Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Selling Your Art Online: The Why and The How, Part 1



For some time I’ve been looking into ways of selling my work online. I’ve considered Etsy, RedBubble and using PayPal to sell from my  blog. And finally today is the day when it all comes together! I am really excited to be launching my RedBubble shop.

If you glance slightly to the left of this post you should see my RedBubble display. There are links over there to take you straight to the shop.

Last year I designed a series of four prints entitled Seasons, related to the Judy & the Jacaranda artists book featured in last week’s post. I gave some of these away to celebrate my 200th post, and now I have decided that the proceeds from these prints should go to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Fund.

Over at RedBubble, the prints are available as greeting cards or as prints, in a variety of formats including matted photographic prints and printed on canvas. RedBubble offer a money back guarantee and you do not have to join anything to shop.

It’s a great cause, and I hope you will support it!

                                                                           Buy my art


All that aside, I thought you might be interested to hear why I decided to opt for an online shop and then what my research about the options revealed. There’s quite a bit of info, so I’ve decided to split it across two posts. I’ll explain the features of each option, what I considered to be the advantages and disadvantages, and finally why I decided RedBubble suits me best at this time.

I should say that I have no affiliation with any of the sites that led me to favour one over another. Also, there are other options such as CafePress, but that is more for merchandise like t-shirts, aprons, mugs and so on. I wasn’t after that sort of product, so I haven't looked closely at it.

Why Sell Art Online?

I could write a whole post and still not fully answer this question, or I could just say, “because the web is there”, but I’m going to try to give an honest, personal response.

For me, with my health problems, it seems a logical approach. Despite being ill for 20 years, I am serious about my art and I would like to have the best career I can, within these limitations.

Making art is almost essential to me. Only a few steps behind breathing, eating, sleeping. But now that I’ve reached a certain level, it has become increasingly important to share what I do. That said, it feels like I have barely enough time and energy for the art-making, so how can I find time to get the work “out there”?

I’ve been inspired by Michael Nobbs, another PWCFS who describes himself as an artist, blogger and tea drinker. He blogs at Sustainably Creative and this year has taken the plunge as a full-time blogger, supporting himself entirely via his online network. His aspirations are somewhat grander and different to mine (you can read more about them on his blog) but I’ve learned a lot from watching him and reading his advice.

Not long after I first encountered Michael, he was interviewed for Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Art & Money. On impulse, and largely because Michael was a part of the project, I purchased a copy. This e-book provides a broad brushstroke approach to an internet-based art career (hence the unconventional – avoiding total reliance on the gallery/museum).

It has taken me about 12 months to digest all this, but a couple of months ago I realized: “Well, I already blog, and I catch up with some people on Facebook from time to time. Oh! and I have a Flickr account that’s been a bit ignored lately, but I used to post my work there regularly. Plus there are a few book arts forums…”

So it seems to me that selling online is the missing link, and that by just continuing to share what I do, how I do it and what I learn, as I’ve already been doing, and simply adding in selling in one or two locations, something quite lovely and rewarding could be created.

So, here I am, dipping my toes into the vast sea that is online selling! What an adventure! But how to go about it? Well, that’s coming in Part 2.


  1. thanks for sharing your (first) thoughts on online gallery/shop (looking forward to the next installment)

    setting up online is something gurgling along in the back of mind.... but I haven't looked further into the options at this point (I have a photographic arty friend who also uses redbubble and mentioned that I might like it too) I've also seen others using etsy (of course!) and big cartel etc. - I just get bewildered by all the options - but some of the things I like is the idea are - maintaining personal control, being able to operate from 'anywhere' (and anytime...), I particularly like thinking about some of the environmental benefits of an online gallery space....


    big pat on the back and lots of luck for your lovely redbubble space - and your generous donation to the floods appeal - hope everything is a raging success


  2. That's really interesting, Amanda! I'd not heard of RedBubble so I'm intrigued to read Part 2 of your journey. You're braver than I am, I think... I'm still umming and ahhing about an online shop" my Etsy shop is just for craft things, not 'art' (although I have to argue about such severe definitions), and I'm still trying to carve out time in which to make art. You're a long way ahead of me! Good luck with it all, Sara x

  3. Well done on starting up your online shop. It's very interesting to see how you came to your decisions, especially as there's a lot of choices out there. I hope it goes really well for you.

    And your generous donations should be an inspiration to us all.

  4. It's great that you have started selling your art online. I wish you well, not that you'll need it of course!

    Looking forward to reading Part 2 of your online selling adventure.

  5. Great stuff :O) I think you do come to a stage where you want to share work and want to sell it; make a living as an artist and this is a way to do it problems or not. Michael is an inspiration, no doubt ....and so are you :O)

  6. Fantastic you are doing this! And thanks for the good info.

    I got as far as setting up an Etsy seller account myself, but never could bring myself to actually use it. I didn't think I could cope with it, energy-wise. Perhaps you will serve as inspiration. I do think it's wonderful you're doing this. And generous to be donating to the relief fund.

    Absolute best of luck to you doing this!

    And I hope you and yours got through the cyclone ok. . . !

  7. Thank-you everybody who has commented and been so kind and supportive.
    I have to say it is a big relief to get your feedback and find that it is positive.
    I've always found it terribly difficult to put myself "out there" and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I even find it challenging to show my lovely husband what I have been doing some days!
    But the thing is, I really believe that a huge part of the value of art and of craft is the cultural contribution it makes. What finally allowed me to jump in and put my work into the world is knowing the joy and delight and "nourishment for the soul" that I derive from the work of other talented beings. If I can sometimes give that pleasure to someone, it has to be worth the cringing discomfort I may feel, in case someone out there thinks I am big-noting myself.
    And I really hope that by sharing the research I have done into the options etc that it might help someone else take the plunge too at some stage. Thanks again! xxxx

  8. BTW some lovely person has already bought a print from my RedBubble shop. Unfortunatley I didn't get any notification of who it was, but I can't help thinking it was probably one o you lovely folks here.
    If you want to remain anonymous that's fine, but I'd love to know who the generous person is! Maybe you could email me at potsrmeathotmaildotcom. Thank-you, whoever you are!

  9. This is great. I've tried a few options, but none have been satisfactory. Etsy was just not for me, for various reasons.

    I'm trying Big Cartel at the moment -- $10 a month with no strings attached, but I'll be interested to see how redbubble goes.