How to Start A Digital Art Business – Complete Blueprint

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I’ve been in the online digital art and creative business for over five years already and have seen its ups and downs close and far. In this post, I will share some of the key things to know when starting your own digital art business. Keep on reading!


Key Takeaways

  • Create a unique art style that differentiates you as an artist from the crowd.
  • Align your art style according to market demand.
  • The best places to grow an audience around digital art are YouTube and Instagram.
  • Without marketing, a following, or paid ads, people can’t find you and your products and services.
  • You can sell either your own products or someone else’s (affiliate marketing), or you can do freelancing and sell your time and skills.
  • Having your own brand and a website is recommended.

Define Your Art Style

One of the essential steps artists fail to take is defining their art style. If art is the product you are selling, then it’s wise to follow some of the rules that commercial businesses live by. In other words, if your product isn’t unique, it’ll have difficulty standing out.

Products also do exceptionally well when they’re nestled in a niche, as this attracts an exclusive audience. As an artist, you can take time to define your art style and add a unique flair to your art. You can use the subject matter of your work to appeal to specific audiences, taking care not to drift far from your own personal tastes.

What Do You Like To Draw?

Defining your art style is easier said than done. First and foremost, what do you like to draw? As soon as you start drawing just to please the crowd and not yourself, then your art begins to lose its authenticity.

Understanding what you love to draw and what you seek to get out of your art will enable your passion. That passion will motivate you to sell your art and keep your business going. If you’re particularly interested in a subject, say anime, sci-fi, landscape, etc., then begin researching the micro-communities surrounding these art styles.

The key is to understand that, while your passion is to draw, for example, sci-fi, you must also know what the markets (people buying digital art and art in general) want. Adjusting your drawings to what the market wants gives you a better chance of making sales and growing a thriving digital art business.

Put the time and effort into your art

It’s easy to lose hours in the business side of your art career. Often, this leads you to lose focus on your craft. Never stop putting time and effort into your art. You should always continually develop your skills, hone your strengths, and reflect on your past work.

Not only will this help you keep sight of what truly matters, but it will also be meaningful to your fans. If you’re serious about starting a digital art business, prioritize putting more time and effort into your art than ever before. Working on your art daily is vital to sharpening your skills and improving your product.

Grow A Following

Take note of influencers and grow your following on social media. Direct engagement and interaction with your followers have a massive potential to increase your sales.

Not only that, it helps reach your target audience and gain recognition.

Now, there are specific communities online for artists to connect with each other and their fans. Having a social media account or two is an excellent idea because you can easily promote your sales channels and even run ad campaigns. However, it should be noted that digital artists and art businesses can survive without social media.

Instagram

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Instagram is great for directly engaging with your followers. While the site is prone to bots and “ghost” followers, regular interaction with those who like and comment on your posts will ensure that your followers are genuine.

Some of the best marketing strategies for digital artists using Instagram:

  • Consistency is Key: Consistency in posting is crucial for Instagram marketing. As a digital artist, you should post regularly to keep your audience engaged and interested. You can consider posting once a day or every other day to stay top of mind with your followers.
  • Use Relevant Hashtags: Hashtags are the way to increase the visibility of your posts on Instagram. Using relevant hashtags can help your posts appear in searches for specific topics related to your art, such as #digitalart, #illustration, or #conceptart. Use up to 30 hashtags per post to maximize your reach.
  • Engage with Your Followers: Engagement is essential on any social media platform, and Instagram is no exception. Responding to comments and messages from your followers, asking for their opinions, and sharing behind-the-scenes content can help you build a stronger relationship with your audience.
  • Show Your Process: Instagram is an excellent platform for sharing your creative process with your followers. Consider posting timelapse videos or progress shots of your work to give your audience a glimpse into your creative process.
  • Collaborate with Other Artists: Collaborating with other digital artists on Instagram can help you expand your reach and gain new followers. You can collaborate by creating artwork together, promoting each other’s work, or hosting joint giveaways.
  • Use Instagram Stories: and Reels Instagram Stories and Reels are a great way to showcase your personality and give your followers a more behind-the-scenes look at your life as an artist. You can use stories and reels to share your process, answer questions, or promote upcoming projects or events.
  • Promote Your Work: Instagram is an excellent platform for promoting your artwork and selling your digital products. You can use Instagram ads to reach a wider audience or promote your products directly on your profile through posts or Instagram Stories.

YouTube

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Youtube is another great option for artists looking to get their name out there. For one, you have the ability to monetize your videos and make money from ad revenue. But Youtube is also home to its unique communities, and quite a few artists are on the platform.

Users on Youtube are more likely to subscribe and keep up with their favorite YouTubers, which means the site is fantastic for engagement.

As a digital artist, you can simply upload timelapse videos and grow a following that way.

