A common question artists ask me is how to sell their work online. For some artists, such as those who work in digital mediums, the answer is usually straightforward how to make money online. But for others whose work is more visceral, the answer isn’t always as clear. There are a number of ways artists can use the web to make money online, but there are tradeoffs for the convenience of selling work while you sleep.
Let’s take a closer look at three common online sales channels open to artists and see how they might help you make money online as an artist.
Every artist should have a website to share their portfolio and artist statement. But some artists may want to take their site a step further by turning it into a place to actually sell artwork online. Setting this up can be done fairly easily, even if you don’t know how to code. Sites like Shopify and Wix make setting up a personal website marketplace fairly easy, or if you use WordPress, there’s the Woocommerce plugin, which is free but can be a bit more challenging to figure out.
- You 100% own the site and can control the content and presentation
- You can set the price of your artwork
- General low financial overhead
- You have to pay for the domain name and website hosting
- Potential additional costs for shop/market platform or plugin (e.g. Shopify costs a minimum of $29/month)
- Setting up and maintaining an ecommerce site takes time and energy
- You have to drive traffic to it (do the marketing work)
- You have to manage your own purchase fulfillment: packaging, cost of shipping, and logistics of shipping
Online Fine Art Gallery
There are many art galleries who have digitized over the years, as well as several galleries that are only present online. Ugallery is one of my favorites. Similar to a real-world art gallery, an online gallery curates and sells artist works, often across a variety of media. Some galleries will specialize in a specific medium, a specific geography, etc. Some might be local to you, while others might be more global.
- You do not have to run your own digital market place or shop
- Gallery will market your work for you
- Professional representation and presentation of your artwork
- Can potentially be passive income
- Limited control of the online experience for your audience
- Galleries take commissions or charge fees for services
- You may still have to handle shipping to customer or gallery
- You may not be excited about the marketing or lack of marketing by the galley
- Can’t control your own prices
Online marketplaces might be the best of both worlds in terms of selling work online. Marketplaces offer the opportunity to control how your work is presented without the financial or time commitment needed to manage your own website. In some ways, they’re similar to online galleries, but they tend to have larger audiences. Etsy is likely the most well-known online marketplace for creative businesses, but there are others.
- Control over pricing and presentation
- Established marketplace brand name
- Community of other sellers
- Fees for each sale
- Algorithm often drives visibility and you do not control the algorithm
- You have to do your own marketing
- You have to do your purchase fulfillment
Of course, these aren’t your only options for selling artwork online. There are also social media ecommerce channels like Facebook, as well as online merchandising sites. We’ll cover those in a separate post.