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Selling Digital Downloads: A Guide for Artists and Designers


Digital delivery unlocks scalable income streams for creators by selling artwork online instantly. But successfully monetizing downloads requires the right file setup, marketing and protections.

This comprehensive guide covers best practices for artists and designers leveraging downloads as a sales channel. We’ll explore:

  • Preparing print-ready file formats
  • Writing effective descriptions
  • Pricing downloads competitively
  • Protecting artwork from piracy
  • Building promotional funnels
  • Automating fulfillment
  • Following up after purchase
  • Expanding ancillary offerings
  • Tracking royalty metrics

With strategic digital download offering, artwork reaches global audiences instantly while paying continuously. Let’s dive in!

Preparing Print-Ready Downloadable File Formats

Digital files must meet production standards for widespread usability.

Offer Lossless Source Files

Share native PSD, AI, Blender and other source project files for flexibility.

Export Print Versions

Generate high resolution TIFF, PNG, or PDF files sized for key paper and canvas dimensions.

Include Web Resolutions

Downsample copies optimized for online use cases like websites and apps.

Format for Mobile

Render wallpaper resolutions tailored horizontally and vertically for phones and desktops.

Consider Included Fonts

Embed or provide licenses for any special fonts needed for text-based art to display properly.

Provide Dimensions

Note pixel dimensions, aspect ratios and DPI/PPI to prevent distortion during use.

Test Before Selling

Order test prints across services like Redbubble using your files to confirmPrint readiness.

Writing Effective Descriptions

Complete, accurate details build trust in buyers andmarketplaces.

Summarize Art Subject and Style

Help buyers evaluate relevance through themes, techniques described.

Note Ideal Usage Cases

Explain intended display purposes like apparel, web hosting, printing etc.

Highlight Key Features

Describe noteworthy attributes like high resolution or color profiles.

State Exact Dimensions

Quantify sizing precisely to prevent purchaser confusion and claims.

Disclose Software Requirements

Mention if specific programs like Photoshop needed to use source files.

Link to Previews

Hyperlink to portfolio samples so buyers can preview aesthetic without downloading.

Outline Allowed Uses

Clarify if downloads are for personal use only or include commercial rights.

Pricing Downloads Competitively

Benchmark peer rates across marketplaces when structuringyour own.

Determine Market Value

Search platforms for comparable works to establish norms and ranges.

Factor in Resolution and Size

Price higher resolutions and larger-scale versions at a premium.

Charge More for Commercial Rights

Licensing downloads for wider business use earns higher rates.

Offer Bundles and Packages

Provide discounted bulk and multi-item deals encouraging larger purchases.

Reduce Prices Over Time

Lower rates on older pieces to continue driving sales long-term.

Price Limited Originals Higher

For exclusive works only offering a few unrestricted downloads, command premium pricing.

Run Promotions

Drive initial sales through limited-time discounts and coupon codes.

Protecting Artwork From Misuse and Piracy

Various digital techniques deter mass sharing and misattribution.

Watermark Previews

Overlay your logo or handle subtly atop free lower resolution previews.

Tag Files

Embed licensing details and copyright notices into downloadable files and metadata.

Provide Low-Res Samples

Only publicly display lower-resolution versions retaining high res for paying customers.

Limit Downloads

After purchase, restrict downloading files to a set number of times from account dashboards.

Obfuscate Names

Use scrambled filenames like artworkID234.jpg to make sharing name duplicates difficult.

Takedown Infringers

If found elsewhere online, file DMCA notices to have unauthorized copies removed.

Make Support Easy to Find

Clearly display contact info for reporting improper usage or takedown requests.

Building Effective Promotional Funnels

Guide potential buyers through clear paths from discovery to download.

Create Dedicated Landing Pages

Build product pages optimized specifically for advertising key downloads you aim to sell most.

Spotlight Top Downloads

Feature best selling designs prominently with descriptors and calls to purchase.

Offer Buy Buttons Everywhere

Place purchase buttons ubiquitously throughout site and social media.

Incentivize Email Signup

Provide discounts for subscribers giving you retargeting opportunities.

Promote on Social Media

Run ads and organic posts showcasing previews driving traffic to download product pages.

Retarget Site Visitors

Remind visitors who left through ads placed around the web.

Send Abandoned Cart Emails

Win back shoppers who previously added downloads to carts but didn’t complete checkout.

Automating Download Delivery and Fulfillment

Streamline download delivery at scale through automation.

Use Digital Commerce Platforms

Tools like Gumroad, Selz and SendOwl handle secure download delivery upon payment.

Integrate Payment Processing

Connect commerce platforms to payment providers like Stripe to instantly accept payments.

Email Download Links

Send links and redemption codes to access files through purchase confirmation emails.

Automate Account Creation

Instantly create logins giving access to from online purchase dashboards.

Enable One-Click Reorders

Let collectors instantly reorder previous purchases with pre-saved payment details.

Push Updates to Purchases

Automatically supply file patches, fixes and new versions to past buyers.

Following Up After Purchase

Post-sale outreach increases satisfaction and referrals.

Seek Product Reviews

Email recent buyers soliciting ratings and testimonials for social proof.

Check for Feedback

Survey customers directly if downloads met expectations and quality standards.

Provide Support Options

Offer help documentation and channels in case issues arise using files.

Highlight Similar Downloads

Suggest related downloads based on past purchases for upsell opportunities.

Request Referrals

With high satisfaction, politely ask loyal buyers to share your work with colleagues and friends.

Build Ongoing Emails

Send customers newsletter editions with new release announcements to spark reorders.

Expanding Ancillary Digital Offerings

Supplementary digital products multiply earning potential. Consider:

Selling Merchandizing Rights

Let third parties pay to use artwork on physical products they sell through merchandising agreements.

Offering Adapted Wallpapers

Repurpose designs into mobile and desktop wallpaper files.

Recording Art Tutorials

Sell video tutorials teaching others techniques you use creating bestselling pieces.

Authoring Art eBooks

Compile knowledge into packaged informational content products.

Blogging About Process

Monetize posts documenting your creative workflows through ads and affiliates.

Teaching Online Classes

Host your own virtual art teaching workshops or pitch to platforms like Skillshare.

Tracking Key Royalty Metrics

Key datapoints shape pricing, promotions and platform strategies.

  • Sales volumes by product and marketplace
  • Average royalty rates across channels
  • Top converting designs indicating styles to expand
  • Conversion rates by promotion type and channel
  • Sales by marketing source and attribution
  • Lifetime value of repeat buyers
  • ROI on marketing investments
  • Fraudulent account and download spikes


Digital downloads make sharing creative visions scalable and lucrative. Remember:

  • Prepare versatile, high quality files customers can easily use
  • Optimize titles and descriptions to boost visibility
  • Benchmark competitive pricing but know your worth
  • Deter piracy through watermarking and rights management
  • Drive sales through targeted advertising
  • Streamline delivery through automation
  • Develop supplemental digital products
  • Track performance data to refine efforts

With the right digital assets and business savvy, artwork can earn global income for years to come. Start selling today!


By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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