Day 56 of #100daysmarketingcreatives - Where Are The Best Places To Sell Your Art & Craft Online
Many people finished #the100dayproject this week. I am going to be a slow finisher I am afraid. I haven't posted in a week due to numerous distractions and the detail of this post but I believe this material cannot be rushed. It needs to be thorough, well researched and well presented if it is going to be of use to people. Hopefully I am achieving that (but please let me know!) and I will finish the project sometime before the next one starts!
Today I want to change tack again. I have talked about a few business ideas, talked about creating a basic web presence, talked briefly about setting up a mailing list and ways you can attract sign ups both online and offline at shows and exhibitions and how to start gaining publicity and followers on Instagram. I now want to present a series of posts about where to sell your art and craft online and then address things you should consider when doing that.
So where do you start? The number of options can be quiet confusing when you are starting off - website, Etsy, Folksy, Numonday, ArtPal, Fine Art America, ArtFinder, Saatchi, Society 6 and more. Choosing what suits you will depend on many things such as - what you want to sell, what price bracket you are aiming at, what kind of audience, how well you can manage your online selling yourself, whether you are emerging or established and so on.
I am a firm believer in taking control of your platform. You can host your shop on Etsy, Folksy and many more platforms but at the end of the day you are constrained by how that platform works, its rules, regulations, structure, audience and so on. That platform could crash any day, it could change its rules (remember the big Facebook changes), it might not let you present your work how you want to. Your audience could migrate elsewhere. If you host your online shop on your own website you take full control. You own your URL, you own the website. You can experiment with your own website until you get it right. You can also create the best margins on your website with direct sales avoiding listing fees and commissions charged on other sites.
Your website should usually be your starting point in creating your online presence as discussed in Day 9 - Create Your First Website but you have to work hard to build it especially if you want to create your own search optimised shop and market it yourself. It does not, however, need to be the only place you sell online and believing you can reach every customer alone is very naïve, you need lots of help and there are other places that will have a bigger audience and instill more confidence in people than a website they might be coming across for the first time so consider other platforms too.
That said, website design might scare you or it might cost you too much to have someone do it for you while you are starting out. If that is the case consider creating a page on your website that simply links to another online shop presence you have such as Etsy, Artfinder or similar where you find it easier to upload your products and maintain your shop. Not ideal but more manageable for many who lack the skills, time or confidence. Another alternative is to host your shop with another site that allows you to embed your shop within your own website so that it becomes a seamless shopping experience there rather than having to go to a 3rd party site to access your shop.
Etsy is well respected as a platform for selling art and particularly handmade craft products as well as vintage and custom and unique products. It operates worldwide and has a well trusted reputation like Amazon or other well known online brands. People feel comfortable buying from there and may even prefer to buy your work from there rather than your own website (especially if they are in a different country) because it is such a trusted platform. It specifically attracts art and craft customers and has lots of experience at attracting that audience. It has lots of help available to market your craft and a great community of sellers to network with.
Etsy is a great place to check out the competition selling similar products and easily identify who is doing well and who isn't so that you can focus on people who are doing well and analyse techniques they are using to achieve that on the platform as so much is very visible. If you are selling craft Etsy is a must. Probably not the best place for high value art but it will open up another market for smaller prints perhaps then direct people to your website or another platform for you larger works? A good place for new and emerging artists to experiment. Etsy currently charges $0.20 per item to list it for 3 months then a transaction charge of 5% on every sale. For established sellers it then has a range of monthly fees which can be used to provide a number of free listings every month as well as open up extra features.
Folksy operates along similar lines to Etsy although sellers have to be based in the UK. UK creatives should consider adding Folksy to their list of platforms, however, Etsy is more established and in my opinion has better features and you do not need to be based in the UK to sell. Consider it as an addition to Etsy for craft if you are in the UK but not instead of and be careful not to spread yourself too thinly maintaining too many platforms. For art, photography and sculpture you might be better investing your time in bigger sites that can do more for you.
