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1. Can you actually make money selling art online?

How to sell art online and make money in 2023

Looking to learn how to online and make money? Print on demand (POD) offers one of the easiest ways to start selling custom art products online. POD lets you use ecommerce platforms to offer shoppers products featuring customized art designs. Generate a passive income from selling products such as wall art, art prints, or digital art.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Learn whether you can actually make money selling art online

  • Explore the seven steps to getting started selling art online and making money

  • Discover how Gelato can make it easy for you to start making money selling art online

Let’s get started!

Can you actually make money selling art online?

make money selling art

Yes, selling art online is a great way for independent artists to make money. Selling art online allows you to reach a broad audience of worldwide art enthusiasts looking to own unique, eye-catching pieces.

However, the art market is competitive, so the profitability of your online art store depends on numerous factors. These include:

  • The quality of your artwork

  • The quality of the print on demand products you use to showcase your art

  • The effectiveness of your marketing strategies

  • The pricing of your art

The tips we’ll share here will help you with the last three items. If you can produce quality artwork, the guidelines here will help you make money selling art online.

How to sell art online and make money

how to sell art online

So how do you go about selling art online and making money? The process breaks down into seven steps:

  1. Register your art business

  2. Choose a print on demand service

  3. Select a platform for your art store

  4. Price your art

  5. Market your art

  6. Monitor order fulfillment and shipping

  7. Build a profitable online art business

Here’s how to sell art online and make money by executing each step:

1. Register your art business

To get set to sell art online and make money, start by registering your art business. If you’re running your business yourself without any partners or shareholders, you have two main options for business structures:

  • Sole proprietorship: you are legally identical to your business for purposes of ownership and liability

  • Limited liability company (LLC): you are legally distinct from your business for purposes of ownership and liability

Each option has its pros and cons.

Sole proprietorships vs. LLCs

A sole proprietorship is simpler to set up and manage. You don’t even need to register as a sole proprietor if you’re using your own name rather than a business name. You’re entitled to all profits generated by your business. You can report your income with your personal taxes by attaching a form to your regular tax return. You only pay taxes on your profits.

However, sole proprietorships suffer from one big drawback. You're personally liable for any debt or legal obligation your business incurs. If your business gets into debt, you're personally responsible for paying it back. This liability can hurt your personal credit rating and leave you at risk of a creditor seizing your property to cover your debt.

An LLC structure shields you from personal debt and liability your business incurs. It’s harder for a creditor to seize your car or home to cover your debt. This protection is one of the main attractions of an LLC.

When it comes to taxes, an LLC offers more flexible options than a sole proprietorship. You can elect to be taxed in the same way as a sole proprietorship, or you can be taxed as a partnership or corporation.

Setting up and managing an LLC can be more complex than running a sole proprietorship. You'll need to file articles of organization with your state. Filing costs include a small set-up fee and annual fees to keep your company active. Your company can have additional members and managers, requiring more paperwork. When managing your finances, you must separate your business and personal bookkeeping to avoid losing LLC liability protection or incurring tax penalties.

Despite these minor drawbacks, if you're operating your business by yourself, it's easy to set up an LLC and pay your taxes like a sole proprietor. If you're unsure which business structure to use, a tax attorney can help you decide what's best for you.

Some states may require a business license to sell art online. Check your state's requirements to see if this applies where you live.

Choosing a business name

If you're registering your business as an LLC, you must choose a business name. You may wish to do so even if you set up a sole proprietorship. For example, you may want to choose a memorable name for marketing purposes. If you choose a name other than your own name, you will register to be a sole proprietor or LLC "doing business as" ("DBA") your business name.

The simplest way to choose a business name is to use your own name or a term that describes what you do. For example, John Doe could register to do business as "John Doe Wall Art." If you want something catchier, you can use a few methods to brainstorm names:

  • Use a name that highlights what’s distinctive about your art.

  • Describe what types of art products you sell.

  • Showcase a benefit of buying your art, such as how your art makes a person feel.

  • Identify who buys your art.

  • Include a geographic reference identifying where you sell art.

  • Choose a name that refers to something meaningful to you, such as the name of a spouse or pet.

It’s important that you like your business name and that your customers like it as well. Consider brainstorming a list of names and narrowing it down to one you really like. Get input from family, friends, and prospective customers to help you select your business name.

2. Choose a print on demand service

print on demand service

Once your business has been set up, you’re ready to start creating products for selling. One option is to use manual production methods. However, today’s digital technology offers easier solutions. One of the easiest ways to start selling your art is to use print on demand services to sell digital art.

POD uses digital printing technology to let you store your digital art designs in electronic form. You then can have your digital art designs printed on any surface. For example, you can print your art on t-shirts, calendars, or tote bags. Because your design is stored digitally, you don’t have to maintain inventory. You simply print your digital files of art designs when customers place orders. This saves money on storage, increases shipping efficiency, and avoids the need to maintain large cash-flow reserves to cover production and inventory costs.

Choosing the right print on demand service will make running your online art business easier. Research print on demand services to find a supplier who best suits your needs and goals for selling artwork. Consider factors such as:

  • Price

  • Shipping and delivery rates

  • Shipping locations

  • Product selection

  • Product quality

  • Customer service

With respect to product selection and quality, consider which POD products you'd like to use to sell prints of your artwork. For example, Gelato lets you print your art on:

This range of products allows you to promote your art to many different market niches.

3. Select a platform for your art store

Once you have a POD supplier, you can select one or more platforms to start selling your art online. Some options include:

  • Your own online store: Using your own online store gives you the most flexibility, but it also requires you to invest in web development and management. Gelato's API offers a solution to connect your store directly to our 100+ production partners worldwide.

