Art has the power to revolutionize a living space, evoke a wide range of emotions, and spark thought-provoking discussions. From clay sculptures to oil paintings, graphic designs to photography, there’s a type of art out there for everyone to appreciate!
What’s more, today’s artists have more opportunities than ever to showcase their work and even make a living from their passions and talent. Whether you’re an artist yourself or love curating special works for others, you might be considering starting your very own business selling art online.
Keep in mind that achieving success in online sales will require more than just an extensive enthusiasm for your favorite artistic medium. In this article, we’ll go over the steps for launching an online store involving the sale of art to ensure that you’re starting off on the right foot.
How to sell art online in 7 steps
As with anything in ecommerce since online shopping was created, the road to success for selling art on the internet will look different for every e-merchant. However, the following steps will help guide you as you begin your new entrepreneurial journey, allowing you to transform your passion into a profitable venture!
1. Decide if you want to sell your own art or works by other artists
When launching your own online art business, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide if you’ll be selling your own creations or those created by other people. Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on your individual interests and business goals.
- Selling your own art
Creating and selling your own art online is a great way to transform your passion into a profitable business. Being the artist yourself, you’ll have the most control over the products you offer and when they’re available to be sold.
While artists of days gone by often had to rely on an art gallery to get their creations out in front of potential buyers, they can now take advantage of the internet to promote and sell their works. With the introduction of new sales and marketing channels combined with the vast array of creator tools accessible today, selling directly to customers is easier than ever before for artists.
Of course, selling your own art isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Depending on the type of art you produce, there may be a lot of time and creativity involved in creating each piece. If your creation isn’t purchased as quickly as you’d hoped it would once you put it online, you may find yourself wondering if you’ve just spent tons of resources on a product that won’t necessarily earn a profit. In addition, you should verify that there’s actually demand for the type of art you want to make and sell.
- Selling other people’s art
Maybe you feel like you don’t have an artistic bone in your body but have a great eye for discovering amazing works of art. Or perhaps you enjoy creating art but want to keep doing so as a hobby rather than turn it into a means of earning a living. If either of these statements apply to you but you still want to sell art on the internet, you may want to consider curating and selling the creations of other artists.
There are plenty of artists out there who want to focus purely on creating their art rather than marketing and selling it. Why not launch an ecommerce business that involves you managing these tasks for them? The artists can then concentrate on harnessing their energy for their art while you get to earn a percentage of the profits whenever one of their pieces is bought from your online shop.
The downside of selling other people’s art, however, is that the amount of control you have is reduced compared to selling your own creations. You’ll be dependent on others for your product catalog, and even with the best of intentions and planning, delays and unexpected challenges are bound to come up occasionally, as is especially the case in any business involving a creative field.
2. Choose what type of art you want to sell
Watercolor or oil-based paintings, charcoal pencil drawings, photography, digital creations… There’s a wide range of types of art to choose from when launching an ecommerce business selling artistic goods. Whatever your favorite medium, you’ll be able to create or curate items to offer on your online store to sell to customers.
Source: Water of Whimsy
However, even if you’re a fan of multiple forms of art, it’s important to select a specific niche for your business. Trying to appeal to every single art-loving consumer out there will only lead to frustration and probably a loss of time and money. Focusing on a particular type of art and determining an ideal buyer are much more likely to help you achieve success.
In addition to choosing the type of art you want to sell, you’ll also need to decide on the format. The format you select will have an impact on various aspects of your business, including product pricing, photos, packaging, shipping, and more.
- Original art
If your chosen niche involves physical goods, you have the option to sell original artwork on your online store. Whether you’re creating the items yourself or curating them from another artist or multiple artists, selling original art is perfect if you want to target consumers who love the idea of purchasing bespoke pieces to decorate their spaces. Original art can generally fetch much higher prices than copies, although it also usually requires a lot more investment in terms of time to produce each product.
- Digital files, copies, or prints
While digital files, copies, or prints are usually priced lower than original goods, they allow you to generate unlimited sales from a single work of art. Furthermore, they provide more flexibility, as you can offer shoppers different sizes, allowing them to choose the option that best suits their needs. You can also print your art on a variety of items, such as t-shirts, hoodies, greeting cards, phone cases, coffee mugs, tote bags, stationery, etc.
Keep in mind that you can always opt to sell your art in multiple formats. For example, say that you paint watercolor illustrations featuring dragons in modern-day environments. You could sell your original painting of a dragon meandering through Times Square for a certain amount but offer prints of the illustration at a reduced price as well to attract a wider range of customers.
3. Determine where you’ll sell your art online
The next step to starting your online art business is to decide on where you want to sell your products. For you to have the most control over your business and your brand’s web presence, you’ll want to be sure to have your own ecommerce site. Of course, having a stellar online store builder at your side to assist you with launching and managing your website can make all the difference in ensuring a seamless, enjoyable experience with your new entrepreneurial adventure.
