Putting together creative projects that you can sell can be a fast way to earn money from your creative skills. The problem many creative professionals face, however, is that building a platform and marketing one’s work can be a time-intensive process. It used to be that the way around such issues was to get a gallery or shop to carry your work so that people could pick it up when they came in for other things. But the web has taken that approach and expanded on it to an incredible level. The number of websites that focus primarily on helping people sell items that they’ve created is amazing. Some, such as Etsy, have quickly become well-known, while others are better known only to the niches that they service. Here are a few sites that may provide you an opportunity to start bringing in money from your creative work.
- iStockPhoto: Selling stock photography, as well as other stock imagery, can be relatively easy, especially through sites like iStockPhoto. There are a wide variety of stock photography sites now that allow individuals to sell their own work online, but if your goal is to use such platforms to get access to the largest number of buyers, it’s important to stay with big sites, like iStockPhoto. You can sell photos, audio, video, flash, logos and illustrations through the site.
- Envato’s marketplaces: There are quite a few online marketplaces that cater to selling web designs and other online materials, but by going through Envato, you have access to separate marketplaces for website designs and themes (Theme Forest), Flash and Flex files (Active Den), audio files (Audio Jungle), videos (Video Hive), graphics (Graphic River), 3d models (3d Ocean), code scripts and snippets (Code Canyon) and tutorials (the Tuts+ marketplace).
- ArtFire: Not disimilar to Etsy, ArtFire offers a marketplace to help artists sell handcrafted goods to buyers. One of the selling points of ArtFire, however, is that the site offers ways to sell for free, without any listing fees. With a basic account on the site, you can immediately list your work without worrying about the percentage that the marketplace will take.
- Smashwords: If you’ve got written material that you’re interested in selling as an ebook, Smashwords provides a simple platform that will allow you to transform your work into an ebook and then sell it in their marketplace. Success on Smashwords’ platform tends to depend more on the type of ebook you’re offering and the interest in content — while there are many fiction ebooks listed, you have to make sure you stand out.
- Patternfish: If your crafts have to do with knitting or crocheting, you can actually sell your patterns, as well as finished items. Patternfish provides a venue to sell those patterns to other knitters and crocheters. The site even offers some advice on how to prepare the best pattern (both in terms of what buyers will purchase and in terms of what will be easier for a buyer to complete.
- Bonanza: Bonanza provides a more curated experience than other craft marketplaces, concentrating on hand-picking items that go together. It’s a little more intensive of a process than some of the alternatives, but it can translate into more selling power for a creative professional who creates work that can easily be paired with other items.
- Lulu: From photo books to calendars to cookbooks, Lulu offers a way to get your book printed and quickly and easily. Through the company’s website, you can set up a document, photos or other materials ready for printing and, whenever anyone orders a copy, it will be immediately printed and shipped off. You can sell your books through Lulu’s platform, as well as add buttons to your own website.
- DeviantArt: DeviantArt is first and foremost a gallery site that allows artists to display work. But the site has also built in the ability to sell prints — even on canvas — with just a click of a button. This approach is great for artists who work in a 2d medium and want to sell prints without the hassle of actually printing anything.
- Spreadshirt: Got a design you’d like to see on a t-shirt or another item of apparel? Spreadshirt lets you set up a shop to sell your designs on all sorts of clothing. You can even allow others to set up products using your design, letting you get a cut on anything anyone wants to do with your design. Spreadshirt has several printing options, letting you choose what is best for the particular type of design you’ve created.
- Kickstarter: While most marketplaces require you to have your goods ready to sell before you offer them, Kickstarter is a little different. It provides a way to fund projects — usually big creative projects — ahead of time. You essentially create a proposal for your project, film a video and create other collateral to explain what you’ll do with any money you receive through the site. You then request supporters agree to provide you with the money you need to create your project, offering different levels of rewards for helping out — often copies of the finished work. Kickstarter has proven useful for bands funding a new CD, writers getting a new book printed and an extremely wide variety of other projects.
It’s worth noting that for many of these platforms, it’s useful to have your own site and marketing tools. Most of the marketplaces that allow you to sell online take a cut of your proceeds and the more you can build up sales on your own site, the less you have to hand over for the privilege of using their sites. In the meanwhile, though, these sites can be a fast way to get up and selling.