How to Sell Art on eBay (Make Money in 2021)

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If you’re an artist, selling online is a huge benefit. Especially if you want to scale. One of the many ways to do that is to sell art on eBay and leverage their HUGE traffic resource. Once you set it up right, it can work for you while you get busy doing your craft.
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How to Sell Art on Ebay (5 Steps to Make Money 2021)

If you’re an artist, selling online is a must. Especially if you want to scale. One of the many ways to do that is to sell art on eBay and leverage their HUGE traffic resource.

You might wonder why I decided to write an in-depth article on how to sell on eBay when I teach artists how to build and grow their own brand websites.

It’s because tapping into large traffic sources and growing your own traffic are both important to scaling your business.

To grab a BIG share of traffic, you can utilize proven platforms like eBay. The overall goal is get more people to recognize you and your talent and to become patrons and fans of your work.

So, today I’ll show you how to start selling on eBay the right way. It can help put money in your pocket while you work to grow the traffic coming to your own website.

I understand that it may not have been top on your list, but eBay art sales are a real thing and you can be part of it.

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WHY SELL ART ON EBAY?

During the first quarter of 2020, eBay’s revenue was $2.4 billion and the number of active registered users grew by 2% to 174 million people.

Without being famous or having a gigantic database, you’re constantly having to fight for visibility.

That’s why it makes sense to go where tons of buyers already have their wallets and coin purses in hand.

Ebay is a great traffic grabber and a great solution.

If you want to increase recognition and sales, then leveraging highly trafficked platforms makes sense.

To make money selling on eBay, you’ll need to know how to create a shop and listings that get attention.

5 STEPS TO SELL ART ON EBAY AND MAKE MONEY

  •    Research
  •    Set Up
  •    Sell
  •    Optimize
  •    Protect

Once you get attention, you can start converting it into sales.

Then, those sales can turn into loyal fans who will share your brand with others! That’s our mantra for you!

Keep in mind that eBay draws a massive crowd whose goal is already to buy.

Annnnnd… eBay has spent many years perfecting their features which makes finding anything (including art) a powerful and user-friendly action.

With that in mind, the best advice before using any marketplace, including eBay, is to become aware of their rules and requirements.

Once you understand that, then you can build your presence there.

You want a quality online space that represents your awesome sauce brand the way it should. 😉

Now, let’s begin.

1. RESEARCH FIRST

I wouldn’t feel right recommending a selling platform to you (even a well-known one like eBay) without asking you to check out their “ingredients label” aka do a little of your own research first.

The best research for selling on any marketplace includes these three things:

  • the platform
  • the rules and requirements
  • the competition

Just start with eBay’s Rules and Policies first to decide if it’s right for you.

Specifically, take a look at their website layout, their fees and features and the types of listings and shop options.

Artists can do some of their best research using ebay’s “Welcome to eBay Art”.

This page has information and links to everything art on eBay.

At the top is “Shop by Category”

Arts Row Article How to Sell Art on eBay

Then, “Shop by Artist”

Shop by Artist for How to Sell Art on eBay

 

Followed by “Art”

Art on eBay for How to Sell Art on eBay

They’ve broken down their art by Categories, Trending, Featured Sellers, and Resources.

They also include art exhibits, art for everyone, and more to explore sections for even more ultra niche filter ideas.

It’s a great place to start your research.

Next, you’ll want to learn from the pros.

Find out who your competition is.

Search art that’s similar to yours and research creators’ shops.

  • What are they selling specifically?
  • How well are they selling?
  • What is their shop rating?
  • What categories are they using?

 

Read their reviews.

Which artists have the most sales and highest ratings?

Model and improve on what you see.

By looking at artists similar to you, you’ll have a much better chance at knowing what you want to do and what you don’t.

Don’t recreate the wheel.

Build your shop similarly to theirs, but with your own flare.

Be sure to take a look at their layout and wording in their shop, their listings and even their return policies.

Doing all of this will cut down on the work you need to put in up front.

And since Ebay wants its sellers to keep coming back as well as its buyers, they’ve created the eBay Seller Hub. See eBay’s Seller Hub here.

It has everything you need in one nifty place making selling much easier.

