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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Sell Digital Art Online: The Ultimate Guide

Beginner's handbook

How to Sell Digital Art Online: The Ultimate Guide

How to Sell Digital Art Online: The Ultimate Guide
Sandra Ķempele

By Sandra Ķempele

14 min read

In today’s tech-centered age, there’s a thriving market for digital art. Unlike traditional art forms, digital artwork can be easily reproduced and sold online, allowing artists to reach a global audience and monetize their creative talents.

With the right strategy, marketing, and platforms, artists can generate a steady income stream by selling digital art. Plus, the low overhead costs make it an attractive option for those just starting to explore how to sell art online and make money.

In this blog post, we’ll look into strategies on how to sell digital art, physical and digital product options, and the best online platforms for selling art online. Let’s dive in!

Is selling digital art profitable?

If you’re an artist passionate about your craft, there’s no better time to start selling digital art.

The rise of ecommerce has significantly expanded the market for digital artworks, attracting a wide range of collectors, investors, and art enthusiasts. In 2022, digital art sales reached nearly $10.8 billion, a significant rise compared to pre-pandemic sales figures.

Ecommerce has made it much easier for artists to showcase and sell digital art. Online marketplaces and platforms allow artists to tap into a global audience, breaking down geographical barriers and enabling them to connect with potential buyers worldwide. 

The rise of online platforms has also helped increase demand for various formats, from selling digital downloads to physical prints and even NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

Many artists sell art online by offering physical products or selling digital files. Digital products include graphics, fonts, photos, fan art, and other digital assets available as digital downloads. You could also sell physical products like posters, stickers, or t-shirts, and have your artwork printed.

In addition, some artists profit by licensing their digital art for various purposes like book covers, album art, or advertising. Commissions from clients who want custom digital art can be a good source of income for your online business.

Regarding sales, well-known artists with an established audience command higher prices for their work. Building a reputation and honing your artistic skills can take time, but it has a big impact on your sales volume and how much you can charge for your products.

Digital art as physical products

As a digital artist, you might already know that digital items have a lower perceived value than physical goods. If you want to set higher prices, it’s a good idea to sell your digital artwork as a physical product.

When partnering with a print-on-demand (POD) provider like Printful, you can offer home & living items, accessories, and even apparel with your art. Once your digital files are prepared and uploaded, you can sell multiple copies without the need for time-consuming production or changes to the original artwork.

How it works

Selling digital art printed on physical items is a simple, straightforward process.

First, create an account with your chosen POD provider. Then, pick the types of products you want to sell (more on that later!). Customize each product by selecting its size, material, and color. Printful also allows you to add branding and labels to the products.

Next, prepare and upload your artwork. Check the guidelines for file formats, dimensions, and resolutions. Your digital files need to be in high resolution to be suitable for printing.

Make sure that the quality of your artwork and the printed products meets your standards. Order sample products to test the color accuracy and get an overall feel for the materials.

Once you’re happy with your product, pick an online marketplace (for example, an Etsy shop) or open your own online store. Either way, you’ll need to create product listings for each item. Write compelling product descriptions and use high-quality images to show off your work.

Decide on your pricing strategy. Consider factors like your production costs, desired profit margin, and what customers are willing to pay. Monitor your prices regularly and adjust them as the demand for your art increases.

To get your products in front of buyers, you’ll need to market your digital art online. There are many marketing tools out there, but the key is to promote your art on platforms where your audience spends a lot of time. Whether you decide to post on social media platforms or boost your product listings, be consistent in your efforts to reach potential customers.

So, what happens when a customer makes a purchase? You’ll receive notifications when an order is placed, and you can track the order’s progress. If you choose Printful as your print-on-demand partner, you can have peace of mind knowing that production, packaging, and shipping are all handled for you automatically.

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Physical product ideas

By this point, you’re well-equipped to start selling art online. But what products should you sell? Is it better to focus on home decor items, or should you design apparel? 

Read on for our pick of physical product ideas that appeal to artsy shoppers.

Posters and canvas

Posters and canvas prints are among the most popular physical product ideas for artists. They’re classic wall art options for digital paintings, illustrations, or photographs. Many people look to decorate their interiors with visually appealing, personalized artwork, making these products in high demand.

Posters tend to be more affordable compared to original art pieces or limited-edition prints. Plus, posters are lightweight and easy to ship, resulting in lower shipping costs for customers. Canvas prints are also less prone to damage during transit, making them a convenient choice for both sellers and buyers.

When using a print-on-demand service, you don’t need to invest in inventory or worry about storage space. Products are produced only when they’re ordered, reducing overhead costs. While individual profit margins vary, posters and canvas prints offer good profit margins for artists.

Most importantly, there’s no need to sacrifice quality over convenience. Printful offers high-quality prints perfect for reproducing an artwork or photograph.

Stickers

Stickers are very affordable, making them an attractive impulse buy for customers. The lower price point can encourage more people to buy your digital art, even if they aren’t looking for larger, more expensive items like canvas prints.

