How to Make a Profit Selling Your Artwork on Ebay as a Self-Representing Artist
The information and skills required to go from making a few dollars vs making a substantial profit when selling your artwork on Ebay is not as complex as you might think. I can provide the information you need, you provide the artwork.
Selling your artwork on Ebay is a wonderful way to make a profit if you love to paint, draw or scuplt. It's great because you can do it from home and the cost of your supplies is relatively minimal when you start out. The sale of just one or more pieces of your artwork can recover the cost those expenses.
Another advantage to selling your artwork on eBay yourself is that any work that sells, you get to keep all the money you make from that sale. Unlike selling your art through a dealer or an art gallery where they can keep a good portion of your profit for themselves as part of their commission. Having your work online gives you greater exposure as an artist than any local gallery can provide, although I'm not suggesting to forget using traditional methods of selling your artwork. When you're starting out as an artist and only have a few pieces to sell, it's a great place to start and make a profit.
What Supplies Do You Need?
The supplies I'm talking about are not art supplies. If you want to learn how to paint, you're reading the wrong hub! Here is a list of supplies you will need to sell your artwork on Ebay for a profit:
- An Ebay account
- A PayPal account
- A Free Vendio account (recommended)
- A Free Auctiva account (recommended)
- Digital camera with an optical zoom of at least 4x
- Tripod (highly recommended)
- Quality lighting (usually 2 photography lights) or access to ample natural light
- Black velvet backdrop for flat artwork and/or grey muslin/paper backdrop for sculptures (optional, but highly recommended)
If you have a larger budget:
- 3D Modeling Program for your computer
- A custom designed auction template/Ebay store
Your Ebay account
If you don't have an Ebay account, now is the time to open one. If you already have an Ebay account and have used that account for buying and/or selling items other than your artwork, you need a new one.
Why? It's the kiss of death if you decide to sell your original artwork on Ebay along with your purses, toaster or Grandma's knitted scarves. You will never be taken serious as an artist and you will never be able to sell your artwork for a substantial profit.
Buyers on Ebay who are interested in purchasing original pieces of art consider them to be investments. Most buyers are serious about what they buy and want to know they are purchasing an investment that will appreciate in value over time and is of the highest quality.
If you are new to Ebay, you can follow the instructions given on the Ebay website for registering an account.
If you already have an Ebay account, you should sign up for a new account that will only be used for selling your artwork. You can sign up for a new one without having to cancel your existing account. Both accounts must have different user ID's and different email addresses. Note: the two accounts can't be used in the same listing.
You must create a seller account. This includes 3 steps:
- Verifying your identity
- Choosing how you will pay your seller fees ie., PayPal, credit card, pre-authorized debit, etc.
- Selecting the payment methods you will accept from buyers
Your PayPal Account
If you don't already have an account with PayPal, now is the time to sign up for one. It's free and it's easy. When you sign up, sign up with a personal account. The Premiere account is for people with their own websites that sell products online. You do not need this type of account to sell on Ebay.
When you sign up you will be able to link to your credit card or bank account. PayPal will require you to verify your account before you can start selling on Ebay.
To link your PayPal and eBay accounts:
Click My eBay at the top of most eBay pages.
Place your pointer over the Account tab, and then click the PayPal Account link.
Click the Link My PayPal Account button.
You'll be asked to log in to PayPal to finish linking your accounts.
An Invaluable Resource to Have
A fantastic book that I highly recommend purchasing is called Starting an eBay Business for Dummies or if you're Canadian like me, Starting an eBay Business for Canadians for Dummies.
It's great if you're just starting out on eBay but also if you would like to set up an eBay store and other wonderful hints and suggestions. I have it on my bookshelf at home and it has helped me tremendously.
A Picture's Worth a Thousand...Dollars?
One of the most important steps in selling your artwork on Ebay is taking really good pictures. You want the pictures to be focused, clear, and bright. I recommend you invest in some photography lights and a tripod if you're serious about selling your artwork. They're not as expensive as you think. If you have a very tight budget, make sure to photograph your artwork in a well lit room using natural daylight if possible.
For sculptures, you want to have a seamless backdrop of neutral color and for flat works such as paintings, black velvet is recommended because it's non-reflective.
For photographing paintings, the painting should be placed upright and should not be slanting away from the camera. Be sure to remove any glass or matting, and if you have 2 photography lights they should be positioned at 45 degree angles so the lights shine toward the centre of the work. Make sure your camera faces straight onto your work,
A tripod is highly recommended because it ensure your pictures turn out clear and you can position the camera precisely where you want.
The correct way to photograph art
Sample Picture of Painting in Poor Lighting
Sample of a Good Close-up Picture
Your Asking Price
Never list your artwork in an auction with the starting price at $0.99 EVER!
That said, your best bet is to search on Ebay for artists selling work in the same category as yours with regard to subject, medium and style of work.
