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How to Sell Art Online and Make Money

There are over 2.3 million artists in the United States alone. The creative industry is thriving; however, it can be tough to make money as a creative. Lots of people want to start a career as an artist but may not know how to turn their passion into a living on the internet. Selling art online is hard, yet somehow it seems easy to everyone on Instagram.

In this article, we will walk you through how to make money as an artist by selling your art online.  This can also apply to illustrators, photographers, calligraphers, or graphics designers – we got you!

We’ll share with you different ways to sell your artworks online but we’ll focus mainly on selling artwork on Shopify. Why Shopify? Shopify makes it easy to sell art online. You could start selling your artwork to people all around the world in just a few minutes after setting up an online store.

Let’s get into it.

How to Sell Art Online

  1. Prepare your art.

First, you need to finalize what kind of art you’re going to sell. Are you selling original work or reproductions? Digital downloads? When you're ready to start selling your art online, it's a good idea to know what you'll be selling.

Original artwork:

Because this is your own work, you'll be able to command a better price.. The drawback is that it may be difficult to get a following at first. If you want your website to succeed, you'll need to spend heavily on marketing and promotion. It's possible that you'll need to offer new things on a regular basis in order to keep current consumers happy and attract new ones.

Prints of your own artwork:

These will be much cheaper than the original pieces and may attract more buyers who are not able to afford the originals. The downside is that there will be more competition in this market and people can choose between many artists. You have to have a consistent style and create a brand around your art if you want people to recognize you as an artist and buy more of your prints.

Reproduction prints:

This means you are selling the works of others. You basically act as a curator. If you're selling someone else's work, then you'll want to price it based on the average price of all the works from that artist in the past year. You can use an auction to get the top price for a piece, but you don't have to. You'll want to price it according to how much demand there is for that particular piece of art.  Make sure to check for legal issues with selling other peoples' work.

Digital downloads:

Digital downloads (these can be anything from copies of your work, scans of print work to desktop backgrounds and stock photos) are probably the best way to cut out any shipping costs plus they have a higher profit margin since you won't need too many materials to produce it. The biggest downside is that they're intangible, which means you have to work harder to market them and build trust with potential buyers who can't touch or see them in person.

Figure out how you plan to sell your artwork

Choosing what kind of art to sell is the first step; the next step is figuring out how to sell it. If you want to sell your products online, you can either open your own online store or sell them through a third-party platform or service. 

Selling through an online store

No matter how you decide to sell your art online, you'll need a website where customers can get in touch with you, learn more about your work, and purchase items. That's why, no matter what business model you select, you'll need a professional website.

Having your own online shop gives you more control over the whole process from start to finish, including handling all of the shipping and packaging. If you want as much control over your business as possible, it’s best to create your own online store. There are many website builders that allow you to easily create your own websites like Shopify, Magento, and Wix. You could also opt to make everything from scratch.

If you want to sell on Amazon or Etsy, that's fine, but remember that you're not really in control of the business after the point of sale. When looking for a marketplace like Amazon, Etsy or eBay to sell your items on, make sure you carefully check out their policies with regards to fraud protection and order tracking. 

A few other pros of selling in your own online store is that you have little to no restrictions on what kind of art you sell, plus you can personalize your packaging to suit your brand. You do have more control over everything but that means you’ll also have to manage most of it.

Selling through a print-on-demand service

If you have a good idea for a product and can't afford to produce it yourself, then having someone else do it is often the best way to go. If you don't have the time or equipment to do it yourself, then you might want to work with a print-on-demand provider, which allows you to sell your own products directly from your website.

The upside of working with an online print-on-demand service is that you can create and sell your own products at low prices by setting up an account, choosing the product you want to sell, and then uploading your photos or other files. The downside of working with an online print-on-demand service is that creating the product itself can be expensive – because you're paying for the printing costs and handling fees as well as overhead on a per-order basis.

  1. Choosing Where to Sell Your Art

From the perspective of an artist looking to sell their work, the online art market is full of options. While this may seem like a great thing, it can quickly become an absolute nightmare.

So, how do you choose the best platform for your work? Do you go with a website builder, or do you sell through an online marketplace?

