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The Best Shop Platforms for Artists & Illustrators – Open a shop & Sell your Art

By 10 March, 2021Selling your Work

The Best Shop Platforms for Artists & Illustrators – Open a shop & Sell your Art

Opening up an online shop for artists and illustrators has never been easier, it can be a fantastic source of income, and the ability to create art for customers instead of clients is many creatives’ dream.

Finding the right shop service for you and your work comes down to what you’re willing to pay and what kind of features you’re looking for. Hopefully, I can make that comparison easier in this guide and help you through choosing the right shop platform for your art.

This post contains affiliate links, clicking on these links will earn Creativehowl a commission if purchases are made.

Shop platforms for Artists & Illustrators

What to consider when picking a Shop platform

Fees & Monthly cost

All e-commerce platforms have fees for transactions, but how much they’re charging differs a lot. And most have a monthly fee but not everyone.

What kind of product you plan to sell is important to consider when looking at the fees.

credit card

Example A

I’m going to use an example from myself, I’m an artist and I sell sculptures in my online shop, they take a lot of time to make and they’re quite expensive.

A shop platform that has high fee on each sale will take away a lot of my profit, just because my prices are high and my production cost is high (time = money). So for myself I would prioritize a platform that has low % fees on transaction. (Big Cartel for example).

Example B

Here’s another example, my girlfriend who’s an illustrator sells art prints in here online store. She orders prints in bulk and they are pretty cheap, making her profit margins good. Her business has a low production cost and her prints aren’t that expensive to buy for costumers.

Because her profit margins are great and her products doesn’t have a high price tag, it’s not that big of a deal if the shop platform she use has high % transaction fees. (Etsy for example)

I would recommend doing similar comparisons and make up scenarios to calculate how your profits and costs would look like on different platforms.

When I started my shop I created a made-up scenario to help me make a decision on where to open my shop.

My scenario was that I would sell 10 sculptures at $70 each, every month. I then used that scenario for every shop platform on this list, and looked how my fees + subscription cost would look like. To my surprise it differentiated quite a lot.

The price isn’t everything you should consider, it’s also about what you’re paying for, let’s move on..

What features are important for you?

Another important aspect to consider is what kind of features are you looking for in your shop. There’s so many kinds of features and different kind of ways a shop can look and function.

My advice would be to check out a bunch of different shops online and see what you like and don’t like. Both when it comes to the layout but also the features they seem to have. To name a few to help look for what you might be interested in here are a few popular features some shops offer and some don’t.

  • Customer reviews
  • Newsletter
  • A specific payment option
  • Sell digital products
  • Sell subscriptions
  • Possibility to sell in person
  • Or any other feature…

 

Now onto the shop services themself…

shipping box
big cartel logo

Big Cartel is the shop platform made for artists. With low fees, easy setup, and even a free option it’s a great starting point for any creative shop.

Starts at $9,99/month (free plan)
2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee (may vary)

Big Cartel
squarespace logo

Squarepace the absolute giant when it comes to online portfolios for artists, also lets their customers create beautiful shops on their existing portfolios.

$18/month (Business plan)
5.9% + $0,30 per transaction (may vary)

Squarespace
Shopify logo

Shopify is the premium shop option for any creative looking for customizability and a large selection of features, it’s the perfect platform if you’re looking to expand and grow your business.

starting at $29/month
2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee (varies)

Shopify
Etsy logo

Etsy is the creative marketplace known and loved by millions. Open a Etsy shop and let Etsy help you bring in the customers in one of the easiest and most affordable ways possible.

$0/month
9% transaction fee

Etsy

Big Cartel – Easy Online Stores for Artists & Makers

big cartel homepage

Big Cartel is an online shop platform that’s made for artists to easily sell their work online for an affordable price, and is widely used by artists worldwide because of that.

You either use your own domain or you can create your own Big Cartel shop, unlike Etsy, Big Cartel is not a marketplace and you need to bring in all the customers yourself.

Big Cartel stands out with its cheap price tag, easy setup and artist focus.

At times Big Cartel can feel like a budget option with lacking in options when it comes to the looks of your shop and some features are missing that you can find on other platforms.

bigcartel.com
big cartel logo

Features

  • Easy setup
  • Library of Apps & Integrations
  • Shipping profiles
  • Discount codes
  • Free themes

Who it’s best for?

