How to Make Money as an Artist: 12 Ideas You Can Try
Many artists look to earn a living with their creations but need more resources, networking, or the know-how to make good money from them. That leads many people with considerable artistic skills to unfulfilling jobs without time to invest in their art.
In this article, we’ll show you how to make money as an artist, breaking down various ways to earn income, mostly, but not only, on the internet.
From attending art fairs, and preparing online courses and art classes; to generating passive income by selling prints. Check out the best ways to earn money with art.
Table of Contents
12 Creative Ideas for Making Money as an Artist Online & Offline
Let’s look at how to make money as an independent artist. Although some options are more suitable for painters and those dealing with graphic arts, most of the ideas apply to various arts, including music and sculpture.
1. Sell Art Using a Personal Website
Creating a personal website is crucial to organizing and strengthening your artistic presence online and making money.
A personal website is a touchpoint for any other online channel and the most effective way to showcase your work, build your brand, and market and sell your services.
To make money with art, you must pick a website builder with good blogging and content capabilities and eCommerce functions.
Invest time in perfecting your search engine optimization (SEO) for visibility on the internet.
Finally, the site needs to be visible to institutions, schools, and universities and not be blocked as social media. You can achieve that by providing quality content, reputable links, and authoritative sources, as Google recognizes those factors.
Consider one of our partners to create an art eCommerce website according to the mentioned requirements:
- WordPress + WooCommerce is free, gives full website ownership and limitless capabilities for content management, eCommerce and SEO, but requires hosting and has a steep learning curve.
- Squarespace has an edge in aesthetics and content and lets artists easily create stunning portfolios and blogs for a monthly subscription, but its eCommerce and SEO functions are limited.
- Wix is an all-in-one web builder. It offers more functions for similar prices to Squarespace, allowing small business owners to expand. It doesn’t have Squarespace’s ‘wow’ factor in aesthetics but has a good range of user-friendly design options.
Check our blog for articles on how to set up a WooCommerce, Wix, or Squarespace website, tweak WooCommerce and Wix SEO or compare Wix to Squarespace. If necessary, get help from an expert to design a website or update an existing one for eCommerce.
After you’ve created a website, you’re ready for the next idea for profiting with your art – create a print-on-demand store with Printify.
2. Start a Print-On-Demand Store
Print on demand is a method of commerce in which a product is printed and produced only after being ordered by a customer. Sellers act as creators and intermediaries between print providers and the final customers.
With this method, independent artists can sell just about anything – from canvas and posters to greeting cards or wall art – worldwide. It also lets the artist customize merch like tote bags or t-shirts, using it as a source of additional revenue or for branding in events, galleries, or art fairs.
Print-on-demand services are desirable to artists as it doesn’t require too much attention with mundane tasks such as managing inventory and shipping. Most of the time other businesses spend with management is outsourced, freeing the professional artist to focus on creative tasks.
Starting a POD store with Printify is quick and easy:
- Create an account with Printify.
- Go to My Stores in the upper-right menu, click Add new store, and then connect Printify to your website.
- Go to the catalog and pick a product. For example, choose a canvas that fits your creation better – stretched, framed, classic, or matte.
- Click Start Designing. That will open our Mockup Generator.
- Upload your design and make any adjustments required.
- Click Preview to check how it will look in real life.
- Save, edit the description and price, and Publish to your online store.
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3. Sell Art Online Using Different Social Media Channels
Next, we’ll see tips on how to make money as an artist on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Ensure your website builder supports sales channels and social media, and provide any required plugin or extension for that purpose.
For marketing art and acquiring potential clients and buyers, create a Facebook page and find groups related to your target audience.
Post high-quality images on your page regularly, either your creations and products or affiliate links. Alternate between selling posts with informative and educational content like blog posts, YouTube videos, or parts of premium content.
Define a content calendar and use the Meta business resources to automate posts.
Post in groups frequented by people interested in what you may offer, prospective clients, or fellow artists and creators. Pay attention to the group rules regarding promotional content, and make yourself known.
Instagram reaches a younger audience than Facebook and requires other strategies for proper marketing and networking.
The platform allows sharing one link per post within the bio page. There are workarounds to that, like using services such as LinkTree.
