If you clicked on this article to read, you are probably thinking about selling your artwork but just don’t know how to go about it. Are galleries or shops the right way? Online? Art shows or sales?
And what about promotion? Website, social media etc.? Yes, all of the above are options!
I know, I know it’s overwhelming! You google “how to sell my art” and get over 4 billion results!
No wonder people would be overwhelmed and confused over which way to go and how to get started.
This article is geared to beginners in the process – those who have been doing art for a while and desire to take it to the next level, so to speak.
I will give you some tangible ways both in your local region and online that will be explained and you can decide what is right for you based on them. I will be describing my own story of selling art in the process, too. 🙂
An Easy First Step – Really!
There are a number of steps you will need to do to get out there and start selling. If you have zero exposure for your work except for family or friends admiration, you may wish to join an art club.
For me, that was the first step. I received a lot more validation for my work.
And no offense to my family or friends, but the validation coming from strangers eliminated the thought about the bias family and friends may have had. Strangers are not obligated to say anything about your work!
So, I would participate in the club’s shows and did receive awards (not to toot my own horn!).
Also, I met a lot of great artists, one in particular who was selling his artwork – both original and prints, and he gave me great advice about doing that (discussed further in the next section).
My success with the club led to more recognition from family and friends, too. I received my first two commissions from this! Also, this led to my month-long solo exhibition. I sold some pieces there! Awesome feeling! 🙂
Sell at Craft Fairs – Network!
The artist I met through the art club got me started with selling prints. He put me in touch with a wonderful, local printer who made awesome giclee prints.
He also showed me how to package them using foam board, cut to size to back the prints and bagging them with sealable bags (Clearbags.com).
Here is one of them packaged.
So I built up a small inventory to start with and framed a few originals. Bought a few display stands (both floor and table) and a nice cloth for a table.
I sought out all the local craft fairs and participated in those sales for years, earning quite a few sales of my prints that way.
Did I participate in the local huge art shows in my area? Well, you may be surprised to learn I did not.
The reason I didn’t was because:
1. The entry fee was very pricey (hundreds compared to $40-50 for craft fairs)
2. Too much equipment required particularly that most were outdoors
3. Too much competition! – everyone there is an artist, compared to craft fairs where you may be one of maybe 3 artists in the whole fair.
But just because I didn’t do the large art shows doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try there. Just know there is more investment in the art show route with perhaps more effort
You would need to frame many more large pieces and have them ready to show. And you may need a tent or outdoor equipment.
But if you sell a few large originals, that could offset your cost. And remember, the clientele there would be there to find fine art originals and would be expecting to outlay larger sums for good artwork. 😉
Not so at a craft sale. Most craft fair goers would not be in the market to outlay that much for an art item at that type of venue.
However, I did sell small original pieces and a lot of prints at craft sales. Also, many people took my card for future reference, resulting in many commissions!
This is also a great way to meet lots of people and network! You never know what opportunities may present themselves.
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Online Opportunity – So Vast!!
Thank you for reading this far to discover that I’m not behind the times as you may have thought when I suggested face-to-face selling at craft fairs when there’s this whole online world waiting for your gems!
If you would like to create a website, there are many website builder sites to choose from. Many of them are very simple to use as well, drag and drop and not needing to know how to use code. Here are the top 3:
These three were among the best listed for selling art as well.
Here is a link to a great article https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/website-builders/best/artists/
It’s important, I think, to have a website. It establishes you as a professional. And you can link other sites like Etsy to it and/ or print-on-demand sites (discussed in the next section).
Print on Demand Sites
If you’re thinking about selling, you may wish to consider print-on-demand sites and there are many to choose from.
Print-on-demand means that company will handle everything – printing, transacting the purchase, packaging, shipping and customer service – for you. They will keep a commission for all of that, though.
Here’s a tip before jumping right into one, though – learn about the different online companies – really research the kind of genre they have on their site before you upload your stuff. Look at others work.
Your art may not be what their customer is looking for and you will have wasted your time (and believe me, it is time-consuming to upload, title, attach keywords, describe, decide items to be printed on, set mark-ups, etc.) In other words, your artwork shouldn’t contrast too greatly with the style seen on the site.
Also, research other things that may be important to you, like which ones have affiliate programs (if you’re into that) or direct connection options to social media (Redbubble has this as does Imagekind). Or maybe they may have an option to license your art through them. (Fine Art America has this).
Read reviews of their product/printing quality, shipping time. You really need to spend the extra time looking into all the advantages and reputation of each one before deciding to go with them. Maybe order a product or two to see the quality for yourself.
I didn’t do as much research as I should have. And I wasted a lot of time uploading to ones that turned out not to be what I exactly wanted. Don’t make that same mistake.
So which are the best ones? Well, that depends on your type of art and what you’re looking to do.