Some of the best ways to grow a following on YouTube:

  • Consistently Create Content: As a digital artist, you should aim to post new videos on a regular schedule, whether it’s weekly or bi-weekly, to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
  • Optimize Your Videos for SEO: Optimize your videos for search by including relevant keywords in your title and description. This will help your videos appear in searches for topics related to your art.
  • Showcase Your Process: YouTube is a great platform for showcasing your creative process. Consider creating timelapse videos or art tutorials that show your viewers how you create your artwork.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Engage with your audience by responding to comments and asking for feedback. This will help you build a community around your channel and engage your viewers.
  • Use YouTube Analytics: YouTube Analytics gives you valuable insights into your audience, including where your viewers are located, what devices they use to watch your videos, and what videos are performing best. Analytics also show you average watch time, CTR (click-through rate), user retention time, etc. Use this information to optimize your content and grow your channel.
  • Promote Your Channel on Other Platforms: Use other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, to promote your YouTube channel and drive traffic to your videos. You can also include links to your YouTube channel in your email signature and on your website.

Art sites

Sites like Artstation, Behance, DeviantArt, or Dribbble are great not only for connecting with fans but with fellow artists as well.

You can list your digital assets for sale and engage in the artist-to-artist marketplace (which makes up quite the bulk of some digital artists’ revenue).

There are many digital art websites that enable artists like you to post your work, and products, grow a following, and make passive income through your art business.

Create Digital Art Products

The typical digital artist’s products are more varied than one might think. As a digital artist, you can sell resources for other artists, digital downloads, art books, online courses, or commissions.

To maximize your profit as a digital artist, it’s essential to diversify your portfolio by offering various products.

The best place to start is extensive market and product-market fit research. You are essentially either selling digital art products or services, but to maximize the sales, the end product needs to be aligned with what the market wants.

Here are some steps you can take to make effective market research around digital art products:

  • Define your research objective: Identify what you want to achieve through your market research. This could be understanding customer preferences, identifying market trends, assessing the competition, or evaluating pricing strategies.
  • Identify your target market: Determine who your potential customers are and what their needs and preferences are. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and asking your followers on social media.
  • Conduct competitor analysis: Research your competitors (products and businesses) and identify their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you understand the gaps in the market and identify opportunities for differentiation.
  • Analyze market trends: Stay up-to-date with the latest market trends, such as emerging artists and styles, popular platforms and tools, and shifting consumer preferences.
  • Determine pricing strategies: Research how other digital art products are priced and determine what pricing strategy will work best for your product. This may involve conducting pricing experiments with potential customers.
  • Test your ideas: Use surveys and focus groups to get feedback on your product and marketing ideas. This will help refine your approach and identify potential issues before launching your product.
  • Continuously monitor and evaluate: Monitor your market and customers regularly to identify preferences, trends, and competition changes. This will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Digital art resources

Many digital artists create digital art resources in automation. When you draw and create your digital art, for example, in Photoshop or with Clip Studio Paint, the by-product is digital art resources. Resources such as PSD files, high-resolution images, progress shots, etc.

And if you record your drawing process, you create a video that you then sell to your fans and customers. Or, on the other hand, you can publish that video as a timelapse to your YouTube channel.

Creating digital art has many benefits. The beauty of digital art is that the normal creation process will yield resources that you can then sell in marketplaces like Artstation, Gumroad, Cubebrush, Patreon, Creative Market, Creative Fabrica, Etsy, etc.

Online courses

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Online courses are always in high demand. People want to learn how to create art as much as they want to buy it. You can do a one-off course on a specific technique or how to use a certain tool. Or, you can create an in-depth course on the fundamentals of digital art.

Either way, you can include subtle references to your products to bolster your brand. Always include links back to your social media and online storefronts. Also, consider giving your online followers an exclusive discount for your online classes.

I personally sell online courses through multiple marketplaces, and the best part is that you can sell the same course in many places.

Bets marketplaces to sell digital art online courses:

Print-on-demand products

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Print-on-demand products are a fantastic business model for any digital artist. They have a quite good profit margin, as the cost required to produce them isn’t much. Sites like Redbubble or Society6 can produce these products for you on-demand and take care of customer service, billing, etc., for you.

You can simply upload your own designs, and the customer can choose which product they would like your art on.

Some of the most popular print-on-demand products to sell as a digital artist:

  • Art prints
  • Canvas prints
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Phone cases
  • Stickers
  • Posters
  • Mugs
  • Tote bags
  • Notebooks
  • Pillows
  • Laptop sleeves

Digital art books

Sale
Guweiz: The Art of Gu Zheng Wei
  • Hardcover Book
  • Wei, Gu Zheng (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 152 Pages - 09/15/2020 (Publication...

Many digital artists have produced beautiful collections of their work in books. Self-publishing (through, for example, Kindle direct publishing) is an excellent route, although you might consider working with a publisher like 3DTotal.

You can offer an eBook download or a physical copy of your book. In particular, art books are popular as display pieces or coffee table material. Through companies like Amazon, you can offer on-demand printing of your books, so you don’t have to invest in a ready-made stock.

Another option is to turn your online courses into a tutorial book or even transform your art into a coloring book.

Market Your Digital Art Products And Business

Creating and offering products is only half the battle. Marketing is key to the long-term success of your business. Many social media platforms have built-in tools to help you market your art business through ads and sponsored posts. However, you don’t need to invest much of your budget into marketing.

