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With unemployment rates at the highest they’ve been in five years[i], people are being pushed to look at their skills and what they can do to earn money outside of traditional employment.
For some people, becoming unemployed presents an opportunity to try self-employment or to have a go at making money doing something they love. During the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of artists flocked to platforms like Etsy, Red Bubble, and TikTok, attempting to sell their art and build bigger followings. With the technology we have in 2021, it’s easier than ever to sell art online. Although this is great in some respects, it can make it harder to stand out amongst the crowd, and knowing where to start can be a struggle.
There is no easy method of selling art online. If you want a steady flow of income, you need an outstanding idea that’s sellable, profitable and difficult for others to replicate.
Below, we’ll walk you through what you need to do to start selling your art online.
Digitising your artwork is the first step to selling art, whether you’re only selling originals or you want to sell prints. The process is simple enough, but you’ll need some equipment to get started.
If you’re digitising to make prints, remember that your copy will need to be of printable quality. This means it needs to be correctly sized with no streaks, light glares or other imperfections.
You can skip this step if you only want to sell original pieces. It’s commonplace for flat media artists to create a painting or drawing and sell prints of the original instead of replicating it. Prints are generally a lot more affordable than original pieces and are a great way of making your art more accessible to fans whilst still making a profit.
After digitising your artwork, you’ll be ready to make prints in one of the following ways.
Print them yourself
Handling the printing yourself means you get more profit for each print, and you can print art as and when you sell it. However, you will need to splash out on a high-quality printer and choose quality card stock. Upload your product to your preferred platform, and when you get an order, print & send it out.
Use a professional printer
Choosing a professional graphics printing service is a good plan when you’re getting a high level of orders. This will save you splashing out on a printer, ink and card. The cons of this are that paying for this service will eat into your profit margin, and if something goes wrong on their side your customer will be waiting a lot longer to receive their print. You’ll also need to try and predict how much stock you’ll sell when you order from them, which may result in you having excess prints.
Use a print on demand service
This is a very popular option for artists and photographers. You upload your artwork to a platform, and the company in question will print and send out orders as they come through. This limits the amount of manual work you have to do, but your profits won’t be as high, and you won’t be able to add a personal note or nice touches to your packaging. Some popular print on demand sites are Redbubble and Printful.
Putting a price tag on your art is tricky, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s vital not to overprice because your sales will suffer, but you also need to know your own value to make it worthwhile. A good guide for pricing your artwork is as follows:
Of course, prints will come out a lot cheaper. Consider the cost of materials, the time it takes you to make and package a print, the popularity of the print, and how much profit you want to make from it.
Choosing a platform is relatively simple, and the best part is that there’s no limit to how many platforms you can sell your art on. However, there can be quite a lot of admin associated, so don’t overwhelm yourself.
Carefully read the terms and conditions for each platform for an idea of if they charge you to sell and what potential limitations there are. These are some of the most popular places to sell art online:
The methods you choose to market your artwork will make or break your success as an online art seller, so it’s important that you get it right. These are the best ways to market and promote your art:
When you enter the art game you have to be prepared for some level of turbulence. If you’re going at it for months and you aren’t seeing a return on your investment, you might need to change the direction you’re going in. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it just means a change in perspective. The internet art niche is busier than ever, sometimes you have to try a dozen different tactics to break through to your audience. Your hard work will pay off eventually!
Thicknesse, E., 2021. UK unemployment rate jumps to highest for five years. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cityam.com/uk-unemployment-rate-rises-to-highest-since-2015/
[Accessed February 2021].