Sell Art Online: The Ultimate Resource

sell art online

It's never been easier to sell your art. No longer are you shackled by your circumstance, upbringing or location. On the flip side meritocracy and honing your craft is much more important. Depending on your art, you have a variety of choices available to you. Your craft also determines the size of the demographic you can possibly sell to. Luckily, there are quick ways to determine if there's a market for your style of art and easy ways to to sell to that market. In this article I will cover:

  1. ​The world's biggest platforms for selling your art (ranked)
  2. Resources to help set up your site

1. Google

Having your own website is the number 1 thing you can do for yourself. Having your own website indexed by Google is the biggest and most cost effective action you could take. Keep in mind this will only be the case if you dedicate yourself to putting out content (blog posts, tutorials, how to guides ). In 2015 social media drove 31.24% of overall traffic to sites. This means 69.76% was done by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Although the trend is towards mobile and social applications, the smart play is still to have a foot in both worlds.

PROS 

  • Control your own audience
  • Create an experience for visitors
  • Organic traffic
  • Only limited by your own hard work

CONS

  • You have to earn your exposure, there is no agent or gallery doing it for you
  • Not a good place for NSFW art.

Resources:
How to Sell Your Art online by Cory Huff  (setting up a website, making content etc)
Empty Easel - Selling Art Online articles

2. Youtube

​If you're not camera shy then a combination of Google blogging content ( written, with pictures) combined with audiovisual content for youtube is probably the cheapest thing with the biggest return you could do. For every dollar you spend you could earn back roughly 22.

PROS 

  • Create an experience for visitors
  • Organic traffic
  • Only limited by your own hard work

CONS

  • Your subscribers aren't really yours. Youtube ownes them.
  • It's important to collect emails or diversify into Patreon.

Resources:
Draw with Jazza ( doesn't use Patreon.. I wonder why?)
Lena Danya ( does use Patreon)

3. Facebook

Depending on your sources the 2nd or 3rd biggest site in the world. Facebook is on track to becoming one of the first trillion dollar companies. Yes, that's trillion with a T.

PROS 

  • Possibly the best advertising platform. If you have money to spend.
  • Still relatively cheap compared to traditional advertising and much more accurate targeting.
  • You can target your prefered audience and you can network with other FB pages, groups.

CONS

  • Organic traffic isn't very reliable but once you get an audience and keep a finger on the pulse of the world at large you might make a few viral hits.

4. Reddit

Reddit has started to grow into a platform where you can create a mini-website for yourself under your profile name. This includes followers, a personalized page and a way for others to track (read: stalk) your interactions with the internet. In the past there have been artists who have taken part in trending topics and gained international exposure that way.

Resources:
Poem For Your Sprog (poet who writes poems about trending topics)
ShittyWatercolor (artist who makes well.. watercolor paintings...)
Daily Dot list of Novelty Artists on Reddit

Note: These people aren't commercially driven but they are internationally known and I'd argue more "famous" then some commercially successful artists. 

PROS 

  • Relatively easy to be seen with hard work and timing.
  • Many artists have followers who create subreddits in their name. 

CONS

  • You dont' own your audience
  • You can't sell on the platform itself but you can redirect to your website or printing service.

5. Amazon 

Although not the 4th biggest site in the world, for artists it is. Historically and in experience bigger sites like Amazon have the leverage to squeeze more out their smaller partners. Meaning Amazon could easily increase the cost of shipping or hosting your work on their site. This is less of a problem with smaller 3rd party sites or your own website.

Resources:
Merch By Amazon ( sell your t-shirt designs on Amazon's year old platform with Prime shipping)
Sell your Art with Amazon (fulfillment by Amazon is what most Amazon partners use)

PROS 

  • You can optimize for SEO
  • You can advertise
  • Organic traffic 

CONS

  • You create art for people looking for a specific kind of art. 
  • As an artist you're at the whim of interior designers and professionals who're looking for art to fill spaces with.

11 Other of the world's largest platforms:

Twitter > Instagram > Linkedin > Imgur > Bing > Tumblr > Twitch > Blogspot > Pinterest > Craigslist > Ebay (UK)

What does this mean? This gives you a rough idea of the reach any of these platforms have. Obviously, some of these are better than others for artists but keep in mind that a lot of the traffic sites like Pinterest, Twitter and blogspot get to that position because they are Google friendly sites. So this still means that the number 1 thing you can do for your art is have your own site and get exposure on Google.

Note! None of these sites above are art e-commerce sites. No store, gallery or agent will have the reach you could have on your own with the platforms above.

Stores (and visits per month)

Etsy (40mil )
Artfire (60k)
Fine Art America (1.1mil)
Artist Rising (877k)
Artsy (1.3mil)
Ebay (139mil)
Imagekind (55.6k)

Make your own artist website

OtherPeoplesPixels - Another by artists for artists easy website setup platform for artists. Both Foliotwist and OPP offer fairly minimalistic designs that put an emphasize on your art.

Foliotwist - From the guy(s) behind Empty Easel, Dan has his own platform for artist websites.

Wix - A generic easy to setup website platform.

Print on Demand Sites

Printful - Integrates with Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce . Recently opened up an office in the EU, reducing costs for EU to EU shipments. Frankly there are hundreds of printing services. But printful stands out right now as one of the better ones. With a wide variety of merchandise available and compatible with multiple platforms you're in safe hands with it.

Social Media Integration

Spreesy - Looking for a way to use social media to sell your art? Spreesy helps you leverage the power of social with one-stop shopping for Facebook and Instagram, and offers online e-commerce storefronts.

Wrapping it up

I personally believe Youtube, your website and your favorite choice of social media is the future. I recommend you start with 1 platform + your own site and try to master it before moving on to a new platform. The world is yours for the taking.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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