How to Sell Art Online Using Flickr

fedor emeliano by Cheeming Boey

image courtesy Boy Obsolete is a huge online repository of images. It’s a massive site that gets hundreds of thousands of visitors. People use it to share images with friends & family, display their art work, and also to find art work to buy for personal collections and for publications. For an artist, those last two can be a great source of income.

Here are some guidelines for using Flickr to sell your art.

Put up really good stuff. This should go without saying. No matter how good you are at marketing, you need to have a quality product, and you need to take good pictures of your work. Give yourself the best chance for success.

Put up lots of stuff, with multiple pictures of everything. Cheeming Boey, an artist who does pen-and-ink drawings on coffee cups, has pages and pages of content on his Flickr account. He’s prolific, which helps, and he takes tons of pictures of his stuff from many different angles, so people can usually see exactly what they want from any angle they want. Boey has had lots of luck with Flickr, including picking up a PR agent who saw and purchased his work on Flickr.

Link to your Flickr account from your other Web profiles. Boey told me that he didn’t have much traffic to his Flickr page until “someone saw what i did and placed it on Reddit, Digg, and Metafilter,” which caused his images to be seen by a lot of people.

Put links in your descriptions, your profile, and your group profiles. Placing links to your Web site in as many places as possible is always a good idea. Not only does it help people find you, but it also helps you move up in the search engine rankings. (For those of your who care, Flickr comments are nofollowed, but citations are still great, especially for local search).

Put your prices in your item descriptions. You may want to wait to do this until you are getting some traffic to your photos, but when one anonymous artist noticed that he was starting to get shared a lot, he decided to start putting prices on his photos. This has resulted in multiple sales. UPDATE: Thanks to alert reader Aaron Hockley for pointing out that Flickr’s terms of service state that you aren’t supposed to use Flickr for commercial purposes, although there is a great deal of grey area in the interpretation of what commercial purposes means. Flickr is highly inconsistent in how they interpret and enforce this rule. While many people use Flickr to sell images, real estate, and other things, some accounts do get deleted. User beware!

Use key words in your descriptions. Instead of typing, “This is my painting of a field by my house,” try typing in descriptive keywords that people may be searching for. You can use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to do research to see what people are typing in when they are looking for your kind of art. Be as specific as possible. “Sunflowers in a field at mid day. oil on canvas. 8×10. $299″ is better than “Sunflower painting.”

Make use of Creative Commons – Share Your Stuff for Free. I spoke with an amazing nature photographer by the name of Janet Loughrey last week and she shared with me the struggle that all visual artists are having: images get used without permission on the Internet. I understand that it’s frustrating to see your work being spread around the Internet without getting paid for it, but you may as well stop fighting against it. Instead, you can embrace it and allow bloggers and online magazines to use your digital images for free, as long as they link back to your Web site or image. You can specify this within yoru Flickr account under Creative Commons licensing. If you are lucky, you’ll get picked up by a major site like Huffington Post or Consumerist.

Other cool ways to use Flickr:

– allows a person to import their Flickr images to create a set of business cards. This is the ultimate way to differentiate your business cards.

– respond quickly when people ask for use of your content. Fantastic Books, a small publisher, told me that they are often looking for content that they can turn around within a few days. When artists take weeks to respond to their queries, they miss opportunities.

– any more ideas? success stories?


  1. Kirsten Chursinoff says

    I would suggest including a link to an online gallery in a Flickr photo description rather than listing prices on Flickr. I’ve noticed that many Flickr groups discourage those who are trying to sell their art directly. Linking to your website, online gallery or a site like Etsy seem to be more appropriate for Flickr.

  2. says

    Before anyone who wants to sell anything including and especially art work on line or off line they should think about showing that work or product or results of someone else utilizing a service or getting people to see and know about what it is that they are interested in selling – –

    in the case of art they have to first get people to see their work and this in turn creates interest in the mind of the potential buyer(s) – but——–how long it will take the person who sees a piece of art to decide to make such a purchase on or off line may take time sometimes years or decades in the case of something that is a serious collectable or that will become a serious collectible –

    if you sell one or two pieces to a person that is one thing – but to become of interest to a serious collector who is interested in investing large sums of money in a piece or a group of pieces to add to his collection – there must be some consistent history where the body of work that the artist has created along with the existence of a sufficient aftermarket for the work – has been built up – will make anything that you are selling eventually obtain great value –

    the difference between an individual artist and say a well known fine art gallery often is the specific targeted clientele that has been built up and nurtured over many years and sometimes generations which makes the deal that the gallery offers an artist that it is both interested in and willing to represent – worthwhile in some cases only –

    that means that the artist must have sufficient work and be able to produce on a consistent basis and the gallery must maintain its reputation and integrity amongst serious collectors –

  3. Angela Baumgartner says

    The article had a lot of good information, which I appreciate. Thanks for listing the prices and what options are available that are limited or cost extra like domain names. Specifics are helpful! The follow up comments were useful- especially the warnings about not posting prices on Flickr- wouldn’t want to get shut down or mishandle it. Thanks everyone!

  4. taeka says

    thanks for sharing your unique idea on earning from flickr.<a href=””>printing maryborough</a>


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