{Art} She made $87,000 in a year selling her art online. And you can too!

There’s a mass migration occurring in the art world. Many FOF artists have abandoned traditional galleries to run their own virtual galleries on websites like Etsy, Artfire and eBay. They’ve found that online they can make more money and offer art to buyers for less than selling in brick-and-mortar galleries (which take up to a 50 percent cut of their profits). “My first year on eBay I grossed $87,000,” says FOF artist Patty A. Baker. How’d she do it? Read on to find out how Patty and 2 other FOFs have turned their art from a love to a living.

Patty A. Baker

Painter
Sells on: Etsy, her own website and Art.com
Location:
Ogdensburg, New York

Why do you like Etsy and Art.com?
Etsy offers a lot of exposure. Art.com does all the printing, framing, and shipping. I submitted a bunch of high-res images to Art.com which was a lot of work in the beginning, but now it’s easy.

Do you sell in brick-and-mortar galleries?
I’ve been selling online since 2004. I support myself and two kids with what I make online. My first year on eBay I grossed $87,000. If things continue the way they are this year I’ll gross $50-60 thousand. I know one artist who makes $500-600 thousand selling her art online. It’s so doable.

What’s the secret to selling art successfully online?
You have to make art that people are going to buy. That’s a hurdle for most artists. You do have to bend, you do have to do some sort of selling out.

How do you price your art?
I had to come way down in price when the recession hit. I use a loose formula of 23 cents per square inch for the larger paintings. For the 16X20 paintings, I charge $160.

How do you choose what you are going to paint?
What I paint is secondary to how I paint it. I like to see how colors respond to each other. I also look around to see what’s selling. I’m just as happy painting a salt shaker as a river.

Buyers don’t need to see the art in person anymore?
A buyer recently said to me, ‘Many people buy art to match furniture. I bought a couch to match your painting.’ Also, artists who sell online will bend over backwards to make sure the buyer is happy. For my commissioned pieces, I send samples by e-mail before I ship to make sure it’s right.

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Nancy LaBerge Muren

Watercolor Artist
Sells on: Etsy and her own website
Location:
Davis, California

What is your style of painting?
I like to capture interesting light. Light is so fleeting. I take photos of something I see with nice light, then take it back to my studio to paint it.

Why do your prefer to sell online versus in a gallery?
It’s a lot of work to get things ready for a gallery. I’d do all my own matting and framing. I’d cart around the art. Then the frames would get old-fashioned, and I’d have to update them. And in the end, it wouldn’t sell. On a site like Etsy, every day there are at least 2,000 people that are looking at my work, in a gallery you might get 5. 

So the exposure that the web offers is the biggest draw for you?
Yes, in fact, last summer I was contacted by a television art director who found me by doing a search on Etsy. Now my paintings are on the sets of the shows Modern Family and Better With You.

How do you price your art?
I look how other people are pricing their art. Sometimes people think because art is priced lower it’s not as good, but if I were selling in a gallery, they would take 50% and I’d have to pay for my time and materials. If I subtract all that I end up with a pretty good price for originals. I can price lower because I sell more.

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Leslie Saeta

Painter and Host of Artists Helping Artists Blog Talk Radio Show
Sells on: DailyPainters.com and her own website
Location:
South Pasadena, California

How did you get into painting?
I’ve only actually been painting for 5 years. I had an emergency hysterectomy and after that I decided I needed to do something for me.

Why do you like selling on DailyPainters?
DailyPainters jump-started my art business. The visibility from the site is really incredible. Every day that I post a new painting to my blog, DailyPainters publishes it to their homepage. There are 80-100 new paintings each day. It’s difficult to be a featured artist on DailyPainters. Last year they only picked up one new artist, so I feel blessed my art is on their site.

How do you price your art?
It’s all priced by size. For instance, all my 6×6 paintings sell for $200 unframed.

How do you decide what to paint? Do you paint to what sells?
You have to think of both, what people are buying but also what inspires. I paint a lot of reflections because it’s what inspires me. I also paint a lot of universities and colleges because it creates a wonderful memento.

What is a common mistake people make when they try to sell art online?
You’d be surprised how many people write on their websites, ‘E-mail me if you want to buy my art.’ A lot of art purchases are on impulse so you need to make it as easy as possible for the buyer. Just recently, I led a workshop on how to add a “Buy Now” button to your website.

What’s a secret to selling art successfully online?
You have to market your art with press releases, newsletters and shows. Every month I send out a newsletter and it results in at least one sale. Over the holidays I ran a ’12 Days of Christmas’ promotion and gave away something each day. The traffic I generated to my site was amazing. You can’t just sit back and think listing it on a website is going to sell it.

10 Responses to “{Art} She made $87,000 in a year selling her art online. And you can too!”

  1. Hazel Morgan says:

    Thanks. You can also check my website – http://theworkingartist.com/selling-your-art-online

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  2. Samuel Carlson says:

    As far as Selling prints of your work, there is etsy, cafepress, zazzle, and deviantart. Etsy for me is too much of a hassle b/c I need to actually handle the shipping and printing and everything. Personally I use SMugmug.com as a printer and shipper of my work. they give you a whole gallery option and pricing plans. They have their bare minimum prices, and you keep anything over that amount. Say it costs them $2.30 to print out and ship an 8×10 print. if you price it for $12, you get 10 bucks.

    Here is an example of my smugmug gallery.

    http://obilex.smugmug.com/Art/Obilex-The-Artwork-o

    Also, you want to get all of your social media networks on par with one another, make it easy for people to be connected with you. on my homepage http://Obilex.com you can see that I have links to all of my different outlets (twitter, facebook, instagram ebay etc.)

    Hope this helps, and keep up the hard work!

    Sam

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  3. Lynn Borner says:

    Sorry. How do I sell my prints online? Is there a place for that?

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  4. Lynn Borner says:

    How do I see my photos online? Either as simple prints of any size, on canvas, etc? Thanks.

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  5. Germaine White says:

    Your paintings are wonderful. The colors are vibrant and yet they are still peaceful to the soul. I am moved by your story and willingness to embark on a new lifestyle. Congratulations for turning your passion into so much more. The best of luck in the future.
    Jobless50s.com

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  6. nancy curran says:

    I have enjoyed seeing Leslie’s art on her web and blog as well as listening to her talk blog radio show. I first found her art through Daily Painters. I love her colorful paintings.

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  7. Dreama Tolle Perry says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. It’s inspiring to realize that women can live the life they want and pursue their dreams–at any age! Leslie has been so skilfull at transferring all the skills accumlated in her “before” life to her artist life—she is changing the way women artists view themselves and their abilities!

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  8. Kathy says:

    Leslie is indeed a very talented artist and awesome marketer! I feel fortunate to have one of her So Pas pieces above our mantle…thank you Leslie!!! It’s a wonderful reminder of good times and people in So Pas!!! And thank you Leslie, for all your helpful information re: marketing your art!!!

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  9. Jerry Stocks says:

    Leslie is one of the most generous and talented artist I know. She’s also a super teacher and man, does she wield a wicked palate knife.

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  10. Kelley MacDonald says:

    I can attest that Leslie is the ‘real deal’ – she knows her stuff- painting AND marketing-wise, and she is the most generous person on earth. She is my hero! Thanks for featuring interesting women who are making their living off their art!

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