How to start selling art, crafts or photos online {quickly & without going nuts} Part 1

10 years ago wasn’t the greatest period of my life. I rolled into work one morning {yes, rolled – that’s why it’s easy to see what’s coming} to find that I had been made redundant. A few hours and pints later, the reality of my situation hit me hard in the face in the pool room of a sweaty Yorkshire pub.

I had split with my ex and was in a flat on my own that I couldn’t afford. I had ABSOLUTELY NO savings or emergency fund as I blew all my money and more on going out. I had maxed out credit cards and only a small redundancy pay out. And I ABSOLUTELY knew that I didn’t want to work for anyone else ever again. I HAD to work for myself or I was in serious danger of losing my marbles. Not a good set of circumstances. I had to start getting some money coming in and FAST if I didn’t want to be back in a 9-5 {well more like 7:30 to 10 in the design industry} job that I hated.

I was lucky to have the skills I needed to get set up. I quickly got together a portfolio website of my illustration work and began networking. Within two months I had landed a really big illustration and animation commission that totally saved my neck just when I was at the point of having to eat dogfood or something. At that point I knew I was free and would never have to go back to the cubicle ever again.

I hope you aren’t having this kind of drama forcing you to start selling your art online but there are a million and one reasons you might want to be starting to sell your work.


  • Wanting to make a serious go of your art career
  • Needing some extra money to tide you over a difficult period,
  • Starting to set up your own creative home business
  • Just to prove to yourself that people like your work and want to buy it.



I was lucky in that my job equipped me with the skills to start my online presence but I wanted to write this post as a quick crashcourse for people who want or NEED to start selling their art, craft or photos online but don’t know where to start, because if you are new to the whole idea of selling your artwork on the internet, the whole process can seem pretty daunting.

What do you need to do? How do you avoid getting ripped off or wasting time and/or cash?

So… What is the secret to start to successfully sell art online?

Many artists wonder if there is a secret to successfully selling art online. If there’s a special magic site that they just need to put work on and it will fly out of the door or a secret ingredient that will lead to instant fame, fortune and a Superstar Artist lifestyle.

I hate to tell you this, but the secret ingredient is YOU. You have to put the effort and energy in. If you do that you will get the rewards out but there are no short cuts or magic sites. You need to show your work and network and promote it. The good thing is that it’s fun to do on the web but if you don’t fancy doing a little bit of work on it every day {even 10 minutes will make a difference} you had better stop reading now.

Still here? Good 😉

Aggh. There too much stuff to think about!
What do I do first?

Here we go. Its a simple plan but it works.

  1. Set up a portfolio website under your own domain name with a blog, gallery and a means of accepting payment.
  2. Also add your work to several art website shops, pay on demand or gallery sites.
  3. PROMOTE your main portfolio website and use it to drive traffic to your other shop sites too.
  4. Sell some art.

First things first. Nail down your domain name

You need to register a domain name that reflects who you are and what you do. It needs to look good and professional {no type stuff} and incorporate your name. Try to incorporate keywords about your work too as this really helps with search engine results. So for example, if you are a sculptor you might register “”. People are more likely to be searching for “sculpture” than your name so this will give you a bit of a leg up the search results.

Its pretty tricky finding a domain name that hasn’t been already registered {especially if you have a common name} so you may need to try out a few permutations until you find the right one.

If possible avoid domains ending in the more obscure .info, .tv and similar. You want to try and secure a .com or {or whatever is relevant to where you live} if at all possible.

If you can, avoid using hyphens. This makes a URL {website address} really difficult to spell out to someone over the phone.

You can check which domains are available by using the domain checker here

Set up YOUR OWN portfolio website with your OWN domain name & a blog facility.

Many people when tying to sell art online, head straight for setting up a shop on one of the many web based art and craft market sites that are available. It might look like an easy option but you only need to look at the amount of shops on Etsy or similar with a large inventory and only one or two sales over a long period to see that it’s not that simple. Oh that it were. Marketing and getting enough visitors to look at your work is the key to success and it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd on these big sites.

To drive traffic and showcase your work properly you REALLY need your own hub portfolio artists website first and then market it well. Instead of spreading your energy around different sites you can focus on one place to drive your visitors. Your personal site is the HUB of your online world.

I wrote a big post about 10 Crucial Reasons Why Every Artist Needs Their Own Hub Website here if you need convincing but basically if you are going to put work into promoting you might as well do it for your own site & its easier to drive traffic there as you aren’t competing with millions of other artists. You can then direct people to your other sites {Etsy, Artfire, Zazzle etc} from your main site if you want.

The good news is that you can do this fairly painlessly though without any techy stress. For speed here Ill suggest two really quick and simple ways, one that involves parting with a bit of cash and one super simple and {almost ;-)} FREE .

The “Broke-Ass” WordPress website option

WordPress is a brilliant way for any artist to create a website. There are two flavours – – free, quick simple and includes hosting but less functionality – You have to host it yourself, involves a bit more techy fiddling but infinitely more customisable and does better in the Search Engine Results. The way forward.

For now you can set up a quick portfolio blog site on Just hit the big orange button on the top right. Its {almost – you have to pay to redirect your domain name} free and hosting is included.

You will be given a domain name like which looks pretty rubbish. However, you can map your chosen domain name to your blog so visitors use to get to your site. Much more professional. You need to register your chosen domain { again, you can do it here } and then, in your WordPress dashboard {once you have registered} choose UPGRADES and ADD A DOMAIN. This will cost you $9.97 per year but it’s worth it.

Once set up choose a gallery style theme for your blog and get uploading your art. You can add paypal buttons or direct links from here to a shop you set up on Etsy, Zazzle etc.

Remember – If you need to get your art online free and quick a site is a good stop gap. This is good for a quick temporary portfolio website presence but you really should be aiming towards getting your own site, hosted on your own server as it will do much better in search engines. is the way forward here as it offers so much more scope for personalisation and functionality. Make your first site a learning ground and aim at moving to a site as soon as your confidence has grown.

The “I do have some cash” website option

Get a website from

FolioTwist create what I think are probably the best ready made artists websites on the market at the moment. Designed by artist with marketing knowledge they incorporate everything that you need and include hosting and domain name, blogging and email facility, tech support, shop facility, paypal and social media integration AND they look GREAT.

The downside is all that loveliness will cost $30 a month although that seems pretty reasonable for everything that you get. You can register your chosen domain name through FolioTwist and the lovely Dan & Zac will sort it all out for you.

Taking payment

If you are going to sell stuff you need a way of taking payment. Hands down the most straightforward, cheap and easy to set up way of doing this is by using Paypal is widely accepted doesn’t cost you any up front charges. They take a smallish percentage charge out of every sale you make. is set up to be integrated with Paypal. Alternatively you can create “Buy Now” buttons in Paypal that you can add into your WordPress site.

Tell the world about your shiny new website and work

Now you have the website stuff sorted, get your art up there and start attracting people who will love it. If there is a secret to successful art sales on the web it’s MARKETING YOUR WORK & WEBSITE. Like a real life gallery with no visitors you won’t sell anything if no one sees your work. A website alone won’t do the job of getting people to visit and look at your work. In the next post in this series I’m going to run through how to market and promote your work and new website including:


  • How to use Social Media and your Blog to attract visitors to your site
  • How to use Print-on-demand and craft market sites to give yourself more selling opportunities and income streams
  • Making sure Google sees your site
  • Why its crucial to collect an email mailing list of people who like your work.



Read part 2 of this post here


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This is by necessity of space a very quick look at getting your work online. A while back I published a book “How to sell your art craft and photos online”. I retired the book and have now published the content online for free. View it here


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