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sell art online

Selling Art Online: How to Make Money if You're an Artist

15 min read

It’s not too late to give up art and go to medical school… Or so my parents tell me. While they may be right, what they don’t realize is that the gap between starving artist and artist-who can-pay-the-bills is easier to close than ever. Of course, not every artist can make it big and show in galleries in New York, London, or Paris, but every artist can use an ecommerce platform to sell their art online.

If you’re an artist or art lover, you can sell artwork on various online platforms. For example, on Etsy, Instagram, Amazon, or in your own online store. Luckily, you don’t have to choose because there’s a way to sell on multiple platforms at the same time.

No matter what kind of art you make, there is an audience (and a customer) out there for you. It may seem daunting to find those customers given the number of marketplaces available, but, while we can’t help you put brush to canvas, we can help you find the perfect platform. Keep reading for a simple, how-to guide to making money as an artist and selling your art online.

How to sell online
Tips from e-commerce experts for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
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Sell Art on Etsy

Etsy may be the most obvious choice when it comes to selling art online. The site is huge, with hundreds of thousands of sellers and buyers. An established customer base can be a benefit, but you’ll also encounter a lot of competition. Depending on your art, how much money you’re hoping to make, and the amount of time you can dedicate to building and managing your store, Etsy might be the best fit for you. One of the primary benefits is the opportunity to fill an empty niche. If your art is unique and unexpected, you can carve out a profitable space in Etsy’s thriving market. We’ve broken down the process of establishing yourself on Etsy into a few key steps:

1. Sign up and name your store. Etsy makes selling simple. To get started, you’ll need to register an email address, provide your name and country, and then answer a question about whether selling will be your full or part-time job. After that, all you need to do is name your store! Try and come up with a name that’s both creative and memorable. You want your customers to be able to easily return to your store and recommend it to others.

2. Add inventory. One of the benefits of Etsy is that there are few limits on what you can sell. Etsy allows for handmade items made by you (if you make art with a partner, you’ll need to disclose their information as well), vintage items that are at least twenty years old, and craft supplies. It’s important to note that Etsy does charge a stocking fee when you’re uploading inventory. There’s a $0.20 listing fee, which will last for four months or until the item sells. Etsy does also require that the photography or videos included in your listing belong to you, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re selling original art!

3. Grow your customer base. There are no monthly fees for Etsy’s basic membership, but you can choose to upgrade to Etsy Plus for $10 a month. Etsy Plus comes with a few features that can help your store stand out, so if you use it effectively it should eventually pay for itself. With the upgrade, you’ll be able to customize your shop’s banner, create featured listings, and spotlight new products; you’ll be able to better communicate with shoppers, letting them know when an item is back in stock; and, you’ll receive $5 in credit to advertise your items with Etsy Ads each month.

4. Sell your art! Of course, the most exciting part of any method you choose for selling your art is when your first customer makes a purchase. Etsy requires all sellers to utilize their Etsy Payments system so don’t expect to see the money in your account the second someone hits buy. The benefits of Etsy Payments are that your customers can use any of ten different methods to pay, including Apple Pay, PayPal, and their credit cards. The goal is to give customers a streamlined experience across the website, but this also means that it takes some time for the payment to process and end up in your account. On the seller side, you’ll need to provide your bank information and choose a deposit schedule (most sellers choose weekly deposits). As you collect sales and revenue, Etsy will hold the funds for you and deposit them as a lump sum according to the schedule you’ve selected. While you’ll get the majority of the sale, Etsy does keep a five percent transaction fee, along with a three percent plus $0.25 processing fee.

Learn more: A Beginner’s Guide to Selling on Etsy

Sell Art on Instagram

If you’re not already a digital socialite, the prospect of selling your art on Instagram may seem difficult. In reality, Instagram is a perfect platform for artists looking for ways to make money. The platform is image-focused, so people are drawn to visual artwork that breaks up the monotony of Chelsea’s latest selfie and Brad’s breakfast burrito. Here are a few key steps to take when selling your art on Instagram:

1. Write an engaging bio. You want people to buy your artwork, which means you need people to connect with the meaning of the work and with who you are as an artist. Ultimately, you’ll want to keep your bio brief, so try to distill your artistic motivations and themes into a few sharp sentences. Remember that every aspect of your page is part of the sales pitch, so don’t be afraid to let people know what your goals are and why you’re selling.

2. Upload your content. Now you need to show people the art you’re currently selling. To build engagement, try not to upload all your images in one day and consider mixing up your content with posts that build your brand. Creating a content plan that includes a schedule and ideas for different types of posts can help with this! For example, you can post an item for sale and later follow that post with a video documenting the behind-the-scenes process of making the piece.

