11 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Art Online

Bluethumb’s online platform makes it easy to sell your art online, so long as collectors have all the information they need.

Simple issues with your listings can put collectors off from buying your art, and ultimately that hurts everyone else on the site too! Don’t be that person – read on to avoid making these eleven common mistakes.

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Art Online

We love bringing artists and art lovers together!

1. Not Marking an Artwork as ‘Sold’ or Unavailable

First and foremost, if you sell your work privately, please remember to mark it as sold! Otherwise, it can be very disappointing for collectors who check out with the piece, only to learn that it’s already gone.

Bluethumb also gives you the option to mark your works as unavailable with Holiday Mode if you go away or have work in an exhibition. Please make use of this feature for any extended period of time, but also make sure to mark it as available as soon as possible when you return. Better yet, have a friend look after your sales while you’re away!

Artist studio

If you show a friend how to pack your artworks while you’re away, you won’t need to worry on your holiday!

2. Not Marking an Artwork as ‘Ready to Hang’

If your work is ready to hang, with D-rings or a wire on the back, tick that box! Not knowing how a piece will arrive can put collectors off from purchasing, so it’s best to just be definitive and honest.

Even better, include photos of the back of your work and make a note in the description of the exact details.

back of canvas

This is Donna Christie‘s sold piece Behind the Scenes. However, this sort of visual information is extremely helpful for collectors!

3. Entering Incorrect Dimensions

The dimensions that you list should be in centimetres, and should only refer to the artwork, non-inclusive of a frame.

If it is framed, be sure to mention those dimensions in the description too.

If you’re including an image of the artwork ‘in situ’ (i.e. on a wall), show the piece to scale if it’s a computer made image. Consider the other items in the room for reference.

4. Poor Artwork Photos

Photographing your artwork well is extremely important. So important, in fact, that we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to the task! The main thing is to make sure your main image is bright and sharp and properly cropped so it doesn’t show any background.

Artwork photography

Read our post all about taking a great photo of your artwork here.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s also a good idea to photograph the back and sides of your painting. In situ images are a useful tool for helping collector’s imagine the artwork in their space – and showing the true dimensions. However, these work best as a supplementary image and not the main one in the listing!

5. Neglecting Details of the Frame

If your artwork is framed, make sure you show the frame in a photo and mention the dimensions in the description.

If your photos show the artwork framed (for example, in an in situ shot), but the frame is not included, be sure to clearly mention this in the description.

If the frame is optional, be sure to mention any extra cost it may incur and whether different colour options are available or not.

Ed computer

There’s nothing co-founder and managing director Ed loves more than a well-described artwork!

6. Infringing Copyright

Any artwork on Bluethumb should be original and created by you, so any copyright concerns that arise can be very disappointing for a collector.

Copyright matters are not always clear cut, however we do reserve the right to remove any artwork from Bluethumb that closely resembles another artists’ work – including photography.

It’s also important to acknowledge the original creator when reinterpreting, or making art inspired by, an artwork no longer under copyright.

For more information on artists and copyright, take a look here and here.


Art dog Grungle loves an original artwork!

7. Pricing Yourself Out of the Sale

Setting prices can be a tricky art. It’s important to make sure that you’re including all the costs of the sale in the final price – not just the gallery commission, but also packaging, framing and shipping costs as well. This can add up but don’t be afraid – you’re worth it!

Keeping your prices consistent across your platforms is also extremely important. It’s always disappointing to learn that you’ve paid more than you could have, and this can leave a bad taste in a buyer’s mouth – and stop them coming back for more of your work.

8. Neglect the Business Side of Selling

It’s not as fun as painting fabulous creations, but there’s no denying that making a living out of art involves business skills. As tedious as it can be, it’s valuable to spend the time honing your business skills. The most successful artists know their brand and are comfortable marketing themselves online. Not to mention keeping track of the financial side of things to track growth, what’s selling and be ready for tax time.

We recently introduced direct messaging so you can communicate directly with collectors. Read our useful guide to messaging etiquette and nail your customer service.

Group of artists at Bluethumb's Melbourne gallery launch

Your fellow artists are your community – like this lovely group who came to our Melbourne gallery opening!

9. Not Supporting Fellow Artists

Some people have a tendency to view other artists as their competition – but this isn’t true. These people are your community. They can provide helpful tips, support and a rally your spirit because they truly understand the trials of selling art. Embrace your artist friends and join together – who knows, it might lead to opportunities you hadn’t thought of! Join our Artists’ Group on Facebook here to connect with our community of creatives.

