How to Sell Framed Art Online

Starting an online art shop can be a rewarding and lucrative way to share your work with potentially thousands of potential new customers. You can sell your own art or other peoples, so it's an option available to anyone. This guide helps artists (or those looking to sell art) to create a successful online art business that allows you to do what you love and make a living.

  • Why it is a good opportunity for artists
  • The importance of researching your market
  • The different sales channels for selling art online
  • Setting prices for your art prints and frames
  • Exploring the various types of art prints you can offer
  • Choosing frames to complement your art
  • Setting up an online shop
  • Promotional strategies and marketing

Are you a creator or curator?

When setting out to start selling art online, you first have to choose between the two ways to get into the business. Either create your own artwork to sell or find works by artists who need representation and somewhere for their products to be sold.

Sell your own art

Selling your own art means you will need to be the artist and the business director at the same time. This method means you have low costs, as there is no middleman, however relies on you having a presence that will bring customers to you with little effort. There are plenty of tools that take the pressure off some of the more technical stuff, so you won’t need to worry about being an expert in everything. Approaching galleries can provide exposure and may give you access to promotions or professionals that may help your business.

Curating other peoples works

The beauty of curating other peoples works is that anyone can do it, you don’t need to be highly skilled in artistic crafts, but it is important to have an interest. Selling works by other artists can involve selling original works, selling prints or licensing artwork for merchandise. This role is much more business-focused, and it’s key to make sure you spend time creating branding and finding your target audience.

In the past, artists often relied on third-party gallerists, agents, and retailers to distribute their work. These traditional channels could be limiting, as artists had to rely on someone else to represent them and sell their art. With the rise of ecommerce and the availability of creator tools and sales channels, artists can now sell their art online and have more control over the distribution of their work.

Why you should be selling art online

Besides the obvious reason (making money), there are dozens of other really good reasons why you should sell your art online.

  • Create a strong brand: Let’s face it, art is all about aesthetics, so having full control over your brand is quite important. You can create a website that accurately reflects your art and brand – customising it to your liking.
  • Control the customer experience: You can choose how you want to present your art and how you want to handle the sales process. This can allow you to create a more personalised experience that keeps customers returning.
  • Own the customer relationship and data: You can collect and store information about your customers and use it to tailor your marketing and sales efforts. This can be especially useful for building a loyal customer base.
  • Full flexibility in terms of pricing: You may be subject to third-party fees and restrictions when you sell through other platforms. By selling through your own website, you can set your own prices and keep a larger percentage of the sale price.

Overall, selling art via your own website can give you more control over your business by tailoring your brand, customer experience and pricing.

What makes us an expert?

As an ecommerce company, founded in 2002, eFrame has over 20 years of experience selling frames and art online, making us the defacto expert within the area of online framing.

Our trade team regularly handles the orders of over 300 online art companies and individual artists. As such, we have access to unique market information that only we can apply to an article like this.

And finally, we have no affiliation with any one particular platform like Shopify or Etsy, which makes our article bias-free.

Researching the market

Researching the market is essential. It provides you with valuable information that can help you make informed decisions about where to position and how to promote your art. By understanding your target market, you can create art that appeals to their interests and preferences, increasing the chance of a sale.

A great source of information can come from the competition you identify. By looking at what they do and how they do you can begin to form strategies that allow you to compete. It can help you to identify opportunities and gaps in the market that you can take advantage of to differentiate your proposition from others. This is especially important in a saturated market.