You can also look at your sales by going to My eBay > Selling.

 

Here’s how My eBay Selling looks:

word image 1 1

 

 

In the Seller Dashboard > Account tab, you can check seller info, traffic and sales.

word image 1 2

 

For more options such as preferences, feedback, payment gateways and more, you can go to My eBay > My Account > Seller Dashboard and Reports and Service Tools.

Find Competitors by Using Minus

If you are trying to research know there are terms, key words or phrases that you do not want your art to show up for, then you can prevent Cassini from displaying it by using a minus symbol before it (e.g. “-contemporary”).

By using this method, you are telling eBay’s search engine to not display your listing in any searches that contain that word or set of words.

You can use this with OR listing patterns too. That means that you can also exclude a whole list of terms, key words or phrases that you do not want to be included in a searcher’s request by listing them comma separated.

Wildcard Asterisk (*)

Using an asterisk (*) in your search on eBay (and on many other search engines such as Google) will display any combination of what you enter.

Use Quotes to be Literal

The way quotes work is that the words you put in quotes will give results in the exact order that you place them.

Vary Tactics for Best Results

Using some combination of the tactics we’ve gone over, you can create a super query that will deliver exactly what you want.

2. SET UP SHOP

Now it’s time to set up your art store on eBay.

Setting up your space on eBay is fairly simple.

Enter a few details about your creative business and register as a seller.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to list your first piece of work.

Get the complete (4 minute overview) on how to start selling on eBay here.

Some selling details are important to consider before you commit to using their platform.

Here are a few notable details:

  • EBay’s selling fees equate to about 13% of your sale value.

EBay takes a fee for both the item sold and the shipping costs (unless you decide to leave their platform to pay for shipping on your own).

  • PayPal charges 2.9% of the payment if you decide to use them.

Just be sure to do that pesky homework.

It pays off in the end knowing exactly how much the platform will cost you.

I don’t ever want you taking a loss just to sell your work, my friend.

Problematic Items for Artists

In reality, there are people who ruin a good thing for the rest of us.

Ebay is like anything else. There are some dishonest people who may want to victimize you so I couldn’t write this guide without addressing that.

To safeguard your eBay store, it’s best to avoid these high-risk items for artists:

  • Artwork with multiple parts or components that could be removed and the item returned
  • Autographed works without COA
  • Artist event tickets

If you want more information, read up on how to protect yourself from eBay scams and commonly counterfeited items.

3. SELL YOUR ARTWORK

Sales That Convert

You’ve set up your creative shop on eBay. Now, you’ll want to follow the best sales practices.

Following these practices will help ensure that you sell enough to make it worth your while.

And using the tips below to optimize your artwork listings on eBay will help boost your reputation and drive more traffic to you.

In return you’ll increase eBay SEO, your Google rankings and bring interested buyers into your own space.

Let’s look at best selling practices for eBay in particular.

eBay’s Search Engine – Cassini

eBay’s search engine is Cassini.

While the company doesn’t tell us exactly how Cassini works, they do indicate several key important points.

eBay’s search is value-driven, data-driven and shopper-oriented.

It works by looking at catalog and item specifics as well as item descriptions and category appropriateness.

listings that have the words you type into their search box.

What that means is that the more words or phrases you use in the search box, the more narrow your search results will be.

People are usually very specific about what they want.

They type exactly what they want in order to find the right thing.

Therefore, they’ll enter more words to weed out the millions of items that come up when you type in just one or two words.

Descriptions and Variations

When you describe your art, you’ll need to use words you think people will use to find exactly what you’re offering.

Most artists try to fill their description with as many words as they can in the listing title.

But there is simply not enough space for all the words you would need to capture everyone who is searching.

To fix this, you can use synonyms for the words in your description.

Think of different ways people say the same thing. For example, synonyms, abbreviations, misspellings or alternate spellings.

These could be things like flower instead of daisy, MLK instead of Martin Luther King Jr., pastle instead of pastel, or daze instead of days.

You’ll want to research the words that other artists are using to get to the top of eBay search results.

You may even consider using parentheses for “or” searches.

If you want to search for one word OR another, then put the words in parentheses and divide them by commas.

