A lot of artists, especially when first starting out wonder what the best way is to sell their prints. Obviously, there is no “best” way since what works for some artists and fine art photographers will not always be the same for the next. So we decided to look into this in more detail by conducting a brief poll from many of our users who use us to fulfill their print orders.
We polled a little over 20,000 artists and photographers and found the results quite informative and sometimes surprising. The question that was posed was “What is the main way you offer your prints for sale?”.
We were not too surprised that Etsy came in so high. In recent years it has become and incredible marketplace for artists. It does not work for everyone and can take some time for an artist’s Etsy shop to become a powerful selling tool for them works and many artists have been able to make a fulltime living using it.
A few years back there was a lot of talk about Amazon Handmade as Amazon’s alternative to Etsy. I see every day that we are fulfilling those orders, but we expected these numbers to be higher. I think in many cases, users using Amazon Handmade are also using Etsy so likely most of their sales, if participating in both, are coming from Etsy.
I also expected this number to be a little higher but not much. I do not know of too many artists running successful Ebay campaigns so it may not be for most people.
This we pretty much anticipated to be around those figures. Shopify is a great system for artists wanting to sell online. It has a lot of features and plugins so once you get familiar with the admin interface, it is pretty quick to launch a site that can take your orders. Plus we have a app that allows you to import your Shopify orders.
Square is not really a selling platform but more of a credit card processing system. However, they do have a system in place that allows you to create a website and post your prints for sale. I think it was more popular a few years back and have seen many artists switch to more professional systems like Shopify, Woocommerce or Squarespace to name a few.
This again surprised us. We knew it was popular but thought Shopify would come out ahead of it. Its not as advanced as Shopify but if you want something that is very easy to setup shop with, then Squarespace is one I would recommend. Coincidentally, we have a Squarespace import orders method that should be ready this week.
Another content management system that allows you to design an online store. Some within our customer service staff tell me this may become more popular in the future but since I do not have much experience with it, I cannot comment on it much.
This is another one that surprised us since we expected more users. It’s free and a type of plugin for WordPress websites. The problem is it may appear a little less turnkey for some. Overall, its an excellent system to sell with but with more intuitive systems like Shopify or Squarespace, it might be better suited for those with a more technical bent.
Artshows and Fairs
We were not quite sure how to read into this one. We thought it was going to be higher. But perhaps some of those that usually sell in art shows and fairs may be starting to focus their energies toward online sales, especially with the COVID-19 cancelling many of the springtime festivals.
3rd Party Online Galleries
This could be sites like FineArtAmerica, Society6 and GeoGalleries. These are generally websites that just sell but do not actually produce the prints. Instead they rely on fine art color labs like FinerWorks to fulfill the orders. From our experience, some of them (not all) come and go. One year you find your sales are great and the next they are a trickle, especially when they increase the amount of art, but they fail to increase the number of potential buyers visiting their website.
Traditional Offline Galleries
For now, these continue to remain a viable solution. We do a lot of printing direct for galleries. Some might expect these number to go down as online sales increase, but new galleries are constantly opening up so it might be premature to fully conclude that.
Probably the most effects methods out there. Usually when we think of In-Person Sales, we probably think of Art shows and Fairs. But it might include sales done in a retail establishment like a gift shop or other place that has foot traffic.
I know there is a lot of other methods that can be used and we could have added some more choices. For one we should have included Social Media since from some of the comments, a lot of people sell sell via Instagram and Facebook. Here are a few other examples as you can see with some of the follow-ups people provided when it came to “Other”.
- Email with PayPal
- Instagram with Paypal
- FASO Artist Websites
- Personal gift shop
- Juried exhibitions
- Tattoo Studio
- Big Cartel
- Other website services
If you want to share some “others” or post your experience with any of the places discussed, please share it below in the comments.