Many of you may think that the only and most obvious way to make money as an artist is to sell original artworks either through social media or art galleries.
However, there are many other ways that you can make money as an artist where you don’t need to follow in the footsteps of your favourite artist or be limited to only one source of income. This blog will help you to learn about the different options there are to make money as an artist to create a comfortable living for yourself. Having multiple sources of income means that you don’t have to rely on one thing.
Active and Passive income
A couple of different streams of income are Active and Passive:
Active income can be a quicker way to make money but it is hard-earned money which means it requires constant effort to make money such as commissions.
Passive income may take longer to earn money as it requires a lot of effort and time in the beginning. In the long run, it needs very little effort to maintain this income such as an art course or a book.
1) Sell your original art
For some artists, their aim is to be able to sell their art which is the most obvious way. This is an example of active income. Some people find this very rewarding and enjoyable but if you don’t create or sell the art, you don’t earn money.
You will have noticed that the most famous artists sell their work to exclusive people and collectors in art galleries for an extremely high price. For some artists, this is their dream but getting into art galleries can be a very difficult and a lengthy process.
Through social media/Etsy/Shopify
Social media accounts are a great way to build an audience to sell your artwork on platforms such as Etsy, Shopify or even your own website. Remember you will have to pay the website provider either through commission or paying for the actual website to sell on their platform.
Commissions can be very exciting for artists as it is when people ask you to draw specific things for them. This can be very time consuming but it also means you can control how much money you earn. This is a form of active income.
3) Sell prints
Selling prints can either be active or passive income. This would be an active income if every time you have an order you send the artwork to print, package it and then send it to the recipient. It would become a passive income if you used a service like Redbubble where you upload your artwork, they print and ship the artwork when someone has ordered; meaning constant effort isn’t required. However, this could be costlier.
This seems to be a popular choice for many artists and designers as it is a great way to make money from one piece of artwork. Artists sell things such as stationery or clothes. You can make these things yourself or outsource. This is active income.
5) Affiliate programs
Affiliate programs are usually with other companies where you can earn a commission whenever you recommend any of their products or services, then a viewer goes and buys this product with your code/signs up. You could have an affiliate program with an art supplier where you use and recommend their products. This method works best for those with a large audience and I would recommend only accepting programs with companies you like otherwise this may affect the trust you have built with your audience. This is passive income.
Sponsorships are great if you have a brand that you really love! This could be an art supply company or a company such as CASIFY (a large phone case brand that collaborates with artists). It is worth reaching out to brands you love to see if they will sponsor you in any way. This is an active income.
7) Art blogs
If you don’t like creating videos, art blogs can be a great option for you! Blogs are also great to provide your audience with more general art information. From blogs, you can direct your audience to other products or services on your website that might benefit them. I create both videos and blogs so that my audience has the option of both! Check out my YouTube.
Books and eBooks are a great source of passive income. They can be a lot of work at the beginning but once you start selling them, they can be a very efficient source of passive income. My eBooks are free as a tool to help others with their art.
9) Licensing artwork
Home stores, art shops or even supermarkets often sell artwork for the home. If you license your art to these places you can earn royalties. This is a useful source of passive income but it isn’t very popular.
10) Live streaming
If you really enjoy creating videos for your audience, live streaming could be an option that you try. It isn’t for everyone but if you gain paying subscribers on platforms such as Twitch you can earn money whilst people are watching you draw. This is active income.
11) Art courses and tutorials
This is personally my favourite as I am very passionate about art education. A course takes a huge amount of time to create but once you have it is a brilliant source of passive income as no extra time is needed if you sell the course to 1 person compared to 100.
Teaching classes on platforms like Skillshare and Udemy is a great option for those who are still building their audience as it means people can find your courses on these well-known sites. In the beginning, you may find it difficult to increase traffic on your website for people to buy your courses directly from you.
If you have a large YouTube following it may be worth considering creating a Patreon membership site. You can decide what exclusive content you want to give your audience based on their interests. I have a Patreon and I give my audience exclusive video tutorials. This is passive income.
13) Youtube Ad revenue
This can be an effective way to supplement your income. You can earn ad revenue from advertisements playing before, in-between or after your video. However, don’t rely on this income as YouTube is in control of the ads. This is passive income.
14) Art classes and workshops
Back in the days when in-person art classes were safe and allowed, these were one of my favourite sources of income as I love how personal they are and the way I can interact with my students. This is an active source of income.
These are just some examples of different ways you can make money as an artist! Everyone’s journey is different and personal to them. To learn more about a career as an artist, complete my Masterclass of Drawing, Design and Creativity with Color Pencil and Pastel course.