How to Sell Digital Art Online for Complete Beginners

how to sell digital art online

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If you’re thinking of trying to sell digital art online, you might be wondering if it’s a profitable endeavor. The quick answer is – absolutely, but you need to use your tools effectively.

With such a crowded online space, selling digital art consistently means you need to use a variety of marketing methods. Online art sales represent around 11% of the global art market and that number is getting bigger every year.

I’ve got my own plans to make passive income with digital art and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned so far.

Key Points We Cover

  • Can I Make Money Selling Digital Art Online?
  • How To Sell Digital Art Online
  • The Most Common Kinds Of Digital Art
  • Less Common Types Of Digital Art Sold
  • 3 Tips For Increasing Your Chances Of Selling Digital Art

Can I Make Money Selling Digital Art Online?

Yes, it’s very possible to make good money selling your art online. In fact, now has never been a better time to carve out a space for yourself with today’s combination of social media and marketing tools.

According to recent studies, the global e-commerce market will hit a staggering $110 trillion once 2030 arrives. A significant portion of those sales come from digital goods, whether it’s a digital painting or physical goods created using digital art.

Digital art is a fantastic source of side income and has the potential to become a regular income stream over a few years, provided you’re very consistent in your efforts. There are quite a few ways to get started, though, so I’ll narrow things down with resources and tips.

make money selling digital art online

How to Sell Digital Art Online

Setting up an online store or figuring out your ideal art market can be daunting when starting out. Below is a step-by-step guide to start selling digital art, even if you’re brand new.

1. Pick the Kind of Digital Art You Want to Sell

What kind of digital artwork are you interested in selling? This simple step will guide your hand toward choosing the most appropriate e-commerce platforms and marketing tools.

For example, if you want to sell digital prints of your work for posters or stickers, you can upload your work to a print-on-demand service. These businesses let you set up an account, put up your work, and print them on all kinds of goods such as:

  • Shirts
  • Posters
  • Coffee mugs
  • Pillowcases
  • Blankets

pick the kind of digital art you want to sell

Let’s say you’re more interested in selling high-end digital art prints to feature in a gallery. You can reach out to high-quality printing services to help you upload, design, print, and ship your work. This route would require a little storage place for all your prints.

2. Narrow Down Your Ideal Buyers

Knowing your audience is key to building consistent income. A niche audience is a group of people with specific interests as well as specific problems you can solve with your work.

For example, you may want to market your digital artwork to people who love interior design (such as wall art or tapestries). Their issue would be finding work that fills up their wall space or matches their unique tastes.

One of today’s leading marketing agencies states niche markets increase loyalty to your brand as well as make it easier to market. If you want a few more ideas on how you can narrow down your art market, I have a few starting points below:

  1. Selling customized wall decor to remote workers with home offices
  2. Selling stylish pillows and blankets to people who want to get their friends gifts
  3. Selling digital banners and icons to people who are very active online
  4. Web designers who need help with design assets
  5. Other artists who want templates or stock work to save them time

3. Register Your Digital Art Business

register your digital art business

Once you have an idea of the products you want to sell and to whom, it’s time to register your digital art business so you can sell art legally. This step may sound intimidating – legal topics usually are – but it’s pretty simple.

Contact a Registration Department

There are experienced professionals who work in registration departments ready to help you. Look up the resources of your city, state, or province with keywords such as ‘registering my art business’ or ‘how to register my business.’

Get a Local Seller’s Permit

Depending on your local laws, you may or may not need a seller’s permit. This document allows you to sell products or services without tax as well as rent a property (such as a studio).

Seller’s permits often have to be renewed after a certain period, so save a little bit of your income for the fee.

Narrow Down Your Business Name

narrow down your business name

What do you want to call your business? This name may also be the name of your online store or any other related projects you’re working on.

To get the creative juices flowing, you can use a free business name generator to give you ideas.  However, once you narrow down a few options, you’ll have to register the name officially (and your registration department will double-check it’s not already taken).

If you need more help with gathering legal resources, check out Law Depot’s digital downloads for templates, contracts, and more.

4. Gather Protection for Your Digital Art

Protecting your digital artwork in the age of AI and scammers isn’t easy. However, there are a few precautions you can take to give you peace of mind and deter most people.

