Do you want some of the online art market’s £8 billion sales? Discover how you can sell artwork online, whatever your medium, to earn extra income or launch a successful career as an artist.

We’ll walk you through the various options you have when selling your unique pieces and what you’ll need to do to manage your new income legally. Find out:

  • How to sell artwork online
  • How to manage your new income legally
  • Make running your new business easier with Countingup

How to sell artwork online

As you’re considering ways to sell your artwork online, you have two main options: becoming a seller on an existing platform, or building your own commerce channels to sell directly to customers. Each route has its advantages but brings different operational costs to your business. 

Become a seller on an e-commerce platform

As a seller on an existing e-commerce platform, you can enjoy a focused relationship between you and your art: you won’t have to worry about shipping orders to customers, processing payments or returns. Additionally, you can expose your art to a larger audience of potential buyers, and (if your pieces become best-sellers), it can be a very lucrative relationship for both of you in the long term.

When choosing this option you’ll have to work within the rules of the platform you choose, with some sites requiring exclusivity on your work. Similarly, you will have a constant percentage fee applied to your sales that will impact your net profits

Here are some examples of artwork e-commerce sites that you can join:

Desenio

Desenio is a Swedish-based platform that sells prints internationally and offers a wide variety of art categories to customers, ranging from landscapes and botanical pieces to bold graphic illustrations and astronomy scenes. 

King & McGaw

King and McGaw is a UK-based art e-commerce platform that also sells prints internationally. They offer a similarly wide range of options for customers, including art deco pieces, fashion, floral, cityscapes and sport as well as limited edition runs of more exclusive prints.

Artfinder

Artfinder is another UK-based art platform offering a huge range of customer selections. They provide prints and other mediums, including oil paintings, sculptures and collage work, allowing you to diversify your products and earn extra income. 

Artfinder lets artists publish their pieces for viewing for free and only charge commission on sales. They let artists set the retail price on their work and charge between 30-40% once sold. 

Other online e-commerce platforms

We’ve listed 3 of some of the larger e-commerce art platforms, yet there are many more, including Saatchi Art and Art Gallery (both of which charge 35% commission) as well as Posterlounge, Wayfair, and others. As you search, make sure to find a platform that caters to your medium and charges a fair commission. 

Build your own platform or selling account

For more control over your business, including taking more of the sale price and not having to rely on a third-party website for income, consider building your own sales channels.

Note that there are trade-offs as it can be difficult to build a steady rate of interested customers and you have to organise delivery, marketing and payment systems on top of creating your art.

Instagram and Facebook

Instagram and Facebook can be useful ways to build a following of interested customers and share your pieces directly to them for selling. You have complete creative control over your business, including being able to sell in any medium or theme. 

Learn more about building an online presence in our articles What is small business marketing? and How to use social media for business.

Etsy

Etsy is something of a hybrid model between a platform and social media channel and is one of the largest art and craft e-commerce sites available. Etsy allows artists to run their own seller accounts and offer art goods in any theme or medium. In fact, many artists use the social media accounts listed above to drive customer interest, then link to their Etsy store to handle purchases and payments.

Etsy charges a listing fee and payment fee, however, rates slightly change if you use their own payment system versus another. Find out more about selling on Etsy here.

Your own website

With e-commerce specialists like Shopify and WordPress available, building your own website can be a cheap and effective alternative to using other e-commerce platforms. 

This option provides you with the most amount of control over your art business as there are no commission fees and you can create a commission inquiries system for customers to provide more bespoke art services. Find out more about making your very own art platform in our article How to make your own website.

How to manage your new income legally

Setting up a business means you’ll have to register with HMRC and declare your income. There are a few different ways of doing this, but the easiest and fastest way is becoming a sole trader. 

Sole traders keep the profits they make and enjoy more flexibility as they run their business. Registering as a sole trader allows you to pay taxes from your new business’ profits and get access to business support, including a dedicated business bank account and small business loans. 

If you’d like more information on the other types of businesses you can create, read our article Sole Trader or Limited Company: How to Set Up Your Business.

Save time on business admin with Countingup

Whatever route you choose to launch your new art business, make the learning curve of business finance easier and save time for producing artwork and growing your client base. 

Thousands of self-employed people across the UK are saving hours of time consuming admin with the Countingup app.  It’s the two-in-one business current account and accounting app that automates time consuming bookkeeping admin. 

With instant invoicing, automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can focus on doing what you do best. Find out more here.