Selling graphics and digital artwork Everything you need to know about selling your digital art online
Graphics and digital artwork are some of the most popular types of digital products to sell online, with a variety of lucrative avenues for generating income.
But if you’re a graphic designer or digital artist, you might not feel 100% confident about how to monetize your artistic talents to earn a living.
eCommerce has opened a whole new world for artists, removing the overhead costs and extra hassle of setting up a traditional store, printing physical copies, and shipping goods to customers. It’s now more convenient and affordable than ever to buy and sell digital designs, which creates a pretty significant win-win for artists and customers alike!
Are you looking to sell your designs or artwork? Read on for some important pointers and inspiration to help you get started.
Common graphic products include things like flyer templates, social media graphics, logo packs, patterns, brushes, UI designs, resumes, and Keynote/PowerPoint templates. Across the board, pricing can be anywhere from a few dollars to $50, or more, depending on the quality and complexity of the product/project, with premium prices for designs that are exclusive to the buyer (some exclusive cover art designs sell from anywhere between $70 and up). Sellers can put together bundles of multiple products (such as different Photoshop brushes or icon sets) to sell at higher prices, incentivizing buyers with volume and deep discounts.
When deciding how to price your graphic products, you’ll want to think about several different factors:
- What are the standard industry prices for your type of product?
- Is your product of budget, standard, or premium quality?
- How saturated is your market niche?
- Will you include any extras with your product?
- Is it an exclusive or non-exclusive design?
- What kind of license will you offer? Some product licenses may limit the number of lifetime sales that can be made on a product that has been created using your graphic product (for example, art prints created using your brushes or icons).
The prices of digital artwork such as illustrations, digital paintings, vector drawings, and 3D models are based on a slightly different set of factors – your skill level, experience, and notoriety as an artist, the complexity of the style and medium, your hourly rate for the creation of the piece, and just generally what you feel the piece is worth. You may also want to experiment with a piece or two to find out the demand and market response. You should definitely consider implementing value-based pricing. This method of pricing quantifies the value your work delivers, whether in an aesthetic context, or in a licensing context, so you don’t leave money on the table.
Keep in mind that the nature of digital products may sometimes call for lower prices than physical goods, so take that into consideration when finding your sweet spot. You want to feel good about your prices for the work that you’ve done, but you don’t want to price yourself so that you don’t make sales. Experiment to see what works, and adjust your prices if necessary depending on your goals.
When researching your market and competition, it’s helpful to peruse digital art and graphic asset websites to compare features and prices. Take notes of the product details and information, and cross-reference it against similar online stores and marketplaces. Who are the artists and designers you admire? Whose products are selling really well? Find out what they’re doing, and don’t be afraid to follow in their footsteps! One of the great things about modern eCommerce is all of the insightful role models that have come before you, giving you examples to use as guides on your own journey.
Similar to photographs, many digital art and graphics may not easily fit a recurring model per se, yet they provide long-term usability of a product that lasts indefinitely, giving them extra value compared to products that are for one-time specific use. They can be used in various contexts and reused as necessary, with the only limits being the end user license agreement.
As mentioned previously, licenses can specify a certain number of sales that can be made on an end product using things like graphic assets, but it can also impose limits on the commercial use and reproduction of your digital art piece. You may choose to price your artwork higher to account for unlimited use by the buyer, or price it lower with conditions (such as personal use only). Giving people the option to pay a bit more for an unlimited license can sometimes make a significant difference in your revenue.
In order to achieve ongoing revenue with graphics and digital artwork, you might decide to offer membership access to your body of work, allowing customers to download certain amounts (such as 10 product downloads per month), with different membership tiers that offer customers varying volume-based discounts or deals on certain styles and product categories. The convenience factor plus deep discounts make this option attractive to customers who might otherwise be more conservative with their purchases.
Of course, you can always upsell, including commercial use privileges, extended licenses, affordable bundles, useful related products, and even relevant services like product customization and custom designs and art commissions. Successful graphic designers and digital artists continually add new products to their catalog, find new customers, and focus on selling custom design services.
