A beginner’s guide to selling art online

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Introduction

In today’s world, the starving artist is a dying trope. Independent artists can fund their art by selling directly to their fans. However, to be successful in art, one must also be successful in business. The traditional route of finding a gallery or agent to represent your work is still a fantastic route to reach potential buyers.

One of the best ways to sell art online is through your own e-commerce store and marketplaces like Amazon, but before you even get started you’ll need to establish brand guidelines, pricing, and a business model. The following guide will help you get started selling art online.

Create your artist brand

It is natural for your brand to evolve as an extension of your art. Your style and medium will help define you as an artist and attract fans and buyers based on that alone. However, keep in mind that art is often a personal and emotional purchase. Your history as an artist can be a deciding factor in whether someone makes a purchase or not.

You’ll also need to make a lot of conscious branding decisions once you start thinking of yourself as a business. For example, if you want to sell your own works of art, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to sell your art under your own name, a pseudonym or a brand name?
  • What is your brand story and what part of your personal life do you want to share?
  • Are there values, missions or causes that you want to communicate through your brand?
  • Aside from the art, what is the visual and tone of your brand communication?

By answering these questions, you’ll quickly be able to create a set of brand guidelines that will help you make decisions about your website design, marketing materials, and other branding materials. Plus, when you eventually grow your art business online, these brand guidelines will help you maintain brand consistency when delegating tasks to staff.

Set prices for your art

Living from your art will only be possible if you know how to value and price your pieces. The task of pricing art can be tricky because it doesn’t fit neatly into a typical pricing strategy. A tip for artists just starting out who don’t yet have a name in the art world is to use this simple formula: your time and labor costs + materials and other expenses + your profit margin.

You will need to allocate yourself an hourly wage for the above pricing method. Try not to fall into the typical habit of undervaluing your time and work. That doesn’t mean you should try to price your work on par with famous artists, but you should at least be able to afford a living wage.

One of the main difficulties with pricing is that art is subjective and not always dependent on material costs and time spent creating. Research competitors online to see which artists of a similar level to yours are charging. It is best not to undercut as this will only devalue your coins and lower the overall market value of new independent artists. The arts community must help each other to ensure that the industry continues to develop into a viable option for people to make a reasonable living.

Create a business model

Before you rush out and create your own online store for your art, you’ll want to spend some time creating a business model. It is a written document that describes what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and how you are selling it. Let’s go through each area, so you have a better understanding of what you need to consider:

  • what are you selling – Lists the formats in which you plan to sell your artwork (original canvases, cards, prints, merchandise or even a digital download).
  • Who do you sell it to – Think about your target audience (business owners, direct consumers, people with a specific interest, specific age group or location).
  • How to sell it – Consider where you plan to solely sell your artwork online (your e-commerce website, online marketplaces, agent website, social media platforms or a mix of venues ).

start online

It is advisable to get started on as many online platforms as possible to increase the chances of a sale. Use social media like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to spread awareness of your brand. Building an audience before you even launch your online store can be a great start. If the budget is available, you can consider running paid advertising campaigns, reaching out to influencers and the press, and getting the most out of content marketing.

When you feel ready to launch your online store, consider listing in high-traffic marketplaces where there is an existing customer base willing to buy your art. Amazon is actually a fantastic place to sell original artwork, especially if you make it available in multiple formats. They offer a print on demand service so a customer can get the artwork printed in whatever form they want – including t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs or even large canvases.

Anyone can create a selling account on Amazon, but succeeding and earning a lot of money in the market is not an easy task. You might want to consider hiring an Amazon agency to set up and manage day-to-day sales administration. This will allow you to focus on creating more art instead of dealing with seller account issues, SEO rankings, and online marketing activities.

Takeaway meals

It’s great news that the working life of an artist is now more accessible than ever. If you have the internet and a business savvy, it is possible to make a good living as a freelance artist. You may have reservations about selling on marketplaces or social media, but these platforms can provide you with the income to fund the projects you’re truly passionate about.

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