Where to sell art online
If you’re an emerging artist wondering where to sell art online, we have good news. There’s never been an easier time to make a sustainable living as an artist. Thanks to the advent of eCommerce, social media and online marketplaces, you can now reach a global audience for your artwork with just the click of a button.
While the total art market value dropped by AU$19 billion in 2020, total sales of online art and antiques roughly doubled.
Art buyers, like consumers of many other goods, have been driven online. But what does that actually mean for the local artist in Australia? How do you start and where do you go? Luckily for you, we’ve done the groundwork. Here is a roundup of eight of the best places to sell art online in Australia.
8 places to sell art online
Paintings, prints, drawings and photographs topped the list of online art purchases in 2020. Here’s where to sell them.
1. Your own website
Selling art online is all about visibility. One of the best ways to build visibility online is by creating your own website. GoDaddy makes it easy for anyone to build a fully functional eStore, including inventory management, SSL encryption, and built-in payment and shipping.
- You retain complete control as the artist
- No one takes a commission
- You can showcase as much work as you like
Even if you opt to sell your work via an online marketplace, there is still huge value in having a central home for your work. You can feature a small selection on a marketplace and direct visitors to your website to see your entire collection.
Quickly link your eBay account to your GoDaddy Online Store, so you never need to worry about selling the same piece twice.
The first step is to register a domain name (learn how to choose one here). Be sure to check out .art if the .com or .au you want aren’t available. Type your name in the box to see if your domain is available
Once that’s done, the easiest and quickest way to get a website up is by using a site builder. Just customize a pre-built theme your own text and photos. To sell your work from a WordPress website you will require a plugin such as WooCommerce and some tech proficiency (or a programmer friend) to set it up properly. Whatever option you choose, be sure it includes an SSL certificate to process payments securely on your website.
- Try to get your own name as a domain if you can.
- WordPress owners should choose a portfolio or gallery-style theme to best showcase their work.
- Link your website to your social media channels and promote your website to your followers.
- Add a blog to your site and write posts about your art practice, inspiration or mood boards and the stories behind your work.
Not sure about the legalities of starting an eCommerce business in Australia? Read this post for a list of requirements.
Related: Don’t let imposter syndrome keep you from your passion
According to Statista, 74% of online art buyers surveyed in 2020 bought paintings on social media.
Top on any list of where to sell art, Instagram has long been a favourite with artists wanting to build their profiles and showcase their work.
Instagram is a hangout for both buyers and gallery owners, who use it to discover new artists and to follow those they already know.
Combining the power of a marketplace — a website or app where many individuals can sell products — with social media, Instagram offers artists the chance to build a community around their work. Try following and tagging art-based hashtags on your post for the best chance of wide exposure. Now with the evolution of Instagram Shopping, buyers can make purchases directly from posts without leaving the app. Making the buying process as simple and seamless as possible has been revolutionary for artists and makers.
- Use hashtags on your posts to build your profile, broaden your reach and make it easy for your work to be found.
- Follow, connect and engage with galleries, influencers and other artists who might share your work. You could even find an eMentor.
- Add a link to your own website in your Instagram profile bio and invite your followers to click through to see more work.
Note: You’ll need a business Facebook to take advantage of Instagram Shopping.
StateoftheART Australia is an online art business created with the intention of developing, showcasing and promoting both emerging and established Australian artists. Once your application is accepted, StateoftheART exhibits and promotes artwork at no charge.
The commission is used for PR campaigns, SEO (search engine optimisation) and promotional efforts such as print and online advertising. All shipping charges are covered by StateoftheART.
A selective marketplace that prides itself on its display of high-quality work spanning across various disciplines and mediums, StateoftheART is a reputable, quality online space worth applying for.
- Make sure with any sales you log in and mark as sold on your account.
- Look at tips and ideas on how to write your artist statement for your application. It is an important piece of communication and conceptualises your art to the selection panel.
- High quality photos or scans of your work, both for your application and once selected, can make all the difference.