There are plenty of design-oriented marketplaces in the art community, but creating a self-managed digital product store offers you unparalleled independence, more control, and an uninhibited relationship with your buyers. You also keep the money you would have lost on listing fees, transaction fees, and other commissions, making it an attractive option for any self-proclaimed “starving artists” out there! Creating your own eCommerce site is also a creative process, which allows you to develop your own brand identity and share even more of your visual style and personality with the community.
If running your own store is not for you, you will find many options for selling your work online, with specific niche websites that focus on different product types. You’ll want to do a bit of research and compare the commission rates, popularity, and reviews of the different marketplaces to decide which of them best suits your needs, goals, and products. You can usually browse the top selling products on any of these sites to see what’s selling the most, and learn some marketing tips from experienced sellers that you can use regardless of whether you choose to go the marketplace or independent route.
Keep in mind that you can have the best of both worlds; you can sell your products through a marketplace while maintaining your own website at the same time. This not only brings traffic to your site, but is a great way to test new products on a larger audience.
The options are diverse when it comes to graphic file types, and you’ll want to decide on a format for your product based on its intended use, as well as industry standards. Some graphic products are created strictly for digital use, such as social media graphics, icons, brushes, and Keynote templates.
Certain rules may apply – for example, the industry standard is to use RGB color mode (instead of CMYK) for graphics that are intended only for electronic display. This guide is a great reference for the different graphic file types, as well as document setup and export processes.
If you’re creating products that are intended to be physically printed, you’ll need to create your files in CMYK color mode (set to at least 300 DPI), and export your creation as a PDF file. In general, you’ll maximize your opportunities by sticking to the tried and true file types used by successful artists, so take note!
Here’s a quick list of some common graphic product types and formats:
- Animated images: GIF
- Banners: JPEG, PNG
- Brushes: AI, ABR, BRUSH
- CVs / resumes: AI, DOCX, PSD
- Digital patterns and backgrounds: JPEG, PDF
- Flyer templates: AI, ID, PSD
- Illustrations: JPEG, PNG, SVG
- Keynote/PowerPoint templates: KEY, PPT, PPTX
- Logos and vectors: AI, EPS, SVG
- Printable artwork: PDF
- Social media graphics: JPEG, PNG
- UI designs: PSD, SKETCH
- Web images: JPEG, PNG, SVG
- Web layouts: PSD, SKETCH
When it comes to graphics, market saturation can make it difficult for newcomers to stand out, so you might consider testing the market with a few of your products before committing, as well as thoroughly researching to make sure that what you’re creating won’t have so much competition that it gets lost in the crowd. Of course, quality work is always welcome in the eyes of the customer, however marketplaces can be overwhelming to navigate with the staggering amount of content out there, making it easy to get overlooked when you’re just starting out.
If you decide to run your own store, you have more options to get your business off the ground. For example, you can choose to offer affiliate marketing to increase your exposure and boost your sales. As another example, there are many YouTube creators offering graphic and art tutorials, and their audiences are always looking for new materials to work with. Also consider lifestyle hackers, entrepreneurs, vloggers, professional coaches, and other types of YouTube creators that might be looking for the types of products you’re creating. You can always offer one free product (in exchange for mailing list signups) to start drawing traffic to your site and building momentum that you can take advantage of later as you develop more products.
Create an account and share your work on Dribbble or Behance to help start promoting your brand and your style. It allows you to showcase your work and point people directly to your website to drive sales.
To make a splash, your products need to be showcased effectively, and creating digital product demos will help you optimize the previews your buyers will see. Watermarking your work, providing low-resolution samples, or creating high-resolution mockups can all be very effective in getting your product off the ground. Briefly covered above, you will also want to decide on your preferred product license(s) and create a plan for marketing and upselling things like bundles, add-ons, membership tiers, and custom design.
Modern culture has seen a convergence of advancing tools and technology, diverse digital goods, and freelance creative outlets to the point where the aforementioned products have become a staple of eCommerce. As long as people are consuming, creating, buying, and making, there will always be a demand for quality graphics and digital art – and the options are plentiful for product creators.
If you’re starting to sell, or already selling your graphics or artwork, hopefully this has given you some new ideas! What are the biggest successes with, or concerns you’ve had about making an income from your artistic work? Do you currently sell your graphic products online? We’d love to hear what you have to say!