Learn How the Most Successful Artists Make Online Art Sales

The interest in how to make art sales online from artists is growing.

Read on to discover tips from top-selling from artists.

A few weeks ago, Freddy Grant contacted me. He is the Marketing Coordinator for It is an Australian online gallery specializing in making original works of Australian art accessible to the global community.

Global-Art-Sales-Trends- Freddy had an interesting infographic to share with my readers and me. You can see it here. It shows a growing trend of art buyers going online to find and buy art. It shows online art sales grew by 20% in 2014, but still only accounts for 7% of total art sales.

Bluethumb’s Sales Growth Is Encouraging.

Notable stats about Bluethumb’s results are its sales grew 78% in 2014. Its average order size was $400 AUD. The most interesting stat is 22% of its sales come from mobile devices.

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I asked Freddy to tell me what Bluethumb’s top artists do to make sales. He went me one better. He got his three top artists to give five tips you can use. Here is his guest post.

Bluethumb’s Top Three Artists Share Their Top Five Tips

Bluethumb ranks highest when Australians use the Google search query, “online art gallery.” It is an online art gallery where artists sell original work direct to buyers. During the last year, it has used content marketing to generate sales for their artists.

Social Media Helps Bluethumb’s Artists Make Online Art Sales.

Bluethumb uses top social media platforms to share its blog content. This plan includes promoting member artists’ work, events, art industry news and inspirations. The company has grown its email list by offering Becoming An Art Collector, a free e-book to encourage buyers to sign up. It began using Sendicate, an emailing marketing app that provides leading designs and useful data.

Janni Fewster is Bluethumb’s Curator and Content Manager. She says, “If your emails look great, people want to read them. Sendicate’s simplicity and beautiful templates allow us to send out curations that showcase our art in the best possible light on any screen. The artworks we send out in our newsletters often sell within a few days.”

Art Sales through Mobile Devices Growing Fast.

Perhaps the most surprising thing Bluethumb has found is that people are buying expensive artworks on their smartphones. Apple featured the Bluethumb – art unearthed app as ‘New and Noteworthy’ in 2014 and since then over 22 percent of Bluethumb’s sales have been through the app. In January, Mobile Commerce Daily reported the average in-app spend is currently around $5. This strategy makes Bluethumb’s in-app sales remarkable considering the average artwork sale price is over $400.

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Artist’s Individual Efforts Make Art Online Sales Soar.

While Bluethumb uses its best marketing efforts, it has found that it is the artists who sell the most are those that put in the work. Here the top selling artists on Bluethumb sharing their tips on how to generate sales and make it in the art world.

Annette Spinks

annette spinks For Annette Spinks, being an artist wasn’t a choice. She says, “I just have this overwhelming desire and passion to paint; it is who I am. I would create art with dirt if I had nothing else.”

As is true for most artists starting out, Annette’s first sale was nerve racking but exciting. “I participated in a group exhibition at SJS Gallery in Fitzroy and I was so nervous about exhibiting. When I got there the Gallery had put my piece in the front window, which I was thrilled about. The painting sold at the opening and was called Hello.”

Since then it hasn’t all been plain sailing judging by the best piece of advice she’s ever received. Annette has this to say for other artists, “You have to have tough skin if you are going to make it in the art world.” But tough skin alone is not enough…

  1. Paint what inspires you. Buyers can tell.

 The enjoyment, freedom and energy I feel when I paint is reflected in my art. From the very beginning, I have tried to develop continually and remain true to my style. I’m inspired by nature, my exceptionally beautiful surrounds and bring to the canvas my deepest life experiences.  I often use resin; I love the liquidity it brings to the art.  It adds a whole new feeling and visual effect. It makes my paintings feel more alive, and it brings out the colours beautifully.

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  1. Your second job is marketing.

 Look at different ways to promote your art. I sell my art through my own online gallery, my art studio and gallery in Inverloch, through Bluethumb’s online gallery, social media and I’m also represented by two galleries. I also set time aside each week for promotion… although I would much rather be painting in the studio!

  1. Get online.

 Bluethumb is a great online gallery for artists, particularly if you don’t have your own website. I also blog and use all the important social media platforms.

  1. Create a beautiful social media presence.

 Very important! Social media is a very visual media and a fantastic platform for artists to present their work. It is affordable and also a great networking tool.

  1. Exposure, exposure, exposure!

 Get your work out of the studio and display it somewhere. The more exposure your work receives, the greater opportunities for sales and commissions. Try displaying your art in local businesses; they are usually very supportive. I started with paintings in local cafes, the hairdresser and real estate agents. Also, try putting your art in art shows for exposure.

Miranda Lloyd

miranda lloyd In a relatively short space of time Miranda has become a successful artist in her own right whilst her graphic design business continues to go from strength to strength.

She says, “These days most of my artworks are commissioned due to demand. I also get larger orders to fill boardrooms and the latest was a commissioned piece by Surf Life Saving SA, which is being used for their materials including merchandise, clothing and reproduced prints.”

The best piece of advice Miranda ever received was in an article she was reading about business icon Richard Branson. He mentioned that you can have the best product or service in the world, but you need to make people believe in it for it to become successful.

This advice helped Miranda see that she was the product as much as her art. Since this eureka moment and coming from a marketing background, Miranda has become an expert in self-promotion so who better to share her advice on making it in the art industry than her.

