Selling Your Art Online vs. Selling In a Gallery

Hey there art friend,

Today I want to talk about selling your art online versus selling in a gallery and the pros and cons of both options. If you stick with me until the end, I’ll tell you how I sell my own work inside my business and then you can use that information to make better decisions about how you want to sell your own work.

Let’s start with selling your art online. Selling online can mean a few different things like setting up an Etsy store or selling on a third party site like Saatchi or Chairish. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to talk about these methods of selling online separately.

Selling online

Your own website

When it comes to selling your work on your own website here are a couple of big pros. First, you are in control of everything from how your art is displayed to if and when you discount your work. If you want to change something or try something new you can. There is a lot of freedom in selling yourself.

The second big pro of selling your art online yourself is that you get to keep 100% of the profits minus any processing fees, of course. It feels so good to make a sale and watch the majority of that money go right into your bank account.

But of course there are some drawbacks to selling your work on your website.

First, the big one, is that you are the only one working to make sales. That means you will need to do a great deal of marketing to build an audience for your art and get them to your website. Building up enough of an audience to create consistent income from your art takes time and effort. So you need to be prepared to do that work in addition to painting and art-making.

The other drawback to selling your work on your own website is that you have to do a fair amount of work on the back end—building and maintaining a website, answering emails, packing and shipping your work—and these things take time and effort to figure out. It took me years to get my systems in place and perfect my packing and shipping methods.

On a third-party site

So like I mentioned, in addition to selling your work on your own website - you can also sell on a third party site. The pros and cons here are a little different.

On the plus side, it’s typically pretty easy to set up a few listings on etsy, Saatchi, or whatever site you’re thinking of using. And you might get a few eyes on your work or a few sales. It’s a nice, low commitment way to dip your toes in the water and get your work online.

But the cons here can be pretty massive.

First, these types of sites have so much competition it can be very hard to get your work seen. And there can be really hefty fees on the sales you make there. Be sure to read the information on processing fees and commission fees before you list your work on any of these sites so you aren’t surprised if you do actually make a sale.

Now, if you listened to all that info and felt like the cons of selling online - either yourself or on a third-party site were outweighing the pros - maybe you’ll be more interested in selling your work with a gallery. Let’s talk about the pluses and minuses here.

Selling in a gallery

Selling with a gallery has two major pluses in my opinion. I’m sure there are more. But these are the two major ones.

First, a gallery works to sell your work for you so you don’t have to do so much marketing. A good gallery will have an existing audience of clients who are excited to discover and purchase your work. A good gallery can sell a LOT of art over the course of a year. You simply deliver the art to the gallery and they take it from there.

The other plus of working with a gallery is that it lends some credibility to your work. That’s not to say that your work isn’t credible or valuable if you choose not to work with a gallery, but being represented by a good gallery is a little bit of a shortcut to that recognition or acceptance if you will.

The cons of working with a gallery are pretty straightforward.

The biggie here is that they will take a large percentage of each sale as a commission, a typical split is 50/50. But often a gallery will offer an additional 20% discount to interior designers and expect you to split that discount with them, so your actual take-home fee will be 40% of what you would’ve made if you had sold that painting yourself on your website.

The other con of working with galleries is that not all galleries are equal. If you don’t do your homework up front you may find yourself in a situation where the gallery isn’t able to sell your work, or isn’t really even trying to sell your work. And that can be frustrating.

So there you have it, the pluses and minuses of selling online versus selling through a gallery.

Of course I promised to tell you how I choose to sell my work inside my own business. For the past three years, I’ve decided to sell my work on my own website AND sell through several galleries. I decided that I wanted the pluses of both gallery and online sales, and didn’t mind the cons or either. So that’s what works for me. There are so many things to consider when you’re building up your art business, it may make sense for you to make a different choice.

I hope this information will help you to better visualize how you might want to sell your art moving forward. If you’re thinking you want to sell your work online, the very best thing you can do for yourself is work on building your audience. You can check out my free download on exactly how I suggest you build that audience.

All my best,


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