Is Etsy Good For Selling Paintings & Art? (Explained)

Many dedicated artists have done really well for themselves and have even been able to quit their day jobs to sell their products on Etsy.

Utilizing their creative and professional skills, these artists have made their name online and in households all over the world with their work!

Do paintings and art sell well on Etsy?

Art prints and original paintings are some of the top sellers on Unique and simplistic paintings are the top bestsellers, with mediums such as digital art, watercolor, acrylic, and prints of original art.

If you’re considering becoming an Etsy artist, there is a lot of information you need to know.

Do Artists Typically do Well on Etsy with Paintings and Art?

Some of the most popular Esty shops and sold products are art, paintings, digital designs, and on-demand-prints.

Buyers love the complete uniqueness of the art of individual sellers – rather than the cookie-cutter designs that are sold in local supermarkets and department stores. This means that customers are willing to pay a little more and wait a little longer in order to get these unique designs in their homes.

But how well do these artists do on Etsy, and can you do the same?

Popular Shops & Pricing

Artists will sell prints on average from $12.00 – $100.00+ depending on their popularity on the site, and tend to have a lot of traffic due to their unique nature.

The most popular sites, such as The Colorful Cat Studio, BelleBotanica, Valero Doval Editions, and LDawningScott Fine Art, have had major success both on Etsy and in their own personal careers (see reference links below to view their shops).

The Colorful Cat Studio, for example, has over 14,500 sales and 3,026 reviews at the time of this article. Their shop has a five-star rating, and they have been members since 2013!

On average, The Colorful Cat Studio sells prints for as cheap as $24.00 per print. Their “original” art that the prints are based on can sell for $80.00 or more!

Because of their unique design, gorgeous watercolor work, and clever marketing, The Colorful Cat has done well for itself as a famous Etsy art creator and seller.

How Do I Get There?

As we will discuss later in this article, the key ingredients to a successful Etsy art shop are marketing, your best artwork, flexibility with printing, and a professional attitude.

If you want to make it big, you need to stand out from the crowd. Only the best of your work should be marketed or featured, and you have to optimize your product descriptions and keywords to get seen.

Furthermore, garnering a fan base and keeping that fan base is key to making your sales skyrocket!

How Much Does it Cost to Sell Art on Etsy?

Selling art on Etsy comes down to several costs and things to think about:

  • Materials to Make Art
  • Printing and Shipping Costs
  • Etsy Transaction & Listing Fees and/or PayPal Fees
  • Marketing or Etsy Ads Costs

You need to know how much something is going to cost before you can even begin to price your products.

If it costs over $40.00 to make, print, ship, and market your items, most likely, you’ll have to price your items at $60-$80 per product just to make a profit.

(We discuss Etsy fees and potential profits below, as well)

If that is the case, you may find it difficult to beat the competition with lower prices.

Consider researching your materials, how you want to print and ship your items (yourself or with a print-on-demand company), and consider how many listing fees you’ll be paying for.

How Big a Cut Does Etsy Take from Artists?

The general rule of thumb for a standard Etsy subscription are the listing fees and transaction fees that they take per item that you sell:

  • Listing fee – $0.20 cents
  • Transaction Fee – 5% of the sale
  • Payment Processing – 3% +$0.25

Note: This is based on USD currency rates.

These are the guaranteed charges you will be looking at for your Etsy shop. Before you even think about investing in advertising, free gifts with purchases, or other marketing strategies, you need to know the costs of doing business with Etsy.

This means that if your painting is listed at $24.00, you may only see a small part of that as a profit.

Let’s Break it Down

Let’s say you sell prints of your own watercolor art:

  1. Your Humming Bird 5×7 Print is a bestseller on your store and sells for $30.00 plus $2.00 shipping.
  2. Then let’s say that it costs you $10.00 to print and ship each print.
  3. Your total fees for listing, transaction, and payment processing fees equal to $3.01 for that transaction.
  4. Your total profit comes out to $18.99.