With the WiziShop all-in-one ecommerce solution, you’ll be able to build a customized online store that accurately reflects your art brand by choosing from one of our many design templates available. With over 400 onsite features designed to increase your conversion rate, a team of friendly and knowledgeable Business Coaches to answer any questions you have concerning your online store, and free training on all kinds of ecommerce-related subjects, our platform is perfect for new and experienced online sellers alike!
In addition, our 50+ technical SEO optimizations can help boost your website’s rankings on Google, driving more traffic to your online store and increasing views of all the amazing works of art you offer.
Are you planning on running a solo operation and worried that you may not be able to devote a sufficient amount of time to creating content for your ecommerce website? Besides the aforementioned features and benefits you’ll get to take advantage of when choosing the WiziShop ecommerce platform, you can also avail of our powerful artificial intelligence. From the moment you sign up, you’ll have access to our AI feature that allows you to produce content like product descriptions, text translations, blog articles, meta descriptions, etc. much more efficiently!
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Along with having your own online shop, you may want to consider expanding to other sales channels to widen your brand’s reach if your resources allow it. For instance, some art sellers also offer their products on general online marketplaces, such as Amazon or Etsy, or those designed more for artist creations, such as Fine Art America, Redbubble, Art Station, CafePress, Artfinder, and others.
You can also take advantage of social media and sell directly to your followers/subscribers on your preferred platforms in addition to implementing them in your marketing strategy. Just be sure to research your niche beforehand to determine which social networks are most frequented by your target audience.
4. Photograph your products
No matter what you sell online, it’s crucial to provide potential customers with high-quality product images that give an accurate representation of each item in your catalog. That being said, it’s even more advantageous when you’re selling works of art, as you’re trying to attract shoppers in an industry where aesthetics are of the utmost importance.
For physical goods, this means taking photos of your products yourself or hiring a professional photographer to do it for you. Note that photographing art can be a little more difficult than other products, as the wrong light setup can easily create a glare or make the piece’s colors look different than they are. For this reason, going the professional route is generally best, but if your budget is limited, you can still produce great product photos with a bit of patience.
Availing of good lighting and shooting your products from multiple angles are very good starting points. Don’t hesitate to use lifestyle photos for your art as well, showing your products in real-life scenes, as this can allow your website visitors to better visualize an item or imagine using it for themselves.
If you sell digital files only, you can simply upload your images and add them to each product page on your site. However, lifestyle photos can be advantageous for this type of offering too. Say that you’re a photographer selling files of the photos you shoot. You might show your image being used on a mock website or hung on the wall in your living room—anything to aid a potential customer in picturing using the product in their daily life.
5. Set your pricing
Deciding how to price artwork to sell online can be a tricky affair, especially when it concerns original pieces that you’ve created yourself. While there’s no limit to how much you can make in ecommerce, remember that the value of art is subjective. It’s therefore quite possible that you could spend hours, days, or even months working on a particular item and invest a certain amount of money in materials and not have anybody willing to buy it at the price you set!
Nevertheless, when determining how much to charge for your artwork, you can begin by simply adding up your costs to sell and market the product, your material costs, any other expenses, and the profit you hope to earn. The total sum will be the piece’s retail price.
If you’re just starting out, it can be very easy to undervalue your work and price your goods in a way that doesn’t really fairly compensate you for your time. While you’ll of course want to not set prices that are so high that they scare potential customers away, don’t price your products so low that they aren’t profitable.
Researching how artists with a level of experience similar to yours price their creations can give you a good idea of where you should aim for your own store. If you find that your online store isn’t selling, you may want to lower your prices, at least until you build up more of a following.
If you’re not selling original works of art, your prices are likely going to be comparably much lower, but you’ll still want to take all your expenses into account for selling digital files, copies, or prints. In addition to the costs mentioned earlier for original goods, you might need to think about fees for printing, software, professional services, etc., for instance.
6. Build your art brand
Whether you’re selling your own works or those of other artists, building your brand is an important step. People buy art for a wide variety of reasons, with there often being an emotional component involved. Building and clearly defining your brand will help you to better connect with your target audience and stand out from the competition.
So how does one actually build an art brand? While your exact strategy is going to depend on your business setup and type of art you sell, here are a few tips that can help you get started.
- Define your brand values and mission: What’s important to you? This should concern not just the art you create or curate for your store but also your business operations. Once you’ve defined these elements, you’ll want to be sure to convey them clearly and consistently on your website and in any of your communications.
- Choose how you’ll tell your brand’s story: Do you want to get personal with your audience or remain a bit more mysterious? With the plethora of online store’s selling art these days, brand storytelling is more important than ever. It’s a powerful tool for drawing in shoppers, making them want to learn more about your brand, and transforming them into loyal customers.
- Work on your brand identity: Your brand’s name, color scheme, logo, slogan, tone and vocabulary, typography, etc. all serve to craft your brand identity and help consumers to more easily recognize and remember your business. These elements might be found on everything from your ecommerce site and socials to your business cards, product packaging, and more.
