Creating an online store is the one of the best ways to sell and promote your art. In fact, it’s now easier than ever for artists, designers and illustrators to share their work online and monetize their success.
From picking the right online platform and mastering website design, to creating your marketing assets and deciding how to price your work, here are the most important things you need to know about how to sell art online.
10 best platforms to sell your art online
Wix for artists provides multiple opportunities for selling your artwork online, helping you find the right fit for your needs as a freelance artist. Create your online store by choosing any of these eCommerce templates to get started. You can add the Wix Art Store app to your website, which offers a print on demand service for selling digital illustrations, prints and other merchandise. The Art Store’s all-in-one solution takes care of the packaging, shipping and payment for you, so you don’t have to worry about technicalities. It’s also free to install and completely commission-free to use.
You can also integrate print on demand services, Printful or Printify, with your online store. That way, you’ll be able to custom-design a wide array of products, such as posters, T-shirts, mugs and much more, with these easy-to-use dropshipping apps. The fulfillment and shipping of the products will be taken care of by Printful or Printify for each new order.
Etsy is a marketplace for creative goods that specializes in handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. Sellers can create and customize elements in their shop, such as the shop banner and profile image.
Etsy charges nominal listing and transaction fees. Their store comes with added marketing and promotional tools for managing orders and promoting your listings. Etsy merchants can also use the print on demand service Printify.
Society6 was founded in 2009 with the goal of carving a welcoming space for both independent artists and their audiences. This print on demand service offers a wide variety of products, from wall art to home decor, furniture and apparel.
All order fulfillment aspects are taken care of by Society6, including printing and shipping. The website pays artists a set percentage of each product they sell.
With over 47 million users, DeviantArt is the world’s largest art community. Artists can personalize their profile and set up a shop to promote and sell their deviations, either in the form of commissioned work or prints and digital downloads.
For artists who want to make their own NFTs, they can also submit work to DeviantArt and receive alerts if and when someone tries to mint it as an unauthorized NFT on a public blockchain.
05. Big Cartel
Geared towards artists, makers and small brands, Big Cartel is a platform for creating and customizing stores for selling your art online. The store can also be part of your portfolio website.
While Big Cartel doesn't charge listing fees, artists can choose from a variety of monthly plans depending on the amount of products in their store. For budding merchants, stores with five products or under are free of charge.
eCommerce platform Shopify allows users to set up their own storefront and sell products directly on their websites, social media platforms and other marketplaces. Artists can sell physical products, digital products, services and more.
Storefronts can be customized using various themes and integration of code. First-time users are offered a two-week free trial, and can later pick out of various pricing plans.
Redbubble is a marketplace for print on demand products created with user-submitted artwork. Designs can be printed in the form of posters, T-shirts, vinyl stickers, mobile phone cases and more.
Redbubble coordinates the printing, shipping and customer service for each of its sales. In addition, artists can choose their preferred profit margin and retail prices, based on a set base per product.
08. Fine Art America
Fine Art America is the country’s largest online art store and print on demand website that services the entire globe. Artists can sell all types of art, from original canvases to prints to tapestries and home decor. Fine Art America takes care of both printing and shipping in one of their manufacturing facilities - and every shipment comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Sellers can set up a free standard membership or a Premium account for $30 which provides more exposure and sales opportunities. In addition to a practical storefront, Fine Art America also provides administrative and marketing tools for their clients including an online store, tools to create and send out newsletters and access to members-only groups.
To sell their work on Artfinder, artists need to undergo an application process in which they submit a work sample and tell the company a bit about themselves. Artfinder will then select artists they want to work with to sell on their site, taking a 33%-40% commission. And unlike some other online art stores, Artfinder only allows artists to sell original artwork, with an emphasis on photography and paintings - they do not sell or produce prints.
UGallery also carefully selects which artists to feature on their site by requiring an application process. Their goal is for buyers to feel like instead of scrolling through a website, they are strolling through art galleries and connecting with the pieces in person.
Everything showcased is handpicked with UGallery, providing a selectively curated and extremely upscale shopping experience. Once a piece is sold, UGallery splits the profit 50/50 with the artist.
How to sell art online
2. Decide if you'll sell originals or prints
01. Create a brand
In order to give your pieces the promotion they deserve, it’s imperative to create a brand. Like any product being sold, people buy it not only for what it can do or how it looks, but they’re buying the brand, too. You can start by creating a name for your business, whether that be your own name or using an artist name generator for help.
Next, think about who your target market is and the mood you’d like your artwork and online store to evoke. Create a consistent visual language to make your brand feel tailored and unified, with a well-crafted color palette and a selection of one to three fonts. Then, create a logo with a free logo maker to create your very own personal emblem.
Once you set the right tone and have a logo that represents your brand, make sure to carry both across all your marketing channels, not only your store – from the design of your online art portfolio, social feeds, newsletter and business cards.
Making a website is a great way to get started with building your brand as an artist, and a crucial part of selling art online. There are also plenty of great best portfolio websites to draw inspiration from.
02. Decide if you’ll sell originals or prints
This will depend on what type of art you create and what your goals are - and you may choose to do both. Artists that use classical mediums, such as painting or pencil drawing, may choose to only sell originals, while digital artists may exclusively sell printed versions of their work.
However, that’s not to say that painters can’t also sell prints. You may also choose to take custom orders, creating a single piece of art for a specific order. The opportunities for how you sell your work are truly limitless, so think this through before you start selling. It will affect if you need to work with a dropshipper or printing company.
03. Set up your online store
When starting an online store, consider it your virtual storefront. Your online store should visually represent you as an artist and brand, and intrigue shoppers to continue scrolling.
