With the internet and digital content creation tools becoming more accessible, there are increasing opportunities for artists and designers to monetize their talents online. One great option is to sell clip art through your own website or on popular online marketplaces. Clip art refers to packs of themed graphics, illustrations, and images that can be used by others for both personal and commercial projects. Demand for quality and unique clip art packs spans many industries and use cases.
Selling your clip art can allow you to turn your art and design skills into a steady passive income stream. However, as with starting any online business, it takes research, planning, and effort to be successful. You need to understand the clip art marketplace, properly package and price your artwork, choose the right sales platforms, and market your offerings effectively. The good news is that with strategic decisions and consistent effort, just about any talented artist or designer can find their niche in the stock media space. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fundamentals and best practices of starting a profitable clip art side hustle or even a full-time business online. Everything from choosing your niche to optimizing search visibility to setting reasonable prices will be covered.
Determining If Selling Clip Art Is Right For You
Before diving head first into selling clip art online, consider whether it aligns with your skills, interests, and goals:
Skills and Interests
Selling clip art successfully requires:
- Artistic talent and visual design skills
- Knowledge of graphic formats, resolutions, and digital artwork best practices
- Some marketing and business chops
If making art and running an online business excites you, clip art could be a great fit. If not, it may feel like tedious work.
The clip art business can take time to gain traction but has excellent passive income potential over the long term. It’s perfect for those with patience and the goal of slowly building a collection of art that earns royalties for years to come. If you expect overnight success or quick cash, selling art online may disappoint.
Take some time to honestly assess if you have the required blend of artistic abilities and entrepreneurial drive before moving forward.
Choosing Your Niche and Styles For Selling Clip Art Online
One of the most important parts of positioning yourself in the clip art market is identifying your niche and styles. Consider what types of art you most enjoy creating and the niches where you can provide the most value.
Popular Clip Art Niches
Some top-selling categories to consider specializing in include:
- Holiday and seasonal art – Major holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day see consistent yearly demand for fresh clip art to use in cards, crafts, social media posts, products, etc. Less mainstream seasonal art like autumn landscapes also sell well.
- School and education illustrations – Teachers/parents look for engaging academic images to decorate documents, flashcards, awards, bulletin boards and more. Alphabet letters, science elements, historical figures and book/literacy graphics tend to sell best.
- Food images – Vibrant drink and dish illustrations are popular for recipes, menus, food blogs/reviews, restaurant marketing materials and cookbooks. Both realistic and cartoon styles appeal to buyers.
- Nature scenes – Soothing landscape clip art of beaches, mountains, sunsets, forests and wildlife get used heavily for yoga/meditation products, travel industry creatives, wall art and more.
- Technology and online graphics – With so much business conducted online now, corporate teams regularly buy computer/phone/Internet-themed clip art for websites, presentations, newsletters and internal documents.
- Wedding designs – Engaged couples purchase quality illustrations of cakes, bouquets, centrepieces, invitations suites and more to plan their big day and convey their chosen aesthetic.
- Fashion sketches – Trendy flat lay drawings of clothing ensembles, shoes and accessory models are sought out by clothing lines, lifestyle bloggers, fashion journalists and boutique store owners.
Research which niches have high demand but low competition to find a sweet spot for your work.
Art Mediums and Styles
- Vector images – Clean, scalable vector clipart tends to sell very well as it can be resized without any loss of image quality. Great for buyers wanting basic shapes, icons, logos, patterns etc.
- Papercut silhouettes – The intricate, lacelike look of laser-cut paper silhouette art is very on-trend right now for wedding decor, wall art, framing and more.
- Line drawings – Simple black and white line drawings have a timeless appeal to them. They reproduce well at small sizes too making them versatile for buyers.
- Cartoon illustrations – For kids products, whimsical storybooks, funny greeting cards and more, cartoon styles are very popular. Bold colors and exaggerated features help them stand out.
- Photoshop compositions – Many digital artists create clip art today using Photoshop blending, filters and textures. The mixed media options are endless.
