How to sell art online: market overview and practical guide

How to sell art online with Ecwid
“Stay focused and don’t be distracted by anyone saying you can’t or shouldn’t follow your dreams of being an artist. Take any and every opportunity (within reason) to showcase your work. It takes time, but if you’re diligent… it will pay off in the long run.”

Skye Walker, a street artist from Encinitas, CA, once said this in an interview about his life as an artist. He, as well as thousands of artists around the world, know something about dedication. They resist the world’s pragmatism and the impulse to live a normal life, find a stable job, and to work towards maximum efficiency. Nowadays, artists find themselves in a difficult balancing act between creating work they care about and making a living.

Yes, the world knows many successful artists who don’t have to pinch pennies, but many more creators are looking for recognition, and struggling to pay their rent along the way.

Here’s a dose of inspiration: The United States one-dollar bill illustrates George Washington, the first president of the United States. The image is based on the unfinished portrait by Gilbert Stuart, who was struggling to become a successful artist for 20 years and became one by wisely distributing a single painting that put his name on the radar. Without Stuart’s effort, patience, talent, and, of course, distribution strategy, the one-dollar bill wouldn’t look the way we know it today.

Maybe this proves that though things have changed since the times of Washington, there is still a way to beautifully showcase your creations, reach out to the world, build up an audience, make money doing what you love, and, most importantly, become a world-famous artist!

Dream chasers and creators of any kind, we invite you to enter a world with no boundaries, where everyone is one click away no matter their physical distance, to a place where everything is possible.

Icon | The Time is Now
The time is now
With 92% of millennials purchasing art online, there’s no point in waiting another day to get started.
Icon | Do What You Like
Do what you like
Stay true to yourself — and create! E-commerce lets you turn your passion into a source of income.
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Easy breezy
It’s not rocket science. Creating an online store takes 5 minutes!

Overview

Art market: offline down, online up

With $64.1 billion in sales in 2019, the art market dropped by 5 percent compared to 2018, as “The Art Market 2020” report by Art Basel and UBS indicates. However, if we split selling offline in the galleries and online using platforms and websites, the picture looks a lot brighter for e-commerce.

According to Statista estimates, the global online art market value in 2019 was $4.8 billion, which is 7.5 percent of the market. And online art sales are forecast to increase to a total of $9.32 billion by 2024.

E-commerce technologies penetrate the art market, making it more accessible and opening doors to new players. Small galleries with turnover under $1 million have already taken 12% of the overall online sales made in 2019.

But the market is a habitat for two creatures: the seller and the buyer. Selling art online has been driven by a new generation of customers: millennials. According to the report, millennials now make up nearly half (49 percent) of all collectors globally. And 92 percent of them buy art and collectibles online.

Due to coronavirus, and the subsequent cancellation of significant offline art events in 2020, the online art market’s future looks bright and promising. Like in any other niche, the art selling experts say that lockdown presents a great opportunity to start selling online.

Sell art online

How do I sell my artwork online?

Art has always been hard to sell, even though it’s an essential contributor to our everyday lives and culture. The complexity lies in the variety: each artist is different, their mood is never the same and this translates to their work. The same is true with buyers, who also flow from one mental state to another. A particular piece of art might not match a specific buyer’s mood. But when the buyer’s and the seller’s tastes align, purchasing magic happens.

So is there a way for artists to influence this alchemy?

Yep! Actually, two of them. If you want to sell your artwork, you can:

  • follow trends in your field and create what’s in demand or;
  • scale your reach and raise the chances of finding a buyer who likes the same things you do.

Is selling art online profitable?

That is the central question. Inspiration, education, and beauty itself won’t pay your bills. If you want to dedicate 100% of your life’s work to art, it has to feed you.

So, how much can you earn by selling art?

The answer is: as much as the effort you put into it. If you sell only physical art, then you’re missing a fantastic opportunity offered by the digital world — selling digital products (digital arts or digital copies). If you turn your art into digital products, selling art online might be difficult at first. But in a little while, you will find yourself able to sell the same pieces that you created years ago, without running out of stock. And that’s the beauty of selling art online.

From $10 to $50,000 per piece — the sky’s the limit as far as price is concerned. Well, taking into consideration how much your customers are willing to spend, of course.

What art can I sell online to make money?