This is great news to some artists, as they almost double the cost of what it takes to make and ship their prints.

However, the cost of printing and shipping varies wildly depending on what site you use – or if you do it from home.

So, while this is a positive scenario that we’ve illustrated, there are some artists who don’t make much money after all is said and done.

What About Shipping Costs on Etsy for Art and Paintings?

Shipping can be difficult for Etsy owners who sell large or fragile paintings and prints.

Artwork usually costs more on Etsy because items can require specific shipping methods and can easily be damaged. Furthermore, large or heavy pieces of artwork are much more expensive to ship than regular box-shaped packages.

This means that Etsy sellers need to do their research when pricing their products to their buyers. If you try to beat the competition with low prices, you may not earn a profit after Etsy fees and shipping costs.

To prevent high shipping costs, consider working with a Print-on-Demand site to help you print and ship items quickly to customers. They usually offer a reasonable rate and can ship basic prints on paper or canvas.

However, when shipping your original paintings, you will most likely have to do it yourself.

Does Etsy Promote my Art or Must I do That Myself?

Promoting your art comes from a few different avenues of advertising.

You can enlist Etsy’s help by paying for Etsy Ads, or you can do it yourself. Etsy does not automatically promote your art, nor does it make any one shop a priority – unless you pay well for it.

Here are a few options for promoting your art:

  • Etsy Ads
  • Social Media
  • Social Media Paid Advertising
  • Word of Mouth
  • Email Lists

Etsy Ads

Etsy Ads charge per click on any of your products and give you a choice-based maximum cap per day to spend.

If you give them a cap of $5 or $10 or even $50 per DAY, they will try to advertise in a way that gets you to your cap. This increases your pay-per-click price from $.02 cents to $.08 cents or even $.30 cents.

Etsy Ads’ algorithm will determine what the best way to get your products “seen” while also reaching for that daily cap is.

Set your maximum daily expenditure goal wisely – or else you could lose money.

Social Media

If you have a following already online through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, most likely, you are already posting all your products or updates to those sites.

If you aren’t, you are missing out on a great advertising opportunity for your new shop!

However, there are many brand-new creators and artists who don’t have a preexisting following online. If you’re serious about making money selling art on Etsy, you will need to garner a following quickly and then maintain it through constant communication.

Sometimes Etsy shop owners delegate this responsibility to team members who specialize in social media and marketing. If you don’t have those team members, you will have to learn how to do this effectively yourself.

Consider creating social media accounts for your shop specifically and reference it on your personal accounts to family and friends to start with.

Once you’ve gotten the word out, keep posting until followers roll in.

Social Media Paid Advertising

If both Etsy Ads and free-posting to Social Media accounts aren’t what you’re looking for, you may seek to hire or pay for advertisements on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.

Many creators will spend what they can afford to hire or get help from sites that specialize in marketing and online advertisements.

Often you can use metrics like “Promoted Tweets” or promote your shop’s Facebook page for a monthly or “by-click” fee.

If this is the method for you, you can try it out for a few weeks, months, or even a full year to see if you can garner a following or some customers that way!

Remember, though, even if you are paying for people to see your Twitter or Facebook page, you need to keep updating and posting to that page in order to keep those fans coming back.

Word of Mouth

Once you’ve successfully garnered a following, getting those followers to like, share, or subscribe to you is key in keeping the ball rolling.

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to advertise because customers trust other customers and their opinions.

If you have bad reviews, low star-ratings, or even a negative comment here or there, other customers will start to stop trusting you.

Therefore, using professional customer service methods, posting only kind and appropriate things online, and keeping your private life out of your business life will help boost your fan-base and your sales!

Email Lists

Finally! Customers are rolling in!

Once you have a supportive fan-base who are buying from you, consider creating an email list and adding people to it.