Plus, stickers are small, lightweight, and easy to carry. They can be used to decorate laptops, water bottles, phone cases, notebooks, car bumpers, and much more, showcasing your artwork on the go.

Stickers are a fun, trendy way for individuals to express themselves, so make sure you have something for everyone. Feel free to experiment with your designs, from illustrations to small graphics and quotes.

Offering a variety of sticker designs can encourage people to return to your online store. Some customers enjoy collecting stickers and may be more inclined to make repeat purchases. 

Finally, stickers can be a great marketing tool. By including your branding or website on the stickers, you can build brand recognition.

Cards

Different cards, including greeting cards and postcards, add a personal touch that other products may not offer. 

Cards are particularly popular during seasonal events and holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Try to offer a range of designs for various occasions, from birthdays to holiday-themed illustrations.

Greeting cards and postcards can also complement other stationary or wall art products you sell. For example, a customer who purchases a poster of your artwork may also be interested in buying a matching postcard to send to a friend or a family member.

It’s also a good idea to offer customization options like adding a name or a personal message on the card.

a black card with mushrooms and leaves on a wood surface

Source: Etsy

Custom t-shirts and hoodies

Custom t-shirts and custom hoodies are excellent for artists to sell as physical products online. As everyday clothing items, customers can easily integrate t-shirts and hoodies into their daily wardrobe. In turn, your art gets a lot of exposure and becomes part of the wearer’s unique style.

What’s more, clothing offers a large print area, and your artwork will be front and center. This is a great opportunity to go all-in on different artistic styles and colors to create eye-catching designs.

When creating custom hoodies and t-shirts, keep in mind that individuals want to express their personality, interests, and values through their outfits. As a digital artist, this is your chance to create designs that resonate with customers, allowing them to wear artwork that reflects their identity.

Personalization is a feature that many buyers look for when shopping online, so consider offering personalized apparel items, different color choices, and a wide size range.

a woman wearing a black shirt

Source: Etsy

Socks

Looking for a fun product idea? Why not start selling socks with your unique artwork?

Socks are practical, everyday items, making it easy for customers to incorporate your art into their daily lives. They appeal to both fashion-forward individuals looking for statement pieces to those simply seeking comfortable, quality socks with a unique twist.

Plus, they’re great gift items. Artist-designed socks can be a fun and memorable present for birthdays, holidays, or special occasions.

a person's legs with colorful socks

Source: Etsy

Phone cases

Customers appreciate the opportunity to personalize their everyday items with artwork that resonates with their style, interests, or moods. A customized phone case can turn a common accessory into a personal and artistic statement.

Over time, phone cases have evolved into fashion accessories, and many change their cases frequently to match their outfits, moods, or seasons. As highly visible items, custom phone cases often spark conversations and can draw attention to your art.

a cell phone with a design on it

Source: Etsy

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Digital art as digital products

Whether you create stunning illustrations, vector graphics, or digital photos, selling your creations as digital products is a great way to make money online. Digital downloads are accessible to customers worldwide, increasing your potential customer base and sales opportunities. 

How it works

Before selling your art, make sure that your files are in the right format and resolution for digital distribution. High-quality, high-resolution digital downloads are non-negotiables to provide the best experience for your customers.

There are many online platforms to sell digital art. For starters, check out some popular marketplaces like Creative Market, Envato Elements, and Freepik. If you already have an Etsy shop, you can also sell digital files for art prints, design templates, or fonts.

Not sure which platform to go for? Here’s a summary of the most popular platforms to help you pick the most suitable one for your online business.

Creative Market is an online marketplace for a wide range of digital products, including fonts, graphics, and illustrations. Envato Elements, on the other hand, provides a subscription-based model, granting customers access to a vast library of digital assets, making it a great option for artists seeking recurring income.

If your specialty is creating high-quality vector graphics, you can become a paid contributor on Freepik. The platform is a popular source for digital downloads like graphics, vectors, and fonts.

Finally, never underestimate the power of your own website. If you already have a dedicated following, it’s a good idea to sell digital products directly to your audience.

Digital product ideas:

Now that you know the many opportunities for selling digital art, let’s look at some of the most popular digital products to inspire you. From digital prints to fonts and custom icons, here’s our pick of exciting digital product ideas.

Downloadable art prints

Digital downloads often come at a lower price point compared to physical art prints, which makes them more accessible to a broader, global audience. Buyers can skip the shipping and have instant access to your digital art print immediately after purchase. This way, it’s easy to print the artwork at home or a local print shop.

As a seller, don’t forget about copyright and intellectual property protection for your art. Clearly state your terms of use and copyright information in your product listing.

a picture frame and a picture on the wall

Source: Etsy

Coloring pages

If you think that coloring books are just for kids, think again! Coloring sheets for adults are still in high demand and enjoy strong sales on platforms like Etsy.

To help your products take off in a saturated market, look for a specific niche or a topic. For example, you could offer holiday-themed coloring sheets in time for Halloween or Christmas. 

