How do I sell art online?

How Do I Sell Art Online? How do I start an art business? Should I focus on selling on Etsy or my own website? How do I sell on Instagram? What social media platforms should I use?

These are the most common question I get from other artists. I’ve been there. Whether you’re at a point in your business where you know exactly what you want to sell or still figuring it out, this post is going to help you completely reframe your thinking. Today I’m going to share what I’ve learnt to be the most effective ways to sell art online and build a loyal and authentic art community that will convert to a community of collectors that truly appreciate and connect with your art. I love that my passion for painting has slowly evolved into two streams – firstly, art collectors who support my work and second, fellow artists who want to grow their art business. And I want to nurture these two types of readers by sharing my experience.

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I’m thinking you’ve got a lot of these questions floating around your head. How do I start a small art business? 

Ahh, it’s overwhelming I know! 

I’ve struggled with all of these, in many ways I still do because social media and online marketing are changing constantly. So, let’s back up and start with our foundation. The very thing that got you thinking about this to begin with. Why? Because if you’re not well equipped to accept and shift when you start trying different things in your business, you will start to question that spirit that led you to this point. It happened to me.

"I hit a point where I had fallen so deeply in love with what I was doing that I refused to believe that it wasn't actually working. At least not in the way I intended or needed it to. It was hard for me to pivot; to shift when something had failed, to learn from my mistakes and to make the necessary changes. It had become too personal".

Donata Delano - The Beginner's Studio Guidebook.

Here’s my very honest opinion that will ground your work when you discover that it takes so much more than just the craft itself to actually build what you love to do and continue doing it. Jasmine Star, who hosts an incredibly honest and solution-focused podcast called, The Jasmine Star Show once said something in one of her podcasts that I will never forget. To paraphrase, it was something along the lines of starting a business often feels like you’re starting two businesses – one, doing the thing that you love to do and doing it well. For me, this is painting and teaching. And two, the business of figuring out how to continue to do it – bookkeeping, marketing, social media, website SEO, building connections and a community, etc. etc.

So, where do we start?

Before you do anything else, complete this sentence:

My passion for :

 is why I have decided to pursue a business in :

Now, I will apply logic and an entrepreneurial mindset to make this happen.

If you want to learn more about this and how to define your business, I cover how to create a business plan, how to define your decisions and goals and shift your mindset to one of an entrepreneur in the Beginner’s Studio Guidebook.

Now let’s get into the details!

How to sell art on etsy

Finding your Customer:

In the early stages, it's so important to figure out what it is you're providing or selling, and this includes the entire business persona. In other words, what you have has to align with the customer you want to attract.

For most of us, we start with a product - be it handmade embroidered napkins, watercolour house portraits, large acrylic wall murals- that craft that you love so much. And by this point, we know that we want that to be the thing we base our business on; we want to find people that want this item in their lives.

But think of it this way - let's start by defining who our customer is. 

Who you are trying to attract and build a business relationship with?

Do you have a customer?

If not, who do you want as your customer?

Really define this demographic. Study what they like, what they post, share, pin, who they follow...

Does your product align with their interests?

What will your product provide throughout the various life stages of your customer - when they're 18-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50+... ?

Think about the following questions carefully and answer them honestly, whether you already have or still finding your product.

  • Who do you want to attract to your business?
  • How would you describe your customer? (Age, gender, location, occupation, interests, hobbies, where do they spend their discretionary income? What gifts do they purchase? What do they value?) 
  • Does your product/offering provide an item that can serve your customer in a variety of ways/needs?
  • How do you reach your customer?
  • Does your product align with their values? If not, they're not your customer, or you need to pivot your offering to adjust to the customer.

To elaborate, ask yourself whether your product or service aligns with the customer you want to attract. If you have concerns or feel that there is a disconnect, we need to pivot and ask ourselves:

Question 1: What do I love to make / paint / create?

Define this, as a list or however is helpful to you, what it is that you love and why you love it. The WHY is important because it will help you pivot when you need to without compromising your fundamental why.

Example: I love to paint floral landscapes with watercolour BECAUSE I love when I connect with nature, when I can work slowly and methodically and work with water, which relaxes me. 

My Foundation: Nature, A slow and relaxing process, Water. 

Question 2: Is there a demand for my product / service?

This question takes us back to our customer. 

We need to be very clear about who we are trying to attract. 

Who is our customer? 

What do they like? 

How do they spend money? 

What kinds of things / experiences do they value?

If the two questions do not align - ie., you can't see your customer (the person you WANT to attract, not just the person your product will attract naturally), then you need to go back to your foundation.

How else can I maintain the things that I love about what I do (in the above example Nature, Slow and Relaxed, Water) and pivot my product to draw in the RIGHT customer?

Getting Your Work Online and Noticed:

Now we need to get our artwork online. Once you’ve figured our your customer, we can start to think about our message, our brand and how to deliver this message so that with time, connection and commitment, you will start to grow and your business will convert to art sales. How? Your consistency will resonate with others and when the times comes for them to make a purchase, your product will be at the top of mind.

For me, the most effective outlets are my Website, Instagram, and my Subscriber or Email List. I have built relationships on these platforms that are truly friendships – they result in engaging, honest conversations that build purpose for my business.

I encourage you to learn and focus on the following:

  • Study SEO. I think the number one place to start to is understand how you use what you put out on the internet to get noticed. This includes keywords, photo captions, tags, descriptions, meta descriptions… Familiarize yourself with this before you do anything else. It will save you a lot of time!
  • Build a website (either through Shopify, Squarespace or similar) that have an e-commerce function and begin to populate and curate it carefully to reflect your brand and your product.
  • Begin using social media. Implement a photo strategy (For example, the photos you share on Instagram, how often and in what order) as well as define your purpose and stay consistent. For more information on a photo formula and strategy, I have an entire module dedicated to this in the Beginner’s Studio Guidebook.
  • Etsy or Website? I use both. I’ve carefully defined what I offer on my website – this is more content related, original paintings, how to, blog posts, tutorials while my Etsy Shop is dedicated to printables, digital downloads, prints and downloadable templates. It’s meant to provide easily searchable art-related solutions to the Etsy Marketplace.
  • Share your message, on brand, and purpose with others. Be honest and allow people in to learn and connect with you. It takes a lot of trial and error to find your audience and to build a brand.
  • Using social media, work to engage and grow a mailing list by creating lead magnets that encourage subscribers and value your content and product. The best resource for this is Amy Porterfield, and her SUBSCRIBED course. You can find more info on that here

Remember that making adjustments, changing, failing, pivoting all these moments will come and the success comes when you open your mind to the possibility of the change. There are no rules that say you can't change your product or your service or evolve it as you learn more about your customer. I used to believe that stubbornness will lead me to success, but in reality the opposite is true.


Reframe your thinking from:

"I love what I do so much that I refuse to stop, no matter what, until I succeed", to:

"My love and passion for my craft is so strong that I'm willing to learn, adapt and pivot so that I can finally achieve a balanced, successful space doing what I love".

Hold on to what makes you happy and let go of all the other expectations, there are no rules that say you can't.

And a bit about me: 

If you're new here, I'm Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home, which is currently in Mexico. If you want to read a bit about our life abroad as Expats, check out my recent blog post about that here!

I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you're curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my Instagram here.

Also, if you'd like to follow along and subscribe to the mailing list to receive most post notifications like this, including special promotions to artwork, collections and freebies, head here and join the list:

You'll instantly receive a free art print AND studio setup mini-guide!


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