So how do you research the market as an artist? Here are a few ideas:

  • Understand your target market: Identify who your target market is and what their interests, tastes, and preferences are. Consider factors such as age, income, location, and what kind of art they tend to buy.
  • Study your competition: Research other artists and businesses selling framed art prints online. Look at their pricing, product offerings, and marketing strategies. Identify what sets your work apart from theirs and how you can differentiate yourself.
  • Analyse industry trends: Keep an eye on trends within your industry, such as popular styles and mediums, to help you identify opportunities to showcase your work and tap into new and emerging markets.
  • Use online tools and platforms: Utilise online market research tools and platforms such as Google Trends, SEMrush, and SimilarWeb to analyse search volume and trends, understand consumer behaviour and identify potential customers.
  • Customer Feedback: Ask for feedback on your art, why they are buying and what they would like to see more of. This can help you to improve your offering and tell you where to focus your energy.
  • Test the market: Consider selling a small number of prints online and see how they perform. This will give you a better understanding of what sells, how to price them and what kind of marketing efforts are successful.

Ultimately, by researching the market, you can make data-driven decisions and increase your chances of success and reduce the risks.

Remember too, that market research is an ongoing process and you should continue to monitor and analyse your market as you go along.

The best sales channels for artists

Experimenting to find the best sales channels for you and your business is important. Remember that not all sales channels may be suitable for your artwork, and that using multiple channels can help you reach a wider audience and make more sales.

  • Your own website: We talked above about the beenfits of having your own site. Develop your own site to showcase your art and provide information about yourself in order to sell your art directly. This is a great way to keep more of the profits from sales, but does require more effort/investment.
  • Online art marketplaces and independant ecommerce galleries: These are websites that sell art to customers directly. Some popular options include Artsy (more premium), Etsy, and Not On The High Street. These sites typically take a commission on sales, but they can be a great way to reach a large audience and make sales without much effort on your part.
  • Social media: Sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be powerful sales channels for artists. They can help you to build an audience and eventually, after nuturing your audience, turn them into customers. Social platforms make it easy to interact with your followers and showcase your art and offers.
  • Online Auction House: Online platforms like Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Paddle8 allow you to sell your art through the auction process. These are a great way to reach a large audience, and can attract high-end buyers and collectors, but they will take a commission on sale.
  • Art fairs and exhibitions (offline): Participating in local art fairs and exhibitions can give you an opportunity to showcase your work to a large audience and make sales. It also allows you to network with other artists and galleries and make connections that can lead to future sales.
  • Galleries and art dealers (offline): Working with galleries and art dealers can be a great way to reach a wider audience and make sales. They can handle the logistics of exhibiting and selling your work, and they typically take a commission on sales.

Sites like Etsy, social media platforms and ecommerce platforms like Shopify, have made it easier for artists to reach a larger audience and sell their work. This shift to online sales has also provided opportunities for gallerists and curators to represent more artists and sell affordable art prints online.

It’s important to register your business and choose the right sales channels, such as third-party marketplaces or your own website. Determine pricing for your art based on the medium, demand, and competition. Marketing is also crucial for promoting your online art store and reaching potential customers. Some effective marketing strategies include building a strong brand, utilizing social media, and offering special promotions.

Setting up an commerce shop

There are quite a few steps to setting up an online art store:

  • Choose an ecommerce platform: Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce are the big three for those starting out. These platforms, among others, provide a whole bunch of tools and functionality to create an online store from scratch, such as design templates, shopping basket functionality, and product management.
  • Design and build your website: You’ll need to create a visually appealing website that showcases your art and makes it easy for customers to shop your products. That means investing in good product photography too.
  • Set up payment and shipping options: You’ll need to choose a payment processor, such as PayPal or Stripe, and integrate it with your website. Using your research, you’ll also need to define a set of shipping options and prices + set up partnerships with the courriers.
  • Test your website: Before launching, make sure to test your website, payment and shipping options to ensure everything is working properly. Make sure you test it on desktops, mobiles and tablets. Get feedback from friends and family too.
  • Promoting your products: Research SEO and optimise your site for search engines to benefit from free traffic. Use social media to raise awareness of your art and drive potential customers to your site. If this is out of your comfort zone, hire an expert to help you out.

