How to Sell Your Artwork Online

Art for art’s sake is all very well — but most artists are tickled by the idea of earning money from their craft. If you’ve thought of trying to reach a larger audience for your work on the Internet, but aren’t sure how to start, this article will give you some tips.

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The main areas you’ll need to look at are your portfolio, your promotion and how to arrange shipping online. Let’s deal with portfolio questions first.

Portfolio

Obviously, the kind of art you do will have an impact on how easily you can translate that art to a two-dimensional computer screen. Photos of finished pieces are probably the simplest and least expensive way you can present your portfolio. Don’t be shy about including several photos of each project in your portfolio, especially if that’s what is necessary to showcase the true depth and meaning of your work. Be careful that you don’t make any avoidable mistakes like maladjusted light balancing, busy backgrounds or fuzzy edges. If you can provide a single-color backdrop to your work’s photos, do so. A simple white or black background will focus all of the attention on your artwork rather than on the edges of the photograph.

For those of us who don’t work on paper, canvas or another easily photographed medium, video is another excellent way to present a portfolio. Putting together a short, well-lit video that shows off some of your work won’t take much more time than taking excellent still shots and may illustrate your talents better than static pictures. If your work encompasses both multi-dimensional and two-dimensional art, then perhaps a slideshow or video that includes both still shots and video clips would be appropriate.

Ask a mentor or friend to help you select the pieces you’d like to present in your portfolio. Often, we are not our best critics.

Promotion

Once you’ve got the material together for your online portfolio, you’ll need to host it somewhere. Putting your portfolio on a platform that also allows you to accept orders for your work makes sense, though you may also want to have a separate website, blog and social media pages as well. You aren’t limited to posting your portfolio in only one place, either. To get more exposure, you’ll need to put links to your portfolio, or copies of your portfolio in more than one location online.

Investigate some of the online arts sales platforms to see which ones best suit your type of art. For example, Etsy, FineArtsAmerica.com, CafePress.com and even eBay offer some venues for artists to meet with buyers. However, you’ll need to investigate each platform’s terms of use and evaluate the fees you may be charged to use the service. Just as there isn’t one kind of art for everyone, there won’t be one place to sell your art. Do some research to see where artists in your medium, or with a related message to yours, are selling their work.

Social media will help you promote and market your work. You can post links with images of your artwork and testimonials from pleased clients that lead back to your own website’s order form or to a third-party platform. Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and Instagram are four great places to present photos or videos of your work as they are all social media platforms that encourage on images. A warning here, though — don’t let your social media marketing get in the way of producing more of your artwork. It can end up wasting time instead of marketing your art. On the other hand, social media is a great place to network with other artists and see what they are doing to find clients and inspiration.

Shipping

Once you’ve landed a client, after giving yourself a gigantic pat on the back, you’ll need to make sure that you get your artwork to the client safely and quickly. If you’re doing some work for hire, make sure you set up a contract and due dates. Your website should have a description of the shipping options available to your clients. Investigate the best way to ship the items to various destinations. If your artwork is fragile or oversized you’ll need to be very careful with your packaging as well.

Image by Nani Puspasari from Flickr’s Creative Commons

About the Author: Kathy Greenlea has been a visual and performance artist for more than 20 years.

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