Options To Sell Your Work Online Find out Which Platform May Be the Best Fit for You

February 2023, by Angie Landsverk

Wood artist Matt Ricketts has tried his share of platforms to sell his work online and says every option has its trade-offs. 

“Etsy has made me the most money and generally does the best job of taking care of complications, such as governmental tax compliance,” he said. “On the other hand, my own website allows the most freedom, the most flexibility, and the lowest fees. So, which is my favorite? It depends upon which day you ask me.” 

Ricketts tried Bonanza a few years ago (when it was still called Bonanzle). “At best, I was making one sale per quarter,” he said. “It’d didn’t produce a lot of traffic, but it did produce a lot of drama,.” he said. “I tried a couple of others that were brand new. I’d list them, but they are all out of business now, and I forgot their names.” 

In addition, Ricketts tried eBay. “I found it mostly insulting and a race to the bottom in pretty much every sense of the word. But I also know people who have had success there,” he said. 

Several other artists said they also use Etsy. Fiber artist Keith Wrightson said it manages everything from product availability to shipping. 

“However, we feel strongly that our online sales are a result of in-person craft shows,” he said. “People come to shows, and they’re a little overwhelmed in person. We always get an online sale after a show — sometimes several. So, do I really need Etsy? Probably not. I could have my own website and achieve the same results. We are bag makers, fine craft.” 

Jewelry artist Wendy Garver said Etsy has its issues but offers one-stop shopping. “Do your advertising. Get a website. Open your shop. Set up an email address,” she said. “I’ve looked into other platforms, and they don’t make running a shop easier.” 

Richard Stolk likes Etsy, and he said it is the most well-known platform for artists. “And they take care of all state and local taxes due. They also invite videos of products being sold,” said this fabric artist. 

Etsy is also the online platform of choice for jewelry artist Audra Baade. “Much of what they do irritates me. However, customers recognize Etsy as a legitimate arts and crafts seller, and the company drives new customers to my listings,” she said. “I also have an independent website, but it has been copied by someone in Asia. Customers are nervous about buying from individuals online because of bad players online. My site only gets sales from long-term customers that know me well.” 

Genmarie Stiber’s medium is functional mixed media, and she likes Etsy as well. “It’s where a lot of people shop for gifts,” she said. 

Other Platforms Artists Prefer 

Wood artist Gary Carver’s favorite platform is his website. He has not tried anything else.

Photographer Evan Reinheimer also uses his own website. “Customers will not magically find you. You need to market your work and drive people to your website,” he said. “People don’t usually make large artwork purchases unless they have seen the work in person. Almost all of my large online sales are made to people who have seen my work in person at an art festival.”

He said it can take years to build a customer base that will continuously purchase artwork from an artist online. “Your website and online sales should complement your in-person sales,” Reinheimer said. “When a person isn’t ready to buy in person, offer them your promotional material (fancy talk for business card), and let them know they can purchase through your website when they are ready.”

Acrylic artist Jennifer Steck’s favorite is Artburst Studios. She said it is very supportive of artists and boutique-style shows with a limited number of artists and diverse work.

Steck has done some Facebook events but said it is becoming more difficult to be seen, with many of her collectors refusing to participate in Facebook events.

Oil painting artist Susan Whigham likes Shopify because it is the most adaptable and requires the least amount of coding to get custom products out. She said Wix did not work for her, because it was simply not mature enough.

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