How To Sell Digital Art Online for Free [Guide to Selling Art in 2023]
Last updated: March 1, 2023
For many artists, learning how to sell their creative work online has opened massive opportunities to share and monetize their artwork with like-minded art enthusiasts. But many creativepreneurs are also overwhelmed with how to get started and how to successfully establish a strong presence online.
If that sounds familiar and you’re one of the many artists wondering how to sell digital art online – this article is for you. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to be able to sell digital art online for free.
Here’s a quick list of things that we’ll cover:
- Benefits of selling digital art online
- How to create your first digital art
- Where to sell your digital art
- Step-by-step guide to selling digital art online for free
- What other digital products can I sell as an artist?
Benefits of Selling Digital Art Online
There are several benefits to selling digital art online as opposed to physical art:
1. Reach a wider audience
Selling digital art online allows you to reach a global audience and showcase your artistic work to a much larger market than selling through traditional channels.
Digital art also tends to be more affordable to create as compared to creating original artwork through physical mediums such as oil painting. Selling digital art online makes your artwork more accessible to a wider range of people, including those who may not have access to traditional art galleries.
2. Lower cost – No more cost of goods
Selling digital art online eliminates the need for physical storage and shipping costs, making it a more cost-effective option for artists.
3. Unlimited passive income potential
Selling digital art can potentially provide passive income for artists, as you can continue to sell your work over and over again without incurring extra costs of production and/or shipping. You won’t have to be involved in the order fulfillment process as most eCommerce platforms like Payhip will automatically deliver your digital artwork to your customers as soon as they complete their purchases.
4. It’s just so easy to do with little-to-no budget
Digital art can be easily sold and distributed through various online platforms, making the process simple and convenient for artists and buyers. As artists, you’ll have the ability to sell your digital art at any time, from anywhere, providing you with greater flexibility and control over your sales and income.
How to Create Digital Art for Sale
If you’re a seasoned artist, you’re probably familiar with the process of creating your digital art using Adobe Illustrator, Procreate, Rebelle, and so many more software that is specifically designed for artists.
However, digital art doesn’t have to be exclusively created in a digital environment. Investing in a good quality scanner will allow you to convert your artwork such as watercolor paintings into downloadable digital files such as JPEGs or PDFs.
One thing to consider here is the size of the scanner bed. Most budget scanners are set up for standard paper sizes such as A4. If you typically create artwork larger than this you will either need a larger scanner or learn how to scan individual sections and stitch them together in a software tool like Photoshop. You’ll also most likely use Photoshop to enhance the quality of your digital scans to make them ready for sale.
It’s worth remembering that your customers can enlarge the image when they print it (so long as you scan with a high enough resolution). Most printers work at 300 dots per inch (dpi), and scanning at 300 dpi will offer plenty of resolution – even for larger pints.
The only thing to bear in mind is that higher resolution means larger files. Many artists choose to upload different sized files to their online store so that customers can select whichever one works best. At Payhip you can upload multiple files within a single product listing, with each individual file having a maximum size of up to 5GB (this is generally more than enough for most artists).
Will I Need Any Other Equipment?
A fairly highly specced PC or iMac will certainly make the job easier. You’ll need plenty of memory to manipulate those large files and a good quality screen that represents colors faithfully.
We mentioned Photoshop earlier. This is a great tool for cleaning up your digital files and removing backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to use and there are online tutorials to help. Cleaning digital files is particularly important if your customers want to enlarge their prints.
If you’re completely new to the world of digital art, consider reading our guide on How to Get Started with Digital Art.
Where to Sell Digital Art Online
There are 2 main channels for selling your digital artwork online:
Via Online Marketplaces
There are plenty of online marketplaces that allow you to sell your digital art such as Etsy, SketchFab, CreativeFabrica, ArtStation, DeviantArt, and more.
Here are the pros and cons of selling your digital art on online marketplaces:
- Access to online marketplace’s audience: You can tap into the online marketplaces’ already established traffic and customer base so that you won’t have to do as much marketing as you would have if you were to drive traffic to your own website (there are some caveats to this, see the cons section below)
- Low profit margin: Online marketplaces tend to charge relatively high fees in comparison to selling from your own website. In addition, some online marketplaces also charge listing fees regardless of whether or not you’ve successfully sold your digital art.
- Delayed payouts: Most online marketplaces will only payout your income after you reach a certain income threshold or only on certain pay periods (e.g. monthly).
- Little-to-no customization of your online store and product listing: One of the benefits of being an artist is that you SHOULD be able to express your creative aesthetic in your online store design, but this isn’t usually possible in an online marketplace setting. Your store (e.g. Etsy Shop) will look like every other seller’s store with minimal customization.
- You don’t own your customer data: You can’t easily collect your customers’ emails and keep in touch with them to establish continuous relationships and promote your future products.
- Some online marketplaces may be very saturated: You’ll need to constantly fight for visibility. At the same time, if the online marketplace changes its search algorithm (which has definitely happened multiple times across many online marketplaces), your listing might drop in the search results ranking along with your potential sales.