With Wix, you can create a completely customizable website that acts as your store and portfolio in one. Utilize a unique ecommerce template and choose colors and fonts that match your branding and emotions you want your art to convey. You can even include an art blog if you want to connect with your customers and share your ideas about the art world.
In addition, here are some other tips on how you can customize your website store and make it unique to you:
Clarify what you sell. Your homepage should explicitly explain the type of art you sell. Make sure you include a paragraph or bullet points along with images that explain the inspiration behind your work. It’s also worth including an About section to let buyers know who you are and give them an opportunity to make a personal connection.
Bring your products to life with photos or mockups: Display high quality images of your work out in the real world as a framed poster up on a wall or a tote bag hanging on someone’s shoulder. Achieve this either by setting up a photoshoot of your products or with the help of mockups. This will let buyers envision your work integrated into their own lives and make them more likely to make a purchase.
Implement design features that make your website more interactive and user friendly. Two incredibly helpful elements include:
Hover effects. Provide more information about a product each time a customer hovers over it. This will entice them to click and ultimately, make a purchase. Hover effects can be used to zoom in on a product, show it in a different setting, or introduce a different version of the same product, such as an additional color scheme for the same item.
Magnifying glass: Allow site visitors to zoom in on your product pages using a magnifying glass, giving them a view into the intricacies that make your artwork one of a kind.
Include clearly displayed prices and store policies. Business transparency is incredibly important for building trust and retaining customers. For this reason, the prices of your work should be easily identifiable and clearly written next to each piece of artwork. In addition, include a section in your store that explicitly states your refund, delivery and cancellation policies.
Make sure your check out process is simple. Nothing blows a sale quite like a complicated check out process. Poor UX design when someone is ready to buy can lead to potential customers getting frustrated and clicking off your site. To avoid them abandoning their cart, keep required fields to a minimum and make sure each step is clearly numbered.
04. Promote your art
Once your store is set up and ready to go, it’s time to start promoting your online art store. Harness the power of social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) to get the word out.
Create social media accounts specifically to promote your work and include a link to your online store in your profiles. On all channels, be authentic and help followers to get to know you by sharing what inspires you. Let your fans know if you’re excited about the launch of a new product, or when you spot a color combination that sparks your imagination. This will make your personal brand feel relatable and foster a more meaningful connection with your audience.
Other helpful tips for social media marketing include:
Create a social media calendar: You can also use social media as an outlet for announcing sales, discounts, contests and giveaways. Create a social media calendar so that your posts are designed and ready to go up by each holiday or special occasion that you’d like to commemorate.
Announce new or upcoming products: Let your followers know each time you add a new item to your store with a post inviting them to check it out. You can also build anticipation by offering a sneak peek into something that’s about to be released, prior to putting it up for sale. This helps your fans feel like part of the process and keeps them more involved in your work, a big part of how to sell art online.
Engage with followers with user-generated content: Cultivate a community around your work by building relationships with your followers. Share others’ posts featuring your products. These honest, real-life testimonials are gold. They show just how happy your customers are with their purchase – and they can make new customers excited about the items, too.
Polls: Conduct quick polls with questions about your products, asking anything from which design your followers like better to which new items they’d like to see in your store. Be sure to respond to followers’ comments and messages with authentic, genuine replies.
Email marketing can be an incredibly effective and creative way for artists to market their work. The most important thing is to develop a strategy and stick to it. Start by including an email signup form on your website so people can easily subscribe to your mailing list.
However, before you begin sending out emails regularly (once a month is a good place to start), be sure to have enough subscribers to make your efforts worthwhile. According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate of marketing emails is 18%, so if you have 75 subscribers, you can assume that approximately 13 people will open it. Using an email marketing tool is a good way to track these statistics - not to mention organize your content and subscriber list and create branded and well-structured emails.
Once you have a subscriber list, you’ll need to determine the type of content you want to send. As an artist, you have the opportunity to make your email incredibly creative and visually appealing by featuring your work. Your target audience will be more likely to open your emails if they find the content interesting worth their time. Images of new artwork, announcing gallery openings, images of yourself working, deals and discounts and short blog posts are all types of content you could include. It’s also worth testing out a few different types of emails and seeing what performs best - then create more of it.
To increase the chances of potential buyers finding you on Google, you’ll want to optimize your online store for SEO. This process includes incorporating a variety of content and specific keywords throughout your website. To get started, you can use a free SEO tool like Google Keyword Planner or invest in a paid one, such as Ahrefs, to identify keywords and phrases people are searching for that are relevant to your niche. Try to incorporate shorter keywords, such as newborn photographer, as well as longer, more specific keywords like how to do newborn photography, throughout your website content. The combination will give you more opportunities for your store to rank on Google.
05. Manage your shop
Set your pricing
Determining how to price your products is always a tough call. Going too high risks scaring off potential customers, while going too low won’t provide you with your well-deserved profit.
The best way to go about it is to check out other artist’s stores to gauge what customers are willing to pay. Look for artists in a similar niche and perhaps with a similar number of social media followers.
Once you’ve found an average price range that feels right, price each piece or product individually. Here, take into consideration different variables such as the type of item (is a T-shirt more or less expensive than a poster?), the amount of time you spent creating it, the cost of the materials and the popularity of the design.
Printing items to sell
If you use a print on demand service such as Wix Art Store, Printful or Printify, then printing, packing and shipping are all taken care of for you. However, if you do this yourself, you’ll need to invest in a quality printer, ink and paper. Printing your own work can keep your costs down. However, as your business grows, you may find that you need to outsource the task as volume continues to increase.