Item Specifics

With 170+ million people strolling through eBay, buyers have learned they can find what they want much faster if they use the filter feature to narrow their search.

To have your amazing artworks show up when buyers use the eBay filters, you’ll need to make sure you apply specific values to your art type and category.

These are called item specifics.

Some item specifics are mandatory and some are only recommended.

Warning…. if your listing doesn’t include item specifics, it will not show up in search when users apply relevant filters.

To avoid getting bumped out of a search completely, use as many of the filters as possible.

eBay states that up to 80% of listings don’t even make use of the top three item specifics for their category. Being armed with that knowledge, you can jump ahead of the curve by making sure you avoid that mistake.

If you choose to follow the crowd and ignore using all item specifics, your eye-popping works will rapidly disappear from search as users apply filters. Makes sense, right?

We don’t want you to risk losing traffic simply because you don’t’ take the extra couple of minutes to add all the details.

Your new art posting rule: use every specific, in every category, every time you list.

We now know eBay uses item specifics to index in search. This feature creates extensions of your title making a direct impact on eBay SEO.

When you use accurate item specifics, you increase visibility in eBay search results, Google search, and Google Shopping, and more. (Hey… that’s cool. We definitely want you to rank in Google.)

People use the item specifics to filter. That makes finding your listing a whole lot more of a sure thing.

One last important thing to note about item specifics is their importance in mobile search results. Why? Because mobile users are encouraged to filter more than desktop users.

Strategic Subtitles

Use of subtitles can help to clarify even more to the searcher what it is you’re selling.

Subtitles have been available on the platform almost as long as the platform has been around and they give people another way to decide if you’re the right one.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but less information tends to keep people from clicking rather than the other way around.

Through their own study back in 2012, eBay found that subtitles increased views by 26%.

The drawback?

Subtitles will cost you a small fee.

You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons and decide if the boost in SEO is beneficial enough to pay for subtitles.

Keep in mind that they are a good place to add details that can get lost inside a post description, highlight important selling points and give you more real estate to inform about your work.

In the end, using subtitles can be a strategic method that’ll bring more action. You just need to decide yay or neigh.

Perfect Pricing

Pricing your art is a decision that always comes with plenty of thought.

Having it listed on eBay brings a few more challenges, however. Your work isn’t meant to be devalued in any way because it is listed on an “auction” site.

It is well known that eBay is typically the go-to place for bargain prices.

People who visit eBay can be true bargain hunters. With that in mind, your research will give you a good idea on what to price competitively.

Selling art on other marketplaces requires competitive pricing. But it’s even more important when selling on eBay.

The reason is…. sorting by price is a widely used filter feature as the last sort strategy.

That means most eBayers first use the filter features to narrow down by style, size, originality, medium, date created and so on. Last, they’ll use the pricing filter to find the price they want.

Art, however, is unlike manufactured products in how price plays a part in the decision to buy.

Because of its unique aesthetic nature, originality and appeal, art can sell regardless of price.

11. eBay price filters and sort by price

It’s important to know that the filter feature displays items excluding shipping.

There are some sellers on eBay who charge a larger amount for shipping in hopes to recover some of their lost revenue because of lowered pricing in order for their products to display to potential buyers.

This will just anger people and lower your conversions.

In fact, studies show that people prefer lower or no shipping.

However, being honest about how much it costs to ship your art is best practice.

To set up your eBay SEO strategy, you will want to consider other similar art, prices and shipping.

There is something else you need to know about how the eBay marketplace serves products to viewers.

eBay is not catalog-driven.

This means that there could be thousands of listings from different artists for “landscape painting”.

Amazon however, is a catalog-driven marketplace.

Amazon ‘s products are connected to one listing in their product catalog.

eBay doesn’t have a central catalog.

4. OPTIMIZE

Winning Images

First, we want to make sure every single listing of your work is eye-poppin’ beautiful.

To do that, let’s start with imagery.

Optimize your talent and skill by capturing it with a photo (your phone will do just fine as long as you know how to get it adjusted just right!).

Want it to be perfect? Get my image filters for picture perfect listings every time.

You’ll also want to be sure you nail your title and description.

