Traditionally, photographers and artists sell their work through galleries and art shops. While these sales channels are still flourishing, as an artist or photographer you should consider selling artwork online. After all, eliminating middlemen has never been easier. In addition, selling your art online expands your reach for a global audience, and you have complete control over what you sell and for how much – win-win!
If you’re an artist first and then an entrepreneur, this can be a daunting prospect. Today, selling art through e-commerce shops and social media is an increasingly profitable way for independent artists to bring their work to the people they value.
If you don’t know how to sell photos online or how to sell art online, we will optimize the process in this article and break down exactly what you need to do to market and sell your art and photography online.
Let’s dive in
How to sell photos online: Create a great website
Remember that a good looking website that shows your work is no different from gallery walls and windows that showcase your art.
The best way to set up a website to sell your art online is to use an e-commerce platform like Shopify. With such a solution, you can set up your online store with just a few clicks, so you don’t have to spend too much time on the technical side of things and can sell your art fairly directly.
With Shopify there are many user-friendly website themes that you can use to design a beautiful digital storefront. (We recommend using a Shopify theme with a white background – a bit like a gallery wall – so your art speaks for itself!) These templates are very easy to customize so that you can customize your website to your heart’s content without all the coding skills required .
In general, Shopify was designed for non-technical online business owners, making it inherently easy to use. You don’t need to know how to build code or how to build a website. Shopify has created all the building blocks so you only need to adjust them to bring your ideal online shop to life.
Shopify pricing starts at $ 29 a month, and you can try it for free for 30 days. The main advantage of Shopify is that it has everything you need to sell and market your artwork in one place. If you want to learn more about Shopify and how you can build and run a better online business, read our Shopify report.
Selling photos on social media
You can also sell your works of art directly in your social media profiles or in social networks via the e-commerce platform you have selected. If Shopify is your preferred e-commerce platform, you can link your online shop to your own Facebook shop or Instagram shop in just a few clicks. This makes it super easy to sell on social media while still connected to your main online store.
Remember you don’t have to to like social media. You just have to know how to do it use It is to your advantage to make your artworks easier to find so that you can generate more sales.
How to sell photos and art online: Selling originals versus reproductions
Regardless of whether you are a painter, photographer, or any other type of artist, you may have a strong opinion about selling originals, reproductions, or limited edition prints.
With that in mind, there are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about which artworks you want to sell online:
- Would you like to sell original pieces, prints or both? Depending on what you commit to, prices must be set accordingly
- Would you like to sell framed / unframed works?
- Do you accept commissions?
- Do you print your work on T-shirts, cell phone covers, pillow cases, cards, tote bags, placemats, etc.?
- Would you like other online companies to sell your work?
- Are you going to work with other artists?
- Do you only sell digital versions of your work?
Of course, you can change things over time and sell a mix of different things, but it is advisable to have a game plan for your main collection so that consumers know what to expect from you.
A note on copyrights, trademarks and patents
As an artist, photographer and creator in general, the issues of copyright protection, trademark infringement, patents and intellectual property in general could be in the foreground. After all, it takes time and energy to create your work, and if you post it online, it can be so easy for others to steal it and use it without your permission.
How can you protect yourself?
First of all, it is important to know the differences between copyrights, brands and patents:
- Copyrights: Protect works of art such as writing, art, music, films and photos
- Trademark: Protect brand identities like names and logos
- Patents: Protect ideas like inventions and innovations
If you are an artist or photographer, your work is likely copyrighted. In most cases (although this may depend on current laws and / or laws in your area), copyright is automatically applied when you create something. This means that you do not have to officially register your creation to be protected by your copyright.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fully protected if someone else steals it or uses it in a way that you disagree with. Many creators have their work stolen even though they have the copyright for it, and they cannot get retaliation even in court if they take legal action. This is important to know, because although your work is copyrighted without officially registering it, it does not automatically mean that you will not be infringed on copyright or that you can successfully sue someone who uses your work without your consent.
You can Officially register your work to document your copyright. However, this process takes time and money. The same applies to brands and patents.
Formal copyright, trademark, or patent registration is not the right choice for every company, but it can be the right choice for certain companies at certain times. If you are interested in formal legal protection, it is best to contact a lawyer who specializes in the protection you are looking for to better understand how much it costs and when is the right time for you Your business to register.
In our opinion, as a non-specialist, copyright, trademark or patenting is usually not worthwhile as it is usually only effective in the country in which you submit it. It’s expensive and when you’re just starting out, you usually develop your brand the way you normally do. I really have nothing to protect. The best thing to do is focus on branding your company and in some way differentiate your product from imitators – be it in terms of quality, price, options, availability, etc. – so that consumers shop at your brand to recognize the reality and clearly control imitations.
Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are a sensitive issue, and in an ideal world, no creator, brand, or company would steal or use their work without their knowledge and consent. However, this is not the reality – as hard as it may seem. You are better off building a strong brand so that consumers want the original and work with a legal team when an infringement occurs (if you have the time and money).
