Monday, December 29, 2008 bear with's long and no pictures

I think I mentioned that I was going to do a small workshop on selling your artwork online at the Lakewood Arts Council's Community Art Center & Gallery later in the spring. So I have been checking out different sites for selling artwork.

I thought I would share what I have learned and where I have sold so far. I am actually learning alot by reading the forums and seeing what other artists have to say.

All of the online market places where I sell can be found by clicking on the right sidebar (or here) "Every Place I Sell". This is a nice, easy to use, e-signpost that you can send potential customers to. Take a look at mine and you will see you can click on the different marketplaces as well as see what sort of payment is accepted.

I uploaded several images at Imagekind a few days ago, which I understand is run by Cafe Press. Imagekind is for on-demand prints of your artwork, which is a nice service because I don't have the time or energy to figure out how to produce quality prints and would probably end up having to wallpaper my garage with the leftovers.
However, there is no way, that I can tell, to easily see who looks at your work or which images might be the most popular. There is a section where other Imagekind users can label you as a favorite, but I'm addicted to the "number of hits" information that I get from Etsy or Bonanzle. I also didn't care for their payment to the seller. They pay at the end of the month in which you have accumulated $50 or more in sales. While reading the forums I ran across another site, Artist Rising.

I uploaded a few images to Artist Rising but seemed to have difficulty doing so...easily. Quick and easy set-up is important for me as I don't have much time with all these sites and trying to learn on the run. So I don't have much more to say about this site, yet.....except you can sell original art or prints. One more option than Imagekind. While reading the forums at Artist Rising trying to figure out whether correcting my mistakes and continuing set-up would be worth it, I ran across someone talking about Yessy.

As you might know I started all of this with my Littleton Studio shop at Etsy back in September. Yessy, so far, is the closest to my lovely Etsy experience, only it is just for original art (no vintage, or supplies). It is an escrow site for artists and buyers which gives you the exposure and takes the headache out of dealing with payments. You are paid by Yessy once the buyer receives your artwork.

In their FAQ's they say if it can hang in a gallery it can be sold on Yessy, which means I can also sell my fiber art including cards and gift boxes. There are great statistics to help you see what traffic is coming into your gallery and what pieces of your artwork are most popular. I had good traffic from all over the world last night and this morning, we'll see about traffic in a couple of days after my name comes off the front page as a new gallery. The set-up was uber-easy and you are able to try a 14-day free trial period. If you don't cancel your gallery before the 14 days is up you are charged $59.00 for the year. You are also able to see what artwork is selling by using the category search on the lower left sidebar. The categories are straightforward and the sight looks very clean. It's hard to get lost, some of the other sites I felt like I was in a maze. Check out my main gallery, Littleton Studio, and on the upper right sidebar you can see I have a Fine Art-Dry Media gallery, and a Fiber Art gallery.

Another site I tried is ArtbyUs, an auction site for your artwork. Awhile back I said I didn't like the auction environment for my artwork, but I thought I would try. So far, I have no bids on an art quilt and a miniature colored pencil piece. I just found where the "views" are and they are pretty modest compared to Yessy. Browsing through the site I see LOTS of artwork in the auctions with 0 bids. I don't have high hopes, or even low hopes for this site.

So far, I have only sold artwork on Etsy in my Littleton Studio. I sold a pastel painting, several quilts, several fiber art pieces and handmade greeting cards. Ten pieces in all in the last 4 mos.

One thing I do know, is that you cannot set up a marketplace and just expect someone to find you. You must drive your own traffic to the sites and promote yourself just like you were in a brick and mortar gallery. There is really no way around that.

If you have any thoughts or experiences with any of these sites: Etsy, Imagekind, Yessy, Artist Rising, or ArtbyUs please feel free to leave a comment. I'm interested in ease of set-up, being able to see statistics, layout of site, and sales if any.


Beth said...

Thanks for the information Cindy! I will be curious to know how you do with the different sites.

Regina said...

Cindy, thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm following this closely since I'd like to make prints of some of my work available & haven't taken the steps to self publishing at this point.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Cindy - I've got quite a lot of information about selling art online in my Art Business - Resources for Artists website. It has a section on art commerce sites.

That might make a useful reference site for the people you're talking to.

Also does regular reviews of the various selling sites such as the ones you've mentioned here. Some of these are referenced on my information site.

Finally the internet sales sub-forum in the Art Business Forum of wet Canvas gets regular comments and feedback from people about different sites.

The only one I know which consistently gets a good press is Etsy. That's the one which gets a lot more traffic.

The main thing to be concerned about with some of the online gallery websites is that their business model is actually predicated on artists paying them annual fees rather than on helping artists to sell their work. If they worked off commission some of them wouldn't have a business.

Cindy said...

Thanks Bunches Katherine! I knew you probably had some words of wisdom written down somewhere.

Yes, I did sort of figure that out quickly that most sites survive because the artists/sellers fees keep them alive not commissions.

I think everyone is looking for that magic "pill" to be able to sell their art.

In my vintage business, Corn Street Vintage, Etsy is still my site of choice, then (a juried marketplace), and then Bonanzle (easy!) I've had sales on all of them for vintage and antique items.

Cindy said...

Hi Beth! I'll keep you updated. Also see Katherine's Squidoo lens link..some really good info there.

Hi Regina, I just ordered my first print from Imagekind last night (without the buyer markup). I plan on selling some prints at the brick and mortar gallery I belong to here in Denver. So I may not sell much to "random" traffic on Imagekind, but it might be a great way to get on-demand prints. I'll keep you posted as well.

Rita said...

Thanks for sharing this info, Cindy.

I had tried Etsy about 2 years ago and, at the time, it was still very new (ie- low traffic) and wasn't geared much towards those selling 2D artwork.

Etsy seems to have gotten much more traffic since then in addition to what seems like nothing but good reviews so I may try there again in the New Year.

I'll be looking forward to reading how your ventures turn out, thanks again!

Ana Tirolese said...

Thank you so much for this fabulous post. It is chock full of wonderful information.

Paula Pertile said...

Hey Cindy,

Thanks for all that info! I'd never heard of Bonanzle.
I too love etsy, and am still getting the hang of it. You're right, you do have to 'work it', whatever you're doing.

I ordered some of my own prints from Imagekind and although they looked good I sent them back because I'd wanted white space around so I could sign them. I learned you have to specify that when you place the order. Otherwise they'll print everything almost right up to the edge. Just fyi. They were nice about it, and refunded my $$.

I've been selling in a shop locally (prints and knitting) and its goes in spurts. Nothing...then all of a sudden someone comes in who buys everything!

I think all of this takes some patience as well as persistence. I'm just glad there are other alternatives than ebay!