Follow potential clients and people following other artists and those engaged with the art business to get more followers.
Synchronize posts from your Instagram account with Facebook, or make cross-promotions to increase reach.
Advertising through TikTok may not be for everyone, but it can improve your reach.
TikTok’s audience is the youngest among the social networks. The platform relies upon entertaining, supposedly authentic, laidback, and short videos.
Write a short, catchy bio (adapting often) and avoid explicit upselling content. Consider partnering with TikTok influencers, and invest in engagement with your audience.
Link to other social media or specific landing pages in your website with distinct creations.
Consider filming short videos displaying parts of the creation process to encourage engagement and curiosity and reveal authenticity.
4. Sell Digital Art Using Digital Creative Markets or Stock Websites
Marketplaces are a natural online environment for selling art. There are online platforms targeting handmade goods, vintage items, artwork, and indie merch, like Etsy, Amazon Handmade, and Storenvy.
Depending on your expertise, you can further expose your work in specialized fine art marketplaces, such as Saatchi Art, FineArtAmerica, or UGallery.
Look for specialized platforms like Podia, Gumroad, SendOwl, Thinkific, Teachable, PayLoadz, or Creative Market for selling vector designs and digital products. These options offer a free plan with fees ranging from SendOwl’s 5% transaction fee to Creative Market’s 40%.
Some of these platforms specialize in images, while others give broader options, such as Teachable, that focus on producing digital educational content.
In the case of Creative Market, you can sell your artwork as stock images and products, reaching thousands of customers.
Platforms like Artfinder require applying and passing through an admission process before exposing and selling.
Some markets offer low fees but a limited number of products, students, or online courses, as in the case of Teachable.
5. Start a Dedicated YouTube Channel
Many people follow artists to learn how to paint, draw, or play an instrument. Therefore, a YouTube channel is a manner to create a following while delivering value.
Art channels can provide entertainment or educational content. Entertainment channels have a higher pool of viewers but are demanding to create, requiring a high level of confidence, screen presence, and charisma.
Focusing on creating educational content could produce good results for the more reserved artists. There are three main kinds of educational art videos:
- Time-lapse – time-lapses quickly show the creation process while the video is accelerated. They’re easier to produce but deliver less value.
- Screen recording with narration – this can be detailed and offer more value while, at the same time, benefiting those who are shy or lack confidence in front of the camera.
- Tutorials – detailed free tutorials differ from time-lapses as they explain the whole process. Tutorials require more time and effort but will bring more value to the users and get more returning viewers. Don’t skip steps and details, as the viewers want to see and understand what you’re doing. Go over the steps slowly and keep the explanations simple.
Art is more niche than other mainstream and entertainment channels on YouTube. Be patient, as it may take longer to grow.
Check for more advice on creating an art channel focused on educational content and art tutorials.
6. Teach Art Online and Create Educational Content
Teaching is one of the most popular and guaranteed ways to get good money with art online. It also improves and systematizes your techniques and skills, and increases your exposure – which may, in turn, increase your revenue.
The Internet allows people who would never step into a classroom to teach to get an expanded reach.
You can teach online in three ways – through video chats and conferences, recording videos, or writing educational content. It’s also possible to mix two or three of these ways, supporting online classes with video and e-books or scheduling meetings to answer questions asked by the students.
Monetize online learning through subscriptions and by selling exclusive downloadable content. Use website builders’ capabilities, or subscribe to platforms like Patreon or Nebula. Consider WordPress plugins like Sensei, LearnDash, or LearnPress.
If you’ve never taught, start by planning and inserting the content into a schedule. Having all or at least most of the content ready before the classes start is better.
Here are some content suggestions for online art classes:
- Start with what you do best and break it into parts.
- Teach the basics – from drawing fundamentals such as perspective and colors to music harmony or techniques for handling brushes and tools.
- Create how-tos, or teach through small projects – how to paint a forest, carve a spoon, sculpt a small pot, or play a song.
- Theoretical courses are suitable in conjunction with writing material intending to get money as an artist with passive income but may have a reduced audience compared to hands-on projects.