Don't expect the same volume of sales through Folksy as it has a smaller market share than Etsy but if you are making craft in the UK it is an extra online audience for you that you should consider if you are already achieving good results in Etsy. Although you need to be based in the UK to sell on Folksy its biggest market is in the UK but it does attract a lot of international customers too. Folksy fees are similar to Etsy at £0.15 to list each item for 4 months then a 6% sale transaction fee or sign up to a Folksy plus account for unlimited listings. If you are new to art and craft in the UK there is a great community of like minded people within Folksy. Don't just consider this as a platform to maximise sales, use it to network with other art and crafts people who might be nearby and whom you can network with and learn from about offline matters such as shows and exhibitions as well as online selling.
NuMONDAY is a more recent addition in the UK (2016) for British creatives. It works on a monthly fee (£7pm at time of writing) rather than commission or transaction based charges which on the face of it sounds great value. Its interface is good and lots of good reports from buying customers who have used the service, however, it is still new and small and lacking some of the extras such as an app like the Etsy model provides and some vendors have complained that the company has focused too much on attracting vendors rather than customers which means their sales are disappointing. Being small and new, however, it provides a very personal feel if you are in the UK and is one to watch over the next few years as things develop. There is also an interesting feature to import your Etsy listings to try it.
Keep an eye on reviews for this one. Don't jump into this one first or the chances are you will be disappointed. Learn the ropes in a more established platform like Etsy then once you have a working formula that is selling well replicate that in here perhaps to find an additional audience especially for craft but for art, photography and sculpture there might be better options to try first when your time is limited.
Not On The High Street
Not On The High Street is UK based on a similar idea to Etsy. It covers both arts and crafts with a focus on handmade and a whole section of other gifts including experiences. What makes Not On The High Street stand out is its reputation for high quality products that are that little bit different to the rest. People know that products have been well sourced and are a little bit special and unique which is why they get nearly 40 million unique visitors every year around the world. Unlike Etsy you need to apply to join and you will only be accepted if your product is of high quality and ideally that little bit different. This is a very curated website with wide appeal and of high quality and fewer sellers to compete against.
There is a one off joining fee of £199+VAT and then a 25% commission on all sales which is much higher than Etsy but sellers do report higher numbers of sales and most suggest it is worthwhile. Definitely worth considering if your product is a little bit special and different and it will be sure to gain attention on there not just from customers but elsewhere! Another joining criteria is that your store must be up and running within 3 months of paying your joining fee or you may get booted off. I imagine this policy helps to maintain the quality ensuring that sellers know what they are doing and are not just starting out and finding their way!
ArtPal is a popular free website to sell your art. At time of writing it claims 11000 artists. It offers a free service to artists with no membership and no commission to sell originals as well as use their print on demand service (I imagine the free service is to encourage people over to the print on demand service). A low risk option to get your work online but more targeted to a US audience perhaps than international with all prices of work shown in US dollars which will limit your international audience but might appeal if you are just starting out in the US.
Artfinder is a lot more polished. It is an international selling platform and at time of writing claims to reach an audience of 600,000 art lovers. It provides an easy to use interface which automatically converts to local currency and allows easy searching of paintings, printmaking, photography and sculpture. Consider Artfinder like a Gallery with a commission similar or slightly lower than a gallery but with access to a bigger audience. The system also has editors with opportunities to have your art featured and artists are rated which can all help to raise your profile and give you extra visibility.
A starter account in the UK works out at 40% commission plus VAT on sales, a standard account with an unlimited number of artworks and 33% commission costs £4+VAT per month. It's easy to find well known artists you might know in your region on there. Why not contact them and ask them about the service. Trustpilot give them a 5 star Excellent rating.
Saatchi Art is perhaps one of the biggest art marketplaces out there. At time of writing it represents over 65000 artists in 100 countries and sells to over 80 countries. It delivers printed catalogues to over 1 million households has over 1 million social followers and over 1 million monthly visitors. It has curators with chances of features and is involved in 18 international shows and exhibitions. With Saatchi Art they sell your work online taking a 33% commission (much cheaper than typical bricks and mortar 50% commission) with no other ongoing fees. You package the work and they send a courier to collect it once sold with the customer picking up those charges not you! If you want to sell through galleries you should seriously consider using Saatchi Art as an online Gallery.