7. Market your art business
After launching your online store, you’ll need to start marketing your business so that the people you’re trying to reach, namely those consumers interested in the kinds of art you offer on your website, know that it exists.
In order to reach the greatest number of people possible, it’s a good idea to implement a variety of tactics into your marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are many different ways, free and paid, to promote your art and boost traffic to your website and/or other sales channels. You’ll just need to determine which marketing channels work best for your shop and ideal buyer.
- Build your following on social media by consistently sharing high-quality content on the most pertinent networks for your buyer persona. Some artists even start working on their presence on these platforms before launching their online store to generate interest. This is one of the best methods for connecting with current and potential customers alike, as the number of global social media users is higher than ever. Plus, posting organic content on most social networks is completely free. It’s therefore a must for any ecommerce entrepreneur but especially those with limited budgets.
- Work on your website’s SEO to improve your visibility on search engines. Another no-cost way to market your business, ecommerce SEO involves numerous actions, such as performing keyword research to help optimize your product pages, category pages, blog, and other website content; publishing relevant, authoritative content on a regular basis, optimizing your images by using alt text and ensuring that they’re the right size; obtaining backlinks; formatting your URLs correctly; and more. As a reminder, WiziShop will take care of all the elements of technical SEO for you when you use our platform to build your online store!
- Develop a well-rounded content marketing strategy to boost your SEO and further drive organic traffic to your site. Content marketing is a powerful tool in online sales that entails crafting engaging and informative content that prioritizes helping your audience rather than promoting your products directly. It can assist with growing brand awareness and trust, generating leads, increasing conversions, and bringing other benefits. Blog articles, social media posts, infographics, ebooks, podcasts, and customer testimonials are just a few of the different types of content marketing you might consider using in your strategy.
- Launch paid advertising campaigns for faster results. If your marketing budget allows it, investing in well-targeted paid ads can help you to reach your audience more quickly. Furthermore, paid ads can often provide you with a lot of beneficial data that can help you to optimize your future campaigns, products, and services. You can take advantage of advertising on social networks like Facebook or Instagram or on Google with pay-per-click (PPC) ads. In addition, if you also have a presence on online marketplaces like Etsy, you often have the option to pay to promote your listings on these various platforms.
- Collaborate with influencers to expand your reach on social media or elsewhere on the web. Influencer marketing is a particularly effective tactic for today’s ecommerce businesses. It involves working with somebody who has a large following to promote your products in exchange for free goods or money. The influencer has already built up a high level of trust with their followers on a specific social network or other platform, so there’s a better chance that these users are going to then want to check out your website and see what you have to offer. When researching potential influencers with whom you wish to collaborate, be sure to select somebody who’s well known in your specific niche and whose followers are likely to be interested in the type of art you have for sale.
- Consider expanding your strategy to include offline marketing to further boost exposure for your brand. While the majority of your marketing efforts will likely take place on the internet, offline tactics can be helpful too, especially when it comes to selling artwork. You might, for example, reach out to an art gallery about possible promotion or networking opportunities, go to art shows, or participate in outdoor art markets in your area.
Source: @amandaclarkartist on Instagram
Tips for packaging and shipping your art
Regardless of what an ecommerce business sells, its customers will expect their orders to arrive safely and undamaged. However, because your target market consists of consumers interested in art, it’s all the more important for you to also think about the visual appeal of the packages you send to your buyers. Creating a memorable unboxing experience can make the act of purchasing from your shop even more enjoyable and help to increase customer loyalty!
To start, you’ll want to incorporate the various branding elements you worked on earlier, (color scheme, logo, etc.) into your packaging. For instance, you might wrap each item in the customer’s order with tissue paper in your brand’s colors secured with a sticker featuring your logo. Consider also slipping your business card, discount offers for future purchases, and little freebies such as a mini print or sticker with your artwork on it into shoppers’ packages.
Last but definitely not least, keep your artwork’s protection at the forefront when shipping orders. Depending on the type of art you sell, you could be mailing very fragile pieces that could easily get damaged during shipment if not packaged properly.
Do you plan on selling prints or poster-type goods? Begin by placing them in clear cellophane sleeves for added protection. Then, use rigid cardboard mailing envelopes for smaller items or cardboard tubes for works that require more space.
If you’re shipping expensive and/or very large works of art, there are extra precautions that you’ll need to take. Take canvas pieces, for example. You’ll likely have to buy your packing and shipping materials from a packaging supplier to obtain boxes with the exact dimensions you need as well as additional items to better protect the product, such as cardboard corners.
Finally, if you’re going to be shipping original artwork, you’ll definitely want to consider investing in shipping insurance. After all, if one of your prints gets lost or damaged in the mail, you can simply send the customer a replacement, but this isn’t a possibility for original creations. Research your delivery providers’ offerings for insurance coverage carefully to be sure that the option you select will adequately compensate you should you need to refund a customer due to a shipping issue.