Daniel’s Art of Selling Art Online
My way of selling art…
Like many, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I’ve had this dream ever since I was a kid when I became fascinated with scifi and fantasy illustration. Though I have a formal art education, I’ve learned that it does not actually help much when it comes to selling art. Sure, I learned a lot about art history and painting, but what art schools seem to never teach is how to actually sell art. So, after I graduated, it was up to me to figure out how to do it.
The traditional way to sell art is to find a gallery to represent you. For this, you need an outgoing personality, incredible networking skills, and the right kind of art – as galleries tend to specialize in one kind of art or another. It helps, of course, if you live near a large city that actually has art galleries.
My problem was that the traditional way was not for me. I’m an introvert. I hate networking. Plus my art, with it’s classical themes, tends to be poor match for most galleries near me that lean towards modernism.
In fact, in both art school and from some gallery owners, I was told my art would never sell. I can say more than four hundred sales later that those people were not final word in art business, they were just assholes. Just about any kind of art can sell, it’s all about finding an audience and a way to connect to them.
If you’ve ever tried to get your art into a gallery and been unsuccessful, it’s okay. There’s not nearly enough galleries in the world to represent all of the great artists out there.
Luckily for me, the Internet came to my rescue!
There are many ways to sell art online. I’ve tried nearly all of them. Many were failures, but a few were successful. Perhaps the best I found though was Print-On-Demand (POD) sites. With a POD site, customers can order a print to their specifications. The POD site fulfills the order by creating a print with a fancy printer then ships it straight to the customer.
Admittedly, I haven’t made a fortune, but I have made a great side income since I started. In fact, I can even give you exact numbers by year for my print sales:
- 2012: $423.46
- 2013: $2734.34
- 2014: $3627.71
- 2015: $6146.98
- 2016: $6785.82
- 2017: $4808.88
- 2018: $5781.41
- 2019 $6661.32
Total Gross Income: $36,969.92
2017 and 2018 were a little lower as we had a new baby in the house and I had almost no time at all to devote to art, but notice that I still made money without really doing anything. That’s one of the beauties of this way of selling art: the POD site continues selling your prints even when you are not online!
Now I have had a few expenses:
- $30/year for my POD service account
- $15/year for my domain name
- $60/year for my website hosting
- $4091.22 over the 6 years in advertising costs
Total Expenses: $4931.22
For a net Profit of: $32038.70
You can see that I still did quite well. My art income has paid for my family’s vacations for years now.
Putting your art up on a POD site is a great start, but the next challenge I faced was actually getting buyers to find my art online. After all, the web is huge and complex, but over the years, I’ve learned about how I can make this happen.
- The first key was to create proper titles, descriptions, and keywords to make my art show up well in Google searches
- I also made my own website, that’s helped a lot by creating a home base for me and a place for my fans to really follow me.
- I have a way to track and communicate with my fans using an email list that I manage through an email marketing provider.
- Finally, I built an active Facebook fan page from which I can use Facebook ads to find new audience members.
All in all, it has been quite an adventure. If you want to find out about how I do it in detail, I have an ebook.
In it, I have walk-throughs on how I get my artwork up in FineArtAmerica, how I come up with great titles, descriptions, and keywords for my art, how built my website and how I advertise my art.
I’ll also tell about some great tricks I know for turning photography into more distinct digital art, as well had how to digitize traditional artworks such as drawings and paintings.
I also include a section on mailing lists, how I maintain mine, and how I use to my best advantage by employing autoresponders.