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Whether you are a new artist looking to make a living selling your work, or a seasoned vet who has been making money at it for years, you know there is money to be made selling art online.
Knowing there is money out there, and tapping into that money stream are two different things entirely.
You’ve likely done research on where you can start selling your art, and found other crowded platforms where it would be hard to stand out.
You’ve also probably looked into freelance marketplaces where you can sell commissioned work, but places like this are always a price race to the bottom which makes it hard to make a living off of and no self-respecting artist should have to degrade their work to that level.
Websites that have a good marketplace for you to be found are also known to take large commissions themselves for giving you the pleasure of working with them (we’re talking upwards of 30-40% cuts just for running the platform).
The point is, that you are looking for a place to sell your artwork, or your commissionable art services, where you don’t have to sell your soul and live in a box.
I hear you.
That’s why I wanted to put together this article to help you find out how you can sell your art online, and make money in the process, soul intact and hopefully able to cover some living expenses.
I’ll even show you the how to do all this with a free, robust software.
Let’s get started.
The Problem: Listing Everything You Have For Sale
When you first start selling online, your initial reaction will be to make as many listings for what you offer as possible.
The more items and services you list, the more money your art can make you since you will be giving a bigger variety to more people.
Makes sense right?
The problem is that if someone sees something they like and buys it, the transaction is done. No further money will be made from that transaction.
The second problem is that you aren’t giving your customers any added value.
If you sell paintings and they add one to the cart, they may not also have seen that you add custom engraved frames that would have made the gift even better for the person receiving your painting.
The last big problem that you may have is overwhelming people with options.
If you have commissionable services for sale, people may not be sure whether they should add “Painting of Your Cat”, “Painting of Your Cat with Toy”, or “Painting of Your Cat with Neighbors Cat and 3 Toys”. It just gets confusing.
And all of these problems happen only AFTER people find your website and are able to discover your work.
It Doesn’t Matter If You’re The Best Artist
Even if you are the best cat portraitist in the entire world, it doesn’t matter when it comes to getting people to find your artwork.
True, that if you are awesome and you tell your friends and they commission some work, they may hopefully tell their friends and word will spread.
The problem at first is that you need to make money to pay the bills, so waiting for word of mouth to get around can be a long and grueling process.
You need a valuable offer to make to people that will entice them, and an automated sales system that will attract the right customers in droves and turn them into raving fans.
No one wants to be a starving artist.
The Secret to Selling Your Art Online
It’s time to cut through all the confusion and put together the sales system that will delight your customers, make you more money, and simplify the entire process.
What I am talking about here is building a sales funnel for your art.
Not sure what a sales funnel even is?
We will go over the process and why it makes sense for any artist to use this method.
First, Choose a Niche
You paint cats? Great!
You draw landscapes with pastels? Awesome.
Digital artist who makes portraits of Dungeons and Dragons players’ characters? Even better. Very niche.
If you get down into a niche that much, you will quickly become known as THE artist in that space.
Also, if you choose a niche that has raving fans, such as Dungeons and Dragons, you know players live and breathe their characters, so they will be willing to spend a little money to help breath life into their character.
Since this last example is so niche and an excellent candidate to use as an example, the rest of this article will go through the process expanding upon this niche and how you would sell art in this category.
The examples used are from Laud Illustration.
Going niche allows you to pick a domain name that is very related to your subject matter.
So instead of skylarsawesomeart.com, you have something more like roll20art.com. This will have so much more meaning to those looking for what you are offering and will have a better chance of attracting clients.
Pick a subject matter that you love, or one that you are already an expert in, that you know people will pay money for. We are going to work on building visitors an offer stack that they can’t refuse.
Second, Provide Extra Value to The Same Customers
You need to find the easiest and quickest thing that you can create and offer it for an insanely low price.
If you are a new artist and you need to build up a portfolio, maybe you will even offer it for free.
The point is that the initial offer has to be so good that it would be hard for anyone to click off your website and not want to buy what you have to offer.
In our Dungeons and Dragons example, all players in the party have a character sheet that lists the strengths and features of their character.
What if your introductory offer was to design a small character icon for $37?
This would be something you could drum up quickly, wouldn’t cost them much money, and you could make it printable so they could print their character icon and add it to their character sheets?
At $37 you are still a starving artist. Especially if this takes you 2 hours to get details for and design. That’s not the right way to sell your art and make money.
So what if we add an order upgrade behind that?
What if you offer to do the character icon for $37, but when they put in their billing information and make that purchase they are immediately presented with another offer?
Instead of an order thank you page, your customer is taken to an upsell page where you are offering to also make them a full-body 8”x10” character design for $117.
It only takes you an hour longer to do a full-body design, AND You can make the $37 icon by simply cropping a copy of the portrait down to the right size and adding a different background color.
Now you have 3 hours of work and $154. You’ve gone from $18.50 per hour working for 1 client, now to $51.33 per hour working for that same client. All because you provided extra value to the same client who was buying from you to begin with.
Third, Take Your Selling A Step Further
In some cases you may even benefit from adding a second upsell to your sales funnel.
This would be a deluxe package that would add even more value to your customer.