  1. Research and study like you would for any other business.

Treat your art like a business if you wish to make a career of it. A few business courses will help and do lots of research. I started by researching into opportunities of how to get my name and art out there as I was new to the scene and had no contacts in the art world. Keep up to date with the industry and its movements but keep true to your style and who you are. Today many people buy art as an extension of their modern homes so research the latest home trends and think how your art will look in these homes. I love design and lifestyle magazines that feature beautiful homes and get inspiration from them too regarding colours and moods. I do have my style that stands out, but it still relates to the current trends of home interiors.

  1. Keep at it and keep humble.

Like anything in life, there is a fear of failing and the risk of it not working out. Stay confident, self-promote, work hard and it does pay off. Keep humble and remember where you started. I still have doubts and have my moments of wanting to change paths, but everyone has these feelings in whatever industry. Everyone will experience bumps in life but when you break through it’s all worth it. Have another career or job for extra income to help start out your art business as this will take the pressure and stress off needing to sell lots of art to pay your bills.

  1. You are the brand.

My art and name are my brands. People are buying a piece of YOU as an artist. Never forget this when promoting your work. The art doesn’t always speak for itself. The story and personality of the artist can be just as important as the art.

  1. No exposure is too small.

I display through many local art galleries, council art spaces, libraries, cafes, wineries and other group exhibitions. Anywhere there is good foot traffic and attracts a good target market I display. With all the exhibitions I’m involved in, I market through local newspapers (I write my own press releases and editorials and submit), social media, my website, other art websites and even mailbox drop invites around the areas. Networking (online and the old-fashioned way) is another great way to open new opportunities. I also donate a lot of art to charities that raise funds for good causes. I am always looking and working towards the next exciting adventure.

  1. Don’t price yourself out of the market

Today people are a bit tighter with their money so making your art more affordable helps if you’re looking at higher turnover. Probably the worst piece of advice I was given was to raise my prices by heaps because I’m now an established artist. It is not the right economic climate to do so yet as Australia is still hurting financially. In the 1980s, it may have been different when there was a lot of disposable income. Plus there is a lot of competition now too.

Llael Mcdonald

lael macdonald Llael has always had a great need to create. She says, “I think it started because as a child I had such a vivid imagination that I was nearly always disappointed with the reality of things. Creating, painting, drawing and even music were a way of making things how I wanted them to be. Now as an adult it hasn’t changed much although my work is, at times, inspired a bit more by the need to express my opinion on certain social memes and an expression of seeing the beauty in ordinary things.”

She grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne and is strongly influenced by her upbringing and environment. Her work captures the aesthetic beauty of the seemingly mundane and invites its audience to question what society considers normal. Something she will never accept as normal is the idea that being an artist isn’t a ‘real job’.

  1. Network.

Network with other artists (in real life with real people), it’s the best way to create new opportunities and make like-minded friends.

  1. Don’t underestimate social media.

Social media has been the best thing to happen to the independent artist since the paintbrush, use it to promote yourself as often as possible. I had some work sold in NewYork because of my social media connections.

  1. Don’t work for free!

Always remember being an artist is a real job, and you should never work for free EVER! I once had a guy approach me and tell me that if I gave him a little money he would allow me to hang my work in his restaurant and if it sold he would want 60% commission.  I told him with a chuckle “Sure mate, you want me to pay you to decorate your establishment, I don’t think so buddy.”

  1. Brush yourself off and try again.

Don’t let rejection stop you. We all get deflated when we don’t get into an art prize, or a gallery says no, this happens A LOT don’t take it personally just keep going.

  1. Just do it!

Finally, create every day.


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  1. Thank you Barney for sharing this. I do seem to be doing a few things right, thanks to you and Jason. It’s funny. When I was a student, I had this idea that you could study for history, English literature and the other subjects, but not math? Consequently, I got lousy grades in math. Same thing with Art. I just didn’t realize how important marketing was and is. Now I really do.

  2. Thank you Barney Davy and Freddy Grant for sharing your marketing and online selling.
    It is always informative to hear from an artist’s perspective of experiences.
    Llael McDonald’s tips personally, spoke to me.
    #5 is the simplest to remember. “Just do it!”
    To do it ALL is the challenge.

  3. A fellow artist sent me to Barney’s website – very nicely done and always good information. I was recently in an artist entreprenuer workshop and a fellow artist/student seemed to chastise me, saying she wasn’t sure I was a true artist because she wasn’t sure I had the heart and soul of a true artist. I said that the last thing I ever wanted to be was a starving artist and that I saw my art as a product and my job was to market it and to also listen to what consumers were looking for and design taking that into consideration. I’m a fiber artist. I am glad to see my approach is the one that treats art like a business and will make me money. I don’t do this just to satisfy myself. If I can’t make money, I consider it a hobby. That is NOT my goal! : )

  4. Well said Barney. I recognize that you aren’t here to endorse certain websites but do you know what are the most popular and reputable online galleries currently in the U.S? So many of those that started out in the ’90’s and early 2000’s have faded away.

  5. This was perfect, Barney, and right on. These are excellent ideas on marketing. We can’t just rely on our galleries to do all of the work. We must work at the marketing every single day if we want to be successful. As this is a business not a hobby for me, I’m workin’ it. Thanks for this post!


  6. Just started in the art market last year. Am building my portfolio and planning my development as an artist. This information helps me. thanks for all the advice, too.

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