We’ve narrowed it down to the top 3 ways to sell art online: website builders, online marketplaces and galleries, and social media platforms.

Website builders

Using a website builder is easy, and there's no coding involved. A drag-and-drop interface lets you choose the way your galleries look and act—you set up the galleries, and control their look and feel, prices, and content.

One of the advantages of using a storefront builder is not having to compete with other artists' works. You won't have to pay hefty commission fees, either.

Shopify is one of the most effective website builders we recommend. Website builders simplify the process of building a site, and Shopify comes with a bit of a learning curve at first, but you'll learn to navigate it as you start creating your site. You won’t need to hire a web designer if you don’t want to, but you can if you’d like help with customizing your site.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial to help you understand how it works. As an ecommerce platform, you’ll still need to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to accept payments or ship your products but those few days of free trial should help with your decision.

To optimize your profits, make sure to choose a plan that works for you and your budget. Looking for help starting your eCommerce business? Our Webinopoly Shopify Experts can guide you through the process and help you build your website.

Selling with online marketplaces

Etsy, Artsy, and Saatchi Art are good places to start because these online marketplaces already have a lot of people who want to buy things. Sellers (like you) can easily use these websites to post products and start making money.

Setting up a shop for yourself on an online marketplace is very simple. All you need to do is: create an account, list your products, set up a delivery method, and accept payments. Unlike website builders, you won’t need to spend any time creating a website or worrying about the design.

Online marketplaces are appealing because of their ease of use, quick setup, and pre-existing consumer base. The challenge is being discovered among more than millions of other merchants. You could be better off creating your own website (Shopify) and marketing it.

Selling with social media

It is always a good idea to use social media channels for your art business – it allows you to easily connect with your potential customers, show them your work in real-time, and build trust.

If you have an existing eCommerce website for your art, you can easily connect to social media. Many popular social media sites now allow you to sell on their platform, increasing your consumer base.

While many artists are already channels like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, they tend to forget about the business aspects of these social media channels – namely that you can use them as storefronts too! Give customers easier access to your artwork by selling on that platform – and then redirect them to your own website.

  1. Build your Shopify website.

Choose your plan

Figure out what fits your budget and requirements. The good thing about Shopify is that it has different types of plans to suit different needs. Here are Shopify’s plans:

BASIC SHOPIFY PLAN ($29 per month + additional fees)

This is best for when you are just starting out as it already provides you with the basics, as per its name. You will be able to launch a website and sell products even with just this plan.

SHOPIFY PLAN ($79 per month + additional fees)

This is the middle-tier plan and is best when your business is starting to grow and you’re looking to expand both the business and your services. You get a few more features on top of what’s included in the basic plan.

Advanced Shopify Plan ($299 per month + additional fees)

This is the best plan for businesses that are scaling as it provides more advanced features that can complement your growth. This plan gives you all the features from the Shopify Basic and Shopify plan, with more additional and advanced features.

Read more about Shopify plans and costs in our article, How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website On Shopify.

Choose a theme

When looking for a theme, pay attention to factors like the layout, the sorts of material displayed, how easy the site is to browse, and so on.

There are several free themes available on the Shopify store, but there are paid versions as well. You can also opt to go for a custom-made theme to ensure that you get exactly all the features and capabilities you want while having a theme that no one else has.

When it comes to launching your business on Shopify, Webinopoly can provide you with everything from setting it up until your store is operable. Whether it is a big or small business, our team is dedicated to providing only the best and most effective website solutions to drive results.

Set up key pages

Your website should not just sell your products but help customers understand your business, trust you, and find important information. You can do this by setting up key pages.

You do not need to have all of your pages ready for launch, but the following are key:

About page: An About page connects personally with customers, explains your business model, and/or shares the reason you started your business. A persuasive About page can go a long way in earning trust for new online stores.

FAQ page. A frequently asked questions page helps alleviate some of the more common customer support inquiries. 

Policy pages. There are certain legal pages customers expect and that can help protect you in case of disputes, such as your return policy and privacy policy, that you can set up under Settings > Legal.