10. Expecting Things to Always Go According to Plan

Accidents happen. Sometimes artworks get damaged during shipping, or collectors find that their new piece doesn’t fit in the space as they’d hoped. The important part of this issue is to handle the situation with grace. Stay calm and pull out your best customer service skills. Be prepared to offer a commission or replacement, and you’ll turn a sad collector into someone who just keeps coming back!

Professionally framed artworks in gallery

You’ll never regret paying for good quality framing or protecting your artworks with great packaging!

11. Poor Presentation

Everything from the way your profile looks online to your packaging and framing is your chance to show off your professionalism. Cracked, handmade frames, bad artwork photos and not enough packaging all contribute to the buyer’s impression. Put your best foot forward with high quality materials to reassure their confidence in their purchase.

10 Creepy Vintage Christmas Cards


  1. Joan Tallent says:

    I thought that Framed paintings were not permitted on the Bluethumb site (due to delivery problems). Has this policy changed ? One of the photos on this information page was of the back of a framed painting showing ready for hanging.

    • Freddy Grant says:

      Hi Joan, thanks for reaching out. Yes, we have changed our policy on framed works. Please see my comment to Toni. Cheers

    • I have read the details you provide regarding how to present my art and already conform to all the details you suggest. I am unsure how to contact you to begin listing.
      Would you kindly advise me how to list with blue thumb . I also would like your suggestions regarding websites. While I am an experienced painter I am a novice at selling.
      My art is of quite good quality and framing

  2. Toni Lucas says:

    Finding the tips very useful, but wondering what is the rule on framed paintings? I have a lot of framed works under glass which are really lovely and have won prizes in shows but not sold. They are medium size, not small and not huge, but would love to list them on here. I would package them well with bubble wrap and heavy cardboard for transport so they should arrive safely, but wondering if it is acceptable? Thank you, Toni

    • Freddy Grant says:

      Hi Toni, thanks for reaching out. Our current policy is that if artists guarantee they’ll package framed artworks extremely well, we’re happy for you to sell them. Hope this helps and look forward to seeing your framed works on Bluethumb!

      • Virginia mcgowan says:

        Re Toni, l didnt think art under glass would be insured though? I have stacks too,look much nicer matted and under glass than not. 😋

        • Megan George says:

          Hi Virginia,
          It’s true that artworks under glass aren’t covered by insurance. That’s why it’s important to pack them extra carefully and consider the risk when you do sell them. Another options to consider is framing under perspex as it’s much safer to ship!

  3. Karen Hopkins says:

    Very useful tips thank you

  4. Kate says:

    Hey, your article is really great and informative for those who are new to the world of selling art online.

  5. Mary-Anne Stuart says:

    Thanks guys, great tips. I’ve had a slow year (although a better one than last year) so will take some time over Xmas to gather my business head and start 2020 off hopefully with better results!

  6. Eve says:

    Another excellent article, thanks BT. I always feel like you are looking out for us artists in the best possible way. Also, I particularly liked seeing the photo of the artists at the gallery opening 8-D

  7. owen jones says:

    Some good advice on here, but glad my paintings never go under glass but I do a lot of work packing my art with my wife helping me, good little wife 🙂 cheers Owen.

    • marcia rea says:

      we are a couple of artists interested in listing with blue thumb,how do we get our art to you ,mostly landscape. awaiting your reply marcia

  8. Bluethumb have been wonderful for my career. I am graeful for them for their consistent work and passion. Xx

  9. Cazzie says:

    What happens when the artist is not contactable and the painting doesn’t arrive?

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Cazzie,

      Is this an issue you’re currently experiencing? If so, our team would be more than happy to help. You can either email us on [email protected] or call 1800 122 486.

      Grace @ Bluethumb

  10. Hi Matilda, and BT team,
    Thank you for the info here, very helpful. I’ve only been with BT a couple of weeks and trying to catch up on the relevant data. So pleased to be here, it’s been a rewarding experience already. Thank you again for the positive way things are done. Cheers, Marilyn

  11. Sandra Laroche says:

    It’s really a question. Are original illustrations, previously published, allowed on BT? I own the copyrights.

  12. Sandra Messner says:

    Thank you guys. I found this very helpful. I love to always go back to the blog, it refreshs the mind. Sandra Messner.

  13. Ernie says:

    Excellent advice, luckily I was aware of all the major points raised. But it is always good to get a reminder such as this article. Thanks.

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