Written by Alison Newth ~ Northeastern BC, Canada
July 6, 2015 UPDATE: It has been almost a year since I first wrote this post "My Top 3 Online Shops" and a lot has changed since then. I have had an interesting year and have made quite a few sales. I am going to tell you where I made ALL of those sales except for one. And one website never did get finished because it was so finicky! So, by all means, continue reading this post, but keep in mind that results speak louder than words. Or, if you can't wait to find out what actually happened with my Top 3 Online Shops, find it here at Results After a Year of Selling My Artwork.
My Top 20 List
My first choice, and my first love, is fineartamerica.com. That was the first site I found that I loved and that is the first site I started selling my art on (and where I made my first sale--thank you whoever you are). It is a great site and they create exceptional quality prints. And, you know, their prices are quite good. I even checked locally, and their base prices beat out my local print shop.
I did a lot of research to find the best places to sell art online. I scoured artist forums (wetcanvas.com is one of THE best), read countless articles (and the comments) and did multiple google searches.
In the end, I came up with a list of about 20 or so websites that can show and/or sell your art. Find that list on this blog post...Where to Sell Art Online.
I checked them all out. There were only about 10 that could do everything I needed. "Everything" meaning...the site will showcase, do billing, printing, packaging, shipping and returns. The artist uploads the images and the site basically does the rest. Oh wait...if only it were that simple. I am finding out the hard way that it is NOT that simple.
Once I found those 10 or so, I had to compare them to see what was the most bang for my buck, so to speak. There were many factors to consider, including: reviews, commission, base prices, shipping, ease of use, popularity, products offered, etc.
Some sites that I thought would be clear winners, were not. One of those is art.com, or artistrising.com. Reviews from artists were not so good. Another one that surprised me was cafepress.com...again, poor reviews from artists and only a paltry 5% commission.
So, who were my big winners? Read on...
I guess you could just go to my SHOP page and look there...but then you couldn't read my insightful commentary below. So...you should probably just keep reading.
My First Choice, My First Love...
My Crush on Redbubble.com
If fineartamerica is like a dependable mate, then redbubble is a secret crush on the cute guy down the street. It felt a little funny, scouting out another shop when I had a good one already set up. It felt a little like I was betraying fineartamerica.com. I kept thinking, "I am not abandoning fineart...I am just looking around a bit." In the end, I gave myself some slack and thought, "good business people take into account all of their options." That was that.
I do have to say that there is something intriguing about redbubble. Perhaps it was the amazing video that I watched of theirs. I posted that video here...on this blog. That video spoke to the artist part of me. I wanted to be like the artists in the video...with the great studios, big windows with great natural light and the mac computer...all of it. Great marketing. It worked for me.
But there was more that just a flashy video to convince me. In addition to art prints and canvases, Redbubble offers things beyond my wildest dreams (ok, that might be pushing it a little, but still...) like pillows and totes. It is so cool to see your paintings on totes!
The reviews were amazing, the site is easy to use and it is free. They cater to a different segment of the population that I didn't really think about...young, modern and online savvy. I am considering it now. I am also considering that my art may not be entirely suitable for this demographic, but it has opened my eyes to the possibilities.
If I thought that redbubble was my secret crush...then the next and final site was a full-on art affair with a high-maintenance, flashy diva.
Zazzle...You Take my Breathe Away!
Where can I even start with zazzle? Zazzle.com took my breathe away (apparently, it doesn't take much). I was instantly smitten by their high ranking among artists, awesome reviews and HUGE array of products. Did I mention that it was pretty cool too? And, I have to say it outloud to make it real...my art might not be cool enough for this site *sheepish*.
They offer almost 100 different products. Everything from prints and stickers to hats and clocks. Just about anything you can think of.
The site lures you in with a free selling account and few details until you have signed up. Once you have signed up, you start trying to navigate the site...impossible. The sheer number of options, forums, tabs, account settings, product settings, uploads, downloads, blah, blah. Let's just say it is a bit overwhelming.
Why stay in such a high-maintenance site? The lure of riches beyond your wildest dreams? No. Realistically, I think because you want to reach more people, expand your market, your demographic. And this is THE place to do it...if you can figure out how the site works. It feels like I am waiting in line to get into the hottest new nightclub in town.
Despite the allure, I do have some second thoughts. Honestly, I don't know if I will ever get past the front door. It will take a long time to get things figured, technically speaking, and in the end, my art may not be quite right for it anyways, as you can see from what I have listed in my Gallery.
Is zazzle worth all the effort? I haven't entirely decided. I may just stick with what works. Perhaps, I should rename this post "My Top 2 Online Shops".
If I list Zazzle on my SHOP page, you will know that Zazzle has won me over in the end. But also know that I will be ragged and owly from having spent WAY too many hours uploading and editing products. Take pity.