How to sell art online and make money

Have you ever wondered how to sell digital art online on Etsy? Are you Stuck on how to get started selling art online to make money from home?

I’m here to share with you this post, which will show you how to sell art online on Etsy and other platforms.

In this post, we will talk about why Etsy is an excellent place to start selling art online. How to make money selling digital downloads – and create a passive income from home.

Skip the reading with this menu from the post.

What is a digital download
What types of digital items sell well on Etsy
Why sell digital prints on Etsy
What tools do I need to sell digital prints on Etsy
How to scan original artwork to sell on Etsy
How does a digital customer access their files on Etsy
How much does it cost to sell digital art on Etsy
How to price your Digital art prints on Etsy
How much money can I make selling prints on Etsy?
What are the best selling digital art prints on Etsy
How to sell printables on Etsy
How do I make printables to sell on Etsy

What is a digital download?

There are several other jobs you can do online and earn money from home – even without experience or the internet.

A digital download is where you sell to the buyer a file which they then download at home and print independently from you. You are not responsible for the cost of printing or shipping the item.

This makes for a smooth selling model. You profit from the sale, and once the files have been delivered – your job is done.

Types of Digital downloads that sell well on Etsy

You may not have any prints to sell, but you can always start selling other types of downloads on Etsy

  • Digital clip art
  • Digital paper for crafts
  • Digital invitations
  • Digital signs
  • SVG files for Cricut
  • Stencils, templates,
  • Planners
  • Printable Stickers
  • Photographs
  • Mockups
  • Digital services
  • Checklists
  • PDFS
  • Wall art
  • Coloring pages
  • Wall decals
  • Excel sheets for financial support

If you haven’t yet started an Etsy shop – find out what to do before opening an Etsy shop

If you are stuck for a name for your Etsy shop you can get help finding a name first.

Why not start planning your Etsy shop by setting goals

Ok, let’s get started with the details of how to sell art online and make money.

get started guide to selling prints online

Grab the free Ebook today

  • Learn how to get your art online and where to sell it
  • Tools to get started selling digital online prints today
  • Learn how which file sizes to sell so you can go hands-off right away
  • Discovery why I get a 5-star review every time.

It’s important to know that many people sell their own art online, and some sell other people’s artwork online.

For me, I have two shops selling art online on Etsy. In the first shop, I did use a lot of clip art, for which I was able to purchase a license. Allowing me to use that artwork in my own designs and sell them.

My second Etsy shop is solely my own watercolor paintings, which I painted myself and then created digital downloads with them to sell on Etsy. This artwork is Copywrite to me and can not be used by anyone else for resale.

Not everything about it is a passive income of course.

There is the upfront work needed to create the download in the first place. You will need to scan your artwork with a scanner and upload it to Etsy in a suitable file format. Allowing the customer to access those files after purchase.

Some customers do run into difficulty with the file delivery, often they are expecting a print in the post, or they just don’t understand the file labels correctly.

We will cover this later on.

Why would you sell digital PRINTS on Etsy?

Until a few years ago, when selling digital items on Etsy – you needed to store your files off Etsy and direct the buyer to download them. Now Etsy delivers the files for you. So once the payment has been completed, you can sit back while Etsy ensures the files reach your customer.

What is the maximum number of files I can upload to Etsy

There are a limited number of files that Etsy will host for you. It’s a total of 5 files with a maximum of 20mb each. It sounds like a lot, but it isn’t if your artwork is large, or has lots of details and necessitates larger files.

I host a couple of my files within a Dropbox file. I deliver the link to Dropbox to the buyer via a PDF they download immediately after purchase.

You may find this article helpful on the file types allowed on Etsy

What tools do I need to sell digital art prints on Etsy

Hardware for scanning artwork

I scan my artwork into my computer (I use an iMac) using a simple scanner. If you don’t own a scanner or intend to purchase one – I find this scanner works really well for scanning artwork for sale.

I have seen some artists take photos of their work and use that to sell, but I never have.

Software I use for my digital print shop.

I also use Photoshop, which is an Adobe paid app. I like Photoshop better for artwork as it helps maintain details in large prints. Some of my A4 sized prints are printed at A3 size, which means the detail must be concise.

Erank and Marmalead, both paid tools to help you with tags and titles on Etsy. You can pay monthly for both of these and stop them until you have a collection of items to upload and prepare for sale on Etsy.

You can also try newer options with more to offer such as SaleSamuri (get 20% off with code ohshecreate)or EtsyHunt (get 10% off and free access to the pro plan for 3 days) I wrote more about EtsyHunt here.

Do these mean nothing to you? –

If you are completely new to Etsy then you may need help getting found in Etsy search

When you upload your prints for sale on Etsy – you may also wish to invest in some good mockup artwork to show off your prints. These mockups are vital for making a connection with your buyer and ensure your shop looks professional.