- Frames and borders – Decorative frames and borders help buyers finish off documents, certificates, photos and more with polished professional flair.
- Chalk style – The hand-drawn look of chalk, charcoal and dry media illustrations is widely sought after for product designs, home decor art and more.
- Watercolors – For an organic, paint-stroked appearance, watercolor clip art adds a soft, fluid look popular with creative agencies, bloggers and crafters.
Choose one or two signature styles you feel most confident in and passionate about. It’s better to specialize in one look that you can brand effectively rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
Identifying your niche and narrowing in on your aesthetic makes it much easier to market yourself consistently.
Setting Up Your Digital Products
Once you’ve decided to sell clip art and identified your specialities, it’s time to start creating products. Here’s how to transform your art into digital downloads that buyers will love:
You’ll need to offer your clip art in versatile file formats that work for a wide range of applications. At a minimum, include:
- PNG: The PNG (Portable Network Graphic) format is ideal for raster images like photo compositions or complex illustrations with gradients and effects.
- JPG/JPEG – JPG is the most common image format online. Though not as high quality as PNG, JPG images tend to have much smaller file sizes, which can be preferable for buyers in some cases.
- SVG: SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files are vector images, allowing buyers to resize them infinitely without any loss of quality. They work wonderfully for clean shapes, logos, icons, patterns and more.
- PDF – Providing artwork in PDF (Portable Document Format) allows buyers to easily open and use the graphics in vector or raster formats without needing specialized design programs. PDFs also maintain image quality at different zooms.
- PSD – Including native PSD files from Photoshop gives buyers full access to edit Clip Art with layers intact. This extends creative possibilities.
- AI – The AI (Adobe Illustrator) file format is usually expected for vector clip art. It allows buyers to manipulate and rescale vector graphics to any size needed.
- DXF – For laser or CNC cutting applications, the DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) vector file works perfectly. Sellers of papercut art, sewing patterns or machine-specific projects may want DXF formats.
- CDR – CDR files benefit buyers who specifically use CorelDRAW over other vector design programs. It allows them to easily open, edit, resize, recolor and otherwise modify your vector clip art natively within CorelDRAW.
- EPS: Like SVGs, EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files provide scalable vector graphics. However, some buyers may specifically need the EPS format if they use Adobe products and processes.
- GIF – Though limited to 256 colors, GIF files work well for simple logos, icons and illustrations. Their small file size also aids web loading speeds.
For convenience, consider bundling your clip art in both PNG and SVG/EPS so buyers can choose the best format for their needs.
Sizing and Resolutions
Double-check that you’re creating your clip art at suitable sizes and resolutions for printing and digital use. For raster PNG files, 300dpi is standard. SVGs and EPS files are resolution-independent but should still be worked on in adequate dimensions for visibility and editing flexibility.
Set up a clear system for organizing and naming your files so they’re easy to manage. For example, you may catalog them into folders by niche, theme, color palette or art medium.
Numbering your products sequentially can help keep track of your growing library as well. Just be sure the names or numbers also include important keywords for discoverability.
Include filenames and descriptions so customers fully understand what they’re getting and how to use it. Relevant details to call out include:
- File type(s) included
- Brief usage rights
- Suitable applications
- Key search terms
A short sentence or two explaining the context, inspiration or styling for each piece also adds personality and value for shoppers.
Showcase the actual designs prominently with visual previews. This allows buyers to see the quality and aesthetic before purchasing.
Consider enriching certain digital product bundles with bonus items like brush sets, tutorials, or related graphics. These can increase perceived value at little extra effort for you.
Choosing Where to Sell Your Clip Art
Once your artwork is prepped for selling, it’s time to set up shop. You essentially have 3 options of where to sell your clip art online:
Selling from your art portfolio website allows you to keep 100% of sales profits and completely customize your brand experience. However, you take on all the work of attracting buyers to your site through marketing and SEO.
