Online Art

The 4 Stages For Your Online Art Business

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When you are starting your online art business it can seem to be a daunting task. After all, as an artist, the main thing you want to do is paint or do your artwork, but now suddenly you need to learn a host of new things to even get your business started.

There are 4 stages that every online art business owner will go through during the development and implementation of their art business. First, they will dream about what they want their business to be. Next, they will start to create the actual business. And the last stages are the growth and management stages of the business.

Each business owner will need to go through each of these stages during the process and implementation of their business career.

Understanding What it Can Mean to Be an Entrepreneur

To start your own online art business means that you are now an entrepreneur or you are your own boss. Many people dream about being their own boss, but being your own boss can actually come with its own set of challenges.

We have outlined for your 4 basic stages you go through when you are your own boss that we call DREAM, CREATE, GROW and then MANAGE. An entrepreneur will need to pass through each of these stages of implementation and growth.


To be an entrepreneur you must first have a dream.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself and the steps you can take when you are in the dream stage of your art business.

  • What do I want to do? Is it your goal to be able to paint fulltime or earn extra income with your painting? This is a good phase to target what you really want to do.
  • How do I want to do it? Is your goal to sell into a gallery besides just online? Or will you try to sell some stores and other places that carry artwork? These are important questions for you to start to think about.
  • What do other’s think? It is always good to get some advice from people you trust. You want someone who will give some constructive thinking on this.
  • What are the pros and cons? It is always good if you sit down and do a list of the pros and cons of selling your art. For some of you, you may feel your art is private and you do not want to share it with others, or it may be that you do not have time to do your artwork like you want to. During the pros and cons, you can list this and decide the best course of action for you. Whatever the reason is, this s a good place for you to start to look at this, Doing a pro and con list will help you to see your strengths and also to understand more your weaknesses or where you may need to improve.
  • What is the market? Who will buy my artwork? This is, of course, an important question since if you do not know your audience it will be hard to target them for them to buy your artwork,
  • Do market research – You can do market research by checking what similar art as your art is priced. Remember you need to be sure to price your art so you can make a profit.

There are many artists who may stay in the dream phase for a while and that is Ok. There could be many reasons as they do not feel they are yet ready to go out on their own or maybe they are working to improve their art and their portfolio. If you find yourself in that category that is Ok. When you are ready you will go onto the next phase as the next step of create is actually when you have made the decision that you are no longer going to dream but make it a reality.

Different Avenues to Sell Your Artwork

In this dream phase, it would be good to start to get an idea of how you want to sell your art. Today there are so many options open to artists like there have never been before. Here are some ideas:

  • Sell Originals with a Company- Some artists are only interested to sell their originals. There are many websites such as Saatchi Art that sell originals artwork online. Saatchi gives you are a platform for you to sell your original artwork.
  • Sell Prints Online – You do not have to sell your original artwork as now you can also sell your prints online. There are many places that will do this for you such as Fine Art America. Red Bubble, and Merch By Amazon.
  • Etsy, Amazon, Shopify or Other Online Stores – There is also the option that you sell on Etsy. Shopify, or other online stores. If you are not selling originals then you will need to find a service like Printify and Printiful to print your products and ship your products. You can also print yourself and sell your own printed stock on your own (stocking, shipping and packing yourself) or with the help of a fulfillment center (who will usually do these things for you).
  • Sell to a Retailer – Some online realtors are selling artwork online for both prints and originals. Some sites like One Kings Lane and Perigold. Though they are mainly selling home decor online, they also sell prints and some originals.
  • Art Fairs or Trade Shows – There are some artists who want their main way of selling their art to be at Art Fairs or even Trade Shows. Many artists can make enough doing this that they worry little about their online business.
  • Sell to Galleries – Other artists want to try to find an art gallery that will sell their work. The advantage of this is that if the artists are successful and the gallery is able to sell a lot of their artwork, then the artist will have more time to concentrate on their artwork.
  • Sell to local stores in your area – There are many local stores and in particular in tourist areas that may want to have work of local artists in their shops. Some of them are willing to also take in some other things you may have as cards, pillows or other things you have printed.
  • License your artwork – Some artists work exclusively with some of the larger art print companies and they will license their work to them. When you license your work you still own the artwork but you will turn over the rights of the work to another party for a time to sell it for you. When they sell it you will get a commission. So all you do is paint or photograph and then they will reproduce the artwork for you.
  • Art Commissions – Some artists will spend their time doing art commissions and they find this as a way they can earn good money.