How to scan original artwork for sale as digital

I always scan my original watercolors at 600dpi. I then create several sizes in Photoshop and create files for each size.

You will need to clean up your artwork in Photoshop and remove the background from your image. This is quite a tricky process, let me know if you need help with this.

As my scanner is only A4 size – then I ensure my artwork is no bigger than this. Which is a little restricting but does make life easier later on, when you have to scan in your piece several times and join them up in Photoshop.

What you should do –

So create your art no bigger than your scanner bed size if you are just starting out. Later on, you can use a process to scan larger scale artwork.

What size does digital artwork print on Etsy

Included in the listing is a total of 6 files for my digital prints on Etsy. These cover all the various sizes a buyer might be looking for. Although 6 file sizes may seem like a lot – it does mean fewer requests and fewer questions from buyers.

This, in turn, makes the whole buying experience more streamlined and hands-off, allowing me to get on with making more prints to sell.

Remember, these are digital prints, so it is of little extra cost to you to grant the buyer 6 files instead of 1 specific size. The cost of selling the items is the same for you.

What format should I upload my digital prints to Etsy?

All of my prints are JPG files. I used to use PDFs, but since switching to Jpg, I’ve never been asked for a PDF file, so I know the buyer is happy with Jpg files.

Professional printers online may ask for a PDF file, but most will convert it for the customer anyway.

What I do –

My files are all 300dpi. (Dots per inch) – High-resolution files. All of my files are uploaded as RGB.

Correctly naming your files for Etsy.

I use my files in a Ratio format. So each file comes in one size, which can be printed at a larger scale while maintaining the same ratio.

For example
A file with a Ratio of 2:3 = the buyer can print that file in any size, within those guides. E.g., 2x3inches up to 20x30inches.

To make this option very clear to the customer – my digital downloads come with a link where they can find more information on which size to use and where to print it.

You can find out more about how I name my files on Etsy on this page.

How does a digital customer access their files on Etsy

Following the purchase of a digital product on Etsy, the customer receives an email confirmation from Etsy with a link to download the purchased files. They can also log into their Etsy account and find the files under purchases.

What if my files are too big?

I store 3 of my files within my personal dropbox storage. The link to these files is included in the PDF, which Etsy sends the customer after purchase. The downside of this is that anyone with that link can download your files.

As I mentioned, I have 6 files to include, so in order to get them uploaded, I compress the smaller files into a ZIP folder.

How much does it cost to sell art online on Etsy

For each listing, Etsy will charge you 0.20Cents. This is costed each time you sell an item and resist it.

As we are selling digital, the relisting happens automatically since you do not need to restock or create another item to sell.

If you opt to use Paypal, you will also be charged a percentage fee for the price of each item sold. On physical items, you will also be charged for shipping, but as we are selling purely digital, this is not a factor.

Price your Digital art prints on Etsy

Many of us have had the advantage of being able to create artwork in our spare time. We do it because that’s what we love to do. So the thought of selling it off cheaply time after time is somewhat grating.

Remember, if you can resell the same print over and over again – of course, you are helping more people solve a problem with your artwork.

We also want it to appeal to the largest audience possible, so the price point must be a factor in this calculation.

Think about this –

Shops are selling digital prints for 8 or 9 $ each. I find this a little high, as the customer then must factor in the cost of printing the items and the cost of shipping if they have printed using an external company.

Large scale prints can cost upwards of 20-40$, so selling your single print for 6$ over and over again at no extra cost to you seems like a good deal.

What I also do each time if follow up with a message to each buyer suggesting they sign up for my mailing list. This way I can legally contact them again and again later on.

You can find lots of help setting up an email list for your Etsy shop here.

How much money can I make selling art on Etsy?

The numbers here can vary vastly from shop to shop. I’ve had good months where I’ve sold 1500$ a month, and very slow months where I made less than 300$ for the month.

Many shops on Etsy do make a full-time income from their digital products.

If you follow my Etsy boards on Pinterest, I pin helpful inspiring pins that show you just how much your shop can grow.

What to consider when pricing your products on Etsy:

  • Your place in the market – do you credibly warrant a higher price?
  • Do your customers expect to pay more than the average when they buy from you?
  • Is your style trendy right now? – have you been able to gain sales because your style is in demand right now?
  • Have you been able to send a lot of traffic from outside of Etsy?
    Can you drive your own targeted traffic directly to your Etsy shop, or are you relying on Etsy to send passing buyers?
  • Have you costed in any promotions you may be running ?- using ads on Etsy can eat into your profits quickly if you don’t raise your prices.

I recently placed my whole shop on 50% off sale and made double what I usually make at full price. This gives me confidence that my items are selling, but can I keep that traction going after I put my products back to full price. – we will see.

