15 Ways to Make Money as an Artist
Making money as an artist doesn't just have to be limited to selling your original art or taking on commissions. There are actually tonnes of different ways you can start earning money from your art!
In fact, I am a full-time artist who makes over 6 figures a year and I don't sell any art... not one piece! Keep reading to find out how.
It is important not to completely rely on just one source of income to keep your art business afloat. You don't want to 'put all your eggs in one basket.' Learning different ways to generate money from your art will help you grow your art business, create a stable living for yourself, and remove stress (as your income won't just be coming from one place!)
Some revenue streams I will mention are referred to as 'active' income streams, whilst others are examples of 'passive' revenue streams.
What's the difference?
Active revenue streams require constant effort to maintain and keep generating money.
Passive revenue streams may need a lot of upfront work but then needs very little additional effort to maintain that income.
15 ways you can make money from your art
1) Selling your original art.
This is the most obvious revenue stream on this list and is an example of active income because you have to create the art for every sale that you make. This method can, therefore, get very time intensive!
2) Selling prints.
Prints are great for making a repeated profit from one piece of art. This can be either active or passive – you could make the prints yourself or you could upload them to a website that does it all for you, such as Red Bubble. You can decide which one benefits you the most, weighing up work vs profit, etc.
3) Selling merchandise
There are lots of items out there that you could sell with your artwork on, from t-shirts to mugs. Again, you could do this yourself or outsource. This is a brilliant way to make the most out of every design that you make.
This is where customers will ask you to draw specific things for them. Personally, I find this method quite time intensive and pressurized (as it is your job to create work that your clients are satisfied with.) On the other hand, some artists do love it! It can be very rewarding to create something so meaningful to someone. Commissions are another form of active income.
5) Selling art courses and tutorials.
This is a passive revenue stream and one of my absolute favorites! I love it because even though making a course takes a lot of time once you’ve made it, that is it. No extra time is required to sell the course to 10,000 people, compared to 10 people. This makes this revenue stream easily scalable!
This is a great platform for creators and is a membership site. You set monthly rewards for your patrons in return for a monthly pledge. For example, you could offer a print every month or an art course, etc. Figure out what your target audience would find most valuable and be willing to pay for.
Improving your art is key if you want to:
make more sales
Get more commissions
Earn a living from your art
Get my FREE '10 Steps to Better Artwork' guide and start creating art that people are excited to pay for!
7) Affiliate programs.
This works best if you have an audience already. Many companies do affiliate programs where you can earn a commission whenever you recommend their product and your viewer then goes and buys it/ signs up for a free trial. For example, on YouTube I leave amazon affiliate links to all of the art materials I use. I will get a small commission if someone buys those art supplies from that link at no extra cost to the buyer.
8) Ad revenue on YouTube.
You can earn ad revenue from the adverts that play before, during, and after your YouTube videos. This is a nice way to supplement your income, but make sure not to rely on it as you have no control over this money (YouTube could change their policies, etc.)
Many artists do sponsorships and deals with brands they love! This could be an art supply company, graphic tablet manufacture, photo editing software, etc. If there is a product you love it is worth reaching out to the brand and seeing if you can collaborate with them. Ask if they’ll sponsor one of your videos or social media posts, for example.
10) Start an art blog.
Videos aren’t for everyone, but if you’re great at writing then this could be the one for you! You can still point people to other things you do that might benefit them (like products and services.)
11) Create a book (or e-book).
This could be a book of prints or an educational book teaching people how to improve their art. Another great little money earner. This is something that will take a lot of work to produce, but once made can be a great passive revenue stream.
12) Licencing out your artwork.
Big supermarkets or home stores often have canvas prints to sell for the home – licensing your art to these kinds of places can help you earn some nice royalties. Got to love all of this passive income!
13) Live streaming.
This one isn’t as popular, but you could live stream whilst you create your art. Gaining paying subscribers on Twitch is a great way to earn money with this approach.
14) Teach classes on platforms like Skillshare.
There’s a lot of adverts for this platform at the moment, to take classes, but why not teach them? This could help you earn money whilst you’re still in the early stages of building your own audience. I even have a class on Skillshare, take a look!
15) Sell services on websites like Fiverr.
It’s an established marketplace where you can advertise your services, such as original art or commissions. People will contact you after seeing these advertisements.
As you can see there any many more ways to make money from your art than just selling your originals. There are lots more that I could have included on this list, but I had to stop somewhere!