  • People looking to start their first shop
  • Artist that sell expensive items or high production cost/time (the low fees help)
  • Small shops (5 items or less). You can open a free shop then, with low transaction fees.
  • Anyone looking for a hassle-free experience.

The negative

  • Few customizations options
  • Limited themes to choose from
  • Lacking in features (compared to other shop platforms).
  • All paid plans only allow for 5 images and no video. (Free plan can only have 1 image/product)
  • Unlike Etsy you need to bring in all the customers yourself
  • Few payment options. (Credit cards & Paypal only)

Pricing & Payment option

One of the biggest benefits with Big Cartel compared to Etsy is the low fees. Big Cartel itself doesn’t charge a fee for each sale but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any fees!

First you need to choose one of Big Cartel plans, there’s a free plan that’s limited to 5 products, the next plan is priced at $9,99/month and lets you have up to 50 products. There’s of course more expensive plans but for most artist the free or $9,99/month -plan will be your best bet.

Then there’s the fees. You can either use Paypal or Stripe (credit cards) as your payment options, and both have their own fees for each transaction. You can expect to pay around 2.9% + $0.30 for both options. But the fees varies from region to region, for example Stripe only takes a 1,4% fee for European cards for me.

Big Cartel Pricing

So to recap. Big Cartel is free for up to 5 products, then $9,99/month for up to 50 products. And for most cases a 2.9% + $0.30 fee for each transaction.

Squarespace – The one-stop solution for Artists – Portfolio & Shop platform

squarespace shop homepage

Squarespace is a website building service copious amount of artists use to build and host their portfolio online. What many might not know is that they also offer an online shop solution that lets you sell your work directly on your Squarespace website.

Before we continue I’d like to point out that I would only recommend using Squarespace for your online shop if you’re also using them to host your portfolio or website. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense cost-wise, and then there are also better options out there.

squarespace.com

(above link is an affiliate link)

squarespace logo

Features

  • Beautiful themes (and plenty to choose from)
  • Booking system, Schedule appointments
  • Sell any kind of product, even digital content
  • Large variety of payment options
  • Add third-party extensions to manage your shop

Who it’s best for?

  • Perfect for artists that’s looking for a portfolio & shop, that’s seamlessly integrated to each other
  • Anyone already using Squarespace for their portfolio and want to open a shop
  • For artists that are selling services and looking for a booking service
  • Larger shops that needs a variety of features

The Negative

  • The transaction fees are higher then similar services
  • Expensive if you’re only using it as a shop

Squarespace Pricing

If you want an online shop on your Squarespace website you need at least their Business plan, at $18 per month (Personal plan dose not include the option for a shop).

And then there’s the fees for each transaction. There’s 2 fees to consider, first there’s the Squarespace Commerce transaction fee and the Payment processor fees (from Stripe, PayPal, or Square).

If you have a more expensive Squarespace plans (like Commerce Basic & Advanced) you don’t pay the Squarespace fee but you still need to pay the Payment processor fees. Upgrading to a more expensive plan can be a good idea if you’re selling a lot.

Hopefully I managed to explain the different fees, but how much are the fees?

  • Squarespace Commerce transaction fee is 3%
  • The Payment processor fee from Stripe, PayPal, & Square varies. But it’s around 2.90% + $0,30 for everyone.

Squarespace transaction fees

To simplify Squarespace confusing pricing. You need at least Squarespace’s Business plan at $18/month. Squarespace’s 3% fee + Payment processor 2.90% + $0,30 fee (varies slightly).

A total of 5.9% + $0,30 per transaction

Squarespace pricing

(above link is an affiliate link)

Shopify – Build & Expand your Online Business

shopify homepage

Shopify is yet another giant in the online shop world. Being one of the more expensive options you’re also getting loads of features and customizability for that price tag.

With Shopify, you build your own shop and have plenty of options on how to customize it to match your brand. With an extensive library of apps, you can add features and functions to customize your shop even further.

shopify.com

(above link is an affiliate link)

Shopify logo

Features

  • Easy integration to Instagram shopping
  • Extensive analytics for your shop
  • Over 4,100+ apps to integrate to your shop. (Product Reviews, Print on demand integrations, SEO, Shipping, Taxes & much more).
  • A lot of payment options
  • Possibility to sell either online or in-person
  • 14-day free trial available

Who it’s best for?