Building an audience that generates reliable traffic and sales can take significant time and skill. But in return, you retain full control and scalability.
If interested in selling directly from your clip art site right away, take advantage of ecommerce platforms like Etsy or Creative Market to supplement your self-hosted store with some quick exposure and sales.
Popular online marketplaces for selling digital products include:
- Creative Market
- Adobe Stock
These make selling artwork accessible since they handle platform hosting, site traffic, and even some marketing. However, their commissions range from 30-60% of each sale. The volume potential likely outweighs the smaller profit margins for most artists.
If interested in leveraging existing audiences of buyers, uploading clip art to a few choice marketplaces can be quite lucrative. Just be sure to read up on each company’s specific uploading and selling policies first.
Some companies like PicMonkey, Mixbook, and Design Cuts operate on a subscription model where buyers pay a monthly fee to access entire libraries of assets.
As a designer, you can apply or pitch to include your clip art in their subscription content libraries. This then earns you royalties based on subscriber engagement with your work. It’s more passive but comes with an approval process and no guarantee of consistent income each month.
For the best chance of success selling your art instead of sharing profits with platforms constantly, still focus first on fostering your community of customers. Then utilize marketplaces selectively to supplement while slowly transitioning buyers to your eCommerce store.
How to Price Your Digital Artwork
Figuring out how to price your artwork products is an intimidating part of starting any creative business. Finding the right clip art pricing strategy involves testing and tweaking until you land on a profitable sweet spot.
Check Competitor Prices
Start by scanning sites like Creative Market to see how other artists price comparable pieces to what you create. Get a sense of price range averages within your niche and quality tier.
Undercutting competitor prices severely devalues the clip art market overall. But going too high where no one will buy is pointless too. Use benchmarking to gauge pricing thresholds.
Price High Enough to Compensate Generously
When determining exact prices, carefully consider how much time and effort goes into each creation. Be sure to pay yourself generously for your skill, passion, and consistency.
Customers don’t just pay for the end product – they pay for professional-grade quality and reliability. Don’t underprice yourself! But do offer occasional discounts to find the ceiling of what your audience will bear.
Also, factor in long-term residual value since quality designs can earn royalties for years. Price accordingly.
Consider Usage Rights
The licensing rights customers gain by purchasing your art also play a role in pricing structures.
Some artists price graphics as one-time full ownership transfers, while others issue renewing licenses. Limited rights of use like Small Business License vs Extended License can warrant different price points too.
Clearly outline what buyers can and can’t legally do with your work based on the price paid. More usage freedom warrants higher prices typically.
Offer Volume Discounts
Provide incentives for buying multiple products at once. This encourages larger purchases and conveys additional savings versus individually buying the same items. Popular bundles include:
- 5, 10, or 25 graphics bundled
- All images within a specific niche or collection
- Mixed niche samplers
The convenience and special offers of premade bundles makes it easier for time-strapped customers to invest more.
Test Flexible Pricing Strategies
Be open to trying both premium and budget price points to appeal to various segments. This means offering limited-time sales, bundled deals, freebies with signups, upsells after purchases, and tiered memberships granting access to exclusives.
Experiment freely until you nail down a versatile model that works for both you and your customers. Just be sure occasional promotions don’t devalue your work long-term.
Marketing and Promoting Your Clip Art
Creating beautiful clip art alone won’t generate sales. You need solid marketing strategies to surface your work to potential buyers actively looking for your style of art.
SEO Keyword Optimization
Pick specific keywords potential customers would search to find your products online. Use these throughout your:
- Website copy
- File names
- Image titles and descriptions
- Blog posts
- Social media captions
This allows search engines to detect what your content covers and recommend it to relevant searches.
Maintain an active presence by adding new designs every single week. This keeps fans returning and search engines prioritizing you. Alert followers whenever you release new products via email, social media, or text message alerts.
Show Off Personality and Process
Share your creative process, inspirations, and personality on social channels through behind-the-scenes videos, in-progress sneak peeks, and vlogs. Clients connect with the people and stories behind great art. Let your passion shine through.