Consider Getting Copyright Protection

Do you have a fantastic product idea you know will generate some revenue? How about a compelling story idea or logo that you can’t wait to share with the world?

Copyright protection is one form of legal fallback you can look into. Check out your local copyright office, talk to a professional, and pay a small fee to keep your digital art secure.

copyright protection
(Image Source)

Keep Printable Art Behind a Paywall

Whether you’re selling a digital download or printing your work on merch, don’t post your high-quality work for free. Use a low-resolution preview for thumbnails or marketing, then put your high-resolution behind a paywall.

Create a Watermark and Use it Liberally

Watermarks are semi-transparent text put over your work so it’ll be harder to duplicate and resell. I suggest using these liberally and putting them all over the work you display online since people can get very meticulous with their attempted theft.

You don’t have to get elaborate with the watermark text, either. You can simply put ‘preview image’, ‘preview’, or even a CTA like ‘download now’.

5. Put Together a Website With a Convenient Web Builder

put together a website

It’s much easier to sell digital art when you put together your own website. Fortunately for you, you don’t need to learn how to code – there are several tools you can use today.

There are a plethora of free and low-cost web-building platforms such as Wix and Squarespace. These handy tools allow you to put together an impressive portfolio with all sorts of free and affordable templates. From text to layout, you can customize your first impression down to the last detail.

I love Squarespace for how user-friendly the interface is and how much customization you get for a low-cost monthly subscription. They even have a handy feature where you can view the PC version and mobile version of your site, and then customize them independently.

6. Consider Using an Online Platform for Selling Art

I’ve touched on different ways to sell your digital art, but where? I have a few reliable online marketplaces you can consider for all your limited-edition originals and merch.

Redbubble is a Popular Online Marketplace

redbubble

If you dream of seeing your work on everything from sweatshirts to pillows, Redbubble makes it easy to set up shop quickly. Their free account enables you to start generating passive income, potentially, within days of signing up.

Sadly, Redbubble has a problem with copycat accounts that repost other people’s work. I recommend being extra careful with your previews and investing in watermarks to avoid theft. You can also save WIP digital files, such as sketches or thumbnails, to prove to customer service you created the original work.

Click here to check out Redbubble and sell your work online.

TeePublic is Fantastic for Fashion-Focused Artists

teepublic

When you’re a fan of classic tees and tanks, TeePublic gives you the pick of the litter when it comes to print options. Their range of high-quality shirts is only matched by their useful marketing tools (like coupons and flash sales).

While TeePublic is easy to use, their service fees and low commission rate mean you’ll have to be very active on (and off) the platform to generate good sales. While you can also sell your designs on pillows and mugs, they’re still fashion-focused and don’t have as much variety as other platforms.

Visit TeePublic here to start your own online shop.

Printify is a Well-Rounded Option 

printify

Do you want an online marketplace with an extensive catalog? Printify offers unlimited designs over several hundred types of products.

You’ll be able to print on classic merchandise such as buttons, coffee mugs, and shirts. You’ll also get less conventional items like calendars, yoga mats, and lunch boxes. They’re also beginner-friendly, so you don’t have to be an e-commerce master to upload products or descriptions.

Their lack of custom packaging and unpredictable shipping costs could prove frustrating in the long term, though. If you plan on building a brand over time, you may have to find other ways to get across your brand identity outside the platform.

You can try out Printify for yourself here.

7. Add Prices to Your Digital Art

Pricing your work is a vital part of successfully selling art online. If you go too high, people may not buy – but if you’re too low, you won’t make a profit.

Work that’s priced too low can also make your craft seem low quality or less valuable.

add prices to your digial art

Keep Track of How Much Time You Invest

Whether it takes you an hour or ten, you need to track how much time you put into a work and charge accordingly. This specific amount will change depending on your standard of living and lifestyle needs.

For example, an artist who spent eight hours on a design may live in a state where the minimum wage is $15. The design technically cost them $120 (USD) to make, so if they sell it on a sweatshirt that costs $30 (USD), they’ll have to sell four to get their money’s worth.

Always Withhold a Small Percentage for Taxes

If you live in the United States or Canada, you have to withhold a percentage of your income for taxes. The exact amount depends on where you live as well as how much you expect to make.

To continue from the previous example, the artist who made $120 selling their design on four sweatshirts may have to withhold $35 (USD) for taxes.