Again, we are not qualified specialists in this area. Therefore, carry out your own due diligence and get advice from qualified lawyers in your area to receive the latest information.
Tipping: You can watermark your images to protect them and view the image size on your storefront with less pixelation to avoid plagiarism (but enough so that you don’t completely affect the image quality).
Showcase your artwork and photography products
While ecommerce platforms like Shopify take a lot of the headache out of starting an online store, you still have to think about it little about how you can best present your work.
Your customers need a real feel for what your work will look like personally. This is the only way to visualize it precisely in your home or office. Uploading high quality photos of your art or photography is therefore essential. You should also provide the following details:
- The dimensions of your artwork or photo piece
- Whether it’s an original or a print (and whether it’s a print, whether it’s a limited edition)
- The material of your work
- The printing method you are using
- The price
- Shipping costs
- Special offers to upsell your customers (e.g. buy 2 get 1 free, 20% when buying a print and frame, etc.)
If you have a large number of works that you want to sell, you should divide them into different collections. For example, if you are a photographer, you can divide your images into collections such as nature photos, people photos, travel photos, or anything that is relevant to your business.
At Shopify you can easily sort your products into different collections. This way, customers can easily find what they’re looking for when they have land for sale.
Photograph your artwork and photography products
It is more difficult than it seems to photograph original art and photography because glare and color representation are wrong. In addition, some works of art and photos can appear very flat when taking pictures.
And remember, we live in a photo-led world, so good product photos are essential to the success of your business. If your website visitors cannot see clearly what you are selling, they are unlikely to buy from you.
It’s that simple: the better your product photos are, the more likely your audience will want what you sell. For this reason, you should invest in a professional photographer who specializes in product photos of works of art or photos.
However, if this is not an option for you as this can be a huge financial commitment, don’t worry! You can still take great product photos at home if you are diligent and pay attention to the details.
Here are some pointers:
- Have enough light: Shoot near a window so that your artwork is adequately and evenly lit, and photograph your work against a white background, preferably flat, for a clear shot for products only. Always photograph your work in the same light to avoid shots with a darker background or different shadows because you took the picture at different times of the day.
- Add dimension: Hang your work in a stylish interior with lots of light to get a picture of your artwork “in action”. Make sure the background isn’t too picky so it doesn’t distract from your piece.
- Do not use filters: You want the colors and tones of your piece to be as accurate as possible.
Check out our blog post on DIY product photography for more tips on how to take great product photos at home. In our Photoshop tutorials for the e-commerce blog, you will find some tips and tricks for editing product photos after production.
Alternatively, scanning for photos, prints, and some graphics (usually not too three-dimensional graphics) can be a viable and inexpensive alternative to photography. If the work is too big for a scanner, you can scan sections and stitch them together using Photoshop. This approach works best for canvas or paper graphics.
As a last tip, do not forget to present several different pictures of your artwork on your product pages. Your customers want to see More not from each piece fewerYou can also give them different ideas on how to hang or style your work.
Standalone shots of your work against a white background are essential so that your visitors can see the product clearly. However, you can also include pictures of your artwork hanging in living or office spaces. This helps customers to imagine their work on their own walls and offers a better perspective on the scale and size of your artwork. You have to lead your customers and encourage them to buy your art for themselves, so paint a picture in their heads (no pun intended).
Describe your art and photography in your product descriptions
Yes, photography can and often speaks for itself. However, some customers need a little more information when buying art. You should include as much information in the product description of each piece as you think buyers need to make a purchase.
For example, if you’re a painter, describe what you’re painting with and why. If you’re a photographer, share the equipment and tactics you took a picture with. If you are a sculptor, share the material and composition of each piece.
Try to see your artwork from the perspective of the beholder. Maybe you could also add a description of your inspiration? You know your artwork best, so share your thinking processes and results with your visitors! A few words that appeal to the buyer can make the difference between buying a piece and not buying a piece.
Here are some pointers to help you get started with your product descriptions:
- Be descriptive: You’re not just selling your art or photography – you’re selling yourself, your story, and a lifestyle to your customers. Tell customers the story behind the work, how long it took to create, what inspired you, what you were reminded of, etc.
- Be technical: Buyers will probably want to know how you made it and what materials, so tell them! Get technical and show your artistic skills.
- Be helpful: Instruct buyers how to care for the piece (if necessary) and how to style it.
- Be SEO-savvy: Check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide as the first point of contact. Simply put, you need to include keywords in your product title descriptions so that customers looking for your type of work can find them online. Include keywords that art buyers are looking for in your product title and description, but make sure the keywords are relevant to your piece. Use a tool like KWFinder (KWFinder Review) to search for keywords.
If you’re not sure where to start, visit some of your competitors’ websites to see what they do. Of course, don’t copy them, just use them as a reference.
