When you’re starting out with selling your art, many aspects of the process can feel intimidating. How will I find clients? What if nobody buys my work? These are common questions and fears we hear from the artists in our community. And yet, we know many artists who have built profitable and sustainable businesses out of their creative talents. It is possible, and if it is your goal and dream, it can be possible for you too.
So where do you start? Once you have a series of work ready to promote and offer, with set prices and high-quality images, you’re ready for any of these 6 simple ways to sell your art online.
1. Set up a shop on your website
Hopefully, the platform where you’ve built your website has an upgrade option where you can incorporate e-commerce capabilities into your existing foundation. If not, you can choose to link to a secondary shop page from your main navigation menu. Or, if you’re open to a full site refresh, then do research on which new platforms might be best suited to hosting your new portfolio and shop website. A few common ones are Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace, but there are also companies that cater specifically to artists like Artstorefronts.
2. Build a mailing list
Having your website live with works ready and available to purchase won’t do much if nobody visits it. This is where an email newsletter list comes into play. Growing an engaged audience of subscribers will drive consistent traffic to your site (and shop!) every time you send out an email blast. Remember to collect email addresses at in-person shows and pop-ups. In addition, invite any curators, media contacts, clients, or other art industry connections you make to join your subscriber list in order to stay updated with your studio announcements and new releases.
Further reading: More tips on how to grow your artist email list
3. Turn followers into buyers
Whether you’re active on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, or any other social media channel, it doesn’t make sense not to tap into the audience you’ve built there to start making sales. Your followers are already fans of your work so they’ve demonstrated interest. Even if not all of them will turn into buyers, a portion of them very well might. But it’s up to you to guide them to that conversion. Be proactive rather than passive. Have a highlight or section dedicated to showcasing what is currently available for sale. Use live features or videos to show off your work and talk about it to your viewers directly. Finally, utilize calls to action to ensure that your followers learn the ways to buy from you: Join my mailing list, Click my link in bio, View available works on my web shop, Book a commission spot with me.
Need help writing CTAs? Here are 100 more examples of calls to action for artists.
4. Join an art e-commerce platform
Over the last several years we’ve seen a boom in the number of art platforms online that allow artists to list their work for sale. Some of the larger ones like Saatchi Art, Etsy, and ArtFinder boast massive audiences and website traffic, which could lead to greater visibility for some of their artists but it also means higher competition with regards to standing out among thousands of artwork options. Create! Magazine has recently partnered with a new platform called Altamira that focuses on social commerce. They are a website where collectors can buy art, but also where artists can share work, connect with curators, critics, and other artists. Click here to learn more and join.
5. Seek gallery representation
Admittedly, finding the right gallery partner is much easier said than done. However, this particular tip was simply meant to point out another one of the ways that you can sell online - which is through an online-only gallery or with a gallery that has an online shop. If you’re not having luck with hearing back from a gallery that would be a strong match with your work, then consider connecting with art advisors, art agents, or interior designers who have an established online presence.
Further reading: How to apply to a gallery
6. Apply to a directory
Although directories typically do not list specific pieces of art for sale, they are a place to potentially increase your exposure to others in the art world. You never know what connections you might make or who might discover you as a result of being listed on one. Here are several directories to look into: All She Makes, Visionary Art Collective, and Where Are The Women Artists.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, we have additional related content in our career section.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017. Find more of her work: www.aliciapuig.com