If you’re an artist and want to sell your pieces online, you’ll have to think about how best to repurpose your art. There’re so many ways you can create different products based on a single piece of work.

Use different surfaces:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Glass

Think of decor:

  • In frame
  • Glass-covered
  • Poster

Digitalize:

  • Downloadable images
  • Desktop wallpapers
  • Digital calendars

Print it on things:

  • iPhone cases
  • Pillows
  • T-shirts

What types of visual art are in demand?

Imagination knows no boundaries. However, it’s a good idea to understand market preferences, and offer something that will attract potential buyers. Good demand requires great supply, as they say.

Here are the Top-5 most popular art styles according to Benart art gallery, New York:

  • Abstract art
  • Impressionism
  • Pop art
  • Cubism
  • Modern art

If we’re talking about the themes or topics of the art pieces, Art Business News magazine has spotlighted the following:

  • Traditional landscapes
  • Local views
  • Modern or semi-abstract landscapes
  • Abstracts
  • Dogs

What size paintings sell best?

You already know the answer, don’t you? Small paintings sell better in quantity, bigger ones sell for more. Simple, 8"x10", or 5”x7” are cheaper and are easier to place on the wall of a living space. However, 6"x20" and larger paintings cost more and generate larger paychecks. Professionals advise mixing both options and recreating larger pieces in a smaller size, to potentially attract customers who can’t afford the full-sized piece in all its glory. But be careful: showcase the most expensive pieces first to attract the eye, then offer smaller ones as a more affordable option where necessary.
Sell art online

How to know if my art is good enough to sell?

Why do you think it isn’t? Just do your best when, follow your artistic impulses, and work hard to get your piece to the market so people will see it!

Of course, fame and glory don’t come in a day. But if you keep doing what you like, exploring trends in your field to get inspired, you might just work up to shocking the market with your talent.

Still feeling a little apprehensive about your artistic “worth”? Well, if you submit your work to an offline or online (recommended!) gallery, they will provide an assessment (usually for free). This way, you will know exactly how much your painting is worth. You never know, it might be worth more than you think.

How do I copyright my artwork?

This topic could fill its own guide. But to make a long story short, tangible pieces of art are already copyrighted. Unfortunately, their digital copies are not, unless they have any identification sign (like a watermark) that proves that it’s a copy of your original artwork.

It means if you didn’t sign your painting and someone took a picture of it  you're in a very vulnerable position. But if the painting has your signature, even the photos (images, prints) of it will not be allowed to be sold without your permission.

Another great way to protect your property is to register it! In the US, you can copyright artwork by submitting individual pieces to the Library of Congress Copyright Office. It will create a proof of ownership and entitle you to ask for more money if you need to sue someone for copyright infringement.

Sell art online

Practice

How do I get started selling art?

Getting started isn’t easy. There is a long checklist of things to consider. And it will depend on the type of art you create and the materials you use. However, we’ve taken the liberty of outlining some major things to think about to get the ball rolling.

Professional photography. Submitting your art to online galleries or selling them online will require high-quality images of the works in order to faithfully represent what a buyer is purchasing. Writing descriptions. These should be engaging, emotional and tell the story behind the painting so that buyers can emotionally connect with the piece.

Packaging and delivery. If you assume that any delivery service will take good care of your painting, you could be wrong. Do some planning in terms of packaging to make sure your art pieces are safe on their journey to the buyer.

Uploading to market. It will take time to organize your inventory in online galleries or art marketplaces. Budget that time into your planning now, rather than later.

Starting a website. Your art needs a (virtual) home where your fans can find you, connect with you, and, most importantly, buy from you. Try one without commissions. We have some suggestions, below.

What is the best place to sell art online?

You know the phrase: more is more. Try to introduce yourself to as many people as possible through the internet. Expand to all possible channels that your potential customer might visit.

Some ideas:

  • The big three: Amazon, eBay, Etsy. Each has a dedicated section for artists.
  • FineArtAmerica. One of the largest art marketplaces in the world.
  • Saatchi Art. a marketplace with 1.7 million monthly visitors.
  • Society6. An awesome place to print your art on things and sell them.
  • Art(dot)com. If you can’t find your category here, you won't find it anywhere.
  • Artsy. A massive online gallery for artists from all over the world.

