The art world thrives on change. Artistic mediums – and the ways we consume and interpret works of art – are constantly evolving, pushing the bar to unexplored heights.
Whether you’re an aspiring Picasso, a budding Banksy or a talented designer – digital art presents a great opportunity for you to turn your talent into active or passive income.
In this complete guide to digital art, we’re going to discuss where and how you can sell digital art online. But first, let’s look at how digital art differs from ‘traditional’ art forms.
Jump to section:
- The challenge with digital art – and how to overcome it
- Can you make money from digital art?
- Types of digital art that are commonly sold online
- Where is the best place to sell digital art?
- How to sell digital art online with Dropbox Shop
- How to help your digital art business thrive
If you create a priceless piece of hand-painted art that’s sold at auction, or a limited series of graphic design prints, you are obviously selling a physical copy of the art. The buyer can then take the art home and enjoy ownership of it.
With digital art, as soon as your artwork is purchased, the buyer can technically share and re-use it however they want.
This poses an interesting question: How can you make digital art that’s valuable to buyers?
Well, there are a few ways to achieve this:
- Make it useful – e.g. asset packs
- Make it personal – e.g. bespoke artwork on commission
- Make it unique with technology – e.g. NFTs and similar formats
There are a variety of ways you can make money from digital art. You can earn active income from your art, treating your artistic practice as a full-time job that earns you a salary.
Alternatively, your digital art could be a source of passive income. For example, you could sell pre-designed asset packs or graphics on a marketplace, generating a new income stream but requiring little time or effort once they have been listed.
How you make money from your digital art will typically depend on two things: the type of art you are creating and your chosen method of selling. This is because certain types of art (such as original pieces or commissions) will be inherently more valuable to the consumer than products that are more widely available.
Digital art is a broad umbrella term, under which is an enormous variety of different mediums and formats. Generally speaking, there are two routes to success with digital art:
- Finding a niche – find a creative community, movement or emerging category of art with a sizable audience, but limited art in existence. In many cases, these audiences will be willing to pay more for niche pieces of art created by talented artists with particular skill sets or interests.
- Developing an iconic style – become known for your style, which emanates from all your works. Offer something that your competitors can’t, and that couldn’t be found anywhere other than through a commission directly from you.
In the next section, we’ll focus on the types of digital art that can be sold online, along with some of the different methods for selling digital art.
Commissions and original artwork
Commissioning is the process of requesting the creation of art on behalf of someone else. A buyer will hire an artist, who will produce an original piece based on that client’s request. Art commissions may come from individuals, businesses, organisations or even governments.
Commissions are an excellent way to create valuable, unique, high-quality art for customers. They are getting a product for commercial or personal use that they couldn’t otherwise create or replicate.
Logos and vector graphics
As a simple way to earn passive income, you could create digital art prints to put on t-shirts, phone cases, stickers and other physical products.
Or you could pivot to freelance design and create custom art or designs for brands. Every day, small businesses, content creators and solopreneurs are creating new business opportunities. And each one needs support with branding their new project.
They may not be able to afford a full-time design agency, and may not have the expertise to produce branding kits in-house. That’s why these businesses seek original designs from a freelancer, or purchase pre-made vector graphics to get their ideas off the ground quickly.
Similar to logos and vector graphics, web fonts can say a lot about a brand’s online presence. Developing unique fonts can be a lucrative business that reaches both professional designers and amateurs alike.
Many of us will be familiar with the stylistic and AR filters for images and videos on social media. But did you know that you can make and sell custom filters, too?
Once created, custom filters are easy to sell via online marketplaces, allowing customers to download the file and import it into their in-app filter galleries.
Twitch emotes, animations and badges
The live streaming platform Twitch is extremely influential for large audiences around the world. As a result of its popularity, Twitch frequently inspires viewers to try their hand at streaming for a shot at stream stardom.
Just as there is a market for logos in the small business and start-up space, there is a large market for Twitch’s equivalent – badges, channel icons, custom chat emojis and in-stream effects or animations.
3D print models
You’d be forgiven for thinking digital art has to stay digital, but this actually isn’t the case! With the rise of 3D printing, print-on-demand services are becoming increasingly popular.
The possibilities are endless, but some examples include:
- Tabletop gaming miniatures and figurines
- Custom board game pieces
- Statues and other sculpture-like artwork
- Or anything you can think of – what about scale miniature models of famous mountain ranges, buildings or a topographical map of the United States?
NFTs, or ‘non-fungible tokens’, have been hard to miss in recent years, cropping up in news cycles regularly. They aim to solve some of the biggest challenges with traditional and digital art – namely provenance and reproduction.
With NFTs, a string of code and blockchain technology are used to create a form of digital receipt for the artwork. This shows that no matter how many copies exist, the listed person is the official owner of that digital artwork.
Unlike other digital art products, such as stickers and vector art, NFTs are generally limited-edition pieces. They’re sold on marketplaces, such as Opensea or Rarible, which handle the ‘minting’ of the art and applying the block. This gives NFTs a unique quality and appeal as digital collectables.
The emergence of this divisive medium has shaken up the art and cryptocurrency trading communities, with many initially treating it as a passing fad. While their long-term impact on the art industry is yet to be seen, the perceived value of NFTs is undeniable. In fact, the global NFT market size is expected to grow by $147.27 billion from 2021 to 2026.
