Monday, November 30, 2009

Online Galleries - Worth it??

Besides my website, I also have images listed on various online galleries. To be honest, I am not sure it is worth the effort.

Currently I am part of four different websites;,,, and A couple of sales have been made as a result of showing on these sites, but I am still not sure it makes up for the time and money spent to participate.

So why have I chosen to show my work in places besides my own website? There may be a couple of reasons. One is the lure of increasing my exposure. This may be a myth however. I think I read somewhere that showing on different websites increases your ranking with the search engines. Not sure if this is true but it sounds good.

Playing the odds is also part of the appeal of listing on these alternative venues. There is always that thought that someone out there may stumble across one of your images because you were on one of these sites. The flip side to this is that you are usually only one of hundreds or even thousands of artists listed, all competing for that buyer that just happened by.

The costs to be a part of other online ventures varies. Most take a percentage of the purchase price. One of the sites – has a multi-leveled annual membership fee that is based on how much they will promote your work. In addition they also charge a commission on sales.

Of all of them, seems to be the most expensive. They began charging a $25 monthly fee to be part of their site last year. This adds up quickly. Why I agreed to this has to do with the tremendous traffic they receive, as well as the opportunity to be chosen to appear in their catalogs. So far nothing has happened has a result of having one of my images selected for their holiday catalog – but it’s not even December yet. They also take a 50% commission.

Besides the ones I have listed, there are many more online galleries out there, with more being added every day. I do know of artists having success on, but I have always wondered if 2D work sells very well there.

I think one of the reasons I wanted to write this post was to see how many other artists are showing their work on similar sites. So if anyone out there has a story to tell, please share it. I am curious to see if other artists feel that sales are possible on these sites or are online galleries just the virtual equivalent of "vanity" galleries?

For more information about listing on these sites, please click the links below.


  1. Great question to post Dianne. I think success on all of these sites depends much on each artist's promotional efforts. For the meantime I prefer the ones with no fees and I've had some sucess with cards and small prints on Zazzle. One day I may look into some of the other sites you've mentioned.

  2. Hi Dianne...thank you for the Thanksgiving wishes. I have been with etsy for a year now and haven't sold anything. I think the investment is so small that I will continue it for a while. I am also on cafe press. I agree with Katherine that it is up to the artist to keep promoting, but the computer is such a huge eater of time. I saw a comment the other day about being on sites that are for other artists. That does defeat the purpose if customers are not visiting. I think the site managers are ahead of the game. I will be curious to see what others say. Take care.

  3. Thanks, I am glad I wrote this because it has given me a chance to really think about if this is where I want to place my energy. I did get an interesting email from someone commenting from the buyers perspective. She said: "I am on the web all the time, but for me, unless it was by an artist I know already I doubt I would ever consider buying some sort of art off a website". I would love to hear more from both sides.

  4. The internet is a terrific venue for selling (and buying) known or unique merchandise, but I question its value for selling original art. I suspect establishing relationships with well respected, high traffic galleries in art communities would produce better long term results. Just my $0.02 :)

  5. Hi Dianne. I am also in a couple of those online galleries, and I also often question how best to allocate my time and energy.

    Theoretically, the galleries have the potential for greater exposure. Yet so far, it has not lead to many (if any) sales.

    I have found that my best sales come through my own website. The traffic may be small, but once I get an inquiry, being able to connect directly with customers (instead of through a middleman) leads more naturally to a sale. Or if it doesn't, it often at least leads to a new fan, and a potential sale or reference in the future.

    I'll still consider staying in a couple of these other galleries, but the higher their fees are, the more they will need to be justified by delivering some (any) sales.

  6. Thanks everyone! I am really starting to lean toward pulling out of the expensive sites and not putting too much time into the other ones. I will keep you posted!

  7. GREAT question! I am considering selling prints on Zenfolio. The key is WILL I sell prints? There is no point in spending money when there is little or no results of income.

  8. I'm using I tend to break even on the cost and sales and for a fact havne't even begun mining a push on that site. I use it as an easy place to send shops (from cold calls or from postcard mailings) because it is a professional and known entity - and it's organized better than my own website currently is. I've also sold directly from my website. I am up on other sites, but only free ones, as I think the web is a great place for portfolios but takes as much work as any other venue (cyber or physical) to create sales.

  9. I have showed with Artful Homes for about six years. They featured me in catalogs a few times. My sales were modest but good considering how select their market audience is. But they were professional and I liked the association and the sales.
    But this past year, since they started charging $300. a year, they have not marketed well if at all, they have let many of their staff go, they have paid late (with apologies), the search engines do not bring up my work in most categories they should be in and I have had NO holiday sales (where I used to have many). Their catalogs seems focused on glass, ornaments, and furniture and jewelry.They allow unlimited editions of the above, but require limited editions of prints (except on wood-why I don't know). Work that should be searchable is not showing up in searches. Work that should be part of sales is not listed. The quality of artists there have dropped considerably and many of their Best artists have left. I know this is a tough economy, but the $300. annual AND 50% commission means they have actually been taking a 75% commission on sales for me and with no obvious effort. Some of their staff have been great. Some not so.
    I am about to drop them. I do not believe in "pay to show." They profess to "market" their artists, but that effort has seemingly dropped off the charts.
    I really can't afford to see this out much further.
    I like them so much more the way they were before they started charging a fee AND a 50% commission.
    It seems, at the very least, that with the fee, they should charge a 10-25% commisssion or a promise of catalog inclusion, which they do not promise.