Related: 11 portfolio examples to inspire you
4. Art Lovers Australia
With a motto “we want art at the forefront of culture,” this online store aims to help artists kickstart their careers. Not only do they showcase emerging artists through their galleries and online platform, Art Lovers Australia also offers practical advice and support.
With 100K website visits on average each month, if you are looking to get your artwork noticed, this online space is a great place to start. The application process appears fairly simple; provide the required details and submit a few of your artworks for review.
With any artwork sold, a 30% commission plus GST is subtracted from the sale price. Art Lovers Australia do require each individual to manage and keep their own shop up to date.
- Keeping your profile and information up to date and relevant helps to keep collectors interested.
- Check out their art prize category and contact them to find out how to go in the running.
- With the space for an in-depth bio, engage buyers with a glimpse into your background, journey, achievements, inspirations and what mediums you use. The more detail you provide, the more potential buyers can relate to your work.
5. Saatchi Art
Unlike the others listed, this platform is based in Los Angeles, CA. Although not unique to Australia, Saatchi Art’s goal is to make it simple and easy for artists to sell their work to a global community. Approval and account setup can happen within as little as 24 hours, enabling you to sell your art in no time.
They say they cover shipping, and all you need to take care of is the packaging, but there is no information on how this works locally. As with most online platforms that sell paintings, a commission is taken, in this case you receive 65% of any profits made.
- Saatchi has some great information and tips on uploading images, arranging your artwork in your account, adding descriptions, hero images and more. It is well worth checking out.
- Keep your portfolio up to date. It is also encouraged to keep pieces marked as sold up on the site as collectors like to see both what has sold and what is available.
- Don’t forget to add the minimum five keywords. Saatchi encourages twelve when uploading new artwork as they help match buyers to artists.
Gallery247 allows artists to enter artworks into participating art shows and also set up their own art show and online portfolio. It is designed to reduce the cost and risks often associated with entering shows. It also provides automatic registration of all works into the National Registry of Australian Art and Artists.
A membership-based platform, Gallery247 offers artists the choice of three membership tiers and associated benefits.
- Art shows can be another way to increase your exposure, develop your standing/ achievements as an artist and sell your work.
- Consider an art show as a way to showcase and sell your latest collection.
- Entering art shows allows you to gain valuable feedback on your work.
7. Big Cartel
Big Cartel is a fully-hosted online shop builder especially for artists and creatives. Big Cartel makes it possible to have your own unique storefront up and running in a matter of minutes.
Rather than taking a commission or charging transaction fees, Big Cartel operates on a monthly subscription model that you can cancel at any time. You can try it out for free with the Gold membership, which allows you to upload a maximum of five products to sell.
Fees for paid subscriptions are based on the number of products you list. Big Cartel also gives you the option of using your own custom domain name.
What it might lack in complex features and range of store designs Big Cartel makes up for with excellent support and usability. You don’t need any website building skills to create your store, so it’s perfect for someone just starting out. There’s also an app that you can download to your iOS device to manage your store from anywhere.
- Start with the free Gold membership and then upgrade as you need to.
- Take high-quality photographs of your work to help make your art stand out and appeal to buyers.
- Offer free local pickup as an added incentive for buyers in your area.
Those who have their own websites that aren’t set up for sales can add a shop link that connects with their Big Cartel online store.
An Aussie startup that began with just 50 artists, Bluethumb has had a phenomenal rise. It’s free to join and is one of the best places online for emerging and established Australian artists to get their work shown.
This marketplace takes care of all secure transaction processing, shipping and returns. The site also offers curated collections, hand-picked by the Bluethumb team, as well as a Featured Artist section.
- Engage buyers with an interesting, personalised bio. Talk about why you’re an artist, what inspires you and what mediums you love to work with.
- Spread the word that you’re selling your work on Bluethumb and gain followers. They’ll be notified every time you upload new work.
- Raise your profile by submitting an entry to the annual Bluethumb Art Prize competition, which celebrates the talent and diversity of Australian artists.
There are many other places to sell art online, including Art Pharmacy. Look around at the options until you find one — or a combination — that suits you.