What price do their auctions start at? Who is getting bids on their work? This will help you get a general idea of what a reasonable asking price should be.
It's common practice to list at a price that is significantly lower than what you feel your piece is worth and have a reserve price listed. This sends the message to the prospective buyer that your piece has value to it and that you're not willing to accept just any price for it. Perceived value is very important.
Some pricing factors to consider are:
- The size of your work (larger paintings tend to sell for a higher price)
- The subject matter
- Medium (oil paintings have a higher price than watercolor)
- Artistic value
- The amount of exposure your work has received
- The state of the economy
The About Me Page
Making the most of the Ebay "About Me" page is the smartest thing you can do. You don't need an Ebay store to capitalize on this feature. It's free.
Include a photo of yourself and talk about your background in art, courses you've taken, and anything else you think would demonstrate to everyone that your artwork is a worthwhile investment.
This is the page that sells you to other people.
Free Tools that Can Make a Big Difference in Your Listing
Artwork that consistently sells on Ebay and for a good price usually have listing templates. For those who can afford it, a custom made template for your artwork always looks professional. However, you can get around that in the beginning when you're still a starving artist.
Auctiva offers a 30-day free trial of their services that includes unlimited image hosting, unlimited listings and access to 1700+ listing templates. If you decide you like what they have to offer, you can continue using their templates and listing service for as little as $2.95 a month.
Another free tool that is very valuable to your listings is the Vendio gallery that showcases any other artwork you have for sale on Ebay. They also offer a Buyer Appreciation service that allows you to automate personalized customer communication and this service is also free.
Copyright and Certificates of Authenticity
Copyright in Canada regarding works of art:
- In Canada, the creator automatically owns the copyright to their "artistic work"
- Copyright registration for artworks is not required. If you still wish to register, you can at the Canadian Intellectual Property office website.
- The online fee for registering your artwork is $50
Copyright in the United States regarding works of art:
- Visual artists MUST register a copyright of their artworks and install the copyright symbol on all their works.
- The website to register a copyright in the United States is http://www.copyright.gov
- There is a $35 fee to file
Certificates of Authenticity
Every reputable artist on Ebay includes one of these with every piece of artwork they sell. It's a bit of a pain in the neck if you have a large amount of artwork for sale, but it's worth every penny.
A website that offers art registration is http://www.fineartstitle.com
The price to register each piece of art is $15 US and they offer a variety of other benefits as well.
Shipping Your Artwork
If you are selling paintings that are not stretched on a frame, you can easily do the packing on your own with cardboard tubes available at any post office.
For any other type of art it's best to have it professionally packaged and shipped. If you take a look at successful artists on Ebay, they have their artwork professionally packed and shipped.
A place that specializes in packing and shipping artwork is UPS for example. Here in Canada, UPS Stores are very popular, there is one down the street from me. Their pricing includes:
- 24" X 5" X 18" at $17.95 plus labour and taxes
- 24" X 6" X 36" at $24.25 plus labour and taxes
- 30" X 5" X 24" at $24.00 plus labour and taxes
- 29" X 6" X 38 3/4" at $29.00 plus labour and taxes
When customers require an expert customized packing service, they have the
art work packed by a Specialized Professional Art Gallery.
Check into what kind of packing and shipping services for artwork are available in your area.
Why have your artwork expertly packed and shipped?
- Because you want to have your artwork arrive when you say it will and in perfect condition
- It ensures that you will receive positive feedback
- It saves you time from having to do it all yourself when you could be making more artwork to sell
Beyond Basics for Your Listing
If you have numerous pieces of art to sell and by numerous I mean a dozen or more, you may want to consider opening your own ebay store.
It's not free to have an eBay store. To have a basic store you're looking at $16 a month, so it's more beneficial if you have plenty of artwork to sell. You may still be better off waiting until you have sold some of your artwork before opening one so that you're not paying that monthly fee with no income coming in.
Your Own Website:
If you want to establish your presence on the web, the best way to go about that is to have your own e-commerce web site that links to your site on eBay.
3D Modeling Software:
If you have the know-how or know someone who uses 3D modeling software, you can use it to show how your art would look with different colored backgrounds and settings.
Not all successful self-representing artists use 3D modeling, but many of them do. It's helpful for potential buyers to see what your art will look like with different backgrounds. This can be done for both paintings and sculptures.
Patience is Key
Many artists who sell on Ebay will tell you the same thing when you start out; be patient.
Because your feedback score will be zero when you start out (you're using an Ebay account just for your artwork, remember?) people will be hesitant to place a bid in your auction. Eventually someone will bite, just keep creating art and putting it up on Ebay.
Once you have generated a few sales and received feedback, the chances of more people placing bids greatly increases. It's the snowball effect. You will also have regular customers who will purchase your artwork.
Stay positive and believe in yourslef. You can do it!