In our Dungeons and Dragons artist example, people who play this game are very group oriented. They play in what they call a “party”.
Since they are very team-oriented, maybe they would be interested in getting artwork done for their entire party.
You could have the 3rd upsell be that you will make 8”x10” portraits and icons for a party up to 6, as well as adding all the portraits to 1 poster-sized image with a choice of pre-designed background for $750, normally costing $924 if they all had the work done separately. You could even say the group poster is a $276 item, so you can bill the whole upsell as a $1,200 value.
If it takes you 18 hours to complete all the work, you are still making $41.66 per hour. Your customer gets a better deal and comradery with their party, and you get a higher total payment as well as art to sell and show off in a portfolio.
Plus you are helping 6 people instead of 1, so word is likely to get out faster.
Lastly, Make sure to Follow-Up
A majority of people going through your sales funnel likely won’t take your upsell, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t want what you had to offer.
Maybe they only wanted to start with the icon to see how you portrayed their character.
Maybe they wanted to discuss with their party about splitting costs for the group package.
That is why a follow-up email sequence is important to online art sales success.
You have to be able to see who made it through part of your funnel, where they dropped off, and write follow-up emails to entice them to buy in the future.
The Big Takeaway: Know Your Audience
This is the importance of knowing your audience.
If you know what offer will make it impossible for them to refuse, like bringing their character to life with a small icon, then they are in the door.
If you then know what will add value to them and increase their status, like a full-character portrait, or being the hero who brings the whole party to life with portraits for everyone.
Sell to a market that you know better than they know themselves, and while they have their credit cards out, make their day by offering them more value on the backend.
The Added Exposure Bonus: Live Art Creation
The best thing about getting clients, is you can use them to get more clients.
Not only will you start selling art through word of mouth, testimonials, and building your portfolio, but you can also put on live streams to various channels as you create pieces.
Obviously you will need to get permission to create the art piece live by the person who commissioned the piece, but maybe you can give them an extra discount if they allow it.
People love watching live videos, especially if you are making something cool.
People would love to see you creating something they are interested in, and it will make them want to buy from you as you are seen as the expert on the internet making live art for the masses.
It may also be an ego boost for some to see you making live art, buy from you, and then let others watch their piece being created.
If you are making art for someone’s social media channel or business, you can also offer to give them a shoutout in the video description as extra incentive. They will get traffic to their business or social channel from your viewers, and you will get to put on a show and attract an audience.
Again, know your target market, know where they congregate, and post your live streams there.
Be where they are, impress them, and make raving fans. Sales will start pouring in as your following grows.
How to Create Your Online Art Selling System
Ready to get started selling your art online the right way?
Would you believe that you could get a sales funnel as I’ve described in this article in under an hour?
It’s not guaranteed to be in this short amount of time, but I’ve put a funnel up in under an hour using free tools.
I’ll give you a quick walkthrough of these tools and how you can sign up.
You can build your sales funnel for free if you host with GroovePages.
You can also skip down to the GrooveSell section below to learn about how to put the sales funnel together if you are using WordPress or some other website builder.
GrooveFunnels is currently offering GroovePages Lite for free though if you don’t already have a site up, or aren’t very tech savvy.
It’s an easy drag-and-drop builder.
You can sign up here:
You can build your page from scratch, or choose 1 of the 5 free templates they offer with the free account to get up and running even faster.
You can host the site with GroovePages for Free, or pay for a domain and add it to your GroovePages site.
You will just need to make the home (landing) page where you will have your insane art deal that people can’t resist, your upsell page(s), and a thank you page.
Once you have your items up on the site, you can use GrooveSell to add the sales funnel aspect. This is the program that really holds all the power in helping you make money by selling your art online.
GrooveSell is also free for life right now, and this is a deal that’s too good to pass up.
GrooveSell allows you to take any URLs from any website and glue them together with payment gateways, thus creating your sales funnel.
The software will take care of making the sales pages and redirects for you.
Be sure to sign up for GrooveSell’s free account before they pull access. They are currently free to help out artists and entrepreneurs during COVID-19, and may charge for it once things calm down again.
By completing the easy-to-follow steps within GrooveSell, you can create your sales funnel to sell your art.
Again, I would recommend sticking with 1 item, or at least 1 theme per site (funnel). With a domain that is specific to your client and content they will love, you have a better chance in making the sale.
Also included with GrooveSell at no charge right now is GrooveAffiliate.
If you give referral commissions to past clients who recommend your artwork to others, then this deal is a no-brainer.
You can make it easy for them to refer people to you.
Every funnel you make on GrooveSell comes with an affiliate program you can activate.
People can sign up and easily become an affiliate for your program.
You can track referrals, set percentages or dollar amounts per sale, and even give affiliate bonuses if people reach a certain number of referrals.
This is an amazing way to drive traffic into your art funnels and reward those who are helping you get new clients.
Sell Your Art Online the Right Way
Trying to sell to everyone is selling to no one.
Use the free tools available to get your shop up and online.
Give your clients extra value by offering them upgrades to their current order.
The world needs your creative artistic style.
This is the way to sell it and make money.
Questions about this process? Ask in the comments below!