Deciding How Much to Charge for Your First Digital Artwork (That You Actually Sell)

a painting of a girl surrounded by lights

It’s a great time to start selling digital artwork online. With so many people spending their time online these days, the opportunities to get discovered as an artist are greater than ever. A lot of new artists struggle with starting an online business, especially when it comes to pricing digital artwork.

If you want to sell your art online but don’t know where to begin, this post is for you. We’ll cover many of the basics you should consider when pricing, listing, and promoting your art.

Best Practices for Pricing Your Art

In traditional art, artists like to use a simple equation to price their artwork. While digital artists don’t have quite the same material expenses that traditional artists have, there is still a lot to learn from this method. These kinds of equations usually take into account an hourly rate that the artist expects to earn for their time, the cost of materials used to create the piece of art, and the profit margin the artist hopes to make.

Coming Up with a Pricing Equation

Thinking this way is necessary to run a successful business. Remember, the key to a healthy business is to grow its income and make a profit. Say you work a part-time job earning $18 per hour. If you decide to also use this as your hourly rate when creating art, the equation might look like this:

Hourly rate: $18

Hours Spent: 10

Material Costs: $50

Profit Margin: 15%

Using this example, an artist could reasonably charge $265 for that piece of art. When deciding on an hourly rate as a new artist, it is better to err on the lower end, simply because you may not know the market well, and as an unknown artist it may be hard to sell your work at first.

It is common to see equations like this for digital artwork that leaves out materials. While it’s true, digital artists may not have the same types of material costs, that doesn’t mean they don’t have expenses related to their work. Maybe it’s a monthly fee to use a software or regularly having to replace the tip on your stylus. For any digital artist who wants to run a small business, we strongly recommend considering every single expense that goes into doing what you do. This way, you can factor those costs into your price.

a painting of a colorful character
“She Zulu 3090” by Griffin Avid in the Daz Gallery

Factoring in Quantity with Lower Margins

Another strategy to consider when pricing your digital artwork is to consider quantity. Because of the digital nature of your work, you can sell art 24/7 without ever having to be aware that the transaction even occurred. Because of this, it is possible to sell large quantities at work. It is very likely that a lower-priced piece may sell in higher quantities, thus turning a profit, whereas a higher-priced piece may sell fewer or even not at all.

Our final piece of advice when settling on pricing is to do lots of research. Look up other artists who may target the similar people as you will as customers. See if you can gauge how long they’ve been in business, how much they charge, and other valuable information like that. This knowledge may greatly inform your decision.

If your target salary is $30,000, in order to hit this goal, you would have to sell 3,000 pieces of art per year if they are priced at $10.00. On the other hand, you’d only need to sell 300 pieces if they were priced at $100 (not counting taxes, expenses, etc.).

Conduct Research to Settle on the Best Price Point

In the end, running a profitable online art business is largely a numbers game. The most important thing starting out, whether you already have engaged fans of your work or not, make sure the numbers add up. If you can’t turn a profit on a single sale, it may be difficult to keep the business going long enough to scale it up over time. For this reason, some artists look for ways to encourage buyers to purchase more than one piece of art at a time. While you may do this by offering a discount, once you factor in shipping several items at once instead of individually, you may well see your profits soar.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, taking the time to crunch the numbers is a must. While you most likely won’t be able to replace your 9-5 job right away, or possibly ever at all, there is no reason to believe it isn’t possible with time and effort. Whatever profits you earn from your work is something to be proud of.

a painting called "The Human"
“the human” by mukikop1961 in the Daz Gallery

Where to Sell Digital Artwork

Just as important as settling on a price, is deciding where to post your artwork for sale. There are countless ways to sell art online these days. Many artists have found success on websites like Etsy where they can sell crafts, digital downloads, and more. We recommend beginning with an already existing platform. While the exposure you can get from these may be minimal, it is totally possible to find organic business traffic simply through users searching for related content on your chosen platform.

Make sure the platform you chose makes sense for the type of art that you create. For example crafts will better serve on a site like Etsy, versus a platform like ArtStation. This tip ties in with the previous tip to do your research. See what other people are already doing, and if it makes sense with the kind of art you create, that may be a good sign to gravitate towards that same platform!

Think Outside the Box with New Technology like NFTs

With advancements in technology like NFTs, this is also a great opportunity for artists to get discovered and make an income off their work! Daz 3D and our parent company Tafi, have helped several companies take their brands into the NFT space with great success. We also have a number of artists within our community who have started exploring this as a viable route for growing their own online business.

If you are really savvy with technology, have a budget, and already have a community of interested individuals, then creating your own website may be a good idea for you. While running a website takes some costs up front, such as purchasing a domain name and hosting the website, it is likely that you may pay less in transaction fees. That said, it would solely be up to you to maintain the site and market it so that customers know where to find you.

How to Promote Your Digital Artwork

Once you’ve chosen a platform and posted your art for sale, you may feel a little anxious as you wait for orders to start pouring in. Unfortunately, without some form of marketing or promotion, it is unlikely that people will discover your work. The good news is that promoting your own work online for free is easier than ever thanks to platforms like social media.

Creating a presence for yourself is a great way to gain exposure without ever paying a dime. It’s a good idea to make an art page on an app like Instagram and share your work regularly. You can use hashtags to help organically gain exposure because Instagram likes to show people posts similar to things they’ve interacted with in the past.

Don’t be afraid to politely let people who engage with you online know when your artwork launches. Consider hosting giveaways, offering deals, and other promotions to encourage people to share your art with others and hopefully purchase something from you!

a render of an overgrown cathedral
“hallowed” by Saidge42 in the Daz Gallery

Create Helpful Content for the Art Community

Another great way to promote your work is to give back to the art community via tutorials and other educational content. Others who share your passion may discover you through these types of materials. If they like you and your art, it is very likely that such fans will convert to supporting customers.

Lastly, use tact in how you go about with self-promotion. Be sure that the online environment you choose to promote yourself in is welcoming to such promotion. Be careful in certain forums, like on Reddit, where users may be put-off by self-promotion. Be sure to ask yourself how you would feel if a stranger promoted themselves to you. Be respectful, courteous, and, above all else, try to be genuine. While you can’t please everyone, a little tact goes a long way where self-promotion is concerned.

Boost Your Portfolio with 3D Renders

We hope these tips have helped inspire you to take the leap and start selling your digital art! There is never a shortage of people who will enjoy your creativity and want to support you once they get to know you and your work.

Here at Daz 3D, we have watched many members of our community succeed as published artists creating original assets for our store. Daz Studio is a free-to-use program that makes creating hyper-realistic renders a cinch. The great thing is that you don’t need prior experience in 3D modeling to create amazing renders like you’ll find in our user gallery.

If you’ve ever wanted to create Hollywood-quality CGI, it’s definitely achievable with Daz Studio. This can be a great way to boost and diversify your portfolio, or it could even be a new avenue to increase the revenue of your online art business by becoming a published Daz artist. So what are you waiting for? Download your free full-version of Daz Studio today!

Featured image: “Soldier Girl Light” by Griffin Avid in the Daz Gallery

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