Setting up an ecommerce store can be more complex than it first appears, so it’s important to have a good understanding of the challenges before starting. There are also legal and compliance requirements to consider like GDPR. Finally, make sure you consider all the costs involved before setting a price (such as payment processing fees and shipping costs). It certainly helps to have a good understanding of digital marketing and SEO, as well as logistics and customer service.

Website top tips

By having your own website, you can control the customer experience, brand, price and more but what are some of the things you should include on it to make it your own?

  • Portfolio: A collection of examples of your art. Make it easy to navigate by categorising your work by medium, subject matter, or style. You might also want to include details about each piece, like its title and price.
  • About Us: Talk about yourself, your experience and what drives you as an artist. By making it personal, you’ll forge a more intimate connection with potential customers.
  • Blog: Blogs are an amazing way to engage with your customers and visitors. Make it useful (like we do) and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos to make it uniquely yours.
  • Storefront: Allowing people to browse and purchase your art and photos online without the need to call you or visit a local gallery increases your chances of a sale.
  • Contact Details: Include your contact information so that potential buyers can easily get in touch with you. You should include your email or a contact form and a phone number. Live chat is also becoming increasing popular.

Creating a website isn’t a one-off task. To rank on Google and to create a trusting relationship with customers, you need to keep it updated. That means promotions at ertain points in the year (like Valentines) and regular blog updates to let people know you’re still open!

Selling framed art and photos

Selling framed pictures instead of prints in a tube is an amazing way to increase average order value, distinguish you from the competition and increase revenue. So how should you go about selling framed pictures on your website?

  • Styles and Prices: Offer a variety of frame styles (black, white and oak sell well) at different price points to appeal to a broad range of customers. You could offer a selection of materials (e.g. wood and metal) and in styles that suit the type of artwork you sell..
  • Product Photography: Help your customers to visualize how the framed piece will look vs just as a print. By displaying your art framed, either in situ or as a cut-out you can showcase your products in a more desirable light.
  • Upsell: Upsell by talking about the added protection and durability that a frame offers, how a frame enhances the overall appeal of your art or that it’s convenient to buy now rather than getting it framed later.
  • Recommend: Don’t be afraid to offer your own opinion and recommend a frame – it helps guide the customer to the basket a bit faster!
  • Special Offers: Discounts or special offers when you buy a framed piece vs unframed can tempt customers to buy the framed version at a higher selling price.

Upselling your art with frames as an “add-on” can be a great way to increase your profits, but to make the most of the opportunity, you do need to put some effort into making sure they’re displayed well and complement your art.

What frames should I sell?

When deciding on a range of frames to offer, a lot depends on the artwork or photographs you’re selling. For example, a traditional painting may look best in a classic, ornate frame, while a movie poster art would look better in a sleek, black frame.

Don’t limit yourself to just one style. It’s often a good idea to offer a variety of popular frame options, such as simple black or white frames, as these are timeless and versatile options that can complement a wide range of art styles. However, your customers might also like more unique and interesting frame options. Offering a wider range can satisfy more customer tastes.

It’s also worth considering the 20/80 rule. This rule states that 20% of your product offerings will account for 80% of your sales, so it can be a good idea to focus on offering a smaller selection of high-demand frames while still offering a small variety of other framing options. This way, you can appeal to a broad range of customers while still focusing on what is most likely to sell. Our research suggests that black, white and oak options are the most popular.

As well as varying styles, try to hit a range of price points. Some customers might be looking for a bargain, while others may be willing to spend more for a higher quality or unique frame.

If you need help choosing a mix of popular frame options and at varying price points we can help.

Using frames to create a USP

Whether you’re selling art prints, mounted prints or fully framed prints – you might struggle to seperate yourself from the competition. So how do you go about creating a unique offer that your competition might struggle to keep up with?

Well, using uniquely designed frames or custom sizes can help distinguish your products from that of your competition. By offering frames that are not commonly found online and pairing them with your art, you can make your products stand out and appear more exclusive.