There are other ways to push your products and gain brand awareness without paying for advertising. Organic marketing and SEO-based content creation is a strategic approach many online businesses use today.

Organic marketing

Organic marketing involves mentioning your products, pushing sales, and offering discounts through your existing social media posts or website. You can do this overtly or more subtly by encouraging followers to click through a link to see something.

For example, if you’re offering digital assets like brushes, you can do a YouTube tutorial on how to use them.

Or, you can make a video of your progress on a piece and use that specific asset during the video. Offering your followers an exclusive discount is an essential strategy for securing a sale. Using hashtags and posting in communities can help you make the most out of organic marketing.

Facebook AD campaign

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Facebook has a user-friendly ad campaign center. Identify your target audience and area and describe what products you promote. You simply set a budget, and the algorithm will suggest your posts to people in your desired parameters.

When you sign up, you’ll get some free credits to experiment with the platform. You’ll also be able to track who viewed your ad, what country they’re from, and other demographics they have. Each click will cost you so many cents, and your campaign will run into your allotted budget is gone.

Facebook is great for gaining followers on other platforms or getting sales on specific products. You can also advertise to people who have liked or expressed an interest in a certain topic.

You can also visit the Facebook Ads library to see what kind of ads are currently running in your specific niche.

YouTube video campaign

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YouTube is another platform with easy-to-use ad campaigns. You can advertise your video or channel on related videos, and users can click through to your social media. Even a five-second ad is an excellent opportunity to lure customers in and showcase a sale.

With enough exposure, your brand will begin to get recognition and familiarity among people in your audience. One other idea to pursue? App campaigns. Have your business advertised through a banner or ad in art-related apps. This will help narrow down your audience even more.

Sell Your Digital Art Products

Places like Etsy are well known for selling handmade products, and it’s one of many marketplaces where you can list your digital art for sale. When selling digital art on Etsy, notice that the best-selling digital art on Etsy follows certain trends and themes.

Try to align your digital art according to market demand to increase the likelihood of getting sales.

Sites like Artstation, Gumroad, and Cubebrush are geared toward digital artists and are regularly used by art community members. In these places, it’s best to sell digital art resources, brushes, tutorials, and courses.

Best sites to sell digital art products:

Freelancing

As a digital artist, you are familiar with art software often used by businesses or graphic designers. You can offer commissions or help design logos, or offer to draw unique designs for businesses.

Eye-catching ads and banners are in high demand as social media marketing grows more popular. If you’re new to freelancing, try browsing sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or Toptal.

Most popular freelancing gigs you can do as a digital artist:

  • Graphic design: creating visual content such as logos, business cards, brochures, and website graphics.
  • Illustration: creating artwork for books, magazines, advertising campaigns, and websites.
  • Animation: creating motion graphics, explainer videos, and animated shorts for advertising and entertainment purposes.
  • 3D modeling: creating 3D models for games, movies, product design, and architectural visualization.
  • Character design: creating unique characters for comics, video games, and animation.
  • UI/UX design: designing user interfaces and user experiences for websites, mobile apps, and software.
  • Digital painting: creating digital paintings and illustrations for personal or commercial use.
  • Photo editing: retouching and enhancing photographs for advertising, editorial, or personal use.
  • Web design: creating visually appealing and user-friendly websites for clients.
  • Social media graphics: designing graphics for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Create Your Own Website

One of the best ways to create a brand and a creative online business is to have a website. Creating your own website gives a professional look to your brand, as does your own domain.

It gives you complete creative liberty over your site’s appearance and what you list for sale. Creating a website is extremely simple and cost-effective.

WordPress

You don’t need HTML or UI/UX savviness to design a professional website. WordPress, a blog hosting site, is popular among digital artists and online business owners.

WordPress is the way to go if you are serious about creating an online business. There’s some learning curve to it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use and enables you to build anything.

Steps to get started with WordPress:

Creating an artist website is not difficult; the best part is that you own the content with WordPress. With Squarespace, that’s not the case.

Squarespace

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Squarespace is another web hosting service that is exceptionally user-friendly. Squarespace is a popular choice for online stores and artists selling products. They have an integrated online shop feature that handles everything from payment to invoices.

It’s also integrated with services like Mailchimp, so you can create a mailing list and keep in touch with your customers. Regarding convenience, Squarespace has everything covered so you can focus on your art.

Squarespace is the best solution if you want a website, but content creation, business, and selling are focused on YouTube, Instagram, Etsy, etc.

WordPress vs. Squarespace

Pros of using WordPressPros of using Squarespace
#1 You own the content and the website#1 Ease of use
Pricing and value for moneyHelp and support are available
Amount of features availableReady-made eCommerce
Tailored for bloggingOn-going maintenance is very little
Apps and plugins availableSecurity and updates are managed for you
A table showcasing the different pros of WordPress and Squarespace.

Thank You!

Thank you for visiting the page! If you want to build your next creative product business, I suggest you check out Kittl!