In 2014, online art sales accounted for 6% of the $54.1 billion in total global sales. And the online art market is only getting stronger. In the past few years, people have invested millions of dollars in selling art online - including Damien Hirst. Selling art online could be a great opportunity.
UPDATE: The online art market grew to $3.27 billion in 2015 and will continue to grow.
However, like every step in your art career, it’s important to be mindful of every move and consider if selling art online is right for you. Here are a few pros and cons to joining an online gallery:
1. Expand Your Reach
When it comes to online art sales, the world is your oyster. You can reach people in other states and other countries. Plus, you can reach an entirely different audience. The online market allows for buyers who normally would feel uncomfortable with the intimidating setting of a gallery to discover art. Buyers can now build a collection from the comfort of their own home. This is your chance to cultivate a previously untapped group of art buyers – that’s good for you and great for the art market as a whole.
2. Let Someone Else Do the Marketing
Selling art on your own site requires a daily hustle. You need to promote your latest work on Facebook and Twitter. You need to create a blog or maintain a newsletter to keep potential buyers interested. Some online art galleries have millions of dollars to invest in driving traffic to your work. Granted, they often represent thousands of artists. But, a successful site can introduce your work to interested buyers without you having to lift a finger.
3. Supplement Your Income
Let’s face it, making a living as an artist is no easy task. Even some veteran artists can struggle to maintain a consistent income month after month. Selling reproductions of your work online can supplement your income. Commission at an online gallery is generally a lot lower than a brick and mortar gallery. It can range from 1-5% on the low end and 10% on the high end. Websites can do this because they have lower overhead costs. However, if you are currently selling your art through galleries, be sure not to undersell them. It is very important to maintain positive relationships with the ones helping you sell your art.
1. Miss Out on Personal Connections
When you leave the sales to an online marketplace, you won’t have the chance to build personal connections with buyers. The website handles the transactions and usually the shipping. There is limited interaction between you and the buyer - if any. Cultivating relationships with buyers is a way to turn them into repeat buyers and collectors. In 2013, a report by Hiscox and Art Tactic stated that of the people who chose not to buy art online, 79% said it was because they could not inspect the art in person. Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield stresses the importance of exhibiting in live venues in her 10 Best Marketing Tips.
2. Lose Out With Lower Price Points
Many buyers expect lower price points online. According to industry expert Alan Bamberger, online art sells between $300 - $1200 on average. Sales over $2000 - $3000 are rare. Many online buyers are not concerned with authenticity. They are happy to buy a print if it’s something they like. While numbered canvas prints could gain value, it won’t be as much as an original work. However, you can raise your price points over time as you establish a good reputation. You will then have a base of buyers and collectors that love your work and respect your brand.
3. Work to Stand Out
There’s a lot to juggle to ensure the right people find your art. Be sure to research the best online marketplace for you. Since there is no gallery sales team to answer questions for online buyers, make sure all your art has up-to-date and correct information. Keep your sales page in excellent condition with high quality photos of your work. You might have to hire a photographer if you don’t have the right equipment. You’ll also need to spend time writing your sales page to highlight the benefits of your art to potential buyers. And consider using keywords to help online buyers find you.
Should You Sell Your Art Online?
Even with the drawbacks, selling art online can be a wonderful way to increase your exposure, save time on marketing, and gain extra income. Only you can decide if it’s worth it. If you do decide to sell your art online, 25 Resources Every Artist Should Know About has excellent sites to look into.