2020 has presented unique challenges for all small businesses, including people interested in selling their art. Selling your art or marketing your skills is a daunting step to take, and the number of options you have to get started is overwhelming. Thankfully, the fact that there are so many options makes it easier to choose the one that’s right for you.
Alternatively, you can choose multiple techniques to make money online as an artist. Doing multiple projects at once is more work but diversifies your source of income so that you are not solely relying on one method.
Below are 10 different ways to use your art to make money. Included is a description of each method, plus the pros and cons of each. No matter what you pursue, selling your art online is a great way to cultivate time management skills and a business sense, on top of bringing in some extra income.
1. Teaching Art Online
If you’ve got the desire to share your expertise with others, teaching your art online is a great option to make extra money doing what you love.
If you are starting from scratch, making How To videos on YouTube can be a great way to get started. YouTube already has a big audience looking for these videos, so you can quickly grow a big following. And once your channel become successful, you can monetize your video with display ads.
You can also try to make a comprehensive class or course and upload it to learning platforms such as Skillshare and Udemy. You can sell your knowledge and expertise on these websites for a much higher profit than on YouTube. However, the competition is quite high and making a class is a much bigger project than creating a YouTube video.
If you already have a big online following, you can also sell your courses on your own website. This gives you more control over the price and the marketing. I’ll go into more details later in this article.
Finally, you can offer live 1:1 teaching sessions, coaching calls, or offer feedback. This approach isn’t as scalable, because you will have to put in the work for every new client. But you can normally charge higher prices for these services.
- If you have a passion for art and for helping others, you can make money while teaching others to love art.
- There are many ways to get started, depending on how much time you can commit to it.
- You must be skilled enough that others are willing to learn your techniques – it may take some time before you build up the skills and confidence to pursue teaching.
- There are many art tutorials available for free online. It can be challenging to make yours stand out so much that people are willing to pay for it.
2. Selling Art Prints
If you already have a big portfolio, you can take your best art pieces and sell them online as art prints.
If you already have an Instagram page, as any aspiring artist should, you can quickly see which artworks are the most popular and select those for your art prints. And if you already have a loyal audience, they might be interested in buying your art prints.
You can choose to make the art prints yourself. But buying a professional art printer can be quite an investment, and costumer service is always a nightmare. So most artists choose to outsource all of that by using a print-on-demand service. I’ll go into more details on both of them later on in this article.
You can also try to sell your art prints on a bigger marketplace such as Amazon and Etsy. These marketplaces have a huge audience, so you could potentially make a very nice income on them.
However, for most unknown artists the competition is simply too high. You would need to have a unique art style, target a very niche market, and be extremely lucky to make it big on these platforms.
A more reliable way would be to grow an audience on social media and try to sell your prints to your superfans.
- Makes your original work more accessible to your audience.
- You can repurpose old pieces of art.
- Offers you a lot of control over the process – you can choose where to print your work and how involved you want to be in the advertising and shipping process.
- Depending on the method you choose, advertising and quality control may both be difficult.
- Prints don’t sell for much, so you may have to sell a lot of them to make a profit.
- Works best if you already have a big audience.
3. Accepting Commissions
Making someone’s day with a custom piece of art is a great way to earn some money and spread some joy.
If you already have a following on social media such as Instagram of Facebook, you can simply upload a post or story asking if anyone is interested in commissions. You can often charge a slightly higher price to loyal fans than to random strangers.
Depending on your skill set, you may want to narrow what can be commissioned. You can decide to focus on pet portraits, house paintings, or family portraits, for example.
Concentrating what you offer will also help you advertise your art commissions to interested customers.
- You can charge a hefty amount depending on the time the work takes to complete.
- Customers may order new things and allow you to grow your skills by painting things you never have before.
- Easy way to get started making money online with art.
- You may not get to draw what you want to draw, only what people order from you. Commissions can pull you away from making your own original art.
- Customers can sometimes be picky or tough to deal with. Be sure you secure your payment so you don’t get scammed.
- You won’t be able to repurpose personalized artworks such as commission and sell them a second time on other platforms.
4. Starting a Patreon
Patreon.com is a website on which people can subscribe to and support their favorite content creators. If every fan you have pledges to support you for just $1,- per month, you can still make a comfortable living.
Some people will subscribe to you because they are already a fan of your work and want to see you become successful. Others will subscribe just for the bonus content that you only make available for members.
Anything can be a Patreon reward, including bonus videos, blog posts, tutorials, or even monthly gift packs of art prints and stickers.
- Members subscribe for your original content.
- Members can support you for as much as you want to.
- It’s a great way to connect to your audience and allow them to ask questions or see your artistic process.
- Gives a reliable monthly income.
- Success is not always instant, and in most cases requires establishing a loyal audience first.
- You might have to frequently add new bonus content that you can’t use anywhere else.
5. Selling Art Books
According to Steff Metal of EmptyEasel, selling art books can be a great way to create a beautiful tome of your work, as well as promote your work to collectors and potential customers.
If you are already well-known or if you worked on a big project before, you might be able to work directly with one of the major publishers.
As a smaller artist, you can give self-publishing a try. Doing everything yourself might take a lot of work such as designing layouts and writing text, curating your best artworks, book marketing, etc.
But on the flip side, you can have a much higher profit margin because you can cut out the middlemen.