Tips when selling art online
No guide on where to sell art online would be complete without a list of tips on how to increase your chances of a sale:
In terms of pricing your work, look to other similar artists for comparison as a start.
Also consider other factors such as artwork size, medium and the achievements of the artist behind the work.
A good rule to remember is to price your art like a retailer, at twice the cost of materials. Consider your time, labour and cost of materials. Consistency is also important, along with offering various price points to attract a wider collector audience.
Tell a story
A piece of art tells a story and so should your artist statement, bio and description for each artwork you upload. Buyers want to feel connected to a piece of art, and the artist as well. You don’t need to weave an elaborate fantasy, but sharing your achievements and journey to date allows buyers to understand the person behind the art. Writing descriptions for each artwork you display helps to captivate buyers’ attention and allows them to understand the intention behind the piece.
Put your work out there
To sell artworks you also need to think like a business and have a plan in mind. What are you willing to invest, what are your goals, what will the brand look like and how do you want others to see it are key questions to ask yourself.
Remember traditional ideas of where to sell art — such as a gallery shopfront — would normally take a 50% commission to cover the marketing, exposure and management of you and your brand. If you are serious about selling online then you need to invest money and time into:
- Client relations
- Sales management
- Freight and invoicing
Be mindful of SEO
SEO can make a difference in how successful you are in attracting buyers and making sales. Finding and using specific keywords to improve your Google ranking and appear in the search results can help to bring art buyers to your website and other online platforms. Think relevance and using the right words so search engines can find your work.
For example, if you are a landscape artist, be sure to use this term and other similar terms in your online content (bios, blog posts, descriptions, etc). The more relevant your content, the more likely you are to get to the top of Googles search results.
SEO can help connect your work with those searching for what you have to sell. Similar to SEO, hashtags are important to consider on your Instagram, Pinterest and other social posts. The more you can direct an audience, the better chance you have at increasing traffic.
Related: A simple guide to finding your keywords
Sell yourself to sell your work
An important piece of an online art business is also selling the brand and person behind the art.
In reality, online business requires you to be engaged in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. To avoid the overwhelm, keep it simple and choose two social platforms that feel the best fit for you and your intended customer base. Also make sure they have e-commerce capabilities or allow you to point potential customers to your website or other online platform that sells your art.
Use these platforms to allow people to:
- Get to know you as the artist
- Understand your process, your inspiration
- Be alerted when new pieces are finished
The more you can grow your audience, the more exposure you have. It is also important to engage with your followers. If someone likes, comments or shares your work, don’t let it go unnoticed. Say thanks! Related: The absolute beginner’s guide to social media marketing
When selling art online, it’s important to make sure your work is professionally presented. One of the first steps should be getting high-resolution scanned images or photos of your artwork taken. Cie-elle offers artists a great service for producing quality scans.
Branding and packaging
Don’t forget the end destination. Before even looking at where to sell art online, you need to consider:
- What packaging you are going to use
- The cost of the materials
- Shipping (some online galleries cover this)
Cost everything out from the get-go and have your branding ready to go.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think about how you would like to receive your prized purchase.
Unwrapping their new artwork should be a memorable experience. Being prepared will save you unnecessary costs and stress in the long run.
Where to sell art, in a nutshell
Selling art online in Australia has never been easier. Combine the power of social media to build your profile and community of followers with the technological capabilities of eCommerce platforms, online shop builders and marketplaces. Remember, what you pay for in commission goes toward the marketing these platforms do. With large databases of active art lovers, third party platforms can be a beneficial and reasonably affordable way to sell your art.
As there are pros and cons to all the different online avenues, it is about weighing up the costs and time involved and what suits your artwork best. Whether you choose to sell via your own site, through Instagram, a global marketplace — or all three — the possibilities to make a sustainable living from your art are viable.
Kylie de Boer contributed to this article.
UPDATE: This post about where to sell art online was first published on 1 September 2018 and updated on 9 August 2021 and 1 June 2022.