Generally people like to save the best for last, but I’m going to go with the best first. Building up the infrastructure to sell art online requires time. When you post artwork for sale, it can take months for search engines to pick up your entry. So I’m going to tell you about my favorite Print-On-Demand site first, because, the sooner your get started, the better.
As I’ve mentioned before, Print-On-Demand (abbreviated “POD”) sites are websites that display your artwork on the web, and, from which, people can purchase prints. A print of your art is not made until someone places and order. The POD site handles accepting the payment, making the print, shipping it and handling any returns. The website gets part of the profit from the sale and your get the rest.
There are dozens of POD sites on the web. So which is the POD site that I prefer, the site where I keep all of my art that I sell as prints? It’s FineArtAmerica.com (abbreviated by most people as FAA).
FineArtAmerica.com has recently been transitioning to the name Pixels.com, so visitors can go to either site and your works will appear on both (There is one subtle difference between the two: pixels offers phone cases featuring your art in addition to prints).
There are quite a lot of features I like about FAA…too many to list in this article, so I’m only going to cover the top ones.
In my experience, the biggest benefit that FAA offers is mark-ups. On FAA you specify your commission for a print sale as a dollar amount…you set a mark-up for each print size. Conversely, almost every other POD site has you specify your commission as a percentage of the total sale, which makes it hard for you to know how much you will get for a sale and sometimes (depending on how they do their math) can make your works much more expensive than they would be on FAA for the same commission amount. In fact, the owner of FAA, has an article that includes this very subject.
Sized to Fit Prints
One of the things that drives me nuts about most POD sites, it that they only sell particular sizes of prints. These are usually the standard sizes such as 11″x14″, 16″x20″, 18″x24″, etc. The problem with this is that your artwork’s aspect ratio can’t fit all those sizes, and, in fact, may fit none of them at all. To deal with this, those sites force your work to be cropped to fit their offered sizes. Not so, with FAA. On FAA, the selections are based on the length of the longer side of your art. The shorter side is automatically adjusted to fit your whole image, meaning that no cropping is necessary.
For users who pay the annual fee ($30 U.S.), FAA automatically creates a website just for you. You can even have your own domain name (like DanielEskridge.com) redirected to this site. Your artist website requires no additional work on your part; though, if you want to, you can customize it to some degree. One of the great things about this site, is that visitors see only your work and none of the work of other artists on FAA. For instace, if visitors do a search on your artist website, only your works show up in the results.
If you’re an illustrator like me, there is a licensing program that allows people interested in using your art for their commercial endeavors to purchase non-exclusive license agreements. FAA handles the contract, fee collection, and the delivery of the high resolution file. All you have to do is watch the fee get credited to your account! Note that they do add a 30% mark-up on top of your fee.
Other Great Features
Here’s a few other great features:
- You can sell originals on FAA
- FAA has a mechanism for you to manage an email marketing campaign
- FAA allows you to generate discount codes and have limited promotions
- FAA has social aspects such as user organized Contests and Groups
FAA is not perfect. Here are a few cons that I can think of…
A lot of POD sites are free to use. FAA does have a free option, however you are limited to 25 works for sale and you miss out on a lot of features, like the artist website. The fee could be worse though as it is only $30 (U.S.) a year.
The internal search engine, collection galleries, and featured images all favor artists whose prints sell better. If you are new to FAA, this works against you a bit as the established artists have the advantage. However, keep in mind that the folks at FAA report that most sales come from buyers who found the art via a Google search, not from internal browsing and searching.
Upload size limit
Any image you upload to FAA must be under 25 megabytes. For a large high quality JPEG, that is easy to pass. I often finding myself having the lower the compression quality of my images to fall under that limit.
For digital artists like myself, this isn’t much of a problem, but photographers and traditional artists may get hit with this. Whenever a print is ordered from FAA, someone checks the quality of the image and might reject if it falls below a certain standard. Generally, they look for things like blurriness, pixelation, visible edges – like the side of the canvas that the painting is on, etc, i.e. technical flaws. The problem is you don’t get this rejection until someone orders a print. That means that not only does the artist miss out on a commission, but the buyer might be driven away. In some cases, it is understandable, as the images really are of poor quality, but I’ve often seen artists complain of an image being rejected that was really not that bad or only appeared to have problems due to the artists particular style.
There is a lot to FAA. If you are looking for a good POD site, I strongly suggest you check it out.