Learning ways to sell art online is a skill anyone can learn.
Just sell art online. It sounds easy, but it’s a lot of work.
Before you set out on this journey of selling your art online, just know, it will be challenging.
When you do a quick search online for “how to sell your art online” – it can be overwhelming. You’ll see many ways to sell your art online. Advice telling you to get into a gallery or sell your work on Etsy.
My journey to selling my art online has always been influenced by not relying on a third party.
This means making art sales without:
- needing an art gallery to represent me
- having thousands of followers on on social media
- listing my art for sale on mall-like sites like Ebay, Etsy, Fine Art America, etc…
To sell my art online, I focus on three things (I like to keep things simple):
- Traffic (people visiting your art website)
- Conversions (visitors to your art website signing up for your email list)
- Launching strategy (a natural, storytelling way to generate art sales)
Traditional advice tells you the only way to sell your art is to get into a gallery or you have to be famous online. It’s much simpler.
While art shows and galleries can be a fun way to interact with your audience and sell your art. It isn’t the only option.
No matter where you live in the world, you can get started selling your art online with just a few hours of work every week.
Depending on how much work you put in, you can earn an extra few hundred dollars a month selling your art on the side. Or turn it into a full-time business. Just know, it takes work.
But the typical approach most artists take to sell art online only scratches the surface
Here’s the typical approach most artists take when they try to sell their art online:
- Post links all over social media to “buy” your work.
- Wait for people to buy your work.
- Nothing happens.
- Then come to the conclusion it’s impossible to sell your art online.
This approach is no different than walking up to a complete stranger on the street and asking them to buy a $1,000 painting from you. It’s not a great experience, and it comes off as salesy.
However, before you set out to sell your art online, understand that you don’t have to be “famous” or have THOUSANDS of followers online. In reality, having a small and focused audience subscribed to your email list will out perform a large audience of THOUSANDS who passively follow you on social media.
Once you clarify and eliminate the things you don’t have to worry about in your art business. The easier it’ll be to get started building the foundation of your art business online.
Establishing a foundation sell art online
First of all, getting started selling your art online needs to be built around a platform you are in control of.
Social media sites control how much of your audience sees the new content you create. With social media you can expect only 3-5% of your social media followers to see the new content you create.
FACT: When you send out new content to your email list you can expect 40-60% of your followers to see your new content.
It’s after people have signed up for your art newsletter, seen your creative behind-the-scenes, heard your story, learned about your inspirations, and watched your creative process – only then, will they feel compelled to collect your work when you invite them to later on.
Interestingly, even if someone comes to your site and LOVES your work, the chances of them ever coming back are SLIM. This has nothing to do with you or your work, it’s just how people behave online.
So how do you stay in touch with people who are interested in you and the work you make?
With a mailing list.
A mailing list they sign up for when they visit your art website. Establishing a your website and email list is the foundation you need to get started selling your art online.
STEP 1: Build a website for your art and include a blog
A website is the first step if you want to sell your art online.
I recommend using WordPress to build your art website because you can have all the essentials of selling your art online under one roof. From galleries of your art, your blog, store, and signup forms for your mailing list – everything can live on your WordPress art website.
STEP 02: Setting up your mailing list
The people who take action by signing up for your email list are more likely to collect your art later on.
But first, you have to take your time and share your creative process and insights into who you are with them. Break away from being a stranger.
Because people collect art from artists they know, like, and trust.
There’s no better place to build trust than where people spend the majority of their time online, their inboxes.
ConvertKit is my number one recommendation for running your email list. Learn how to use ConvertKit to sell your art online here.
Once you have your art website and mailing list setup you’re already ahead of 99% of other artists.
Most artists worry about how many social media followers they have. Instead, let’s focus on building your own platform. A platform where you make the rules. So if one day Facebook or Instagram decides to change their algorithm, you won’t be affected.
Establish a strategic system to inform your marketing
It’s easy to get caught up in random marketing tactics and vanity metrics that really don’t matter:
- “How do I get more Facebook followers?”
- “Why can’t I get more likes on Instagram?”
- “What’s the best website to sell my art online?”
In order to sell art online, you need a strategic system to follow, not just a bunch of random tactics.
Here’s a system to follow in order to sell your art online:
- Define and find your true audience online
- Drive people to your art website
- Get your website visitors to signup for your mailing list
- Engage with your mailing list to build trust
- Use proven launch strategies to generate art sales in a natural, storytelling way
Let’s dive into these five essential steps to sell art online.
01 Define and find your true audience.
You get to choose who you want your audience to be.
Many artists make the mistake of targeting the “general public” or “rich” people. When the criteria for defining your audience is based on people’s tastes, values, and experiences.
02 Drive people to your art website.
Before you can sell art online, you need people to visit your website. Once you’ve decided on your audience based on unique tastes, values, and experiences – you have to find where they are online, who they follow, and what they read online.