Sell art through your website

A website is a must-have! Not only because it’s so easy to create a website (or online store) these days, but because it’s more convenient for buyers looking for something specific to find you and shop in one place.

Paintings, prints, merchandise — with a website, everything you have to offer can be seen and explored on one storefront without other vendors getting in the way. It’s just a more friendly and authentic customer experience to have customers shop directly from you, instead of working through a third party interface.

Plus, you have control over the entire website. Colors, typography, layout, galleries, combinations, collections — you can organize everything the way you like it.

You can use your website/online store to sell arts and crafts, and connect your inventory to multiple sales channels: social media, marketplaces, POS, etc.

Selling art online for free

If you want to sell your art for free, with zero investment in advertising, then social media is a great option. However, to do so requires a study in building an online audience. It will take time to grow your followers count and communicate with influencers, but, on the upside — won’t cost a dime! Create profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. These giants are a good place to start. We especially recommend Pinterest because of its focus on visual art and aesthetics.

A perfect website for selling art

Your website or online store should reflect your individuality as an artist. A perfect online store to sell art should have:

  • Actual inventory. If you don’t have anything — it’s time to make something!
  • Large images with a zoom-in feature.
  • A clean design to keep customers focused on the art.
  • Collections to gather different products with common looks or themes.
  • Extensive descriptions to tell the story behind each piece.
  • Secure checkout to build trust with your customers.
  • Comprehensive legal docs (especially on your shipping policy).
  • A page with a story about the artist to build an emotional connection with your customers.

Marketing for selling arts and crafts online

No magic. Only classic techniques.


Motivation

  • Cross-selling
  • First purchase discount
  • Time-limited offer

Journey management

  • Category “New”
  • Category “Bestseller”
  • Category “On Sale”

Retention

  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Newsletter subscription
  • Like this product

Word of mouth

  • Affiliate program
  • Share on social media
  • Buy as a present

How do I deliver my arts?

If you sell digital copies of your art, you can skip this question. Your e-commerce platform or marketplace where you list your products will send the buyers links to the copies.

But if you sell physical pieces, make sure to take care of the following:

  1. Use wooden crates to ship large unframed pieces or mid-sized framed ones (18"x24").
  2. Cover the art with protective material like cardboard, bubble wrap, or cloth to avoid damage.
  3. If you ship several flat pieces in a tube, put glassine paper between them and make sure they’re facing the same direction.
  4. If you’re shipping paintings with glass, tape several strips of painter’s tape on each in an X-shape and wrap the pieces with a cling film.
  5. Use cardboard corner protectors to secure your artwork’s edges.
  6. Wrap up each of the art pieces you ship with two layers of bubble wrap — whether it’s a single work or several in one crate.
  7. Don’t leave any empty space in the box (or tube, or crate) — fill it completely with bubble wrap, paper, or packing peanuts.
  8. Seal your container with heavy-duty, high-quality packaging tape.

The Ecwid experience

Selling art online with Ecwid

If you’re an artist thinking about selling online, you’ve come to the right place. With Ecwid, you can start your own online store to show your artwork to millions of people, all while providing customers with a convenient and fast way to buy your work. Whether you are an artist, a designer, a DIY-er, or selling other artist’s works, Ecwid can work for you.
Icon | Sell Everywhere
Sell everywhere
Sell simultaneously in-person and on your website, mobile site, social sites, and in marketplaces.
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Responsive design
An Ecwid store looks perfect on any device — whether it be a phone, laptop, tablet, smart TV, or smartwatch.
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Social commerce
Add an online store to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or any other social media site.
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Global reach
Sell globally with multi-currency support, over 100+ payment options, and in 50+ languages.

8 Steps to start selling arts online with Ecwid

Learn how to set up and customize your Ecwid store to sell your artworks, products, or services.

Signing up with Ecwid is simple; you just need an email address to create your online store.

You can sign up for free on our website or download the Ecwid mobile app for iOS or Android to create your store right from a mobile device.

For each service or artwork you want to sell in your store, you will need to create a product in your store catalog.

Set stock for each product

Specify how many items of each product you have in stock, i.e., how many items customers can buy from you.

Hide “out of stock” products

If you sell unique products that are one of a kind, i.e., paintings or sculptures that can’t be replicated, you can automatically hide “out of stock” items from your storefront. That way, once a painting or a sculpture is bought, customers won’t try to buy something that has already been sold. 