7. Work as a Freelancer
Graphic designers and writers, in particular, may profit in the art business with freelance jobs, particularly in sectors like fashion and marketing.
Defining a niche is the first thing to be a successful freelance illustrator or graphic designer. After that comes the marketing.
Creatives making money with freelancing must have quality websites showcasing their talent.
An active presence on social media is also essential for personal marketing and networking.
List yourself in directories and programs such as Printify Experts and Upwork.
Finally, freelancing can be the path to freedom, but it’s also financially demanding. Good planning and the capacity to organize are essential. Stay mindful of contractors’ rights and tax duties in the country where you’re based.
8. Become a Streamer
Streaming art can work similarly to recording tutorials or courses. For instance, you can stream while hosting online workshops or paint and create art pieces without commenting. It’s possible to explain the process or answer live questions.
That will depend on your personality and public persona. Prepare a structure and a plan, but be prepared for the unexpected, be flexible and authentic.
Going live with a smartphone while attending art expositions, fairs, and conventions is a fantastic way to connect with an audience while networking and showing what’s new in the field.
Another way to connect with streaming and increase audience engagement is by scheduling a tour of your studio or workspace, showing the place, hardware, and gear.
YouTube live is the most obvious choice for live streaming and has the largest following, but other social media also offers streaming capabilities, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch. Amazon Live is another option for live streaming. Depending on the platform, there may be specific streaming categories for arts, helping artists connect with a target audience.
Consider platforms specialized in the art industry, such as:
- Behance – a social network from Adobe dedicated to creatives. Lets artists stream from Photoshop or Illustrator on an iPad or with a third-party solution.
- Picarto – a platform for any creative person, including drawers, musicians, and people from the gaming industry. Small and niche following, suitable for getting experience.
- Restream studio – stream to various platforms via browser.
9. Start an Art Blog
Creating an art blog is fundamental for artists and professionals in the creative market. A blog not only publishes ideas but also brings organic traffic and exposure and acquires new customers.
Art blogs can make good money by:
- Showcasing the creator’s artwork and teaching techniques.
- Selling art, goods, and services, including original art and creations, high-quality prints and reproductions of public domain works, music, subscriptions, tutorials, courses, books, online publications, art prints and printables, and digital downloads.
- Affiliate and partners’ links.
Educational posts can also moderately link products to the online store, given there is a connection between them and the post content.
10. Sell Art at Art Galleries, Fairs, Conventions & Festivals
Galleries, art fairs, conventions, and similar environments help artists get exposed to in-person selling and connect with prospective customers and enthusiasts.
Even if participating in an art fair, convention, or festival doesn’t result in too many sales, such spaces provide artists with invaluable networking with other artists and people from the art industry.
Pick carefully which art fair or event to attend, as it implies extra costs with logistics, transportation, and fees.
Art fairs and galleries are traditional places for selling art, primarily paintings, and there is considerable competition for getting a spot and prospective buyers. Get ready to distribute business cards and portfolios, and don’t be afraid to collaborate or partner with fellow artists.
11. Apply for Grants and Art Competitions
Several institutions, such as the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the National Art Education Foundation, offer grants for artists in different situations. There are grants for various categories, from students and young artists to mid-career artists, art educators, or minorities.
Some grants are available for artists using technology and innovation, while others support artists engaged in addressing social issues. There are grants for every fine art in many countries, from visual arts to music and even writing.
Google “grants for artists” and follow announcements and news on social media platforms, artists’ associations, universities, cultural institutions, or NGOs.
Consider looking for art contests as well. In any case, working with the assistance of reputable institutions – even if for a short time – will give considerable exposure to your artwork.
12. Commission Artwork
Commissioned artwork was one of the artists’ most common revenue sources for centuries. It means producing a piece according to a request. Getting commissions requires being visible in the right places to the right people that would appreciate your style.
Fortunately, this can be accomplished easier today with digital platforms like Artwork Archive, Artists&Clients, ArtCorgi, or Art Please. Sign up and offer your services to customers interested in commissioning a piece of art.
When accepting a commission, remember that the commissioner will have a say. How collaborative and frictionless the process will be depends on the first contacts and how precise details and procedures were determined beforehand. Communicate clearly to avoid complications and misunderstandings.
