However, I’ve noticed over time that many artists are ignorant of the do’s and don’ts for selling online in terms of what information MUST be present on any site they sell from.

If you want to avoid hassle and legal claims you MUST be compliant with ALL relevant law and regulations relating to trading law, eCommerce and data privacy – which you can check out on my website.

2. Create a blog

Another great way to sell your art online is by creating a blog.

The internet is all about content.

So, not only showcasing your artwork but creating art and fine art content on your blog is a must to build a successful art blog.

Only by creating content, you are able to attract viewers to check out your work, and create sales.

Creating a blog can get as creative as you want because it gives you the freedom to do anything – from the type of content you create, to how you choose to showcase your art to the world. 

If you are still a newbie in the realm of online business, you can seek the help of professionals to get you started.

Companies and sites such as GoDaddy provide:

Web hosting services

Popular domain names

Website marketing

Attractive graphic designs

…and many more.

All you have to do is contact them and tell them all your needs, and they can curate an engaging blog for you.

However, creating a blog is just the first step.

In order to be at the top, you need to regularly update your blog with fresh content and showcase new artworks from time to time.

This way, you generate traffic on your site and thus gain more potential buyers.

Editors note: Below are expert tips when it comes to creating an art blog:

1. According to Bethan Street Content Marketing Lead at Riseart.com,

Limit your online presence: Your digital footprint is important; potential collectors should be doing their homework before buying work, even if it’s just a cursory Google.

Keep yours minimal and considered: your website, socials and only those sales platforms that you think are worth their salt.

Exclusivity and credibility go a long way to convince collectors, curators and others that you are a serious artist worth investing in.

Photograph your work perfectly: If you want people to part with their money in return for artworks that they can’t see in the flesh, you need to represent them well online.

This means including clear photographs including close-ups and in situ shots.

Tell stories with and about your work: Part of the beauty of selling artworks over other things is that there’s always a story to be told.

What inspired you to create this work? What makes your creative process interesting?

Where has this particular work been shown?

Remember that you are not just selling your artwork, but also the stories that it is bound up in – stories that potential collectors can become a part of.

Don’t be afraid to follow up: It might feel salesy or unnatural at first, but following up with people who have enquired about your work.

Double-messaging can feel pushy but it really isn’t; there’s always a chance that the collector didn’t see your message or forgot to respond, and they will appreciate you keeping them in mind.

2. Carolyn Edlund founder of Artsyshark advises that although third-party platforms are available, she  recommends that serious artists have their own website.

Self-curate your best work and present a cohesive portfolio that is beautifully photographed (with several views per item) and that is also priced.

Your site should share your expertise, your concept and a message that resonates with visitors.

Make sure you have a subscriber opt-in with a strong incentive to subscribe, and then follow up with email marketing.

The majority of sales are made over time, so you must reach out consistently to become memorable and close those customers.

3. According to Christine O’Donnell founder of Beacongallery, when selling online one of the most important things you can do to entice buyers is to offer multiple high-quality images of your work.

While more people seem to be willing to purchase artwork sight-unseen, hardly anyone is willing to do so from a blurry, dark or low-resolution photograph.

An image of the entire piece, as well as an installation shot (how it looks hanging on the wall), and other relevant images (corners, side, back, closeup of texture) will all entice potential buyers. 

Time in quarantine may be the perfect moment for you go through your inventory and re-photograph artwork so it shows better on your site or on a third-party e-commerce platform.

Smart tip: wherever you place your art online, be sure to use titles or descriptions that match the most searched-for terms for the items you’re selling.

This tactic helps your items “rise to the top” of search results on your selected eCommerce platform.

3. Build an email list

Building an email list is one of the first things you should do when you’re working on your new online business.

It is the most powerful tool if you want to sell your art online. 

Building an email list gives you a huge advantage just as much as any other online ad services.

It lets you reach out to the people who are actually interested in your work.

If people are receiving your mails, it basically means they have signed up for it, and they want to know more about your work.

To give you an idea about the power of an email list, let’s take a look at an artist whose art business boomed after he made use of an email list.

Brian Kliewer came up with a project to boost his art marketing, which he called 100 paintings in 100 days for $100 each.

His basic idea was to paint a small painting every day for 100 days and notify about it to his email list.

The paintings were posted on his website to be sold for $100 to anyone who comes first. 

This project turned out to be a massive success.

Brian sold 79 paintings out of the 100.

He also received three commissions, which included two small and one large commission.

By the time he was done with his 100 days project, his email list had a growth of 46%.

Editors note: Below are expert tips when it comes to using your email list:

1. According to Alyson Stanfield founder of Artbizsuccess.com, people are most excited to hear from you—to connect with you—at the moment of purchase.

This applies whether it’s in person or online. Don’t waste this opportunity.

I advise artists to connect their shopping cart with their email marketing platform autoresponders so that your buyers immediately receive a thank you email (with a branded, heartfelt message).

Then you have to think about what’s next?

How will you nurture this new customer so they will buy from you again?

Check out her post about Following Up After You’ve Sold a Piece of Art

2. Here’s waht Aaron Hockley founder of Techphotoguy.com has to say:

When it comes to selling art online, we’re fortunate in that the hardest part isn’t the online platform anymore.

Whether you want to sell directly from your own website or use a third-party e-commerce platform, the setup is a solved problem.

The real challenge for artists to sell online is to get connected with their clientele.

This isn’t a case of “If you build it, they will come.”