  • Shopify: Shopify provides more customization options than Amazon but reaches fewer customers. You pay a subscription fee and a percentage per transaction and are responsible for marketing, production, and shipping.

  • Etsy: Etsy is more customizable than Amazon and less expensive than Shopify, but not as flexible as the latter.

  • Amazon: Selling through Amazon relieves you of the need to set up a website while providing you with access to Amazon's marketing tools, customer base, and order fulfillment services. However, Amazon limits your customization options to their website format while taking a cut of your profits.

  • Social media platforms (such as Facebook Marketplace or Instagram Shopping): Social media provides access to a large audience and great marketing tools, but your storefront design options are limited.

  • Zazzle: Zazzle handles production and shipping for you. However, customization options for your storefront are limited, and you only earn a commission percentage.

  • Redbubble: Redbubble lets you sell POD products for free, but its marketplace is competitive.

These options aren’t mutually exclusive. You can combine them and sell art online through multiple venues.

Whatever online marketplace platform or platforms you use, you’ll need to follow some basic steps to get your products ready to sell:

  • Customize your website, sales page, online store, or social media profile to fit your brand.

  • Upload your artwork products to your chosen platform or platforms.

  • Capture and upload high-quality product images of your art.

  • Write detailed and compelling product descriptions optimized for customers' searches.

With this step complete, you’ve got the basic infrastructure of your online art business in place. The next steps turn your focus to marketing and selling your art:

4. Price your art

price your art

Before promoting your art, you'll need to decide on a price to offer. Your price should be appealing to your market and profitable for you. To achieve this, you'll need to calculate the costs and profit margins of selling through print on demand to create a competitive but effective price point for your art.


Your costs break down into several categories. Some items to consider include the following:

  • The base cost of using your print on demand service to order and ship your products.

  • Any relevant design costs, such as hiring a graphic designer for your art or website.

  • Any relevant listing fees.

Your costs set a lower price limit for you to break even. To earn money from your business, you’ll need to establish a profit margin that exceeds your costs.

Profit margins

To set a price that ensures you a profit margin:

  • Mark up your base cost to generate a profit.

  • Estimate your potential sales volume.

  • Consider your niche: if your artwork is particularly unique and occupies its own niche, there will be less competition, allowing you to charge a higher price point.

  • Set competitive prices that draw potential customers in but still convey the quality and value of your art. Note that cheap isn't necessarily more appealing if you sell to a luxury market or art collectors.

  • Set promotion and discount prices high enough to encourage sales but low enough to maintain a profit margin.

Your pricing should adapt to your market rather than remaining fixed. Monitor customer feedback and sales data and tweak your pricing strategy as necessary.

5. Market your art

Your marketing efforts determine how much art you sell. Here are some tips to help you promote your products more effectively:

  • Create eye-catching promotional graphics for your art products.

  • Create blog content on your website to drive traffic from search engines.

  • Use social media marketing to reach and build your target audience.

  • Run paid ad campaigns promoting your art on search engines and social media.

  • Create your own Facebook group.

  • Join Facebook groups of fellow art lovers, successful artists, and art collectors to promote your art and invite followers to your Facebook group.

  • Build an email list and send newsletters highlighting your products and relevant promotions.

  • Offer discounts and freebies to customers who have bought your art.

  • Collaborate with successful artists and brands to cross-promote your art.

You can combine these tactics to multiply the effectiveness of your marketing. For example, you can use search engines and Facebook to drive traffic to your online store and invite visitors to join your email list for follow-up marketing.

6. Monitor order fulfillment and shipping

After customers buy your art, a smooth order fulfillment and shipping process will help keep them satisfied and coming back for more. To optimize your order fulfillment and shipping processes:

  • Ensure you fully understand the production and fulfillment process of your chosen print on demand supplier so you can inform potential customers what to expect.

  • Be prepared to offer exceptional customer service and field any customer questions about the shipping process.

  • Monitor your sales metrics and inventory to ensure prompt fulfillment without delays.

  • Investigate and resolve any problems with your order fulfillment and shipping procedures.

For best results with order fulfillment and shipping, choose a reliable print on demand provider. A POD provider who handles your ordering and shipping for you can help you avoid issues you’d encounter handling orders on your own. Gelato provides shipping and delivery to 32 countries around the world.

7. Build a profitable online art business

Once your marketing and sales operations are in place, you can shift your focus to growing your customer base and building your business. Here are some tips to help you grow your revenue:

  • Use business analytics tools to monitor key metrics, gauge your success, and determine areas for improvement. Key performance indicators to monitor include conversion rates, average order value, return on investment, and sales revenue.

  • Network with other artists and POD art sellers to discover what works for them that you can replicate.

  • Offer multiple product offerings to add additional income streams. For example, if a design is selling well as a wall art product, consider offering it on calendars as well.

Use these tips to help you attract more customers, sell more art, and earn more revenue.

Sell art online and make money with Gelato

Selling art online and making money can be easy when you know how to do it and where to go for help. Anyone can follow the routine procedures of registering your art business, choosing a print on demand service, and selecting an ecommerce platform for your online store. It takes a little more research and effort to price and market and sell your art, but if you follow the marketing tips shared here, you’ll be headed in the right direction. Once you begin promoting your art, monitoring order fulfillment is easy. With these preliminaries in place, you can focus on producing quality art and growing a profitable business.

Gelato is here to help you grow your business by providing an easy way to sell print on demand products. We provide in-demand products such as, wall art prints, calendars, and clothing you can combine with your art designs to offer shoppers customized selections. Simply connect Gelato to your ecommerce platform to start selling your products online. Once customers buy your products, we take care of order fulfillment and shipping for you. All you have to do to make money is produce quality artwork and promote it. Sign up for Gelato and start selling art online and making money today.


Next steps

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