Art Storefronts Is Not a Marketplace, We're Something Better
art storefronts marketplace

Art Storefronts Is Not a Marketplace, We're Something Better

Learn the differences between marketplaces and Art Storefronts, and get our advice on who is a good fit for each option.

When artists first start selling art online, they often gravitate to marketplaces.

The problem? Many artists that reach out to us think we are a marketplace! 

So let's set the record straight. Check out the video explanation below:

What Are Marketplaces?

Marketplaces are companies that allow artists to list their art for sale in a central database. 

Think Etsy, or Fine Art America. 

When you sell on a marketplace, you have a profile on that website and are listed alongside thousands or even hundreds of thousands of other artists. 

What is Art Storefronts?

Art Storefronts is not a marketplace. 

We sell software that allows you to build your own online art gallery: a fully-featured, state-of-the-art eCommerce website that you own, hosted under your own URL, that you have total control over.

Let's take a look at a few key concepts for building a successful art business to examine the benefits and drawbacks of marketplaces.

Acquiring Customer Info

Winner: Art Storefronts

This is probably the single most important concept in this entire post.

In order to successfully build an art business with long-term viability, you must be able to acquire your customer info

When an order comes in, you need that customer's full name, email address, and shipping address so that you are able to market to them in the future.

This is so critical because selling to existing customers is so much easier than selling to new ones.

If you don't know who your customers actually are, and can't contact them (via email marketing, Facebook Ads, etc.) - you are working much harder for much fewer sales than someone with access to their customer database. 

Maximizing Your Profits

Winner: Art Storefronts

This one is simple: you make more from every sale when you aren't paying out a large percentage of your income to a marketplace. 

Get Paid Immediately

Winner: Art Storefronts

On marketplaces, you're often forced to wait 30-90 days before cashing out your income - or you may even be required to hit a certain dollar amount threshold before you can withdraw your own money from the platform.

With your own art gallery built with Art Storefronts, you're paid immediately whenever a sale comes in! 


marketplace art storefronts

Winner: Art Storefronts

It can get a little tricky to hold a potential buyer's attention when they are being flooded with the art from thousands of other artists.

When you own your own website, the visitor can stay focused on the experience of browsing and purchasing your art.

Plus, everything is white-labeled, meaning it is your brand on display from edge to edge of the webpage – not a marketplace, and not any other artists vying for the same sale you are. 

Another element of competition that is detrimental to artist success is what many call "the race to the bottom" – artists who know their art is being shown right next to other artists often engage in a price war to offer the lowest possible price on their art – knowing that the cheapest offering often wins the sale.

You don't want your success to be based on your art's price point, but on its ability to build emotional connections with buyers. More on that later.

Maximizing Your Marketing ROI

Winner: Art Storefronts

Marketing is a standard cost of business - it always has been. 

In today's digital world, that is primarily defined by a Facebook and Instagram Ads budget, as well as any additional marketing tools you choose to subscribe to.

To earn back your investment in those tools, you need to be sure that all the traffic you are generating from them is going towards building your business. 

But, as we discussed in the previous section, on a marketplace you are driving all of that traffic to the marketplace, not to a property you own. 

Some of that traffic may purchase your art. But some of it may also get distracted and find another artist on the marketplace that they like even more.

The best way to maximize your return on investment when it comes to marketing is to own your own website, hosted under your own URL. 

Overall Financial Upside

Winner: Art Storefronts

Because of all of the concepts discussed thus-far, running your own art gallery online represents, in our opinion, the greatest financial opportunity available to artists EVER. Seriously, ever.

There has never been a better time to be an artist. Online, you can sell to anyone, anywhere. 

Because of this, some artists are earning over $100,000+ per year from their own art galleries. 

Others are stay-at-home moms and dads, or hobbyists, who are supplementing their primary income with their art sales of $5,000-10,000 per year.

In both cases, these artists are all making the majority percentage of the sale by selling through their own website. 

Full Control of Product Offerings

Winner: Art Storefronts

Art Storefronts is all about giving you options. Sell the media types you want, in the sizes you want, with the frames you want.

Fulfill your print sales yourself, or connect with one of our heavily-vetted Print Fulfillment Partners. It's all up to you.

Print on Demand

Winner: Tie

Some marketplaces do offer Print on Demand options, but be wary of their quality. 

Art Storefronts offers Print on Demand as well, and we make every effort to go above and beyond our customer's expectations for quality control and ease of use.


Winner: Art Storefronts

Marketplace sites come and go every year, and most of them are continually altering their algorithms to determine which artists are easily discoverable (and which aren't).

This is the reason many of the Etsy artists we've spoken to over the past few years have reported slowly declining traffic and sales. 

Do away with the guesswork by running your own online art gallery – it's the best way to stay in control of your future. 

Building Emotional Connections

is art storefronts a marketplace

Winner: Art Storefronts

Art is sold when a buyer finds an emotional connection with a piece of art. 

That could be because of the subject of the piece – a landscape depicting a location that is dear to their heart, for example – or it could be as simple as the artist's particular style resonating with them. 

On a marketplace, it is nearly impossible to create emotional connects with your buyers because so much emphasis is placed on price, and because a visitor is viewing hundreds of art pieces at a time.

The better way to sell is to bring the visitor to a site dedicated to just your art, and allow them to really explore what you offer – reading your product descriptions, viewing your media options, and getting to know you via a bio or about page. 

Free Exposure

Winner: Marketplaces

Here is one where marketplaces win out. Marketplaces often lure artists in with promises of free traffic, and this can actually happen if you were lucky enough to be featured on the marketplace's front page.

But this is a real gamble, and in our opinion not a sustainable growth strategy. 

Cheapest Way to Validate Your Art

Winner: Marketplaces

This is what we think marketplaces are best for.

If you have no idea whether your art can sell, marketplaces are the best place to test the waters before jumping into a larger project like building your own art gallery with Art Storefronts.

As soon as you've sold some work and see the potential to sell much more, you're ready to take the step up to your own gallery. 

Minimal Cost + Effort

Winner: Marketplaces

If you're not looking to do much work on your art business (and are therefor not looking to earn much as a consequence), marketplaces can be an easy way to bring in a sale or two here and there.

Just be sure your expectations are in check - as with anything in life, you get out what you put in!

OVERALL: Which Choice is Right For You?

what is art storefronts

So, are you right for a marketplace, or are you a perfect fit for Art Storefronts?

We hope the above concept summaries have helped you come to a conclusion on that, but here is our last shot at defining things as we see it:

You're right for a marketplace if

  • You're looking to see if your art can sell
  • You don't want to spend much time or effort on your art business
  • You're looking for a free or very inexpensive solution

You're right for Art Storefronts if

  • You already know your art sells
  • You're ready to invest your time and effort into growing your art business
  • You see the value in controlling your own future

If you fall into the first category: we wish you good luck on your marketplace(s) of choice! We'd love to talk to you in the future if you ever decide to change course.

If you fall into the second category: let's talk! We'd love to show you what we can do for your art business.

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