Prepare a contract including price, additional expenses, payment terms, how much should be paid in advance, and what rights you retain over the work.
A good contract should offer a timeline with checkpoints and dates for approval and completion. You may check this sample commissions contract from Think & Wonder Inc.
Start a POD Store With Printify
Suggestions to Be a Successful Artist Online
Follow some suggestions to complete the ideas discussed until now and tailor your online artistic presence.
Know How to Market Yourself
It’s totally fine to opt for keeping another job together with art. However, marketing yourself should be a top priority if you want to make art your full-time job. The main reason many artists don’t profit from their work is not a lack of artistic talent but visibility. Art marketing is fundamental for raising awareness, interest, sales, and income.
Observe the following tips to identify what makes you unique and how to market that:
- You may have years of experience as an artist, but that experience may translate differently on the internet. Be humble to learn with less experienced or talented artists who achieved good results online.
- Follow other channels on YouTube, watch various videos, and establish your style by noticing how you differ from them and what you can add.
- Don’t repeat or copy what others are doing. Big channels have experience and a large following, and you don’t want to be a knock-off.
- Get a name reflecting the brand and work your image. Choose a brandable name with an available domain and purchase it. Use the same name on the website, social media, and YouTube channel.
- Be ready to show your face and voice.
Have a Constant Social Media Presence
Times have changed, and social networks are present in every aspect of our lives, for good or bad. Use that for making money as an artist.
Social media can market your art and develop a worldwide audience. Artists can also use networks to look for inspiration and peers.
On the other hand, the networks can become a source of distraction and addiction and take much time away from the creative process. Simply posting pictures will not automatically generate sales, and developing relationships and networking demands time. Finally, social networks can compromise an artist’s authenticity.
Here are tips for using social networking constructively:
- Structure and track the time spent creating and networking.
- Keep creating and producing according to an artistic vision. Don’t create art pieces for likes, but use the media to showcase them.
- Provide value by sharing blog posts or educational content
- Keep authenticity by posting lessons and failures besides highlights.
Expand Your Digital Presence
It doesn’t matter if you’re at the beginning or mid-career. Expand your presence beyond social media. A website with an online store, blog, portfolio, and YouTube channel can be demanding but add many benefits.
Besides bringing exposure and traffic, a website makes you look professional and helps establish how you show yourself to the outside world and define yourself as an artist, showing character and the story behind the art.
Invest in Equipment
Professional and quality equipment is vital to many ways of making money as an artist:
- Quality cameras with supporting hardware such as tripods and illumination are required for any video activity, from streaming, online courses, and tutorials, to creating films or video clips.
You may purchase a dedicated camera, use a smartphone (or even buy a refurbished model with a quality camera to save money), or acquire an HD webcam. Be sure the camera records in 1080p or 4K resolution.
- USB microphones like the Blue Yeti work at first when YouTube streaming. However, if quality audio is a requirement, invest a bit more in microphones with balanced XLR connections from brands like Audio-Technica, Sure, AKG, or Neumann.
- Interviews, live events, or hosting online workshops may require clip-on microphones.
- Working with XLR and clip-on mics, you’ll need an audio interface to record audio on a computer. Many quality audio interfaces are available for less than $100; look for gear like Focusrite, Behringer Euphoria, MOTU, or M-Audio.
- Finally, don’t forget specialized software for graphic design, video editing, or music and audio recording and editing. Many audio interfaces already come with a light version of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), the software required for recording, editing, and mixing audio like Ableton Live Lite.
Focus On Exposure
Last but not least – use all available resources to expose your artwork. Without exposure, no one will know your work.
Think out-of-the-box and, besides taking advantage of the technological resources discussed before, go beyond conventional spaces like galleries and exhibitions.
Display your work or perform in local businesses, such as cafes, which can support local artists and benefit from improving their environments.
Begin Your Artistic Online Journey
Earn passive income with digital art or an art blog, sell paintings in art galleries, or apply the latest graphic design techniques to traditional art – you’ve learned the best ways to make money as an artist, online and offline.
Now it’s your turn. We wish you luck in creating your own business with art.
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