There are other ways besides what we have listed that an artist can look to make money. Actually, the way to earn income with your art is limitless. And there is really no right or wrong way. The right way is the way that works for your artwork, and you can make a profit.


The next phase is the creation phase. In this phase of being an entrepreneur, you can start on your actual art business. This is the time that the business stops becoming just a dream and starts to become the reality

Here are some questions and thing you can look at during this create a business stage:

  • What name will you use for your business? Many artists will use their own name or a version of their own name.
  • How will you build your brand? A brand is very important and so one thing you need to ask yourself is how do you want your brand to look? Things as a logo. colors and the look of the brand are important things to look at during this phase.
  • What social media accounts will you have? Social media today is an important part of marketing so to really do your marketing properly you should have some kind of social media presence.
  • What will be your domain name for your website? A domain name is very important as it will be how people will find you online. So it very important that you pick the correct domain name for your website.
  • What kind of legal entity will you have for your business? In some countries, you can work as an artist without having to set up a legal entity. In other countries, once you receive any income you will need to have a legal entity. It is important that you understand what is needed in this for where you are located.

We believe that every artist should have a proper brand and a website. You can read our blog called Creating An Artists Brand and Website, What You Need To Know by clicking here. And also we have a blog on 11 Reasons Every Artist Should Have a Website that you can read by clicking here.

We also feel that social media is important to build our artistic brand. The two types of social media we like are Instagram and Pinterest. You can read our blog on 9 Reasons Every Artist Should be on Instagram by clicking here. And also you can find out why we like Pinterest and feel like every artist should be on Pinterest by reading our blog 15 Ways Pinterest Can Help You As an Artist by clicking here.

Properly branding your business is a very important part of any business but especially important for artists. To find out more about branding as an artist, you can read our blog 4 Steps To Help You Properly Brand Your Art Business by clicking here.

Basic Business Entity Types You Should Know About

There are some basic types and forms of a business entity. Though many of these are specifically for U.S. based businesses most countries will have a similar form of a legal entity but they may call them by another name. It is important that you understand how you can legally operate in the country you propose to sell and produce your art in.

Sole Proprietorship and General Partnerships

When most artists start to sell their art, they will do so as a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is with one owner or a couple that is legally married. On the other hand, a general partnership can have multiple owners. This business is not its own separate legal entity or tax-paying entity so all assets and liabilities are tied to the owners.

Some points about a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership:

  • Easy to set up – This kind of entity is easy to set up. You will need to file a DBA (Doing Business As) if you choose to do the business under a name other than your own first and last name.
  • Reporting requirements are minimal – The filings you need to do for this kind of business are generally minimal. The profits and losses will flow through the owner’s tax filings. All income will be reported as Schedule C of the IRS Form 1040.
  • Liability risks – In this kind of business, all the liability falls on the owners. In other words, if someone sues you they can take all your assets including your personal assets.
  • Income Tax Liabilities. – The income for this kind of entity is subject to Social Security and Medicare Taxes.
  • Limited Growth – You have no stock to sell for growth options or potential. for growth to sell any company stock options.
  • Cannot sell the business – if you want to have a business you can eventually sell then you cannot sell a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership.

LLC (Limited Liability Company)

If you want to keep your company set up uncomplicated but have some of the advantages of having a corporation then many businesses will do an LLC or Limited Liability Company. Most states will see the LLC as a “disregarded entity” for taxation purposes. which means the LLC profits will flow through the owner’s personal taxes. From a legal standpoint, it is considered a separate entity where owners are called members.

Here are some points to consider for the LLC:

  • Can be a Single Owner or Multi- Owners– The LLC can be a single owner member or multi-owner members.
  • Filing costs vary – the costs to file an LLC vary by each state.
  • Operating Agreement – Though not required in all states it is recommended that owners have an Operating Agreement that would describe the rights and responsibilities of the LLC members and set out how the business will be run.
  • Ease of tax filing – The LLC has a very simple tax as you do not need to file the corporate tax forms.
  • Limited Liability– Unlike the Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership, the personal assets of the owners are generally protected by law.
  • Many ownership options – There are not many restrictions as to who can own an LLC.
  • Profit allocation – The LLC owners can choose how the business will allocate the company’s profits and losses among its members.
  • Can sell an LLC – an LLC can be sold but you cannot issue shares of stocks.
  • Self-employment tax – all the profits will be subject to self-employment taxation as the Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership entities.


