How to sell art online in 2024

Creating art that people want to enjoy is one thing. Selling it to those same people is something entirely different. At some point, you may want to make a little money off your creative talents. With new tools, it’s easier than ever to sell your art online and through e-commerce platforms, market it through social media and ship it to your customers. 

If that sounds appealing to you, this guide is designed to walk you through the process of selling art online and help you get started building a successful business. 

1. Find your niche

Many successful businesses target a very specific niche. What are you going to sell? Who is your target customer? These are two key questions to ask. Some of the other questions you might want to address include:

  • Do you want to sell your own art?
  • Will you sell commissioned art?
  • Would you rather curate the art of others to sell?
  • Will you be selling original art or reproductions?
  • Will digital, downloadable art be a part of your plans?
  • What about merchandise – like t-shirts, coffee mugs or posters?

Many of these questions might be answered by simply knowing the type of art you create and the platform you create it on. A graphic designer might have an entirely different model than a traditional artist. 

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. That’s what will sustain you during those early months when your business is getting off the ground. 

2. Register your business

This is just part of the nuts and bolts, practical nature of starting a business. Where you live and what type of business structure you have will determine how you register your business. 

Setting yourself up as a sole proprietorship is free, but many business owners prefer the legal protection that comes from setting up as a limited liability company (LLC). This simply means your personal assets will be protected in case you were ever involved in a lawsuit. 

Registering as an LLC will require you to obtain an employee identification number (EIN), which you’ll need to pay taxes and set up a business bank account. 

3. Decide where you’ll sell your art

Though you always have the option to set up a physical location to start your business, starting out online will be a lot less expensive with fewer overhead costs. 

In addition, many consumers prefer buying art online these days – making it an ideal outlet for a startup art business. The type of art you’re selling will also help determine which online outlet you choose.

Some of the online marketplaces you might consider include:

  • Etsy: Great for digital prints and merchandise. 
  • Merch by Amazon: Sell your designs on graphic t-shirts, accessories and other items. Amazon takes care of the printing and shipping. 
  • eBay: Sell your art through online auctions.
  • Fine Art America: Great online site for selling fine art. 
  • Saatchi Art: Sell everything from paintings and sculptures to photography and NFTs.
  • Creative Market: Sell visual assets like mockups, vector designs, 3D objects and more. 

Other options include Fiverr, Upwork and Getty Images. 

4. Create an online store

In addition to outsourcing your selling to other online sites, you might choose to create your own online store. This is a great way to feature your art – and your art only – so it doesn’t get lost in large marketplaces with thousands of other artists. 

In our review of the best e-commerce platforms, these three companies stood out.

5. Choose a shipping partner

Art is personal and can be fragile. So you want to make sure it’s protected during the shipping process – whether you choose to DIY your shipping or go through a partner. 

The shipping process starts with good customer service. You want to be able to answer any questions your customers have so they will know what to expect during the shipping process. That said, you’ll need to understand the process yourself to clear any potential confusion. 

Many e-commerce platforms allow you to choose the best shipping rates for your artwork through integration with shipping providers. You’ll also want to decide if your shipping costs will be a flat fee or part of your retail price. 

6. Market and grow your brand

Social media makes it easier than ever to market your business for free. Make sure you post consistently and engage with your followers and with other similar brands. 

Because of its visual nature, Instagram is a great place to start. Once you begin making some profit, you might consider running ad campaigns on Google or Facebook. When you launch a new product, connect with other influencers and social media marketers and see if they will promote your art.

Use content marketing opportunities, like podcasts, TikTok videos, YouTube, blogs and other similar outlets. And don’t forget old-school marketing like art shows and galleries to showcase your artwork. 

7. Consider licensing your art

Licensing your art is an excellent way to make passive income. Instead of just selling the art, you can sell permission for another brand or business to use your digital art in specific situations for a specific period of time. 

Licensing contracts can also have unlimited use rights but can also have some limitations. Consider talking to a contract lawyer before entering into a licensing agreement so you’ll understand what you’re signing up for, in addition to making sure you retain ownership. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Some of the most popular online sites to sell art include Etsy, Merch by Amazon, eBay, Fine Art America, Saatchi Art, Creative Market, Fiverr, Upwork and even Getty Images for photography. 

The type of art you create will help inform your decision on which outlet you choose.

You have several methods of protecting your art when selling online. Some include:

  • Use a transparent watermark. 
  • Place your signature somewhere that’s hard to edit out. 
  • Include meta tags.
  • Disable the right-click options that allow someone to save a photo. 
  • Add disclosures to your website. 
  • Send infringement warnings and copyright violations when needed.

We like Shopify, Wix and Ecwid for artists looking for the best e-commerce platforms. Shopify is the best for solopreneurs looking to scale. Wix is excellent for e-commerce site customization. And Ecwid is the best for upgrading an existing site.

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