There’s probably no better validation for your work than when someone else wants to hang it up on their walls. The fact that others might want to decorate their spaces with your work, look upon it daily, or otherwise enrich their lives with your creations is one of the greatest honors an artist can get. But first you have to make your work available to others.
Short of having your own gallery opening (which can be very troublesome affairs), making your work available online might just be a great place to start. Here are a few websites to get you started:
1. Big Cartel
Big Cartel is a service that many designers and artists use to sell their works online. Getting started is easy and smooth. Perhaps best of all, you can get started selling your work through Big Cartel for free.
My experience: As I said, getting started was simple and trouble free. At first, I was just clicking through the site to explore and learn about the steps needed to start selling my artwork and without even thinking, I was already up and running! Of course I didn’t have anything to sell yet.
All you’ll really need to get started is a verified PayPal account and some pieces you’d like to start selling. Once you’re signed up to their “Gold” account (which allows you to sell 5 items), you’ll need to upload a few images of the items you’re selling and you’re all set to start receiving orders. Big Cartel also has great customization options so you can have your store look and feel exactly the way you want.
2. Society 6
Society 6 makes it easy for artists and designers to get their work printed on various merchandise. From art prints and posters to t-shirts and iPhone cases, Society 6 makes it easy for you to have your work applied on real-world items. They’ll do the manufacturing, the shipping, and they’ll handle your payments.
All you have to do is submit some great work. Of course the process isn’t as simple as it sounds. With thousands of artists submitting their works, Society 6 won’t be an “easy” way to get noticed and make money off of your work.
However, I’m sure every time someone orders one of your prints, you’ll get that slight feeling of satisfaction.
Etsy is a great option for those who make things. If you’re an artist who likes to get into the thick of things, Etsy might just be for you. A friend of mine designs and sells handmade jewelry through her Etsy store and from watching her work on it, it’s obvious that having an Etsy store can be a full-time job.
You’ll handle all the manufacturing, the marketing, and the shipping all by yourself. And while that may sound like a lot of hard work, keep in mind that a lot of artists and craftspeople can — and do — make a great living through their Etsy stores.
Shopify is not unlike Big Cartel in that it allows you to add a shopping cart to your website with minimal cost and effort. You can sign up and try Shopify for free for the first 14 days. While Big Cartel caters more to artists with a limited inventory, Shopify works on a somewhat larger scale.
If you’re a designer ready to start selling a whole clothing line or you’re producing artwork constantly, Shopify might just work for you. Shopify also has some great customization options so you can get your store looking exactly like you want.
5. Red Bubble
Red Bubble is another website where you can submit your work and have it produced on various merchandise. You can follow other artists and create your own following. However, just like Society 6, it may be hard to get noticed and to start selling pieces left and right.
6. Artwork Heroes
As far as making the world a better place with your creations, Artwork Heroes could be a good place to start. Artists from all over the world can submit their work and Artwork Heroes will pay you 40% of the profits from the items you sell and 20% to various charitable causes. Artwork Heroes will also take care of the printing and the manufacturing as well as the shipping.
Of course, once you’ve put your work up for sale, the hard work has just begun. It’s now time to start really promoting yourself and your work which I know isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, when it comes to your work as an artist, you have to stand by your work.
It can feel risky putting your work (or yourself) out there, but often, that’s the only thing separating successful artists from unsuccessful ones. Tell us about your experiences with selling artwork online in the comments section below.
Trevin serves as the VP of Marketing at WebFX. He has worked on over 450 marketing campaigns and has been building websites for over 25 years. His work has been featured by Search Engine Land, USA Today, Fast Company and Inc.
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