Keep in Mind Your Sales Tax

If you use an online store, they will likely have a sales tax feature that automatically deducts for you. However, if you also sell through your own website, you may need to use an accounting program or a spreadsheet to track everything.

8. Grab a Social Media Account to Promote Your Work

grab a social media account to promote your work

People can’t buy what they don’t know about. Social media platforms are a great way to promote yourself with little to no money.

Instagram is an Image-Heavy Platform for Artists

When you think of selling digital products online, Instagram is usually the go-to choice. A recent study found around 87% of art buyers used Instagram as their favorite platform to discover artists – no small feat!

I love Instagram’s varied ways of promoting art, whether it’s slide posts, short bios, brief videos, or limited-time stories.

Pinterest is an Underrated Gem for Self-Promotion

pinterest

While Pinterest doesn’t pull in the sheer volume of traffic that Instagram does, it’s still one of the most reliable social media platforms for visual art. In fact, you may find it a more reliable online art market because the competition isn’t quite as stiff.

Did you know 85% of weekly Pinterest users made a purchase from their Pinterest pins?

Investing in this platform could be a good idea if your target audience aligns with their key demographics. Women, particularly Millennial and Gen Z women, make up the bulk of the platform’s visitors.

TikTok is Booming for Artists Selling Digital Products

tiktok

If you like to get creative with videos or memes, TikTok is a must-try platform. Studies have shown the average user will open the platform almost twenty times per day – what are the odds they could come across your work?

Tons of artists enjoy using TikTok as a way to showcase behind-the-scenes work, such as a step-by-step video of an acrylic painting or how they sew an original dress. You can get creative by incorporating viral memes into your self-promotion or responding to hashtag trends relevant to your niche.

Behance is a Professional Showcase of Your Best Work

behance

Occupying a middle ground between a social media platform and a portfolio, Behance is a solid channel to promote digital files or physical art. You can use this account to show some of your very best work and get people eager to support you.

All of these accounts are free to start with. You can then increase your chances of making money selling art online by running targeted, paid ads.

9. Start Selling Your Work Online

start selling your work online

The sooner you get started with selling art online, the better. Your journey will have many ups and downs as you get comfortable with your tools, so get mistakes out of the way early.

Dependable income relies on consistency. This consistency can look like posting regularly on social media, whether it’s three times a day or three times per week. You also need to learn how to update your online store, such as adding new products or updating hashtags.

To make things a little easier, I’ll explore common types of digital art you can sell below to get your creative juices flowing.

The Most Common Kinds of Digital Art

the most common kinds of digital art

Should you do digital downloads or try managing an online store with shippable merch? Let’s take a look below.

Print on Demand

As I explored above, print-on-demand services are a dependable way to generate passive income for how accessible they are. Just grab an account, upload some art, and start selling.

However, making a decent profit – especially in the long term – requires consistency, marketing, and patience. Some print-on-demand sites such as Redbubble handle much of the marketing for you to save you some time.

Animation

If you enjoy 2D or 3D animation, you can sell digital downloads of animations as stock assets. People can then use these assets to put together a website, indie game, or app.

You can also create animations for email banners or avatars. The sky’s the limit.

2D Artwork

2d artwork

While 2D artwork may not be as flashy as animation or merchandise, sometimes less is more. Many artists sell digital downloads of their work to be used as digital wallpapers, icons, and banners.

Many people still love to commission portraits, character art, or designs as gifts for friends and family. Your art prints could end up being someone’s most cherished possession.

3D Artwork

Do you enjoy creating characters, creatures, or environments using 3D modeling software? Consider selling digital downloads of 3D artwork in your online store.

Some artists make good money selling stock 3D models for people to use in advertising, gaming, and more. You can also create 3D art as a reference pack for students.

3d artwork
(Image Source)

Typography and Fonts

If you have a flair for design and want to branch out, you can sell original typography. Unique fonts are an appealing product for all sorts of customers.

Some customers may purchase a unique font for building a website, while others may enjoy typography for a personal collage. You can sell these fonts in packs of several or as a single purchase.

typography and fonts

Design

Design is a broad category that involves both the visual aesthetic and emotional purpose of a piece. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use a few common examples of selling design online.

Some artists like to sell original character designs to customers who enjoy tabletop roleplaying games. Others may sell book design templates for budding authors. Again, the sky’s the limit!