Pricing for your artwork and photography
The beauty of having your own website and digital storefront is that you are in control and can set competitive prices. If you run your business on an e-commerce platform, a small commission may be charged for every purchase. Otherwise you are responsible for it.
When you sell long runs, you usually charge less than for a limited edition signed print. The same applies to a one-off piece made to measure. So take into account what you are selling and to what extent and at what price.
For example, if you mainly sell original works, you can calculate how long it takes to complete each piece. Then set an hourly rate and multiply the two numbers. Add the material cost and then see what comparable pieces are sold for before you set a price. When accepting commissions, be sure to include your commission prices to avoid misunderstandings, as most artists charge more than their standard commissioned price.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with special offers. For example, we gave a discount above when buying a frame with an artwork. You can also sell bundled sets of your photo prints on canvas, phone case and shopping bag. If you market to both companies and individuals, you can grant discounts on bulk orders.
Make sure that you honestly evaluate your work and compare it to artists who do something similar or work with the same materials. If you really need price advice, ask other artists what they sell for and have an open discussion about why they value their work for the amount they do.
Market your artwork and photography online
Below are some suggestions for marketing your photography and art. The same steps apply to pretty much everything online marketing – just adapt them to your products and your audience!
- Find out what your message is: What makes your art special or different? What do you stand for What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
- Know who your customers are: To whom do you sell, where do they come from, how old are they? You cannot sell the same message to everyone. So find out who your main customer is and market your products to attract them. Google Analytics provides valuable insight into who your audience is, who is looking at your website and where it is, or take a look at your social media and see who follows and engages with your art content.
- Set realistic goals: If you set goals before marketing your art, you’ll see whether your marketing tactics work or not. For example, you might want to:
- A certain number of sales in your first quarter
- A specified number of new email subscribers
- A minimum amount that you earn after shipping costs for your items
- Choose your marketing channels: Where do your core customers depend online? Find out and use these places as your main marketing channels to promote your business online. For example Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Etsy, festivals, conferences, shows etc. Word of mouth is also still a great marketing tool (yes, even in the digital world). Ask customers to recommend your work and post pictures of it on their social platforms, etc. Maybe you could run a competition or offer a discount to motivate them to do so?
- See What Works: If you find working marketing channels, continue to use them! Focus on them and invest as much time and effort in them as possible to maintain momentum.
Selling photos and art online: Don’t be a one-trick pony
There is no reason why you cannot sell your work online and offline. For example, you can continue to sell at festivals, galleries, markets, pop-up shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as gift shops. Any of these sales channels are feasible, especially if you also use your online shop and blog to let customers know where to find your work in the real world.
Online and offline sales channels should always complement each other. So have marketing materials available at these locations that point to your online shop and describe who you are and what you do.
If there are art festivals in your city where artists open their studios to clients, this is another excellent way to explore them. Advertise your days in the open studio in your online shop and advertise your online shop in your studio!
Shipping your artwork and photography products
As an artist, you know that your work must be handled with care, whether you pack and ship it yourself, or whether you pay a company for it.
The safest way to sell posters and prints is to roll them in cardboard tubes. For smaller prints or photos, rigid envelopes are a good option. Don’t forget to also protect the inside of the cardboard packaging using clear cellophane or grease and waterproof paper.
However, if you ship larger items like canvases and frames, you will need larger packaging and more protection for your items. Cardboard corners and special boxes for works of art. You can buy these types of accessories from UPS and Uline or other packaging suppliers that are listed in our shipping and packaging supplier directory.
However, if you send canvases or original artwork, shipping costs can be high. To combat this problem, some artists create their pieces on unstretched canvases and then roll them into a cardboard tube. The customer can then stretch it again somewhere on site. Talk to a few specialized boating companies that can advise you on their approach to value, safety, and cost. If you send something expensive or valuable, it is worth using a private and properly insured freight organization.
This leads us well into our next area of consideration, shipping insurance. Don’t save in this area. Imagine your work is lost, stolen or damaged and you have no insurance? Your customer needs to be refunded, you’ve spent money on shipping, and your work is irreplaceable.
Most shipping companies like UPS or FedEx offer insurance that covers the basics. However, if you ship more valuable items, check what your carrier protects you from and what doesn’t. If necessary, check whether you are taking out your own comprehensive insurance policy to cover the areas that your carrier will not reimburse you for. It may seem tedious to do this from the start when you sell your art online. However, if something should happen, you are so glad that you were prepared for it.
Tip: It is a nice touch to add a personal note to every delivery and thank the customers for their order. You can also ask them to check you online and follow you on social media. This is an effortless way to build a relationship with your customers. So think a little about your unboxing experience.
Are you ready to sell your photography and artwork online?
There you will find our guide to selling photography and art online. If you didn’t know how to sell photos online or how to sell art online, now you have all the basics! First, create a beautiful online storefront and sell your amazing artworks and photographs online!
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