Where to Sell Your Artwork Online

September 10, 2012
6 min read
6 min read

These days a designer really doesn’t have to be an island, waiting for clients to come passing by with work. In fact, if this is the only thing you rely on to top up your graphic design salary then you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Every designer out there should be practising every single day, producing piles of work that isn’t for clients but just for you. If you’re anything like me, more often than not these practice designs can turn out pretty cool and it can be a bit disheartening when you realise that you can’t really justify the time to finish these. Well pick yourself up, because these cool little designs can still earn you some cash. If you’re a professional designer then I’m guessing you have a pretty good eye for design, so if you think a design is pretty cool, the chances are that plenty of other people would too. A few of them may even spend money on it.

By limiting yourself to selling in your own personal online store, you’r really limiting your audience

There are a lot of places where you can sell your designs online, or set up shops where people can fill up their virtual shopping carts with your goodies. However the tough side of this is that only the people who know about you and your work will ever know these places exist so by limiting yourself to selling in your own personal online store, you’r really limiting your audience (and your potential profits) as well. That’s why in this article I’m going to try and focus on places you can sell your designs online that have an active community that you can market to and engage with. A lot of these website are as much for inspiration as they are for sales and have plenty of people trawling them daily for cool idea, so building up a following (and with it a bunch of sales) is something that is totally achievable.

Etsy

Etsy is definitely the home of cute little vintage products and I have to admit that I was first introduced to it by my fiancée who suggested I come up with some cool wedding invites and sell them there. So granted it may not be the perfect place to offload your design work, as stuff there needs to be of a certain style to do well it seems, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind. The community is really strong on here and it’s seemingly used as much for inspiration as it is for sales. On the business side of things it costs you $0.20 to list an item for four months (or until it sells) and when you do make a sale they take a 3.5% commission (which is pretty good when you compare it to other sites). Obviously the $0.20 up-front is the risk factor here, but it’s small enough to risk throwing a few things on there and seeing how they do. Worst case scenario is that you’re a few dollars out of pocket.

Deviant Art

I’ve said before that this was where I got my first paid work when I started out as an illustrator, however what I didn’t realise back then was that I was actually selling prints of a lot of my designs. When you upload an image to your Deviant Art gallery you are automatically taken to a page where you set up all the details for selling that piece of artwork as a print. Now I just thought this was just another part of the submission process and just clicked ‘ok’ to go through it, not realising that anyone who viewed my work could now actually click a button in the top right hand corner and purchase a print of it! Deviant Art lets you set up your pricing (the default is set up so you only earn 20% on each sale, but you can up that so long as you remember to keep an eye on the total price!) and maximum sizes for print. It’s probably not the best deal out there in terms of getting the most money from your artwork, but Deviant Art has a really strong community and it’s well worth being a part of that even if you only make a sale now and again.

Art Gallery

It seems a bit more highbrow than most of these other sites which are directed at a younger, more indie crowd but it’s still worth taking a look at

This is where I sold my first artwork online, these guys take a 35% commission on sales. It seems a bit more highbrow than most of these other sites which are directed at a younger, more indie crowd but it’s still worth taking a look at. I brand myself up as Alexander Singleton, rather than Hunting Town on there as I get the impression that the customers on there would rather buy from an individual artist than a design company or internet tag. Likewise the work that I sell there is far removed from what I sell on other sites, I focus mainly on my pencil and charcoal works, selling images of nudes from my life drawing classes. I’ve made a nice pot of cash from this website over time and I should probably pay it more attention than I do, new years resolution I guess…

Pinterest

Whilst not technically a shop in it’s own right, Pinterest is becoming more and more prevalent as a place to look for ‘cool things to buy’ thanks to the new addition of their ‘gifts’ section. Just check out this article by Krizia on ProBlogger.net for a decent guide on how to start making some cash from there. Basically you can set up links from Pinterest to your other sites that actually sell your products. So long as you have a price in the description, Pinterest will class it as a gift idea.

Graphic River

They’ll vet all of your work before they allow you to sell it, (so you better make sure it’s up to scratch)

Graphic River is one of the Envato marketplaces so you know it’s pretty good. They like to keep a high standard on there as they primarily market to businesses and other professionals rather than the general public, so they’ll vet all of your work before they allow you to sell it, (so you better make sure it’s up to scratch). As it’s much more corporate orientated, you may want to cater the stuff you’re selling there to business, so illustration wise, think cute little business man icons or things that can be used in infographics. Payment wise, if you stick to just selling your designs on Graphic River exclusively then you earn a 50% cut of every sale, which can go up to 70% once you’ve made enough sales (the whole payment scheme is available here), if you want to sell your work elsewhere then your cut will be locked in at 33% so you need to think about whether it’s worth it or not.

Red Bubble

Red Bubble is the newest site I’ve come across, and although I don’t have a great deal of experience with it just yet, it looks very promising. They let you sell all manner of items from t-shirts to stickers to iPhone cases and they don’t take any commission on your work. How they make their money is simple. They supply the items your work is printed on, so everything you sell already has a base price. Say for instance you want to sell a cool iPhone case, they’ll tell you want it actually costs for the iPhone case and then you add whatever you think your design is worth on top of that to get a total price. Obvioulsy it’ll take a bit of experimenting to see what prices work best for you, but it’s a pretty simple way to make sales (plus you don’t have to worry about printing and posting stuff).

If you have any questions about how sell your work on these sites, or if you use any other websites that I haven’t listed, please let me know in the comments below.

Photo Credit to Jackie Kever

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is owner of Hunting Town Design, a small design house based in Manchester UK specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Alex is also the founder and editor of The Design Range. Find out more about Alex on his website or follow him on twitter.
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