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How to sell art online | Altamira

Selling Art Online Guide & Tutorial

1. Where to sell your art

2. How to Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Artists

3. Establishing a Digital Brand on Social Media

4. Collecting Payment and Handling Shipping Logistics

As an artist, selling your work online can be a great way to reach potential buyers beyond the physical borders of your local community. It’s important to build an audience, establish yourself as an artist, and handle all the logistics that go into selling art online. With this guide, you'll learn where to sell your art, how to use SEO for artists, establish a digital brand on social media, and how to collect payment and handle shipping logistics.

Artists have several options for where they can sell their work online. Broadly they break down into three categories: Social Media, Personal Websites, and Marketplaces.

Where to sell your art

Social Media should be in your repertoire no matter which route you go to sell your artwork online. A strong presence on one or more social media outlets can help you establish a brand and build an audience that may be interested in buying. For most Instagram is the platform of choice, but we've seen quite a bit of success on Twitter as well largely due to the crossover with NFT collectors. When selling through social media exclusively there are two downsides. (1) You are mixed in an ocean of breakfast pictures and bikini models. (2) You have to figure out payment processing and shipping completely on your own. Which raises questions like, "can ask the collector to pay for shipping?"

Personal websites can be an amazing tool for selling art. They give you the freedom to create whatever design and structure you want. Most importantly they are yours, so you maintain control over your site and brand. That also means you maintain responsibility for shipping, payment processing, hosting, site maintenance, and marketing. A personal website can cost well into the tens of thousands of dollars to implement and several hundred per year to maintain.

If you opt for this route here are a few of our favorite options to get you started

  • Shopify - Shopify provides amazing tools and themes for any kind of e-commerce website.

  • Wordpress + woocommerce - This route takes a bit more work upfront but is 100% customizable and with the largest community of developers in the world, easy to find a freelancer to help you get up and running.

Marketplaces are great because they have established audiences and allow you to set up an online shop with ease. Many including Altamira make shipping really easy. Here are a few we've come across:

  • Saatchi - Saatchi boasts a global audience and takes a 35% commission.

  • Artsy - Artsy isn't open to individual artists but is worth looking into seeing if your gallery is open to listing your artwork on the site.

  • Altamira - That's us, hey!! We might be biased but we think we are great. Offering the lowest commission on art sales anywhere, we are on a mission to create the best way for artists to sell their work and build an audience.

How to Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Artists

For artists selling through their own website or Altamira profile, search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential tool to increase their online visibility. SEO helps your website or profile appear higher in search engine rankings when potential customers search for art online. There are three ways to improve your SEO:

  1. Technical Optimization: Technical Optimization is the process of completing activities on your site that are designed to improve SEO but are not related to content. It often happens behind the scenes and by a developer. This is really only relevant if you built your own website so we won't go into it much.

  2. Content: Content is the most important factor when it comes to SEO. This means articles. The content on your website or profile should be well-written, relevant to your work, and interesting. For articles, it’s key to include keywords that help Google and other search engines understand what your content is about.

  3. Link Building: Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your website or profile. This tells search engines that your content is important and should be ranked higher in search results.

Establishing a Digital Brand on Social Media

Establishing a digital brand and building an audience on social media is essential to the success of any artist’s online business. Not only can you increase your visibility by sharing your art and stories, but you can also interact directly with potential customers and build relationships. In addition to exposure to collectors, it also serves as a signal of value to collectors. The number of followers, likes, upvotes, and critiques are the new credentials.

To grow your audience it can be helpful to leverage the audiences of other influential artists by posting their content in your stories on Instagram or critiquing their work on Altamira. A lot of times they will reciprocate by sharing your work or critiquing it.

On Instagram, if you are sharing work you have for sale elsewhere, be sure to include a link in your bio to your website or profile. It can also be helpful to share a story that can link directly to the artwork page itself.

Alicia Puig of Create! Magazine says, "social media can be a helpful tool for your career, but please always prioritize your mental health and set boundaries. That said, if you do choose to utilize social media professionally, I'd suggest working to cultivate a unique voice and posting consistently with quality content ('consistent' and 'quality' will vary from person to person so you have to decide what that means for you)."

Collecting Payment and Handling Shipping Logistics

Collecting payment and shipping are important considerations and depending on which channel you decide to sell through can be achieved in different ways.

Payment Collection:

  • Social Media: Venmo for Business is probably the easiest and more secure way to get paid.

  • Personal Website: To collect payment via your website, you'll need to connect to a payment processor via API or plugin. Our favorite is Stripe.

  • Marketplace: Most marketplaces including Altamira take care of all payment processing and the security around it then directly deposit the money into your bank account.

Shipping:

  • Social Media: You'll need to manage the shipping process on your own.

  • Personal Website: You can either connect to a shipping API to automate pricing and processing or handle this on your own outside of your websites.

  • Marketplace: Another benefit to marketplaces is they handle the shipping. We dynamically calculate the cost of shipping, charging it to the collector. Our shipping specialists then coordinate pick up from your studio for pickup, packing and shipping.

Conclusion

As an artist, you have many options when it comes to selling your work online. You can choose to sell through an established platform like Altamira, or set up your own website and fulfill sales logistics yourself. No matter which route you decide to go, it’s important to take the time to determine how and where you want to sell, establish an audience and drive traffic, and finally figure out the details of a sale. With a little planning ahead, selling your art online can be a great way to reach potential buyers from all over the world. If you decide to sell your art through Altamira, check out our guide, How to Sell your Art on Altamira.

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