So you're interested in selling art online? Oh have I got some advice to share! 😤
I've been selling my art online full time and supporting myself for the past 2 years. I have over 7k sales and my revenue last year was about £30,000. I have over 55k followers on Instagram, where I create (what I think is) funny and engaging content that revolves around my artwork.
I didn't study art at all and I recently graduated with a degree in Computer Science! I never actually planned or expected to make art for a living, so not trying to be cliché by saying this, but I truly believe it's possible for anyone to do. 😸
I've received a handful of messages asking for advice or guidance on selling art online. I'm always happy to share what I've learnt throughout the years, so here are my top tips and strategies for selling artwork online!
TOOLS & WORKSPACE 🪄
In my experience, you don't need that much of an investment to start. Of course it depends on what type of art you're making, but in my case, I started with a cheap n old as hell graphic's tablet that I bought with my 16th birthday money. But hey, it got the job done! As long as you have the basic necessities to start, you can do this!
You can always upgrade your tools and workspace once you feel that you’re super invested and you’re making consistent sales. I upgraded my tablet and got my own printer once I started to see potential in what I was doing and started earning some money. There’s no rush to have all of the highest tech when you’re first starting out! I think that’s where a lot of people feel defeated before they even try.
ONLINE PRESENCE 🎨
My online presence through social media is a huge part of my success. People love to connect with small businesses and know who they are supporting. Many artists (understandably) dislike the idea of having to manage social media on top of their art making, but it can actually be super fun once you find your style of content and gather an audience of like-minded people.
When creating social media content, try to avoid only posting artwork. Of course you want to show off what you’re selling, but creating additional value such as entertainment or advice will keep your audience engaged and can attract new followers.
I suggest that the main content you should focus on is VIDEO. Let’s be 👉😎👉 reel, Instagram Reels and TikToks have absolutely taken over all of the algorithms. It’s totally feasible to use this to your advantage to make that one video that goes a bit viral and ends up bringing you several thousands of new followers! Heck, that's how I found my success, it was just a few videos that the algorithm seemed to like!
These days, it's easier than ever to get noticed. It took me several attempts to get the hang of what makes a good, entertaining reel. Don't get discouraged if your first ones don't perform well. Check out what others are doing to get inspiration, use trending music/sounds, and try to make content that encourages engagement.
Let me know in the comments if you'd like a separate article on social media and my advice on how to create good content!
WHERE TO SELL 🐱💻
Choose where and how you want to sell your art! Some eCommerce platforms to consider are Etsy, Society6, Redbubble, and Depop. Although these platforms have seller fees, they bring a lot of new people to your shop, especially if you’re just starting out and trying to grow.
You can also build your own website by using Shopify. Although, if you’re just beginning your artistic journey, keep in mind that it’s much harder to get discovered by only using a website. I'd only recommend doing this once you’ve established consistent traffic, sales, and customers. For reference, only 20% of all of my Etsy sales come from my own traffic. You also need to handle your own tax and duty calculations when you have your own website, so there's a lot more work involved.
Some artists only do commissions and make a good living off of that as well! In this case, make sure to consider things like invoices, upfront payments, and use watermarks when sending artwork that hasn't been fully paid for to protect yourself and your art.
I'm planning to write a more in-depth dive into each of the platforms, their benefits and drawbacks - if you want to be notified once that comes out, subscribe to my emails!
Bestie, I know you don't want to hear this, but you really have to do your research. 😤 See what your competitors are doing, get inspired, get a feel for what they're charging for their products, and how they're engaging with their followers. Absolutely do not copy exactly what they're doing, but look at them for ideas on how to manage your shop, how to market artwork and what to strive for.
I’ll be honest, this is my least favourite part, because it can sometimes make you feel discouraged. When I see other shops that look super professional and have such great ideas, sometimes I feel like I'll never reach that level. But it's so important to channel that negative feeling into 🌈motivation✨🤓! Remind yourself that everyone has to start somewhere, even your favourite artists were in your shoes one day! Take some time to study what makes them successful and try to replicate it in your own way.
Also, you'll be surprised at how many shop owners are happy to share advice and tips on how to get started if you just message them! I personally couldn't have done it without some kind shop owners that shared what they've learned with me throughout the years.
After getting a feeling for what the competitors are charging for similar products, you need to find a balance between having affordable artwork and making enough money for your effort.
Make sure you take into account not only the material costs, but also shipping, taxes, platform fees (if applicable), packaging costs, etc. Calculate how much time it takes for you to produce a certain piece of artwork and make sure you are charging enough for the effort you put in.
Artists often tend to undersell themselves at the start. And let me tell you, if I see another artist charging $15 for a piece that takes them 3 hours to make I'm gonna lose it!!! 🤬 Please don't undersell yourself!
DON’T WAIT. JUST DO IT! 🌈
Don't wait to start, just do it now and learn as you go! I always see people that are planning to open a shop and are being overly careful or too frightened about it. You can spend months and months planning a shop launch, but it doesn't ever have to be perfect. As long as you've figured out your finances and how you're going to get the item from you to the customer, that's all you need!
There will always be excuses: not enough time, not enough preparation, not enough followers, etc. But what happens if you just do it and slowly improve it along the way? I didn't get any sales for the first four months of having a shop, but by having my shop open, observing statistics, and analyzing which products were getting attention, I was able to improve my strategy every single day.
I really hope these tips and insights were helpful! Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about selling your art online that I didn’t cover. Wishing you all the best in starting your online art journey! 🐱💕