I talk a lot about keywords and both of these content pieces need to be optimized for the same keywords you’re using for your work.

Make them as specific and descriptive as possible.

If people can envision your art in their space they’ll be able to feel what it will be like to dwell with it.

Jump ahead with Promoted Listings

eBay uses Promoted Listings to both encourage and help sellers. After all, their goal is to keep you engaged and selling on their platform.

And although eBay has been around now for a quarter of a century, Promoted Listings didn’t come on the scene until just 5 years ago in 2015.

Promoted Listings help you get a higher spot in search results in exchange for a percentage of your sales.

The way they work is by showing your listing as a “sponsored” ad. Your listing is boosted to the top of search in return for you paying a bit more to eBay.

The best part is, you only pay eBay if you make a sale from the ad… woo hoo!

Compare that to a traditional Pay Per Click (PPC) ad on Google or a sponsored ad on Amazon. For those, you’ll have to pay for every single click.

Even better, you don’t pay eBay for your Promoted Listing even if you sell works from your regular placement listings that show in regular search results.

Promoted Listings are a great way to boost your new store.

Since we want you to get off the ground quickly and move those first few pieces to start building your brand reputation, then I recommend using the Promoted Listing.

It’s a good marketing strategy for the newbie. It gives you good data and feedback from which to use for your future listings, marketing and sales.

I think you should also know that there are over sixty potential ad placements in the eBay search results on desktop, mobile and the mobile app.

It’s something to seriously consider.

Seller Center

Learn more about optimizing your shop on eBay in the Seller Center.

It is the best place to learn about

  • authentication
  • return protection
  • boosting sales with social media #sellerlife

You’ll learn that and a whole lot more.

Optimize, Relist or End… That is the Question

Sales history and conversions are an important factor in the way Ebay displays search results.

Because of that, it’s important to understand that you’ll be better off to end old, low-performing listings.

Trying to improve them won’t help you get more views.

That’s because listings with poor sales history attached to them will always rank lower. It’s simply the way eBay’s search optimization system works.

All your improvement efforts will be in vain.

However, if your listing is getting plenty of views and engagement, then it’s a good idea to relist it if it doesn’t sell.

Continual optimization is the key to growing your shop views and sales, so don’t leave it out! 🙂

5. PROTECT WITH POLICIES

Art Refunds & Returns

It’s always a good idea to extend the olive branch with a solid return policy, but it’s also important to have one so that you can protect yourself, my creative friend!

Whenever you sell on a marketplace like eBay, whether you sell art on eBay or something else, be sure to read their default policy. 

At least, start there and adjust it to what you want and need.

It’s also a good idea to check out how eBay tells you to set up your return policy and to check out returns and refunds laws in your state.

Feedback

In current times, people use consumer ratings that are publicly displayed to help them decide if a seller or company or product is of quality.

eBay is no different.

You can build a strong brand selling art on eBay by first offering great artwork that shows off your amazing talent.  

Next, you build your brand by giving awesome customer service which results in high seller ratings.

This positive feedback makes your “seller rating” stars shine and makes your shop inviting. 

Your rating highlights not only how much people love the art you’re selling on eBay, but also how you are as an eBay shop owner.

These together help bring in new customers.

You know first impressions are important. And it’s the same for your eBay shop.

Bad reviews and complaints put customers off. So, make sure you avoid them at all cost.

Just provide stellar customer service and products. Communicate readily and always be professional.

Have your shop connected to an email address that you check regularly.

Truth Bomb:  Once I forgot to check the email I used for my eBay shop and a sale went unnoticed for a week. Needless to say, that did not help me improve my customer experience! 

And I DON’T want that happening to you.

Overall, you can get your shop up and ready to earn the right way in just a few hours.

Paula M. Soito
Paula M. Soito

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Paula Soito Arts Row Founder/CEO
ABOUT PAULA SOITO

She is the founder and CEO of Arts Row, Inc. and and an international arts industry writer for Art Market Magazine distributed to Barnes & Noble and universities worldwide.

Paula was recognized as a “top 100 entrepreneur” for Mastermind.com and awarded the partner Impact Award by Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi and Russell Brunson. 

 

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