Reaching out to niche bloggers and publishers to contribute posts exposes your work to new audiences already interested in your speciality. Don’t overly promote your store directly, but subtly mention it while focusing content on being helpful first.
Similar to guest posting, pursue creative partnerships with influencers in your industry. See if they would feature select artwork in blog graphics, social posts, videos or other content. Most are surprisingly receptive in exchange for attractive imagery.
Offer a few designs as completely free downloads in exchange for newsletter signups. This captures contact info from qualified leads actually interested in clip art. Follow up future releases, sales or contests with emails. Just don’t over-email or spam.
Once you have sufficient products and steady trickle of organic sales, investing small amounts into paid ads on Google, Instagram or Facebook to promote best-selling items or limited-time sales can scale your success faster. Stick to minimal testing budgets until seeing positive return on investment.
Creative Contests and Challenges
Run free art contests and creative challenges relevant to your niche and style. These grab attention while showcasing artistic talents. Award winner titles, featured exposure or prize giveaways.
Creating Passive Income From Clip Art
While selling clip art starts out hands-on, your goal is to increasingly generate automatic recurring revenue over time from each piece sold. This passive income comes primarily from:
Building Your Collection
Over months and years of regularly releasing new designs, you end up with hundreds (even thousands) of pieces available. Each one can consistently earn money through recurring marketplace sales or web traffic discovering older products in your catalog. The more volume, the higher the potential for residual sales.
Loyal Fan Base
Some buyers return frequently to purchase additional graphics as needed. Or they may download free offerings in exchange for newsletter signups. Building loyalty ensures repeat business with minimal effort.
Send email alerts whenever you release new products or run limited-time sales and contests. Occasional customer surveys provide valuable insights for better products too.
Memberships and Licensing
Consider offering exclusive art through recurring membership plans on your site. This guarantees dependable monthly income as long as you provide fresh designs and perks worth the price.
Alternatively, upload your full portfolio to stock art licensing companies. This earns royalties which tend to grow over the years as content stays active.
Join artist collaboration networks like Design Cuts which allow you to submit artwork for consideration in subscription plans and resource bundles. These come with upfront compensation plus ongoing royalties as third parties handle marketing and distribution.
Building a diverse passive revenue stream portfolio maximizes your earnings potential through multiple avenues of visibility, distribution and consumption. Be patient but persistent and watch it compound.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Selling online as a clip artist may seem daunting but broken into clear steps is quite achievable. Here’s a quick recap:
- Assess your skills, interests and goals to decide if selling clip art fits
- Choose your specialty niche(s) and artistic style(s)
- Set up your portfolio of digital download products
- Pick platform(s) to sell your work from
- Price works fairly by checking competitors and perceived value
- Market consistently through SEO, social media, promotions and partnerships
- Build residual passive income over the long term
For next actions:
- Set up your design files, workspace and organizational system
- Launch social media accounts for your brand
- Register for the initial marketplaces you want to test
- Make promotional partnerships a priority
- Brainstorm smart SEO tactics and keywords
- Create pricing tiers aligned to usage rights
- Batch produces initial clip art pieces to get started
Then actively commit to regularly creating, optimizing and promoting your artwork. See what resonates best with fans and build on that over time. Stay focused on solving buyer problems and bringing joy through your beautiful illustrations while monetizing it.
You can absolutely succeed in selling clip art online with the right vision, persistence and passion. We wish you prosperity on your artistic ecommerce journey ahead!
Selling clip art leverages technology to turn your artistic talents into a location-independent revenue stream. By identifying high-demand niches, prepping adaptable digital files, and marketing work strategically – artists can build a passive income portfolio over time. Be patient but persistent in regularly creating and promoting artwork to thrive. We hope this complete guide provided actionable steps and inspiration to succeed in selling clip art online using your gifts. Now confidently elevate your creative career and earning potential to new heights!