  • For artist looking to build a large shop or expand in the future.
  • Anyone who’s very particular on how their shop looks and run. And want it exactly how they imagine it.

The Negative

  • Expensive monthly fee.
  • Limited amount of free themes, but many paid themes.
  • There’s plenty of free apps but some can be quite expensive.

Shopify Pricing

If you want to build an online store with Shopify you need one of their monthly plans, starting at $29/month. They do have a budget plan for $9/month, but with that plan you don’t get a online store, it gives you the option to place a buy button on your existing website.

More expensive monthly plans offers lower fees on transactions and added features.

Transaction fees

Shopify transaction fees varies, but if you’re using Shopify’s own payment system the fee is 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card purchases. With Shopify there’s numerous choices when it comes to payment options, just keep in mind if you can use other payment providers there’s an added fee.

But these fees varies from region to region, for example I’m located in Sweden fees can be as low as 1.5%.

You can find full details about Shopify’s pricing here.

Shopify pricing & transaction fees

Shopify plans start at $29/month.

The transaction fee is 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card purchases but this varies depending where you’re located. It can be as low as 1.5% so check the Shopify website for your country.

Shopify pricing

(above link is an affiliate link)

Etsy – The Creative online Marketplace

etsy sell homepage

Etsy is the largest marketplace online for selling your creative work with millions of buyers looking for something handmade & unique. Setting up a Etsy store is easy and perfect for someone starting with selling their art online.

Unlike other options Etsy isn’t just a online shop it’s also a hugely active marketplace with plenty of potential buyers looking to spend their cash.

Etsy.com (40 listings for free)

Use about link to get 40 listings for free when you’re opening your new shop on Etsy

Etsy logo

Features

  • Etsy Marketplace can bring in sales and new customers
  • Easy to set up, Etsy will walk you through the whole process
  • Advanced shipping profiles – perfect for international sales
  • Great discount/coupon system
  • No monthly cost
  • Possibility to pay for ads on Etsy to promote your products
  • Integrated review system

Who it’s best for?

  • Artists that sell items with low production cost. Like art prints, stickers, and digital items. (because of the high fees)
  • Anyone opening their first online store.
  • Artist that doesn’t have a following online
  • Anyone interested or willing to spend time optimizing your products title, tag & SEO (for a better chance to be found on the marketplace)

The Negative

  • Highest fees of everyone on the list (9%).
  • The 15% Offsite Ads Fee. Etsy will promote your shop online, and if they bring in a sale they will take an additional 15% cut. It is possible for smaller shops to opt-out, but large shops can not.
  • Easy to get lost on the Etsy marketplace with a lot of low-quality stuff.
  • Not that many options to customize the look of your shop
  • Overly complicated system for fees and their subscriptions.

Etsy Pricing

There is no monthly fee to use Etsy, it’s free.

There’s two optional subscriptions for Etsy.

Etsy Pattern for $15/month, let’s you host your Etsy shop on your own domain + more ways to customize your shop.

Etsy Plus for $10/month, gives you more shop customization options and monthly credits for Etsy Ads.

Transaction fees

It cost $0.20 to list a product on Etsy. For each sale there’s a transaction fee for 5% and then a payment process fee that varies for each region but it’s usually 4% + $0.25

Etsy pricing & transaction fees

Etsy has no monthly fee. Only optional subscription for added features.

The transaction fee is 5% + payment process fee 4% + $0.25 (varies)+ listing fee $0.20

In total 9% + $0.45 on each transaction.

Etsy pricing

Alternatives & More options

Hopefully, you found a platform that would work for you to sell your art on. The list is my personal favourites but there are of course many other alternatives for opening a shop. Here are a few alternatives if you want to keep looking.

Jonas Welin

Jonas Welin

Jonas Welin, Swedish sculptor & designer. You can find his creative work on his Instagram (@jonas_welin). Jonas is the creator & writer for Creativehowl, sharing his own research as an artist with the readers of Creativehowl.

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