What are the best selling digital art prints on Etsy

Doing a little research into your completion on Etsy is favorable before you put in lots of time creating artwork. Or before buying artwork if you plan on using licensed work to sell.

You can find lots of sales statics on Etsy by visiting craft count.
If you can’t link to the shop you wish to see, it’s helpful to do a separate search on google to find the store on Etsy as I’ve noticed some of the names don’t match up.

Once you have completed a little research, find those shops, and check out their reviews. Usually, it’s a good indication of which products they are selling the most of.

Another way to find the best selling art on Etsy is to use the search bar.

Search for your main keyword on a broad term. For example – you might search for Blue digital art prints. Some may have the Best Seller badge. You can read this post on how to create a best seller in Etsy

This will give you a glimpse into each shop’s reviews, a simple way to see who is selling more in general. A shop with 3 reviews will surely have sold less than a shop with 300 reviews. Just set a timer and do some digging.

A word of warning

Once you have fallen down the rabbit hole at this stage, you may well feel that it’s already out there. Your ideas are not new, or lots of shops have been going for so long, doing so well, it will be virtually impossible to catch up.

Don’t let this stop you.

Your job is not to compete, it is to start.

Think of yourself at paddling at the edge – you need to get your toes wet before going for a full swim.

What are the downsides of selling digital art online on Etsy?

You will have the inevitable customer who didn’t read the description or those capital flashing letters which read Digital Item – nothing will be shipped to you.

They will demand a refund, and you will give it to them.

Trust me

It’s is not worth a 1-star review if you are withholding 4$ and loosing 50$.

Also, it is very tempting for shops on Etsy to purchase your items and begin selling them in their own shop.

Or worse sell them of large print on demand sites in Asia. Yes, I’m looking at you (big bulk buying shop)

This is part of the course. Don’t worry about it, deal with it when and if it happens.

You can also be shut down for selling Copywrite items, or you have received an infringement notice.

Trust me – in the land of everyone sues you – everything can be copyrighted. You can do some checking on this site beforehand, which will help minimize any costly mistakes in the future.

How to sell printables on Etsy

If you can’t draw or have no interest in art, but are super organized and create a handy little printable, – then create a shop selling printables on Etsy.

Many shops begin by selling one single printable and move on to selling more of the same or expand to other items.

Finding other ideas of items to sell on Etsy and make money from home.

How do I make printables to sell on Etsy

Well, this is a whole other post – but if you would like further help on creating printable to sell, check out some of these posts.

Suzy has a great post on creating printables with powerpoint

Or a course on creating printables in Canva too

How can I start selling Digital prints if I have not money?

Don’t worry – there are websites dedicated to showing you Public Domain Art. All of which are mostly FREE and completely legal to download and print.

The legal side of this is so tricky – you do need to check which sites you can use and which artworks are now considered Public Domain.

Fortunatly there are dedicated PDFs to help you with this.

This PDF has 100’s of links for you to follow and shows you the best places to find Public Domain works online. I’ve used this PDF myself to find interesting artwork to download and sell online.

Also if you don’t quite know what to do with all this free artwork, this PDF will help you decide which niche and how to transform the artwork in passive income online. I also use this PDF if I’m stuck for ideas.

Final thoughts on selling art online and making money from home

If you liked this helpful post on selling art online – please pin me to your favorite Pinterest board.

How to sell art online and make money

Know what you would like to sell before beginning – do your research into Etsy and get a good grasp of what art is selling and how much it is selling for BEFORE you begin. Find out what to do before you open an Etsy shop.

You will need a few tools to get started – a way of turning your beautiful artwork into a digital format. Don’t buy a cheap scanner as it will come at the expense of your image detail, and you don’t want that.

Name your files correctly and create sizes inline with what is on Etsy already. These shops have already done the research for you, and they know what sizes sell better than you do.

Price your digital products with a mind of the competition. – Whenever I open a digital shop, I usually give everything away very cheaply until I reached 100 sales. This gives a little confidence to the buyers, and they have no idea you only started a month ago.

Selling digital items is not entirely passive income. You must maintain your shop and add new items regularly. You must also develop a Strategy to getting external traffic sent to your shop from outside Etsy.

Sign up to access the free resource library today and find more PDFs to download and help you on your Etsy journey.

I’ll give out simple tips I’ve learned from having 3 Etsy shops and making a pretty significant side income from home.

I hope this post on selling art online on Etsy has helped you.

If you would like to have a go at making art prints at home to sell – then you can sign up for one of my mailing lists.

Paint pallet with the text how to make digital prints to sell online

How to sell art online and make money

Find our other helpful posts on selling digital art prints online, even using free artwork within the public domain.