3. Start selling. Once you’ve uploaded your art and drummed up some interest, you’re ready to begin selling. There are a few ways you can do this. While you’re starting out and building a following, you may find it easy to manage your sales via direct message. When a customer is interested in purchasing a piece of your art, you can communicate directly with them to get their shipping information and arrange payment via PayPal or a similar service. If this sounds complicated, or if you begin to make a lot of sales, you might decide to simplify the process by setting up an online store via an ecommerce platform. There’ll be more information later about setting up an online store, so keep scrolling!

For our in-depth guide containing everything, you need to know about selling on Instagram, check out this article.

Sell Art on Amazon

Where Instagram offers a self-starting, DIY approach to selling your art, Amazon allows for a more streamlined (and regimented) process. To sell art on Amazon, you’ll need to apply to Amazon Handmade. Your application must then be reviewed and approved before you can set up your store. You’ll spend more time upfront, but the approval comes with benefits: access to Amazon’s enormous customer base, built-in purchasing and payment methods, and a fee waiver for Amazon’s typical $39.99/month Professional selling fee after the first month. Here are the key steps involved in selling art on Amazon:

1. Check eligibility. Amazon Handmade is available for artisans looking to sell their handcrafted products to Amazon’s millions of customers worldwide. Handmade allows for the sale of “Accessories, Artwork, Baby, Beauty & Personal Care, Clothing, Shoes & Handbags, Home, Outdoor & Home Care, Jewelry & Watches, Kitchen & Dining, Pet Supplies, Sporting Goods, Stationary & Party Supplies, and Toys & Games.” Basically, if you make it yourself (or with a small team), you can sell it!

2. Apply. Once you’ve ensured that you’re eligible, it’s time to apply. You’ll first need to create a seller account, and then you’ll be able to access the Handmade application. The application includes basic personal details, questions about your work and process, and the option to upload images of your art (it’s highly recommended that you do).

3. Upload products and sell. Amazon will provide you with the tools you need to upload your products, manage your business, and start making money by selling your art. As a Handmade seller, you’ll have access to the benefits of the Professional selling account, which allows you to add new products to the Amazon catalog, manage your inventory with spreadsheets and reports, engage shoppers with on-site advertising tools, run promotions, and more. Though your $39.99/month Professional selling fee will be waived after the first month, it’s important to note that Amazon Handmade will deduct a 15 percent referral fee from each sale you make.

Sell Art on an Ecommerce Platform (Online Store)

If you’re having a hard time choosing between Instagram, Amazon, or something similar, why paint yourself into a corner? Ecommerce platforms host an online store that you create and then help connect and advertise your store to social media sites and other marketplaces. As we mentioned above, creating a store via an ecommerce platform can enhance your selling experience on sites like Instagram.

When you connect your store to an Instagram account, you’ll have the option to enable Instagram Shopping, which lets anyone purchase from your store directly through the Instagram app. Your customers will love being able to buy your art with a single tap. Using an ecommerce platform to build your store takes just a few easy steps:

1. Choose your platform. We may be a bit biased, but we think Ecwid is a great choice for your ecommerce needs. Don’t be afraid to look around and find the site that works best for you. Some of them offer free trial periods as you’re testing the waters. Just be sure to cancel before any charges kick in! Here at Ecwid, we’re putting free trials on trial. You can create a free account and keep it as long as you need it without being charged.

2. Build your website or store. Artists, don’t be intimidated! No one is going to ask you to code or build a site from scratch. Ecwid and other ecommerce platforms come loaded with customizable templates that let you build your store within minutes. You’ll be able to put your artistic eye to good use as you choose the best color scheme, layout, and name for your store.

3. Share your store. Art is made to be seen, and ecommerce platforms offer a variety of methods to get your art in front of customers. After building your store on Ecwid, you’ll be able to instantly sync and sell across social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. We can even generate links for Tiktok, WhatsApp, and YouTube. Ecwid also helps market your business, with tools to help you place ads on Google, Amazon, Snapchat, and more. These features aren’t exclusive to Ecwid, of course, but their availability will vary depending on the site and plan you purchase.

4. Sell! Ecommerce platforms allow for flexible payment, usually offering an in-house system along with compatibility with PayPal and other services. Regardless of the site you use, where you advertise, and how you get paid, the important thing is that you’re finding the best method to sell your art online and make money in the process!

Do you want to learn more about selling art online?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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