It might be hard to establish visibility in such a big platform but learn the basics of SEO on your own platform and you raise your chances of getting noticed then establish a relationship with the curator team and it could be a real boost to your career. A well respected platform offering protection for both artists and customers. Paintings, photography, sculpture, drawings, collage. Another 5 star Excellent rating on Trustpilot
Society 6 provides you with a print on demand website. It allows you to upload your artwork so that Society 6 can print and fulfill your orders around the world simply paying you a commission on every sale. You can sell your artwork as prints and posters as well as transfer it onto other merchandise such a phone cases, stickers, t-shirts, coasters, mugs, duvet covers and so much more. Society 6 do all the fulfillment work and you get a standard 10% on all sales. Artists can set their own markup above the standard 10% on sales of prints, posters and framed work and by linking specifically to products from their own website can earn an extra 10% referral fee for sales they bring to Society 6 directly.
A service definitely worth considering if you are not able to fulfil your orders directly or if you want to broaden your product range without investing in your own stock, however, I would advise caution here. Trustpilot reviews have not been very complimentary to date with an equal balance of excellent and poor reviews. Do your research find others using the service and possibly try to get hold of a test product to check quality before you invest in something which is not up to the quality you expect that could ultimate damage your reputation.
Fine Art America
Don't be put off by the country in the title here if you do not already live in America, Fine Art America sells worldwide and hosts artists from all over the world. Prices are displayed in your local currency. It is a print on demand fulfillment service for artists and photographers. It hosts over 100,000 artists and 1 million artworks. They have great reviews on Trustpilot and are regularly mentioned when I research topics for my blog. Unlike sites where you fulfill the order yourself, because they fulfill it they set the base price for each product they manufacture so for example they might charge $50 for a 24"x36" canvas then you choose the margin to add to that for example $25. They take care of the order, dealing with the buyer, they manufacture and ship it and you then receive $25! How easy is that?
They manufacture in 16 different locations across 5 different countries so orders are sent to the nearest manufacturing site and prints and framed prints are manufactured to museum quality. They provide great online preview facilities (including 3D and in your home) of all options available before purchase. You can even link your own store area from their site into your own website as well as your Facebook Fan Page and Shopify. Similarly to Society 6 your artwork can also be made available on a range of other products but from reviews I have been reading the quality seems to be much higher at Fine Art America. Well worth a look as a 2nd distribution channel or as a main distribution channel if you do not want to or are unable to fulfil your orders yourself. Lots of material to help you with your sales and marketing too!
Singulart was only launched in 2017 and has over 50,000 carefully curated artworks from established and emerging artists across over 80 countries. Artists need to apply to be hosted and may need to wait a few months for a response at time of writing due to its impressive growth rate. One worth considering to establish some kudos in a curated environment, however, when I enquired directly with the site I was told that there was currently a 6 month waiting list for applications and that the company were unable to divulge any information about commissions, fees etc except to open applications. Possibly a little elitist here maybe but one to keep an eye on if you are selling art at the higher end.
So lots of opportunity but lots to think about too. Before deciding which platform to use see who is on there already and compare them to you first. Is it a match for your type of product, quality and price bracket? Does it attract your type of audience? How much does it charge? Will they print and despatch the product for you or is that your responsibility? What reputation do they have already, check reviews and ask around. Always start with a website presence that either includes a shop or has clear links to your shop and consider multiple online shops to attract different audiences but better to do one well then several badly! With the current Brexit fiasco here in the UK many people are feeling the pinch as people in the UK tighten their belts and exchange rates drop but selling to an international market a falling exchange rate makes your products much more affordable overseas so get them on that world stage now!
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Have you used any of the above? How did it work out? Have I missed any that you think should be featured?