Set up “low stock” notifications

To make sure that you resupply your stock on time, set up low stock notifications. In each product’s setting, specify the stock level at which you want to be notified about running low on stock.

Get necessary info using product options

Use drop-downs, radio buttons, checkboxes, or text fields to let customers choose from existing options or type special note messages.
use product options foк selling digital products
Show images of a product with different options

If your products are available in different colors or made from different materials, create product variations to show what a product looks like with these options.

Show images of a product with different options

Sell video masterclasses

Here’s an idea: you can record masterclasses on the making of your pieces, and then sell these videos to customers. It’s an efficient idea, because you’ll only need to upload the video to your store only once, and then your work is done. When someone buys a masterclass from you, Ecwid will automatically send the download link to the customer.

Sell spots in your offline masterclasses

If you give offline masterclasses, for instance, where you teach people how to paint, you can use your online store to sell reservations for seats in your masterclass. To limit the number of participants, use the stock feature in product details.

When you sell online, your website represents you and your art. Ensure that your website communicates your style and individuality, and shows what sets you apart from other artists and stores.

Choose a store theme

With Ecwid’s built-in settings, you can choose a theme for your store, set up the layout of product pages, select how product images to display, and a lot more.

Tell your story

People love stories. You can earn customer’s trust by describing how you started making art, including photos of your workshop, sharing details of your artistic process, and telling everyone a little more about yourself.

Share your contact information and social profiles

Show your store’s visitors how they can contact you if they have questions about your artwork. You can include your email and phone number, or also links to your social media profiles so store visitors can follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Set up a custom domain name

When you sign up with Ecwid, your store address (i.e., your domain name) looks like this: https://store12345.company.site — you can change this domain to a custom domain name that customers can easily remember.

To start selling online, you should decide how you will accept payments and then set up appropriate payment methods in your store.

You can set up several payment options and let customers choose to pay online or offline. For example, you can let customers pay online with PayPal or pay in cash when they pick up an order from your workshop.

You also have to decide how you will ship orders, and set up appropriate shipping methods. You can set fixed rates, rates based on weight or subtotal, or use carrier-calculated shipping method rates. If you have a workshop or physical store where your customers can pick up their order, set up “order pickup.”

With Ecwid, you can sell products on social media and other marketplaces in addition to your Instant site or your personal website. Any sales you make and/or product stock updates will be seamlessly synced between the platforms. That means you can keep managing the store from one place — your Ecwid admin — and still make sales from different platforms.

Upselling is when you offer a premium version of a product. Cross-selling is when you suggest related or complementary product options to customers based on items in their cart or purchases. Both of these methods can help you increase your revenue.

Upselling and cross-selling ideas:

  • Add complementary products
  • Show related products
  • Offer customization options
  • Offer gift wrapping
  • Sell gift cards

Add your store’s link to your social media profiles — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Consider creating a separate Instagram account for your store and set up product tagging there. Advertise your store with Google Smart Shopping.

Start selling art with Ecwid

From prints to paintings, sculptures to installations and beyond, Ecwid provides you with a broad array of amazing features to take advantage of to quickly and easily sell art online.

Whether you have an existing website or are expanding your business into the online world for the first time, Ecwid will help you grow your business with a store that feels exactly the way you want it to.

Beautifully display your art with elegant viewing galleries, connect with your customers to your social media accounts, give them special offers, and manage your online business with customizable shipping and payment options.

Adding art e-commerce to your new or existing website with Ecwid is simple. With only a few short steps, you’ll be able to sell art online in minutes.

Your online art store will blend seamlessly with your site design and can be fully customized to look the way you want it to. Our responsive design will also ensure that your online art store displays beautifully on all devices, from desktops to tablets to smartphones.

With our lightning-fast AJAX technology, your customers will be able to smoothly and quickly browse through your entire art inventory, search for specific artworks, and make purchases quickly and securely.

Customers can create a profile or check out without one for maximum ease of use. And if you manage multiple websites, or wish to take advantage of Ecwid’s social media platforms, including Facebook integration, all of your inventory will be mirrored across your sites and intuitively managed from a single control panel.

Lastly, using our iPhone app, you can also manage your store while you’re on the go. Sounds good? Click the button below to give it a whirl.

Sell art online
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