How to Sell Fine Art Online

So you're a new or aspiring artist and your creativity has spawned something unique and interesting. Now you're ready to display and sell this creation and perhaps make some money, but you're venturing into the unknown. You obviously turn to the internet because you do not have an agent, gallery, or name that is in demand from collectors.

The art of the sale of art is a difficult one for most artists. Many fine pieces of art never make it past this stage. Of course selling your art online isn't easy. Before you leap in, there are some things you should consider.


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    Sell yourself first. Before doing anything else, stop and sum up yourself as an artist. Now, think about how to translate that to an online profile. Be it the few words, Twitter allows you or an entire page of indulgence that your own website would allow you. Bring out the most salient features of your creativity, your experience, your passion, and your reasons for painting. Make it clear to readers why you are an artist who loves art, produces high quality art, and is a true champion of art. If you're not great with words, find a friend who can help you with this really important aspect of selling online – the establishment of your credibility and reliability.
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    Join online artist communities. Depending on what scale you intend to sell your art pieces, you may want to get an account on an online art community or store, like Deviant Art. With 15% -20 % brokerage, you can also find many online art galleries like Art Brokerage, Diva Art Group, or Saatchi Art that will show your artwork online and sell them to the buyer in completely secured transaction. There are also many other possible sites, such as Etsy (heavier on the crafts but still arty), eBay (auction site), an Amazon store (an online store platform), CafePress (for printing your artwork onto stuff like mugs), Craigslist (general classifieds), and quite a lot of other artwork based sales sites (do a general search).
    • Read the terms and conditions of every site very carefully. Know what commission or percentage the site takes, know what protections (or lack of them) that the site offers, know what clientele generally peruse the site, know the general sales brought in by the site, know everything you can that is relevant to your sales.
    • If your goal is to turn your art into an investment property, then selling online is likely to be a much longer path to this end. This is largely because it is generally more difficult for unknown artists to secure higher priced sales with serious collectors online than it is through a traditional gallery where such concrete decisions can be made safely. It is best to see selling art online as an adjunct to your usual methods of selling art, not your only means.
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    Make yourself public. Get yourself out there as best as you can by advertising yourself. Publish some "example" pieces around the web to show what you can do and to demonstrate your style. Be sure to add a watermark to your digital version to protect your artwork from art thieves.
    • Spend a little time researching online the ways in which other artists are promoting themselves. What works for them and what doesn't? What do you like about their promotional strategies and what do you want to avoid? This type of research can give you a lot of ideas and also alert you to potential pitfalls for the ways in which you will promote your own artwork. Bookmark the sites of artists selling online that really inspire you, so that you can come back to them regularly to see how they're evolving and succeeding.
    • Seize the power of Twitter and Facebook to increase people's knowledge of you. Tweet updates about your new paintings, your thoughts about art, and news items about art in general. On Facebook, place photos of your artwork, (digitally watermarked), photos of you receiving awards, and information about your art, artwork in general, and perhaps even some critiques of artwork.
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    Blog about your artwork. Given the hundreds of free blogging websites, you have a lot of choice in keeping a blog. Most importantly, it's extremely useful to keep it updated regularly - this gives people something "pretty to look at", and a story to follow as your reputation increases and your sales story grows. A blog can pick up a lot of hits from search engines if you utilize the keywords feature accurately; use it to your advantage. Be sure to name your blog something simple but memorable – you'll want people to be able to find you with ease.
    • Read How to start a blog and How to increase website traffic for free for assistance.
    • A good way to test keywords for very little cost is through using an auction site. Play around with the words you use to title your art sales, as well as the words used within the body of the text. Keep changing the words until you find the sweet spot – words that really do seem to attract the most views.
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    Create a mailing list. This could be your most effective tool if managed well. For every sale you make, every person who sends you an email that might be interested, get all of their email addresses in digital database ready for mass emailing. At designated intervals (once a month, every other week, whenever you start a new series) send them all nice, grammatically correct, friendly emails, complete with a neatly set-out portfolio of the pictures of your recent work (a PDF can work well for this purpose). This keeps you on the radar of past customers, which is important. And if it's a really wonderful newsletter, you might get lucky and they might send it to all of their friends as well – then even more eyes are seeing your work!
    • Every thoughtful mailing list includes an opt-out option. Don't be threatened by this; see it as good housekeeping and as retaining the clients who really do want to see your items. You're not online to hassle people who aren't interested!
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    Take good pictures. Like they say, "a picture's worth a thousand words" and you'll want your impression on potential customers to be good. Show detail, right down to paint strokes and paint type. Be willing to show potential buyers multiple shots of your work under different light, hung on a wall, etc. This may be the only way to alleviate the justifiable fear many people have of buying a work of art that they have never seen in person.
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    Be sure to properly license your art. Licensing art is a way of proving what belongs to whom. It is a necessary bookkeeping in the arts department and will help you if there is a dispute about originality, ownership, or moral rights.
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    Consider the option of creating your own site. Having your own site means that you can optimize every page for search engines and it sets you apart from the many artists who only use general art sales sites. Having your own website means that the viewer is not distracted by other artists and their work whilst browsing your art and your own name is likely to gain in reputation faster. You can sell directly from your site via email correspondence with potential buyers (ask them to contact you for prices, to make a purchase etc.).
    • If you're serious about selling your art online with your own site, then it's essential with a domain name that is either your own name or the name that you want people to associate you with your art. For example, you could use a domain made up of your first and last name such as or if you work under a pseudonym then you could use a domain name using that i.e.
    • Give serious consideration to making your website as much like a virtual art gallery as possible. Encourage potential clients to wander through and see your paintings in a leisurely, gallery-like manner to increase their viewing enjoyment.
    • Add prices and contact details. People want to see the price, so don't hide it or expect the customer to come up with one for you. And be available to answer their questions in a timely fashion.
    • When creating your own website, you need to find a secure method for accepting payment and you might even consider implementing an escrow system. The more expensive your artwork is, the more careful you will need to be about money handling, including acceptance of returns and refunds. There are various methods in existence online for the safe transference of money; do your research to find out what works best for your local needs and for your global market.
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    Expect this to be a gradual process and don't expect to sell a lot right away. An online art business needs to be built up little by little. It's much the same as putting together a company (indeed, you should treat your online art sales as a business) – you will try to make your name known, or at least give people a hint on who you are as an artist, develop your services as you grow, and gain in reputation as time goes on. It may feel like a long time at the beginning but solid and patient foundations will set you up for a good future, as well as maintaining a positive attitude about what you're doing.
    • Attend as many relevant art shows to show your work as you can. If the shows are juried, display the awards your art has won as part of your profiles or website backgrounds.


  • Get known by giving away your art for free at first. Either commercial photo libraries, wikimedia commons or other free art websites all have opportunities for you to upload your artwork for free and reach a massive audience through their networks. While you will not receive payment, you can request attribution, enabling you to get your name and brand out there.

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