This article was originally published on Aug. 29, 2017, and was updated on April 16, 2020.
For today’s working artist, finding the top places to sell art is a huge win. But with an increasingly digital landscape — not to mention the social distancing restrictions in place due to COVID-19 — you might be starting to wonder about the best websites to sell art online, rather than in person.
With your art displayed online, you can reach an audience of thousands (or even millions) — no physical presence required. Selling your art online can let you focus more on the craft, and then foray into gallery shows and the like when things get back to normal.
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Do I really need to go online to sell my art?
The reasons for looking into the top places to sell art online are numerous — from increased exposure to defining the artistic identity to getting better compensation.
In fact, if you’re serious about life as a working artist, an online presence is pretty much essential. The online art market has continued to grow year over year — up 9.8% in 2018 to $4.64 billion — according to the 2019 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report.
Remember, just because you make the move to selling online, it doesn’t mean you’re limited to the internet. Online sales can be a perfect complement to the in-person relationships you’ve become so good at developing.
Once you take those tentative first steps, you’ll discover there are an array of options. And while we’re on the subject, creating a website dedicated to showcasing and selling your own work is much easier and far less expensive than you might think.
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5 best websites to sell art online
When we talk about the top places to sell art online, it’s best to keep things simple. Bigger websites get more visits. If you’re depending on income from your art, it’s an easy decision to look for places where success has been proven.
Keep in mind that any website will typically charge a percentage of each sale, which can vary a lot. With that in mind, here are the top five places to sell art online:
Amazon is best for 2D artists like painters, printmakers and photographers. Back in 2013, the largest online retailer launched a platform dedicated solely to artwork. That’s since been absorbed by Amazon Prime, a name that doesn’t need much explaining.
To get started, you must first get approved as a seller, and then select a plan. Each one has its own set of fees, but keep in mind the millions of visits Amazon draws each month — there’s a good chance you’ll make back that money quickly.
eBay gives you the option of selling your work via auction or for a flat fee.
Like its Amazon counterpart, eBay has a nook dedicated to fine art of an otherwise sprawling online marketplace. Unlike Amazon, however, it’s up to you to figure out payment and shipping options.
You can opt to auction your artwork, rather than selling it for a flat fee, which can be quite an exciting experience.
eBay, which gets around 183 million active buyers each quarter, also offers plans that come with a few free listings, so you can keep more of the selling price.
Etsy charges a low transaction fee so artists keep more of the proceeds.
Although Etsy might be more associated with handmade stuff like clothing and accessories, they do have a marketplace for fine art. The site itself is a platform where each year millions of shoppers spend billions of dollars.
Etsy also offers robust support for artists and charges a paltry transaction fee, which goes a long way if you’re selling your work at competitive prices and looking to move volume rather than score single, large purchases.
DeviantArt allows you to sell prints and deliver them via download.
DeviantArt is unique among the top places to sell art due to a strong community and the fact that pieces are downloadable. It also offers numerous resources for artists, who actively comment on each other’s work.
Redbubble makes it easy to sell printed pieces like T-shirts, stickers and mugs.
Once you’ve created a design, choose products where it can be printed, and then let customers determine options like sizes and colors. Redbubble coordinates printing and shipping, as well as customer service. Your artwork remains your intellectual property and Redbubble claims artists earn about 17% of the retail price.
Is there anything else I can do to sell my art online?
Creating your own website or online store can be a perfect way to expand your reach beyond the sites like Amazon or DeviantArt. It comes down to three pretty simple steps:
1. Register a domain name
You’ll need a domain for your own website. Your own name is a great place to start (e.g. JaneDoe.com), but these days new domain extensions offer an added level of personality.
Like options? Get more ideas for domain names that might make great web addresses here.
Ready to register your domain? You can do that here:
Related: How to buy a domain name
2. Select an ecommerce platform
By “platform,” we mean the application that lets you build the website itself and use it to sell your work.
Because websites have become so mainstream, there are now lots of platforms that make it easy, even for the least tech-savvy, to put together a site without knowing complicated stuff like coding.
3. Add images and text
The top places to sell art let an audience get to know the artist, and yours should be no different. Get started by jotting down an artist’s statement you could use for a page like About the Artist, and then round up some high-quality images of the pieces you want to sell.
Because these types of files can often be pretty large, it’s a good idea to compress them so visitors won’t have to wait for your beautiful artwork to load on the pages.
It’s a great time to be an artist
While the act of artistic creation hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, how you get your art in front of buyers has. Unlike Michelangelo, who had to wait for people to actually come to the Sistine Chapel to see his famous fresco, you can now display your work to an unlimited audience around the world — while the paint’s still wet.
Make a plan to put your art online and chip away at it over time. Step by step, month by month, you’ll find your work getting more and more attention.