- Hard to build brand loyalty: Your customers are essentially shopping in an online mall where they can view your digital art along with many other artists’ creations as well. Oftentimes this results in price wars or customers opting for the lowest-cost products, which isn’t conducive for artists who would love to build a name or premium on their unique artistic creations.
- Limited marketing tools: Your marketing efforts on online marketplaces tend to be limited to providing coupons or discounts. But selling from your own website using platforms like Payhip allows you to run various creative marketing campaigns from short-term discounts to a full-fledged affiliate program.
Via Your Own Website
Selling digital art from your own website involves signing up on an eCommerce platform like Payhip where you can upload your digital art and create a fully customizable online store or website.
Here are some pros and cons of selling digital art from your own website.
- Fully customizable online store or website to sell your digital art
- Ability to establish additional income streams by selling other things from your website (e.g. merch, online courses, art commission, coaching services, memberships, etc)
- Full control over your customer experience
- Full ownership over your customer data so you can run email marketing to regularly promote your digital art products to your customers
- Get paid faster as most eCommerce platforms payout instantly through payment gateways like Stripe and Paypal
- You’ll need to drive your own traffic to your website which might take some time depending on your marketing efforts
Needless to say, we recommend selling your digital art via your own website. However, the best part about this is that you don’t actually have to make a choice. You can sell your digital art on BOTH your own website and also on online marketplaces simultaneously. Spread your wings as wide as possible to increase your chances of a sale!
If you are planning to sell on multiple platforms, make sure to choose platforms that provide a forever-free option so you won’t have to spend a dime before earning your first dollar. Now, let’s go over how you can get started on selling your digital art online in the following section.
How to Sell Digital Art Online Free
1. Create an Online Store for Free
Creating an online store is very easy. We recommend using Payhip as it is a completely free eCommerce platform that allows you to create your own website to sell digital art (and so many other product types).
Payhip provides an excellent list of features which include:
- Generous forever free plan. Perfect for artists who want to own a beautiful website without spending a dime
- Intuitive website builder with drag and drop editor (no technical skills needed)
- Built-in eCommerce tools so you can sell various products including digital downloads (e.g. digital artwork, design assets), online courses and art tutorials, coaching services or custom art commission sessions, memberships, and physical products
- Security features such as download limits and PDF stamping to help prevent piracy
- Unlimited storage space – perfect for artists who need to upload large image files on your websites
- Free website domain and hosting (you can also connect custom domains if you’d like to)
- Integration with payment gateway Paypal and Stripe so you can get paid instantly when orders come in
- Powerful marketing tools like affiliate marketing, referral system, upselling, cross-selling, coupon codes, and email marketing
- If you already have a website, you can also use Payhip to embed a “Buy” button on your existing website
- And so much more!
As a side note, Payhip has maintained the same generous forever free plan for over 10 years now, so you can rest assured that this pricing plan isn’t going anywhere soon!
Sign up for a free account on Payhip (no payment info needed) so you can follow along with the rest of our tutorial below.
Join over 130,000 sellers who have launched their online businesses with Payhip
2. Upload your Digital Files as Product Listings
Once your digital art is in a ready-to-sell digital file, you can upload them to Payhip as product listings. You can upload any file format on Payhip so you won’t have to worry about converting your files.
Payhip has a comprehensive guide on how to upload your digital artwork product listing here.
Beyond that, here are a couple of other important things to note:
- Use a compelling cover image for your product listing. If needed, generate a mockup of your digital artwork using free graphic design tools like Canva
- Powerful product descriptions will not only compel your customers to make a purchase, but also help you rank for organic traffic
- Add additional things that might increase your customers’ purchase conversion such as customer reviews or “Related products”
3. Set pricing
If you’re new to online selling, deciding how much to charge can be the trickiest part. It’s a question of finding the sweet spot that allows you to earn an income and build a following while not selling yourself short.
Research how much similar products from similar artists are selling online. And remember, you can always increase prices as you grow your reputation and profile.
At Payhip you can also set a pay-what-you-want pricing to allow your customers to pay an extra “tip” on top of your minimum price.
4. Design your website
Source: https://shop.alainajensen.com/ (Example of a Design Assets Online Store on Payhip)
You can choose one of Payhip’s free website themes to help you create a cohesive website aesthetic, or you can build one from scratch using Payhip’s no-code drag and drop store builder. Payhip also has an easy-to-follow video tutorial on how to build a website for free using their store builder, so unleash your creativity and create an amazing website that reflects your unique aesthetic as an artist!
Having a powerful online presence is critical when selling digital art and showcasing your portfolio. Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Have distinct website pages for your portfolio, biography, contact form, and finally your online shop section. Use only high quality photos and proofread all of your copywriting to make sure that it looks professional.
5. Promote your website or online store
Now that you’ve gotten everything set up and ready to roll, it’s time to promote and drive people to your website so they can view your artwork and make purchases.
