Week 11: Creating a Digital Storefront

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There are many options for making money with your art. You just have to get out there and be resourceful. Once you have built a website, printed business cards and developed a product, it is time to take that product to market, and we’re here to show you how.

CD Baby, Amazon, Etsy and Zazzle – These are the sites we’ll be looking at, because they are user-friendly and don’t require overhead. Some are even free to get started and cheap to maintain. They handle all the warehousing, transactions, shipping, even production in some cases. You just make the art.

You have the option of getting your art out into the world and sold without worrying about the gatekeepers, critics and naysayers. Writers can self-publish or launch e-books, artists can post online portfolios and sell prints and merchandise, crafters can turn a few Instagram shots into a working storefront. There are hundreds of options for promoting and presenting your work online, many for free, but we’re going to focus on the four big dogs which provide online storefronts and opportunities to sell. A little extra research and helpful articles from sites like artsyshark.com will help you build a more extensive list of prospective sites for artists looking to showcase and sell their work.

Amazon.com – for Writers

Amazon is always expanding its offerings, which includes multiple avenues for sellers to get in on this action.  They produce Kindle e-books, and more recently have launched a site for creating audiobooks. You can read your own work, or hire a voice actor. (Or if you’re a voice actor yourself, you can promote and get gigs!) Check out KDP.Amazon.com, which stands for Kindle Direct Publishing and includes information on CreateSpace, their hard copy self-publishing company. ACX.com is Amazon’s Audio Creation Exchange platform, a promising venue for future audiobook authors and narrators! Choose your profit above the initial expense, and wait happily for those checks in the mail!

CDbaby.com – for Musicians

Musicians have it tough, fighting against paying to have their work appreciated, rather than being paid to play. If you’re not up for launching your own record label, the next best thing is CDbaby.com and a minute or two at your friendly neighborhood recording studio. They offer services in licensing, manufacturing and distribution. If you have a CD, a sound file, or both, sign up for a free trial and see what magic they can do for you. You can stick a widget on your current site, link to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, or Google Play… and get your music out there to where people are listening.  Once you’re ready to take the plunge, there are several levels of membership, from cheapskate to gold teeth. They can even do vinyl!

Etsy.com – for Crafters & Fine Artists

Think eBay, but a million times classier, and without the bids. Etsy lets you sell anything handmade. The site is free, posting each item costs you a dime, and they take a small percentage of each sale, which is billed directly to the purchaser. From painted chairs to hand-knit baby clothes, if you made it, you can design a storefront, post a picture and sell it. You’ll need to get friendly with the local post office, and get your own stamps and boxes, and you handle your own customer service, but ask the next lady about the original jewelry she’s got, or the next hipster about the bizarre t-shirt he’s sporting, and odds are they ordered it off Etsy and shop  there religiously.

Zazzle.com – for Digital Artists or Illustrators

If you’re a digital artist or illustrator, this is your candy shop. Upload your artwork, pick a few messenger bags, pillowcases and desk calendars you’d like to see it on, tell a friend and wait for the checks to come in. Zazzle prints your work on almost anything you can imagine, from iPhone cases to clothes. The quality is good and the work is done entirely by Zazzle gnomes. All you do is supply the digital files while they handle shipping, customer service, production, you name it. You determine your profit margin in addition to the cost of the base product (say it’s a ten dollar purse, you charge five bucks more,) and that’s your take.

 

As you can see, it is not difficult or expensive or even time-consuming to start your own art-based business. All you need is a little bit of upfront oomph and your can soon find yourself making money doing what you love.

 

HOMEWORK

1. Set up your online storefront.

2. Link it to your website.

3. Announce it to the world via social media and other obvious means. (Talk, talk, talk – and hand out business cards!)

 

– Kitty Boyce

Kitty B. is on her third or fourth creative incarnation, from Subway sandwich artist to freelance illustrator, and finally writer. Her hobbies include quoting herself and paraphrasing others. She may be found bagging groceries, sassing strangers or muralizing outrageously upscale homes. Currently she takes lots of selfies and plays good cop to C.R. Cohen’s tough-lovin’ bad cop.

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C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.

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About C.R. Cohen
C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.

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