Graphic design brushes, textures, and backgrounds

Procreate is a popular graphics editor app on the iPad. While it offers some default features, many graphic designers are looking for extra brushes and textures. As a result, custom Procreate bundles are highly sought-after in the creative community.

Check out My Prints Collection—an Etsy seller who made thousands of sales by offering bundles of textures, brushes, and stamps. Bundles are great for buyers who appreciate the convenience of getting a diverse selection of tools in a single purchase. 

For sellers, it’s also a chance to cross-promote different brush sets and make more money per order.

a collage of images of ink and alcohol ink

Source: Etsy

Fonts and typefaces

Fonts are an essential tool for graphic designers, web designers, and creatives across various industries. There’s a constant demand for fresh, unique typefaces to enhance design projects. You can sell all types of fonts like script, serif, sans-serif, decorative, and even experimental fonts as digital downloads.

For example, Headfonts sells custom-made typefaces in their online store. Most premium fonts are priced at around $20, which is the standard price for unique, high-quality typefaces.

Icons and vector graphics

Vector graphics and custom icons are in high demand across various industries, from web design and app development to marketing.

In addition to general-purpose icons, there are more specialized markets that artists can tap into. For example, the healthcare, finance, and education sectors often need inclusive, custom-made graphics.

The recent development of augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) apps also presents a need for new kinds of vector graphics. As a digital artist, you’ll need to closely follow industry trends and the latest tech developments to succeed in this niche.

Digital art as NFTs

Thanks to the rise of crypto, we’re currently experiencing an NFT (non-fungible token) boom. Many emerging artists find themselves asking if they should sell digital art in the form of NFTs.

Below, we’ll guide you through the pros and cons of selling digital art as NFTs. But first, how can you start selling NFTs online?

a screenshot of a computer

Memo Akten, “Distributed Consciousness,” a collection of 256 NFTs. Photo: Juris Rozenbergs. Source: RIXC

How it works

NFTs are built on blockchain technology, which provides a secure and transparent way to establish ownership of digital art. This helps artists protect their intellectual property rights, and collectors can easily verify the artwork’s authenticity.

In short, NFTs allow artists to receive direct compensation for their work. When NFT is sold or resold, the artist can receive a portion of the proceeds through smart contracts, ensuring ongoing royalties and fair compensation.

NFTs can be designed to be scarce, with a limited number of editions or even a single unique edition. This creates a sense of exclusivity, which can drive up the value of an artwork.

For artists looking to sell NFTs, the OpenSea platform boasts one of the largest, most diverse user bases in the NFT space. On this platform, your artwork can be seen by a vast and global community of collectors, investors, and art enthusiasts.

OpenSea allows creators to customize their listings with rich media, descriptions, and attributes. Additionally, it offers features such as auction-style listings and reserve prices, giving artists greater control over their sales.

a screenshot of a computer

Source: OpenSea

Pros

For digital artists looking to protect their work from plagiarism, NFTs offer a good solution. Blockchain technology provides a unique, verifiable proof of ownership and authenticity. Artists can set terms and conditions, royalties, and restrictions for how the NFT is used and resold.

Similar to other forms of digital art, NFTs enable artists to sell their work directly to collectors without the need for intermediaries like galleries or auction houses. In addition, NFTs often represent limited edition or one-of-a-kind artwork, potentially leading to higher earnings.

Artists can also earn royalties on the secondary market when their NFTs are resold. This provides a potential source of ongoing income as the value of the artwork goes up over time.

Finally, the NFT space is known for innovation in digital art forms like generative art, virtual reality art, and interactive experiences. If your art practice is in tune with the latest technology, this will be an excellent fit for you.

Cons

Perhaps the biggest concern for many artists is the highly speculative, volatile nature of the NFT market. In addition, the fees associated with minting NFTs and conducting transactions can eat into your earnings, particularly when selling lower-priced artworks.

If you’re unfamiliar with blockchain technology and crypto, dealing with NFTs will involve a significant learning curve. Navigating the various platforms and processes can be complex and will take some time to master.

On top of that, the legal and copyright implications of NFTs are still evolving. Some digital artists face challenges in understanding and asserting their rights in this new digital landscape.

Finally, the rapid rise of crypto technology has created pressure for some artists to create NFTs purely for financial gain. This has led to an increased focus on market trends. In turn, NFTs alienate a more traditional audience who place a premium on personal, artistic expression.

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Ready to start selling your digital art?

Whether you’re looking to create posters, sell digital downloads, or delve into the exciting world of NFTs, we hope this guide has equipped you with knowledge on how to sell digital art online. 

Printful’s integration with ecommerce platforms simplifies the process, letting you focus on what you do best: creating digital art.

To get started, explore different product options, pick a suitable online platform, and adapt to the evolving art market. Most importantly, keep your passion for your craft burning bright. 

So, are you ready to embark on this journey and sell art online? Best of luck and happy selling!

author

By Sandra Ķempele on Nov 9, 2023

Sandra Ķempele

Guest author

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.

Sandra is a freelance writer and educator with a background in art and communication. She holds an MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies, and in her free time enjoys reading, museum visits, and outdoor adventures.