True custom framing can also be a way to add value to your art. By offering a unique and personalised framing experience for the customer (one that allows them to select from a variety of frame styles, mount, and glass options) you can create a one-of-a-kind piece that is tailored to the their interior and your art.

If you don’t want to offer variety, why not use high-quality frames to add perceived value to your art? By using premium materials and exclusive styles, you can give the impression that the art you’re selling is of a higher quality, which can be appealing to customers – even in these trying times.

Setting Prices

So what should you consider when determining the price to set for your framed art?

  • Cost of materials and labour: If you buy a fully framed piece from our business for artists program then you don’t need to worry about labour and materials. We give you an all-in price that makes it easy for you to manage your margins. If you’re framing and printing yourself, you need to consider the cost of materials and the time taken to print and frame your art.
  • Demand and competition: Research the prices of similar products offered by your competitors and make sure your prices are similar. If demand is high and there’s not much competition, you can charge a higher price.
  • Pricing tiers: Consider offering different pricing tiers for different types of framed art, such as a lower price for prints and a higher price for original art. You can do the same with framing. For exmaple, a simple black frame might sell for less than more premium gold patterened frame.
  • Test, test, test: Experiment with different pricing options to see what resonates with your target market and adjust accordingly.
  • Bulk purchases and returning customers discounts: You can also think about offering a discount for bulk purchases, or to encourage existing customers to buy again.
  • Subscription-based model: Create a subscription-based model where customers pay a monthly fee for access to exclusive framed art or for a regular delivery of new framed art to keep their space fresh.
  • Loyalty programs: Create a loyalty program for your customers, where they can earn points for every purchase, and can redeem them for discounts or exclusive prints and frames.

Marketing Your Online Shop

If you have a beautiful shop with lots of amazing products, but no quality traffic, you’ll find it hard to make a profit. So what can you do to drive potential customers to your site?

  • Get on social media: Create a strong presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Use their tools to showcase your art in creative, shareable ways. Don’t forget to interact with your followers, and announce new products or promotions either – engagement is key.
  • Collaborate with other artists or businesses: Partner with other artists or businesses in your community to cross-promote each other’s work. This can help you reach a new audience and drive more traffic to your shop. We’d advise working with competitors, so aim for complementary partnerships. For example, if you sell pet portraits, try getting in with a company that sells dog beds.
  • Influencers: Combine the two points above by partnering with social media influencers in the art and home decor space to showcase your framed art and reach a wide audience
  • Promotions and sales: Whether you use a promotion to get customers to click through to your site or convert people already shopping; offering discounts to first-time customers or running flash sales can be a great way to increase revenue.
  • Create a referral program: Referral programs reward customers for recommending your products to friends and family – just include physical vouches with your shipments or email customers post-purchase to encourage word of mouth.
  • Email marketing: Build an email list of customers and followers and use it to send newsletters and promotional emails. This is a great way to stay in touch with your audience and let them know about new products or sales.
  • Participate in art fairs or events: Get out there and join in with local art fairs or events to showcase your work and meet potential customers in person. Remember to bring business cards of leaflets so that they can check out your shop at home.
  • Host online art events: If you’re a confident person, try hosting or speaking at art events yourself. Being an recognised brand in your own right can do wonders for your business.
  • SEO (search engine optimisation): Make sure your website is easy to find on Google and Bing by optimising it for search engines. There’s a science behind it, but the rewards can be enormous. Key points include using relevant keywords, creating compelling content, and making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
  • PPC (pay-per-click): Use paid advertising to reach a wider audience. Software like Google Ads allow you to position links to your website on search listings when a user searches for relevent products or information.
  • Google My Business: If you have a physical location, you should create a listing on Google My Business. This will allow your business to appear in Google Maps, which lets local customers know you’re there and contact you.

Marketing your art and frames isn’t simple. To get new customers and to encourage existing customers to buy again requires a strategic approach that makes use of a variety of ideas. As always, experiment and improve to make a success of it.