Network with clients, leverage existing connections such as email lists, and ensure that when your clients frequent their usual online haunts, your name is there.

4. Sell directly to collectors

Artists have all kinds of chances to sell their works directly to collectors, be it from their online websites, private studios, or publicly at art fairs, charity events, open studios, and so on.

Selling your art directly to collectors maximizes your potential.

As the years pass, more and more artworks are sold online as compared to the standard method.

Even galleries, which are traditionally a refuge of in-person marketing, are converting to online businesses.

As a matter of fact, galleries these days have reports of having more than half of the sales through online websites.

For instance, Eugenia Chan is a jewelry designer and sells her jewelry online.

Her online shop has allowed more people to view her artworks at once, giving Chan the platform to come in contact with more collectors and buyers.

As opposed to selling face-to-face, Eugenia Chan found online websites to be a haven for meeting most of her collectors.  

More and more people are getting accustomed to buying art online, be it fine art or amateur works.

As a result, many artists are steering clear off galleries and choosing to showcase their art directly online to collectors and avoiding the middleman.

5. Submit to online galleries

The presence of online art galleries has significantly increased over the years.

Today, most people prefer to buy art online due to its high convenience and simplicity instead of visiting galleries and attending endless exhibitions.

Thus, online galleries have become immensely popular among art enthusiasts.

And submitting your art to online galleries is one of the best ways to gain exposure and buyers. 

Artsy is one of the biggest online art galleries out there.

Ever since it started in 2012, Artsy has grown immensely.

It has more than 150,000 registered users and serves over 200 million art views across 186 countries.

Along with providing artworks from several galleries and exhibitions, it brings to you different art that you might be interested in through emails.

This is one of the core features of why audiences love Artsy.

Artsy has made it possible for buyers as well as collectors to find their desired artworks conveniently.

However, galleries weren’t always a fan of Artsy.

But in 2010, Artsy successfully raised $1.25 million seed funding round from renowned investors like Jack Dorsey, Wendi Deng Murdoch, and Dasha Zhukova.

And once Artsy included galleries like Pace and Gagosian, it saw a breakthrough.

Galleries from different parts of the world registered on Artsy, and as of today, Artsy proudly represents 500 premier galleries in its inventory.

6. Sell using social media connections

Selling your art online using social media connections is fairly easy.

Once you start doing it, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before. 

With social media connections, you can reach out to the millions of people who are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

It can really have a profound impact on your artwork.

Artists such as Shane Miller and Cory Huff have succeeded incredibly through social media platforms.

Miller’s big break came when he took the help of a popular Instagram influencer and friend by the name Ruthie Lindsey to sell his work.

Lindsey had 90,000 followers, and so he traded a painting for promotion on her post.

When they met, another influencer with 1.2 million followers came along with Lindsey and who ended up sharing it on his feed since he liked the artwork.

Miller soon gained more than 3000 followers overnight.

Miller received a ton of messages and emails who wanted to know more about his work and where to buy them.

Miller now makes about 40% of his sales using Instagram.

Editors note: Below are expert tips when it comes to using social media:

1. According to Linda Blondheim, she found that her success to selling online directly to collectors has been small, inexpensive paintings.

She almost never sell large work online. It is still important to show large work on websites, so that potential collectors know you can produce serious work.

Linda does have good success with designers and art consultants who see her larger paintings online and want commissions.

She sell many small paintings through social media connections with her stories.

2. Katie Carey head of content & marketing at Artworkarchive.com says that promoting your artwork online is critical to being a creative entrepreneur and running an art business—especially today.

There are many aspects that are involved in selling your original artwork online.

You will need high-quality photographs, a  professional portfolio, and a way to promote those pages through social media or a newsletter.

With the Public Profile on Artwork Archive, artists can easily publish their artworks to a professional online portfolio.

This online gallery can stand alone or be embedded into any page on your own artist website.

What’s more, artists take 100% of the profit from their sales. It’s also promoted on the Discovery Platform–a worldwide network of art collectors, organizations, and artists.

Along with the above-mentioned six tips, my best strategy for promoting your art online is through the use of Facebook ads.

To help you understand more about this, let me tell you why.

Facebook has a massive platform to put your piece out for promotion.

Facebook Ads serve as the commercial hub for a variety of artists and their arts today.

You can promote arts such as paintings, woodcraft, papercraft, pottery, jewelry, and an array of other works.

To level up your promotion, you can make use of Connectio.io.

This tool will amplify your Facebook advertisement to millions of people around the world and not just to people in your vicinity.

It helps you in reaching your targeted audience by positioning your product the right way.

With Facebook garnering billions of users, linking up with this tool, you can expect massive progress in the promotion of your artworks.

Key Takeaway

Selling artwork online can be intimidating at first.

However, with the correct tools, it is not only possible to sell art online, but you can even earn great exposure as well as income. 

Creating an art blog is one of the first steps you can take to reach out to people.

Make sure to regularly update interesting art content along with showcasing your artwork.  

Once you are confident with the quality of your artwork, you can take your art to several eCommerce platforms or submit your art to online art galleries.

This is a great way to earn exposure as well as buyers.

Also, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great ways of interacting with your audience since they provide several tools for customer feedback.

These platforms can help you promote your artwork as well as garner a loyal audience base.

Now its Your Turn

We’re always striving to provide our readers with the best information.

We value your opinions and suggestions.

So, it would help a great deal if you give your honest feedback on this post –Did the information help you?

Will you follow the above-mentioned tips?

Are you going to try using BigCommerce to sell your art online?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.

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