Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Selling Art on the Internet

I have just passed my one year anniversary selling art on the Internet. A fellow blogging artist, Trevor Lingard, happened to comment on my last post and started me thinking about it. He said, "I have never tried Internet selling. Can it be successful?" My answer is, "Hmmm, yes." (This is going to be rather long, so in keeping with always showing a painting, I will show some of the first pieces I sold on the Internet.)

I started on Ebay last January and I sold some household items. I was running out of things to sell when I thought to myself, "Good grief, I have about 300 paintings around here! I wonder if I could sell them on Ebay?" I dove right in, read the Ebay discussion boards on art, selling, and shipping, and did quite well for a few months. Then, as Ebay sellers know, and many of you have heard, Ebay started making changes left and right.

As a result, sales were decimated and fees shot up. Other Ebay artists started talking about moving to other sites and I followed them. In July I opened my Etsy Shop and listed for sale on ArtByUs. And as you read in the last post, I just opened a booth at Bonanzle. I still sell on Ebay and sales there trump the other sites, but diversity is a good thing and the other communities are supportive and inspiring.

So in my first year, I sold about 200 paintings and prints on Ebay and 28 on Etsy. Almost half of the Ebay sales were in the 1st 4 months, before the most drastic changes sunk in, so I don't expect to be able to repeat last year's results. But I am hooked on the internet art community. In fact, a downside is lost time to paint.

After my brief exposure to the many, many sites for artists I see 2 major categories; Exhibiting and Selling. For exhibiting only, with no check out cart or online payment, you will find private studios (your own website or blog) and shared space. Artspan, Paintings I Love, TrunkT and NoBullArt are great places to be seen with other artists. These sites provide a boost in search, web designing services, and inspiration for your work. Some are free and some charge monthly fees.

For selling, there are 3 concepts; your private website, the fine art gallery, and the mall. You can set your own website up for direct selling through Paypal and other payment systems. (But you will need to work extra hard to promote your private space - search engine optimization and all of that stuff)

The sites I categorize as fine art galleries offer only art for sale, some with annual fees, some with commissions and some free if you don't buy upgraded services. Among these sites are Yessy Art Gallery, Boundless Gallery, Zibbet Find Art Love Art and ArtByUs.

Now we come to the malls. What do you get at the mall? Traffic. I categorize Ebay, Etsy, ArtFire, 1000 Markets, and Bonanzle as malls. There are many, many fellow sellers. And with many, many, sellers you get many, many buyers.

Where do you fit in? I know some artists who have divided their work among sites, with higher priced pieces here, and prints and smaller works there. I am still finding my way. The sites I mentioned are just a few possibilities. I'm sure many of you know of other great sites and I would love to hear about them.

But here is one thing to remember. There must about 10 million (billion?) works of art for sale on the Internet. I am pleased that someone found and loved 230 of mine.


Trevor Lingard said...

Hi Linda
Thank you for this very concise description of internet marketing.
I shall be looking into this in more detail. You have been most helpful.
By the way no wonder they sold with quality such as this.
Kind Regards

Audrey said...

Those are wonderful paintings!!
Off to see your etsy shop!

Steve Penberthy said...

Linda: Great post. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight into selling online. I hope to ramp this up myself this year. -- Steve

storybeader said...

I am finding a pattern, of who is buying. The internet is a great artistic community, and I love my fellow etsybloggers!

Jean Levert Hood said...

Linda, what an excellent post! I hope that Bonanzle is as successful for you too. I'm not surprised that your work sells so well, it is lovely!

krystyna81 said...

Linda...I just dropped in to say thanks for dropping my link on are a real sweetheart and I was so flattered!

This post has great info BTW - thanks for sharing!


it's great that you are selling your work, and evident that you work hard at doing so! good for you!

Cecca said...

Wow, thanks so much for all this info! How on earth do you find the time to keep up with so many online shops and sites? I'm only trying to keep up with my blog, Etsy and Flickr at the moment and it's not at all easy (but then I do work full time as well :-( ).
I'll be checking out all of the sites you mention and perhaps I can do better than my 5 Etsy sales!
Thanks again! :-)