What should I charge for digital art?

How to sell digital downloads online

How to open an Etsy Shop

get started guide to selling prints online

Grab the free Ebook today

  • Learn how to get your art online and where to sell it
  • Tools to get started selling digital online prints today
  • Learn how which file sizes to sell so you can go hands-off right away
  • Discovery why I get a 5-star review every time.

Similar Posts


  1. Great article! Quick question…if I’m wanting to sell digital files on Etsy (for customers to print) do I need to ‘save’ the file (link) to a 3rd party website (do I need to download some kind of application/site) or do I simply save my file in my own “Library” on my computer and upload it when creating an Etsy listing? I’ve been searching a ton of information & it seems like the customer would need some kind of ‘link’ (outsourced site) to download the file. What am I missing here? Am I making any sense? 🙂

    1. Hello Michelle
      Thank you. No, you will upload your files directly to the Etsy listing. When someone purchases, Etsy will email them a link to download their purchases and also add the links to ‘your purchases’ in their Etsy account.
      You can upload 5files up to a max of 20mb each. If your files are larger than this for some reason. Then yes, you can upload them to google drive or Dropbox and instead upload a PDF for them to download – which contains the link.
      I hope that helps

      1. Wonderful! Thanks so much for the quick reply…I really appreciate it.

  2. This has been by far the most helpful post on this topic that I have come across!

    I have ink drawings that i have done in my sketchbook. Can I digitize these using Procreate? I don’t want to change much on them. I was wondering if I can take photo of my drawing or scan my drawing in. upload onto procreate and then what would the next steps be on procreate?


    1. Hello – Thank you, So pleased you liked it.
      I haven’t any experience with Procreate, but what you need to do is lift off the background if possible. Then you add a new white background in. This makes the pictures pop and improves the printing experience. If you don’t do this – the customers complain about ‘bits’ in the background. I believe it’s possible, but maybe you will need to watch some YouTube videos first. Although you are making them into digital items, your priority is to get a clean background. If you can achieve this with maybe Lightroom or Snapseed on IOS – that might help. I know Adobe is doing a longer trial period right now, so that’s also worth looking into. Thanks Trina

  3. Olivia Tebben says:

    Hey! Love your post about selling artwork online.. any advice on editing watercolor within photoshop? I’m confused about sizing and how if you offer one size the customer could use it to have various sizes printed from that one size.



    1. Hello Olivia
      Thank you – I will email you directly and see if I can help you. Thank you Trina

  4. Hello..Your post is great and very helpful. Am also confused about sizing the digital prints. Any advice?

  5. Hi, It is a wonderful and very useful article. Can I buy some digital designs with extended insurance from others and make my own designs out of that and sell on etsy?. If yes, do I need to list as someone made the item ?


    1. Hi – thank you
      I’m happy it was helpful. Yes, you may purchase items online and sell them yourself. You must purchase with the correct commercial licence from a reputable store. In most cases you must make significant changes to the design and create a new product from the items. You wouldn’t be able to buy clip art and sell it as your own clip art. You must you the clip art in your own design and then you can sell it.
      I hope that’s helpful
      Thanks again

  6. Hi Trina,
    I just stumbled on your blog and really enjoy the info. My question is about file formats. I sell digital art that includes some designs with text. I’ve started uploading jpeg files for my customers but recently tried printing one of my text designs and it was pixelated. So I printed it instead from PDF and it was much more crisp. So now I’m wondering if I should offer PDF instead. Or both? Maybe pdf for designs with text and jpeg for the other art? Any guidance you can offer is appreciated!

    1. Hello Melissa
      I’m not sure how you made your designs, but I use either Illustrator or Photoshop and I make them very big. They are often over 5Mb as I am scanning in watercolor. For printed items with text using Illustrator is a good option as it uses vectors, not pixels. Ensure your artboard is set up as 300dpi CMYK and Print format. Usually – I’d recommend ‘flattening’ the file as well – and ensuring your text is turned to anti-aliasing. In Illustrator – select the text and select expand. You can’t make any more changes to it – but it will come out clearer. I only use jpegs as I’m working in PS – and I want them to print an image, I don’t want the printer to ‘make up’ any pixels. This is all assuming the error is with your file – however, please check your printer settings. The default is often ‘low res’ and this could also be your problem. Jpg will always result in a smaller file. If I create files in A4 size, I recommend printing them at A4 or lower. If your customer is wishing to print larger files – say, A3 – then you should make your files in A3 in the first instance, and then you should have no problems. With my first prints, I actually ordered them online myself with 3 printers to check the quality before I put them on sale or made any more prints. If you make your files and not on them the resolution and size – it helps as does exporting them as ‘print’ files. Also, use the same template each time once you know that one is perfect. Let me know if you need more help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.