There are so many and there are plenty of reviews out there on each one. I would seriously read about each one to determine what is the best fit. But here are three I am a member of:
Fine Art America
Redbubble. I sold on Redbubble – they have many, many kinds of products available to have your art printed on. I really like them for this reason.
Click here to see my page.
There site is easy to navigate and not overly time-consuming to upload. They also have an affiliate program if you’re into that (and live in a state that doesn’t prohibit this).
The picture to the left shows my hibiscus image for sale printed onto a clock. Here is another product, the same image on this lovely pillow.
Also, they have an easy way you can promote your work on social media.
For example, you can choose to promote on Facebook or twitter and they will essentially send the picture and write the content for you and post it.
Some of their art is very modern and minimalist. Look at a lot of their work and choose it (or not) based on what you have to sell.
Fine Art America
I just joined them recently.
(Click here to see my page there).
They have a LOT of different types of art – photography, fine art, designs and illustrations.
Also, people are selling on there! Congratulatory messages (with profile and the artwork) are posted daily of selling artists/artwork. I like that and hope to see mine in that feed soon!
Uploading is fast and fairly easy. They allow a lot of keywords, too.
They don’t seem to have as many products as Redbubble but still have a good amount.
They have been around a long time and have a good size membership – on par with Redbubble.
One cannot go wrong purchasing from them. They do not, however, offer products such as towels, water bottles, mugs, bedding etc., just paper and canvas prints.
To see my page on Imagekind, click here.
All these Print-on-demand companies are great because you don’t need an inventory and do not need to be involved in collecting the money, packaging, shipping, etc. — a big burden off your shoulders!
They do it all for you – but do take a commission though. And some say you have to sell a lot to make good money. So, keep that in mind.
Etsy or EBay
Others swear by this way of selling. There are fees associated with selling through them but you get to keep way more of the profits.
You would have the responsibility of all the customer interaction, though, and would need an inventory.
Honestly, if I wasn’t so busy doing my classes and workshops, I would go for this! The extra time I would have if I wasn’t teaching could be devoted to the customer service aspect. I recommend this route if you have the time!
Promote, promote promote on Social Media
I have only recently begun to promote my art through social media. I’ve read a lot about how to promote and one of the main takeaways is not to be that annoying person who is always trying to sell their stuff to your followers.
It’s important to start by following other artists and engage with people so they can get to know you and your work.
Be sure to recognize others’ hard work and compliment others’ art work, too. If it’s all about you, that’s a big turn-off. And after all, we are all in this together and should be supporting one another.
It’s been less than six months on Twitter and I have built of following of over 260 and am getting followers daily. So I must be doing something right!
And I managed to do this while still creating and running my art instruction business locally that takes up a good part of my week! The key is to engage – I’m pretty much engaging almost daily and several times/day sometimes.
[Update: May 15, 2020. Since the pandemic, my following is now 348, a testament to how many are online now!]
I also am on Facebook (established a business account – I never post to sell on my personal account!), Pinterest and Instagram. A lot of artists do videos on YouTube as well.
This social media promotion is still very much a work in progress for me and it’s a lot of work.
Once you start, you must realize, this is part of the promotion side of your business – yes, selling your art must be viewed as a business – you need to maintain a presence on social media regularly posting several times/week if not daily so you won’t be forgotten!
If it seems too daunting to do all of them, just start out with one then build from there.
This is another way you can promote/sell your art. You could create a blog that discusses you – your art, what motivates you, how you created your pieces, etc.
Your blog can be a part of your website or a separate one. And It’s a great way to connect with people.
It is said that customers want to know who you are before they buy from you! There are many articles about how to set up a blog out there. Just google and get started.
I got started blogging as an off-shoot of my art instruction business – I share a lot of info while teaching face-to-face, so why not help people online as well, I thought?
My blog was started through an affiliate site called Wealthy Affiliate which provided a lot of training in creating a word-press blogging website with oodles and oodles of training (for any niche, not just art) and an extremely helpful community! I highly recommend them. Click on the banner below if you’d like to find out more affiliate marketing.
Gift Shops and Art Galleries
This is another great way to get your name out there at least locally. I have sold work this way and currently have my artwork in a great store near me. I do get steady sales from them!
You have to not be shy to visit these kinds of places and mention your an artist, give them your card directing them to your website and ask if they would take on some of your work.
If you’re going to try local art galleries, you will need to call first and schedule an appointment to meet with them.
From everything I’ve read, they don’t appreciate walk-ins if you’re seeking representation.
Also, you will need to have photos of your originals organized in a very professional-looking binder to show them.
Wishing You All the Success!
Whether you want to sell face-to-face or online, I hope you’re feeling a bit more confident and inspired to get out there and start selling.
Years ago when I pondered about how to sell my art, I knew I had to just get myself out there and try step-by-step. It has been a long wonderful journey, and yours is just beginning!
Get out there and show your artwork to the world. Buyers are waiting!
Thanks for reading. As always, I welcome comments or questions you may have – you may leave below. I will never share your email.
Have an artful day!