Here are some low budget marketing ideas to start with:
- Build a social media following. Social media platforms offer excellent opportunities for connecting with potential customers and exhibiting new work.
- Connect with other artists and professionals in the industry. You might be able to cross promote your online stores or recruit them as your affiliates
- Participate in virtual art shows or join galleries to increase opportunities for sales
- Create content that engages your audience like blog posts, newsletters, or Q&As
What Other Digital Products Can I Make Money with as an Artist?
As artists, you can sell a variety of digital products beyond just digital artwork or traditional art pieces. Some examples include:
- Selling art tutorials as online courses
- Selling memberships (exclusive content similar to Patreon, but on your own website)
- Sell other digital downloads such as ebooks, color packs, brush packs, design assets, and more
- Licensing your artwork for commercial use
We’ve included some links to video tutorials where you can see what it’s like to sell those product types as artists. That will help you get your creative juices flowing in terms of how you can establish these income streams yourself.
Final Thoughts – Selling Your Digital Art Online
Selling digital art online can be an exciting and lucrative opportunity for artists. With the rise of e-commerce and digital platforms, it’s never been easier to reach a global audience. By utilizing the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can increase your chances of success and start earning money from your passion.
Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, Payhip makes it easy to sell your digital art and reach a global audience. Payhip has a generous forever-free plan so you can establish your online business without spending a single dime. With Payhip, you’ll have everything you need to turn your digital art into a thriving business. Start selling your digital art online for free with Payhip today!
What is digital art?
Digital art is a broad term that covers any type of artwork created using digital technology, at any stage of the process. For instance, you might take a photo and then use digital tools to manipulate that photo into a work of art. Digital art can include digital painting and drawing, vector art, 3D modeling, photo manipulation, pixel art, animation, and more.
How much should I price my digital artwork for?
Digital artwork can sell for almost anything from a few cents up to potentially millions of dollars, depending on the artwork and the creator, and on whether the art is being sold as a single NFT or as multiple copies. If you’re creating custom pieces of digital artwork, you might be selling them for $100 or more. If you’re selling digital artwork that can be bought over and over again such as generic graphics, it’s likely to be somewhere in the $1 – $50 range.
Is my art good enough to sell?
The only way to really know whether your art is good enough to sell is to try selling it. It’s hard to judge whether art is “good” or not, as this is so subjective. A piece of artwork that one person loves might be considered banal or poorly executed by someone else.
Is being a digital artist worth it?
If you love the process to create digital works of art, then being a digital artist could be hugely rewarding for you. While it may take time to make significant amounts of money, many digital artists make a steady living from their work. Be prepared to put in the hardwork to grow your customer base before you start seeing a strong return on your time invested.
Is selling art printables profitable?
Printables could be seen as a form of digital artwork, as you’ve likely created them using a computer or other device, and you’re selling them online. They can be a really profitable way to sell your art, especially if you enjoy creating the type of artwork that suits printables. For instance, you might enjoy designing borders, calendars, checklists, or other elements that suit printables.
Is the digital version of my art still considered real artwork?
Yes, the digital version of your art is definitely still considered real artwork. It’s not a form of cheating: even digital fine art painting, digital illustrations, digital graphics, or digital sketches take a lot of talent, time, and effort. Even though digital artwork can be reproduced multiple times, without losing any quality, it still has value as art. The use of NFTs can also give digital artworks the unique, one-of-a-kind feel of physical artworks.
Is it better to have an Etsy digital product listing or have a product listing on your own website?
Choosing between having an Etsy digital product listing and selling digital products on your own site depends on your vision for the kind of online business you’re trying to create. If you want to foster brand loyalty with your customers, building your site is the better route. In general, Etsy is a better choice if you’re less concerned about brand building and don’t want to spend time building and maintaining a website. Consider reading our list of best website builders for artists for more information.
Should I sell art prints?
While selling the digital version of your art is fairly easy and great, you can also offer your customers a choice to purchase art prints from you. Some customers may now have the right printers to be able to print out the digital artwork which can showcase your creations in the best possible light. You can sell art prints through print-on-demand services who will print your artwork on demand and ship the art prints directly to your customers. You can earn a decent profit margin by selling art prints.
Thank you, Abs! Awesome article! I started selling my layouts here and I am loving the plataform. And this new feature for selling courses is super cool! Thank you for creating PayHip! <3
Hi Elisandro, thank you for the kind words! 🙂
I want to create a course/e-book but made of pictures (but these pictures are actually screenshots ( and then I made some editing just to explain something to my audience)
If you intend to create digital content wherein you’ll need to set up a curriculum or study plan, then it would be best to upload it as a course product. However, if the intention is to simplify the overall learning experience (providing explanations of pictures to your readers), then best to upload the ebook as a digital product on Payhip. Here are some helpful articles: Add Digital Products and Add Physical Products
just wondering if there wud b a possibility of having direct bank transfer with regard to payment…as in CANVA…??
Hi Shoba! Not at the moment I’m afraid. For now, we only support PayPal and Stripe for payments but we might consider supporting this in the future. 🙂
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