Brand Kits

Brand identity is a powerful marketing tool that influences everything from a customer’s emotions to their memory recall. Your brand kit could include a variety of useful digital downloads such as ebooks, email design templates, and color schemes.

Stock Illustrations or Photos

Last but not least, you can look into the field of stock illustrations or photos for digital downloads. These tools are very attractive to people from all walks of life who need art for a project, commission, or personal use.

stock illustrations

You can sell individual images, image packs related by subject, or a mixture of images and fonts. A little creativity – and doing some research into areas with high demand – will take you far.

Less Common Types of Digital Art Sold

Are you wondering what other ways digital artists make money? I have a few less common types you can consider adding to your roster of digital downloads.

Social Media Filters

Are you a little tech-savvy? There are apps you can use to craft social media filters as a digital download – Meta Spark AR Studio is one tool you can use to put these together as a product.

A filter could be as simple as a change in texture or elaborate enough to include animations.

Twitch Badges and Banners

Twitch is a popular platform with nearly eight million streamers and counting. You can absolutely carve out a niche by offering eye-catching, customized Twitch badges and banners for its streamer base.

twitch badges and banners
(Image Source)

Livestream Art Requests

If you enjoy livestreaming and don’t mind drawing under a time limit, you can sell art online through livestream art requests. Many artists make extra money online by having specialized sessions where people donate money and then get a sketch or painting whipped up before their very eyes.

You can then send over the art as a digital download. Some artists even send over a recording of the livestream so people can view it again and again.

5 Tips for Increasing Your Chances of Selling Digital Art

Thinking of all the ways you can sell art online can get a little overwhelming. I have a few extra tips on how to increase your chances of consistently making money off your digital products.

Pick a Niche and Stick to It

I can’t emphasize the power of a niche enough. Take some time to review your body of work and interests – what industries or products do you want to focus on the most?

pick a niche and stick to it

For example, a fantasy artist could find themselves making steady work selling 3D models of fictional creatures, weapons, and magical items. These digital products would be very appealing to people putting together short films or indie games.

Another artist may enjoy crafting retro-style tees and sweatshirts aimed at a nostalgia-hungry Millennial audience. They could also sell a digital art print for those who’d rather hang the design on their wall.

While there’s nothing wrong with branching out into multiple niches, picking one will save you time and increase your chances of selling.

Use Consistent Branding to Make Your Business Instantly Recognizable

The power of visual branding not only makes you look more professional, but you’ll also increase your chances of pulling in an online market. When at least 55% of a brand’s first impression are visual, dip into your artistic sensibilities.

  • Choose a consistent color scheme for your website and e-commerce store
  • Pick a brand voice for your product descriptions and blog posts
  • Hone in on your messaging – are you trying to be one of the most convenient stores around? How about a storefront that makes someone nostalgic?

Start Out With Side Income Before Switching to Full-Time

start out with side income before switching to full-time

While you absolutely have plenty of options to sell art online and make a profit, it’s still pretty competitive. Keeping your goals smaller will keep you from getting disappointed if you only pull in a little change in the first few months.

Make money online from your art as side income, then gradually build up to your main income. You can also keep it as side income if you want multiple income streams.

Don’t Overlook the Power of Great Customer Service

While the sales part of your digital downloads or physical art doesn’t sound fun, it’s a vital part of running a business. One study found around three out of five buyers say good customer service is essential for brand loyalty.

Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer – how would you like to be treated when buying art? Answering questions quickly, being open-minded to feedback, and being friendly are just a few ways to make people walk away happy.

Make it a Point to Eventually Hire a Little Help

hire a little help

It’s understandable to start very small and do everything on your own when you have little to no budget. Once you start making a little money, consider putting a little aside to hire help with sales or marketing.

When you have to manage everything from making art to customer service, a few extra hours of free time a week could be a game-changer.

Selling Your Art Online is a Reliable Way to Generate Extra Income

Selling digital art products or physical art goods is a wonderful way to get a little extra money in your pocket. After a few years, you may even be in a place to quit your day job.

What matters most when you sell art is just to get started. Even the most successful shops you see on Etsy or Redbubble had to start from scratch at one point.

Don’t sell yourself short. We have resources on how to put together an art portfolio that gets people eager to add your work into their everyday lives.

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