Asking buyers or customers to join your email list will let you update them on sales, discounts, new product releases, or when something comes back into stock after being sold out.

Customers need to be updated, or else they could forget about your business entirely after a long silence.

What Are the Most Effective Ways to Sell Art Online?

Selling art online can take a lot of work.

There are a lot of ways to get your product to the forefront of buyers’ search results. Mostly it comes down to staying on top of your business and being involved in all steps of the process.

Consider these tactics that professional Etsy artists use every day:

Keywords and SEO Phrases

Artists will utilize relevant, Search Engine Optimized terms and phrases to get their art at the top of your search result.

When it comes to looking for a watercolor print of a fox, for example, artists will use terms like:

  • Print
  • Red Fox
  • Fox
  • Water Color
  • Painting
  • 5×7 Print

and more. If you’ve ever had a twitter, you know that using the proper #hashtags are going to get your tweet in front of the right people or communities.

The same principle is applied to Etsy sales and the products that you post.

However, one thing to remember is that all those terms we listed above are also going to be used by plenty of other artists who are also selling watercolor prints of red foxes.

If I search all those terms at once on the Etsy site (separated by commas), I will find hundreds of watercolor fox prints – but Etsy buyers will only skim through the first 30-50 options.

How do you stand out from that crowd?

Choosing The Right Image

Once you have a great SEO description title for your product, you need to pick a great cover image for your painting or print.

The first thing a customer is going to look for is the photo of a piece of art or design on Etsy. The second thing is the price.

If your price is a little higher than your competitors, its time to pick the absolute BEST photo version of your painting or print that you have – make them forget the price!

This preview photo should be bright, clear, colorful, and high-resolution. It should also fully encompass the image of what you’re trying to sell. The customer wants to get an idea instantly of what they would be paying for.

After you get them to click on your image, you can add more to the product gallery so that they can get a “contextual” idea of the product. Contextual means that artists will take photos of their paintings displayed in a room or up against a wall.

This gives the customer an idea of how the image would feel in their home.

Product Descriptions

Once the customer decides they like your product and how it looks, they’re going to read your description carefully.

Your description needs to include:

  • Size / Sizing Options
  • Paper / Paint Materials
  • Shipping Information
  • A Captive Bio of the Painting

Customers like to know exactly what they are buying, the size, shape, and materials used for the print or painting. If your description is lacking in any way, customers will go look elsewhere.

For example, if a customer isn’t’ sure whether or not your product is a print of the original or the real deal, you’re doing it wrong.

Furthermore, add an enticing or captivating mini-bio of your painting or print. Personalization is a great way to connect with buyers who want to know about the art and the artist!

Professional Packaging and Customer Service

One of the greatest traits that an Etsy shop owner can have is to be professional, appropriate, kind, and fun!

If you are working with customers, your personality needs to shine through in everything you do. If you always package and ship items in a lazy or haphazard way, customers will leave bad reviews and warn other customers not to shop with you.

This can hurt a growing business more than anything.

To make sure to rise to the top, you want to add personal notes in packages, make sure everything is on time, communicate with customers, and answer any questions that they have.

It seems like a lot, but these are the basics for a great small business, and those five-star ratings will make it all worth it!

What Are the Best-Selling Items on Etsy?

The best selling items on are usually small, artsy designs to accessorize with or to wear.

Many successful Etsy shops are vintage or clothing shops with their own unique brand. After that are pins and stickers, or small accessories for buyers to put on their clothes or stick to laptops and water bottles.

The next successful ones are art prints, paintings, and graphic design.

After that, there is a huge market for jewelry and graphic design – whether that design goes on T-Shirts, greeting cards resumes, or any other number of uses.

Mostly, successful items on Etsy are unique and can’t be found anywhere else. They’re cute, simple, and appeal to a wide range of people online.

You can find your own niche on Etsy, too. Once you do, stay true to yourself and have fun with it!


The Colorful Cat Studio




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