This ArtMakers information sheet provides a brief overview of the main ways in which artists and makers are able to sell online.
Your Own Website
Often the starting point for many new creatives, and although it might feel daunting it is becoming essential in the post-Covid world. The big advantage is you are in total control of this site, and if you add an e-commerce option you can sell directly from it. The issue becomes you have to do all the promoting, and finding ways of driving traffic i.e. buyers, to your site. Much of this can be achieved via social media – see below.
The alternative to integrating e-commerce into your site is to use one of the online sales operation e.g. Shopify, Big Cartel or Supadupa
Selling via a Gallery
There are over 20 online galleries working in the English language based everywhere from London and LA to Montreal. For a list of the top ten international see ArtMakers ‘Selling Online – International Galleries’.
The online galleries do most of the promotion for you and can deal with the clients. You normally pay a commission fee or the retail price minus a fee.
Some buy stock and warehouse it for you – normally for makers who create multiples of work, but it is most common that you get the orders and dispatch them to the clients yourself and get paid by the online gallery, rather than the client.
These are especially good for creatives to work with as they have a decent marketing team and a marketing budget. They tend to eb seen as trustworthy which gives them a good reputation and traffic.
The big issue is the scale and type of artist or makers listed. Many only deal with very established artists, many exclude makers. The majority upload hundreds of works a month, which means any work you submit has to compete in a very crowded gallery. To combat this some galleries offer additional promotions for a fee.
Selling via Marketplaces
More commonly used by makers rather than artists. A big advantage of using popular online marketplaces, and portfolio sites (useful for illustrators), to promote and sell your creative products and designs is that they already have existing traffic – people who are looking for the kind of work you create.
But these sites are extremely competitive, so you need to make sure that you stand out with professional-level photography and targeted key words that focus on your talents and niche. You will still need to do the bulk of the marketing and drive traffic to your own pages, as these marketplaces and online portfolio sites won’t do that for you.
Etsy is the most popular makers site for direct sales. The range of work for sale favours makers with a unique style and prices range from £1.99 to over £2,000.
Selling on Etsy is not free you pay a very small sum to list your work and a commission on your sales but compared with agents and galleries this is small.
However, there are over 30 online shops available to see more read Artmakers ‘Selling online – Shops’.
Selling via social Media
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get started selling work online is through social media.
Facebook is a good place to start, if your audience is mostly your friends and family. Let them know that you have started your business with images of your products but also with what’s happening behind the scenes. Don’t forget to include good images and a link to your website (if you have one) or the online gallery you sell via, to start driving traffic to your work.
Pinterest is currently the most popular promotional site. The reason is users are often in a buying mood because they are at a time of their lives when they are spending on home accessories and gifts e.g. moving or improve their house, or when they get married. Pins are also ‘evergreen’ so visible much, much longer than your average Instagram picture, plus the average age and income of ‘Pinners’ is higher.
Make sure you have a business Pinterest account rather than a personal account, and you will need to sell online through your online shop or a gallery.
Selling Using Print-on-Demand
This approach works best for illustrators, photographers and pattern designers. You upload your designs and create products such as t-shirts or mobile phone covers, that then get produced on demand and sent directly to the consumer. You can sell your designs on different white-label products i.e. blank products, such as shirts, bags, hats, posters, jugs, etc.
The big advantage is that after printing, the suppliers also handle the shipping and delivery of the products. However, you still have to do all the promoting!
Some useful sites are https://rigorousthemes.com/blog/ten-best-print-on-demand-companies-uk-europe/
I hope this information has been useful. For more information about selling online please register with Artmakers.