The Corporation is also known as the C-Corporation or S-Corporation. Unlike the other entities, the profit and loss are tied to the business and not to the owners or shareholders. This is the most complicated of all the business entities to set up and maintain.

Here are some points to consider about a Corporation:

  • You will need professional help – You will need to file an Articles of Incorporation (called in some states as Certificate of Incorporation). There will be a lot of other rules as Board of Directors, Bylaws, holding shareholder meetings, filing annual reports in order to operate legally. These can all add up to be quite costly as there are a lot of compliance rules for a Corporation.
  • The highest degree of legal protection – The Corporation offers to the owners a lot of legal protection including protection from creditors of the corporation.
  • Greater growth potential – A Corporation has the biggest growth potential as you can sell shares and have an unlimited amount of shareholders.
  • Easier to get outside funding – Lenders, angel lenders, and other financial institutions are usually more eager to fund a business that is a corporation than other business entities.
  • Tax Flexibility – Corporations can choose a tax status of a C- Corp or an S- Corp. A C-Corp means that the profit gets taxed at the federal corporate income tax rate. An S-Corp is where the profits flow through the shareholder’s tax returns. But the Corporation can have some double taxation in that you need to pay tax at the corporate and personal taxation level.
  • Can sell or transfer- You can sell or transfer a Corporation.
  • Inc at the end of the company name – The company can use the Inc after its name.


The grow stager of a business is when your business actually starts. A company can stay in a growth stage for a while as they continue to grow and progress.

Here are a few things that you do in the growing stage:

  • Continue doing new artwork- One of the most important things you will do is continue to bring fresh and new artwork to your audience.
  • Increase your technology skills and other skills – Also continue to increase your technology and other skills so that you can better run your company and allow it to grow.
  • Expand markets – During this phase you want to continue to expand your marketing.
  • Increase market share and revenue. – You will also want to look at ways to increase your market share and revenue.
  • Expand website and social media – You should be constantly adding content to your website (that is one reason why a blog is good) and also be updating your social media accounts.
  • Look for new avenues of sale – At this time as growth is your focus, you should also look at new avenues and ways to sell your artwork.
  • Collect email addresses for sales – One of the best things you can do is to collect email addresses of those that are interested in your art so you can market to them directly. Many of the sites that print your products may not give you the address so at this phase you should look at how to sell to some potential clients directly.

We believe that one of the best ways to grow content on your site is to do a blog. You can read our website on Should an Artist Write a Blog? by clicking here.


The management phase or the manage stage of the organization is when the organization is running smoothly and efficiently. The company in this stage would be a profitable business.

During the time of the manage stage here are a few things you can do:

  • Improving efficiency – A company would look at this phase to improve efficiency and to improve all their processes.
  • Running Smoothly – In the manage phase, the company would be running smoothly day-to-day as the processes are all set up.
  • The minute you scale up then the company enters the growth phase again – A company can go back and forth between the growth and manage phase. The manage phase is when you keep things consistent and keep the operations consistent. ‘Growth is when you strive to increase sales, markets or other expansions.
  • The artwork production continues – Even in the manage phase, an artist should continue to produce new artwork as the clients will want to constantly see the new artwork for sales to continue.

Each entrepreneur will go through each of these stages when they are starting up their business. For an artist, one of the most important things they can do throughout all the stages is to continue to produce and create new artwork. An artist should never stop creating but continue to create artwork throughout their lives. That is one of the great things about art in that art knows no age or other limits. It is truly an ageless profession.

How Do I Name My Small Artistic Business?

For most artists, they will use their own name or a variation of their name. Here are some tips for naming your business:

  • Think about what you want the name to convey.
  • Use your own name or a variation of your own name so people can find you.
  • Make it easy to remember and to write if possible.
  • You can use works as art or artist so people know what the business is about
  • Don’t use obscure words that no one knows.
  • Make sure your name is available with the domain. If you have a common name like John Smith you may find it not possible to find a domain so you may need to try something else as John Smith Art or John Smith Artist, etc.

What Does It Mean to Brand Your Company?

To brand your business means that you have a way for people to identify your business. This is how your customers will recognize your business. A strong and good brand is more than just a logo but it also reflects on everything about your business. Branding is an important part of your business from websites, social media to business cards and marketing materials.

Anita Louise Hummel
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