Then you can focus on getting your work in front of the already established audiences of key influencers, blogs, and other online outlets.
03 Get your website visitors to sign up to your art newsletter.
Getting you and your work mentioned or featured in front of key audiences who align your target audience will create traffic to your website.
Now you have to create fun and interesting ways for your website visitors to sign-up for your email art newsletter. Otherwise known as creating a lead magnet. This is usually a form displayed prevalently on your art website. Communicating what they’ll get for signing up and what to expect.
04 Engage with your mailing list to build trust.
People notice consistency.
When I do miss sending an email to my email list, I get emails from people in my audience asking if everything is okay. This is meaningful. I don’t know of any other type of business where this kind of connection is created.
Apart from consistency, write to your email list as if you were writing a long lost best friend. Keeping everything natural and authentic. You’ll start to get more and more thoughtful replies from people who follow you on your email list.
When you start communicating with individuals in your audience like this you’ll learn valuable insights about what others like about your art. Sometimes these insights will make it so you make a pivot in your art business in your art business. Which will improve how you engage with your email list.
05 Use proven launch strategies to generate sell art online in a natural, storytelling way
Imagine someone visiting your website and they love your work.
But they’re not ready to purchase something just yet.
So they decide to sign up for your email list.
Now every week you simply share what you’re working on.
Every now and then you invite your subscribers to collect your work. Specifically, work you’ve been sharing with them over the past few weeks.
This more storytelling approach eliminates the aura of selling. Why?
Because for the past few weeks you’ve done nothing but share your creative story and behind-the-scenes. Now when you invite your subscribers to collect your work, you’re simply giving them a timed and limited opportunity to take part in your creative story.
Even artists with thousands of people on their mailing list can’t sell their art online without the right launch plan.
For example, when I had an email list of only 1,500 subscribers I thought it would be easy to sell art online. Specifically, a stack of prints I had in my studio. So before I went to bed, I send a quick email announcing they were for sale. I had expected to wake up to a few dozen art sales in the morning.
Guess what happened?
I didn’t sell a single print.
The problem was that I sprang the print on my audience. I didn’t build up awareness and interest. I just flung the print on my audience without any proper build-up.
This same mistake is made everyday by artists who are puzzled why they can’t sell art online. The truth is, audience size is just one of the many factors in a successful selling your artwork online.
If you want to create art sales, you have to be clear that you are inviting them to collect something. This is where using proven launch concepts are valuable. Launching taps into key psychological concepts that make sells happen. There are many different approaches to launching.
Sell Art Online – Final thoughts
Finally, the time you dedicate to the business side of your art shouldn’t feel like a drag.
All your marketing efforts should be just as enjoyable as creating art is – while also creating the most authentic experience for your audience.
Here are the four underlying concepts you should keep in mind as pursue as you set out to sell art online:
01 You have the “permission” to create a “boutique” personal brand for your art business.
Often when you hear about marketing you immediately think it’s tainted in tackiness and brashness. Running your art business doesn’t have to feel this way.
Rather, think of your art business as “artisanal” and “boutique”, the whole idea of self-promotion and marketing doesn’t have to be tacky or spammy. You can turn your art business into something that grows naturally while being authentic at the same time.
Authenticity and effectiveness are not mutually exclusive.
02 Speaking to your clients with genuine care and respect.
In the online world, there is a lot of sleazy advice with a disrespectful tone. The whole vibe is just not something I resonate with. When I set out to build my creative business online, I was turned off by all the brash marketing tactics being used online.
My guiding intention in all my communication is to write and speak as an intelligent and genuine person, to intelligent and genuine people. Knowing not everyone is going to buy my work and being okay with that. It’s a privilege someone is inviting my communication and creativity into their weekly cycle.
The more dialed-in I got with my audience, the more replies, positive feedback, sales, and commissions I began to get from my weekly newsletters.
03 The peace of mind that comes from having a system to authentically engage with your audience.
Understanding how to use your inbox to start and grow your art business – allows you to authentically spark new professional relationship people around the world.
TIP: Selling your art online using launching strategies isn’t about convincing people to hand money over to you. You’re simply giving interested people in your audience a timed and limited opportunity to take part in your creative story and collect your work.
04 Having a systematic mindset and solid strategic thinking
This is HUGE. One of the main reasons artists feel stuck is because they don’t have a way to integrate a strategic mindset and a step-by-step system for selling their work online. They wait to “get discovered” on social media or use other passive tactics. Or even worse, get consumed by vanity metrics like Facebook and Instagram followers.
Once artists start focusing on growing their own platforms, a mailing list, something interesting started happening to them:
They started to get “thank you’s” from their weekly emails. There audience was actually letting them know how appreciative they were for sharing their creative process and insights with them.
If you take any action based on this article, I hope it’s that you challenge yourself of setting up and sending a weekly newsletter.
I hope this helps you as you start and grow your art business. See a list of all the tools I use to run my art business.