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Finances & Money

Selling Art for Extra Income

by Ryan Morgan

Ryan Morgan is a part-time self-representing artist. His studio is located in Cleveland, Ohio. He began selling his art on Ebay in the summer of 2008, and in just 3 months has sold 15+ original paintings. You can view his current items for auction here: Ryan Morgan – Original and Contemporary Fine Art

Finding ways to generate extra income is always a popular topic on personal finance blogs, and I thought I would share my account of how I make supplemental income each month selling art on Ebay. I will outline how you can take a hobby, whether it’s painting (like me), photography, pottery, or whatever you enjoy, and turn it into a steady income stream.

A Little About Me

First of all, I think it makes sense to share a little information about me. I recently graduated college and got a full-time job out of school. I was an art minor in college and still enjoyed to paint after I graduated, and once I became engaged and started shopping for a house, I knew it was a good time to grab some extra income. The first thing I did was get a part-time job at a craft store during the holidays – and I hated it. This is when I realized that I might be able to combine something I enjoyed with something that would make me some extra income. This past summer I began selling some of my oil paintings on Ebay and since, I’ve sold every single painting I put up, earning a profit on each, and creating a steady income stream for myself.

Where to Start…

For me, starting was the hard part. I was nervous that people wouldn’t like my paintings, that they wouldn’t sell, and that I would end up paying too much for supplies and shipping and it wouldn’t be worth it. I found out that if you do it right, this is not true.

Where can you sell your art?

I sell mine on Ebay, which is the largest online marketplace, however Etsy is a great website to sell arts and crafts, or you could even list your art for free on Craigslist. Local galleries and art shows also love to accept local entries. In my opinion, Ebay and Etsy are two websites that allow you to reach the most people.

What Kind of Art Can You Sell?

Not all of us are painters or sculptors. However you can sell a wide variety of mediums, many of which don’t require any skill whatsoever. For fine artists, you can sell paintings, drawings, sculptures, and carvings; for photographers, you can sell original photos, prints, posters, and collages; for art collectors, you can re-sell fine art, antiques and collectibles (no art skills needed, you can find this stuff at garage sales!).

What Do People Buy?

I can tell you that almost all of the people that buy my paintings do so to decorate their home. Most people are looking for things to decorate with, whether it’s a painting or a print to hang on their wall, a vase to put on their table, or a collectible antique to display in their home. You can go to Ebay or Etsy and search the listings to see which items have several bids – these are often the most popular items.

Tips to Get Top Dollar

You will learn along the way what buyers respond to most. Here are some things that I have learned:

  • Try to specialize in one specific area. My paintings are all contemporary abstract oil paintings. You might focus on black-and-white landscape photographs. Or folk-style vases. Or maybe antique lamps from a specific style or era. Buyers will find your items and remember you for your specific style.
  • Make sure your pictures are accurate and appealing. Show buyers texture and color; show them close-ups. If you’re a whiz with Photoshop, try to stage your art in a room – buyers will be able to picture it in their home.
  • Make your description complete and appealing. Describe the color and texture of the art. If it’s original, try describing the inspiration behind it. If you bought it at a garage sale, describe it as a “collectible” or a “treasure”. Always use descriptive words too, such as “huge”, “antique”, “framed”, “acrylic”, etc. Buyers will be able to find your art much easier.

And there you go! You’re on your way to making a small fortune by selling your art (or re-selling your art) to the public. Now all you need to do is create some art.

About the author

Clever Dude

1 Comment

  • My girlfriend also sells her art online and makes decent money doing so. You don’t have to be considered a ‘great’ artist either. Everyone has different taste, and nearly everyone is on ebay, and chances are that something you made will appeal to someone, and they’ll want to make the buy.

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