- Immortalizes your art in a unique and beautiful format.
- Advertises your work to collectors.
- Publishing a book gives you more authority and legitimacy.
- You can use your book as a lead magnet for profitable deals.
- Takes a lot of time to create or curate the artwork inside the book, and to find the publishing format that works best (without being too expensive).
- You may need to hire someone to assist with layouts or writing and editing the text inside.
- Making good money from a book requires a lot of marketing.
6. Working Part-Time
You can set up an account on gig websites to freelance and sell your artwork. These websites will advertise your skill to an interested party, and they will place an order in a safe and secure format.
All of this is through one listing, where you sum up the skill that you can perform. This skill can be any number of things, such as painting small works of art, making digital icons, performing voice-over work, and more.
The most popular platform to use is Fiverr. Originally you could only sell and buy gigs worth $5,- on this website. But nowadays you have a lot more freedom to choose your own price.
The key to having a constant influx of new costumers on Fiverr, is to build a solid reputation in a niche and earn positive costumer reviews. People are more inclined to buy from you if they see that you are reliable and professional.
If you are just starting out, you might have to do a few gigs for cheap to earn some reviews. But once you are established in your niche, you can easily increase your prices.
- They are great for completing many short-term projects.
- You can get started right away.
- Don’t need a big following to get started.
- You can commit as much time as you want.
- These are competitive places, so you might find that you have to lower your prices below a reasonable amount in order to attract customers.
- Becoming a reputable seller that can charge higher prices can take a long time.
7. Selling Print-on-Demand Merchandise
Ever wanted to see your art covering mugs, tote bags, posters, etc? Print-on-demand websites, such as Redbubble or Society 6, will allow you to upload a high-resolution scan of your art and print it on a wide variety of different items.
The best part about these sites is the flexibility. You can sell dozens of different products that feature your artwork, and these websites will create and ship them for you.
Moreover, these platforms already have a pretty large audience. If you can build some initial traction by promoting your storefront, eventually the algorithm will pick up on this and show your merchandise to more and more people.
- Offer a wide variety of products for very little time and effort.
- Will allow you to make passive income from old artworks you made before.
- This is a very hands-off system, so you don’t directly control the quality of the product.
- Most items sell for very little, and these websites also take a hefty cut of your profits.
8. Creating an Art Blog or Website
There’s no limit to what you can do with a website. And fortunately, you don’t need any programming skills to build a website anymore.
Using a website building platform, you can easily make a personal website with your online portfolio in just a few hours. Having your own website is a great way to be found by big companies that want to work with creatives.
If you have any products or courses, you can also add a storefront to your website. This will give you more control over the price and marketing of your products compared to outside marketplaces such as Skillshare or Amazon. But you will have to find a way to drive traffic to your storefront by yourself.
Finally, you can start an art blog on your website on which you teach art or share your creative process. When done right, these blog articles can drive a large amount of traffic to your site. You can then monetize this traffic by sending them to your products, showing display adds, or using affiliate links.
- Extremely customizable to fit your needs as an artist.
- Can be used for branding.
- Can be monetized through lots of different avenues.
- Provides a one-stop-shop for people interested in your content.
- It’s difficult to make money right away in this manner. Ads, affiliate links, and online store purchases will build slowly over time.
- Setting up a basic website is easy. But adding more complex features like a storefront might require some technical knowledge.
- You will need to figure out how to drive traffic to your website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or social media marketing.
9. License Your Images on Stock Sites
If you are a photographer or someone who can easily digitize your work, licensing and selling your art through websites like Creative Market will allow you to make passive income on your work. Customers can purchase the license to use your product, and this allows you to make passive income.
You might be surprised that people are still willing to pay for photos and illustrations. Especially considering that there are several stock image sites where you can find them for free.
But finding the perfect photo or illustration that is also free is till very difficult. So companies are more than willing to pay for your work, if it’s exactly what they are looking for. Moreover, many big businesses don’t like to use free images, because the potential copyright issues can be a big legal liability.
However, that also means that not every type of art does well on these types of websites. General categories like business and food seem to do much better than more niche subjects like antique vases or anime conventions.
To make sure that potential buyers can find your work, make the most out of keywords and tags.
- It’s a great way to repurpose old content.
- Very passive income. You set it and forget it.
- Some sites like Creative Market are very popular and will drive traffic to you.
- These sites may take a hefty cut of your profits, up to a 40% fee.
- Not all types of art do well on these websites.
10. Selling Art on Etsy
Etsy has rapidly become the most popular place to buy and sell anything related to arts and crafts.
If you love the process of creating, curating, and shipping your product, Etsy may be the site for you. Etsy also provides sellers with a wide range of tools for shipping and marketing.
Especially hand-made products and one off pieces of art seem to do really well. So it’s not as passive as many other methods mentioned before.
The competition on Etsy is quite high. So offering a product that is similar to what’s already out there probably won’t result in a lot of costumers. However, if you can find a gap in the market or can make significant improvements over what’s already doing well, you can still make a full-time income from Etsy.
- You have full control over the product, from its creation to the shipping materials you choose to use.
- Etsy helps sellers optimize their marketing tools and streamline the shipping process.
- Etsy charges hefty and sometimes sneaky fees. You may find your profits cut heavily and unexpectedly.
- Because it is such a popular site, competition can be fierce.
- Not very passive income for most artists.