  1. Showcase your artwork.

Take high-res photos

If you want to put your art in an online gallery, it’s important that you have high-resolution images in order to represent your work accurately. Take several shots of each piece from different angles, so that you can choose the best image later.

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take great images of your art. The best way to get good photos of your work is to set up a simple photo booth in your studio, with a camera on a tripod, and a clean white or neutral background. You can also use daylight for lighting.

Upload with consistent sizes

When you start uploading images, make sure it is of a similar size to the others. This saves space, makes your website load faster, and maintains quality. Clients will also be able to see the details and textures of your artwork for appreciation.


Now, eCommerce websites are often structured in such a way that customers can browse the site in an intuitive manner. When you visit a museum, the rooms are laid out so that visitors can easily navigate by theme or period in history. So don’t forget to categorize your artwork! 

For example, you can create a ‘Featured Collection’ of your best work that displays on your website’s homepage. You can also use categories to organize your artwork into a logical structure: Visitors (potential buyers) can jump to the artwork they want by date, by medium, or by style. The point is to make sure your clients will be able to find what they’re looking for easily.

Write amazing descriptions

Even though your customers are shopping for art or handmade products, they want to feel like there is a human behind the website. So, as you write descriptions on your shop's pages, keep in mind that 79% of customers want more background information on the artist and the object.

Make sure to include two parts: the details and the story. Storytelling is one way of making your pitch to a client. It’s what nails the sale. Explain how you made the artwork or what it means to you. Engage your audience. Don’t be afraid to spill your emotions.

Next are the details which are just facts about the artwork. It can include information like the size, materials used, the price, and the packaging.

Also, remember to include alt tags and meta descriptions when uploading your artwork. Alt tags ensure that your images help Google understand your website and help with your rankings.  Better rankings attract more clients. Meanwhile, meta descriptions define your website's content. They also help your site rank higher in Google.

Finally, proofread your description for spelling and grammar mistakes. Allowing spelling and grammar mistakes to appear in the description of your artwork will impair your chances of selling it. Clients do not want to buy artwork they find hard to understand or which has been badly described, and so they may not purchase anything from you.

  1. Market your artwork and gallery.

Online stores are a great way for artists to reach a wider audience and sell their work without relying on a physical gallery.

If you want to make money selling your art online, it’s important to make sure your work gets in front of as many people as possible. Social media and SEO are two great tools that can help you do just that.

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which refers to the process of increasing the amount of traffic your website gets from search engines. This is really important if you want to sell artwork online because it’s how people will find your work when they search for items like “artwork for sale” or “buy paintings online.” When this happens, buyers will be able to find your site via Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

Do research on popular keywords for artists selling online and include them in the description of your artwork. Keywords are words or phrases that people type into search engines when finding information online. Doing some research ahead of time on common keywords can help you make sure that your artwork shows up at the top of the results list when potential buyers search those phrases.

Social media is another great way to get more views on the art you have for sale; however, most artists have already realized this and use these platforms as well. That means that in order to stand out, you need something special—an edge over others who are trying to sell their work in the same way.

Create social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram. Link these accounts to your website so potential buyers can easily see new work. Post updates frequently to keep followers interested in what you’re doing. You can also post links to articles about art collecting and curating in order to attract more attention from people who are interested in purchasing art for their collections.

  1. Get involved in the community art scene

When you sell art online, it’s important to connect with your audience. But even though it’s easy to reach people across the country or world, don’t forget about those in your own backyard.

By participating in local events and meeting other artists and art lovers, you’ll learn more about how people value art. This will help you create a pricing strategy that works for you. You might also find new customers who appreciate the fact that they can buy from a local artist rather than an anonymous website.

For example, if someone in San Francisco finds out that an artist they admire lives nearby, they might be willing to pay more than if they found the same person selling their work on Etsy.


There’s no getting around it. Selling art for money takes a lot of hard work. If you want to be successful, you must spend a ton of time on your career. Set aside this time and focus on it so you can get the results that you deserve.


If you're still confused about how to develop an online presence for your business or how to grow your brand, our Shopify Experts at Webinopoly can help.

We'll help you create a Shopify site that allows you to track your customers, sell art and establish an online brand.

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