Depending on the type of art you are selling, you have a few options for how and where to sell your art. These include:
- Online marketplaces – these have the advantage of a wide customer base but are often oversaturated with a sea of competition and limited customisation for sellers. In the case of NFTs, marketplaces form an integral part of the technology and experience.
- Bespoke quotes – if you sell pieces at a higher value, you can always handle quotes directly and simply offer a means to contact and enquire for commissions or one-off pieces.
- Your own shopfront – combining the simplified payment processing and shopfront management of marketplaces, with the uniqueness and customisation of a more bespoke solution. Dropbox Shop provides the best of all scenarios, providing a single space to sell your art on exactly your terms.
Dropbox Shop is the ideal solution for digital artists. Retain complete control over your work and sales data, presenting digital products in your unique style that makes them stand out.
Selling your digital art online doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Here’s a simple step-by-step process to creating an online store with Dropbox Shop.
1. Create and customise your shop
Before you set up your shop, you need to create your first listing and connect with a payment processor. Once this is done, it’s simple to create and customise your shop:
- Sign in to dropbox.com
- Click the grid icon in the top-left corner. From the menu, select Shop
- In the right-sidebar, click Customise (below Design your shop)
- Choose the listings to include in your shopfront, then click Continue
- Give your shop a custom link, background image, blur and tint, then click Continue
2. Create (and update) your product listings
You can add multiple digital files to one listing. To create a listing:
- In Dropbox Shop, go to the top-right corner of your screen and click Create Item
- Note: If this is your first listing, you will be asked to Start selling instead. Before you can move on, you’ll have to agree to the Dropbox Shop seller terms.
- Set the Name and Price of your listing
- Note: All the files added to your listing must be smaller than your available storage space.
- Optional: To offer the listing for free, toggle Offer this product for free under Price. You can change this setting at any time.
- Under Preview gallery, select the drop-down next to Add files
- Note: Click and drag the preview images to reorder your files. You’ll be able to see how your listing looks to your customers on the right of your screen.
- Under Files for delivery, select the drop-down next to Add files
- Leave the View only box unticked to allow your customers to download your files
- Optional steps
- Give your listing a Description and/or Background.
- Toggle Allow customers to add a tip to allow your customers to add a tip with their purchase.
- Toggle Add this item to my shop to add this listing to your shop.
- Click Continue
- Click ‘…’ (ellipsis) below the name of the listing you’d like to edit or delete
- Make your edits, then click Save changes
- Alternatively, click Delete
3. Share and embed your listings
You can share the individual listing for a piece, or your entire shop. To do this:
- Click the copy link button (chain icon) below the name of the listing you want to share
- Alternatively, to share your entire shop, click the link below your seller name
- Paste the link where you’d like to share it
Embed your Dropbox Shop listings into your website to let buyers purchase your digital art without leaving your website.
- Create the embed code in Dropbox Shop
- Click Share below the name of the listing, then Embed
- Choose a configuration and action for your listing, then click Copy
- Add the embed code to your website
4. View your sales performance
In order to improve your online business and gain insights into your customers’ buying behaviours, it’s important to monitor your sales performance.
When you open Dropbox Shop, the total views, sales and revenue for your digital art listings will be at the top of the page underneath Overview.
You can find the views, sales and revenue for a specific listing below the copy link button (chain icon) and the ‘…’ (ellipsis).
To view additional stats, such as traffic sources and conversions by traffic source for an individual listing, just click the listing.
5. Manage your customers
To see a list of people who’ve purchased digital art from your Dropbox Shop shopfront, click the customers icon (two people) in the left sidebar.
You’ll also be presented with the details of each customer’s purchase(s), such as how many orders they’ve placed and how much they spent.
With your Dropbox Shop shopfront set up, it’s time to start driving customers to your online gallery and converting them into sales.
Anyone involved in the art market will tell you that putting a price on a piece of art can be challenging. The pricing for digital artwork is slightly different from physical products.
With a print on canvas, for example, you would need to consider factors such as the materials, frame, shipping costs and labour. For digital art, you will only need to think about the time and effort it took you to create the piece.
If you are selling something tangible and practical, like design assets or 3D print models, then market research can help you to understand what similar items generally go for.
If you are selling something more bespoke, conduct research into artists that reach similar audiences and see what they charge. You may find that pricing low at first will allow you to drum up some early business and acclaim – after this, you can increase your prices based on demand.
Marketing your services
You can help your online business succeed by promoting your work in the places your audience regularly visits. You could create a to-do list with a productivity tool like Dropbox Paper, to help you keep track of your marketing activities.
Social media will be instrumental in this. You’ll be able to connect with fellow artists and attract potential customers through your posts. Remember, many social media users consume content differently depending on the platform. For this reason, consider branching into different formats to showcase your work, such as:
- TikTok videos
- A curated Instagram account, with reels as well as regular image posts and carousels
- Twitter hashtags, so your work can be seen and shared by art accounts
- Reddit forums
- Pinterest boards
If you are prominent on social media, you could even add ‘Commissions available’ to your bio – and be sure to include a link to your Dropbox Shop shopfront wherever possible!
Embrace the art of selling, with Dropbox Shop
Dropbox Shop is the ideal solution to store, sell and send your digital art. It’s easy to create your shopfront, manage your listings and monitor your sales so you can grow your digital art business your way.