I get it! You are skeptical about the possibility of earning money as an artist because of the "Starving Artist" myth. YES! It's a myth! Today I will show you 12 ways how to earn money as an artist (online and in various other ways) in 2022... even if you are a complete newbie just like I was a few years ago.
I will share with you how I make money as an artist and how you can too!
Now, before we go into the specific ways of building your own profitable business, keep the following in mind...
Building your own art online business is NOT for the faint of heart!
It requires LOTS of patience, commitment, hard work, problem solving, researching, learning, constant growth, and the ability to adapt and pivot as things change in the physical and online world. Disappointment, failure, lots of sleepless nights, and frustration are part of the journey!!!
BUT... it is VERY REWARDING AND it is sooooo WORTH IT!
I LOVE creating my Youtube videos! It is something that excites me and makes me look forward to a day of work. In fact, I'd rather be working on my business than camping or going out with friends! That is how much I LOVE what I do!!!
Growing my business excites me sooo much that I can't wait in the mornings to jump out of bed to start working. I feel butterflies in my stomach every time that I have a new project idea.
Are you excited about your work???
If not, then it is time to start pursuing your dreams! I am here to help you do just that. So let's get started.
The video below is an honest talk about my revenue streams but keep on reading if you want more in-depth info about each of these income streams and a few more options I didn't think about when I was doing this video.
How I Make Money as an Artist
1. Sell your original paintings and prints online
You probably had already thought about this option, however, let me give you a few ideas of WHERE and HOW to actually do it!
Thanks to the internet, selling your artwork has never been easier. There are tons of platforms where you can show your work and reach different audiences. And with social media around, there are tons of ways to get free or paid marketing rolling to bring in even more customers!!!
So where should you sell your original paintings and prints?
Since this is a very extensive topic, I would encourage you to read my in-depth 20 Best Websites for Artists to Sell Work and Make Money article.
Now that you know WHERE to sell your artwork on, let's talk about HOW to drive traffic to the platform where your art will be listed for sale!
Because without traffic, you can't have any sales!
Like I said, with the internet, you have a ton of potential clients at the tip of your fingers. Use it to your advantage!!! Let people get to know you and your art!
Ways to Reach Worldwide Potential Customers Online:
- Post your artwork on social media (Tik Tok and Instagram are great for showcasing your finished artwork).
- Start a Youtube channel to show your artwork and your life as an artist (to make yourself more relatable as you show people that you are a normal person just like them, not just a business).
- Make your audience fall in love with your artwork by telling the story behind your creations, not just the finished art piece.
- Gain your followers' trust by showing sneak peaks of how you package and ship your artwork so that you ease their fears about receiving a damaged piece of art. They will know you care about your customers' satisfaction.
- Put up Facebook or Youtube ads to drive traffic back to your blog, Shopify store, Etsy store, or any other platform where you have your artwork on.
- Join Facebook groups where people (that would most likely love the type of art you do) hang out. For example, if you love painting dog portraits, consider joining a fur baby group and post your art there (if allowed). Or if you create resin geodes, join a group that loves crystals and rocks. Your jam is creating beautiful mugs? Then look for a group of coffee lovers! Think about where your potential customers would most likely hang out!
- Create idea pins on Pinterest showing how you create your artwork.
- Reach out to other content creators to collaborate with them on Youtube videos, blog posts, or podcasts to leverage their audiences.
- Reach out to Pinterest TV and do a live Pinterest event showing your unique art process to reach other potential audiences.
2. Sell your original paintings and prints locally
You can also sell your paintings locally, however, I would highly suggest that you leverage the online world as that gives you tons of opportunities to reach audiences that you will not be able to reach otherwise.
But selling locally on top of selling online is another great way to add an additional income stream.
Ways to Reach Local Potential Customers:
- Post your artwork on Facebook Marketplace
- Sell your artwork on local Classified Ads
- Visit local coffee shops, barber shops, nail salons, banks, bakeries, restaurants, dentist offices, beauty parlors, etc, and show them several pieces of your artwork. Ask if you can display several pieces of your artwork in their shop and offer a commission for any pieces that sell.
- Set up a booth table at local craft fairs to sell your creations.
IMPORTANT TIP: Your customers are your #1 asset for future sales. Do NOT let your customers leave without capturing their contact information so that you can continue selling to them in the future.
Offer to send them a coupon to their email for a future purchase or to join your email list to receive your Newsletter full of tips and updates on future events. AWeber is great for creating landing pages that will help you capture your customer's info so that you can continue being in touch with them (and continue making sales) long after they made their first purchase.
3. Create Online Courses
Selling my creations is not my only source of income. In fact, most of the income I make comes from selling courses where I teach others to do what I do!
And you can do the same!
Now, you may be thinking...
"I am not good enough at what I do!"
"There are many other people out there that are better than me"
And YES! Even though that may be true, there are many others that also know LESS than you do! You can teach THEM!
You DON'T need to be perfect at what you do to teach that skill to someone! You just need to be slightly better than they are!
Now, you might be wondering what is the easiest way to start an online course!
Well, first of all you have to record your lessons. Here is a very easy way to create the content of your online course!
Don't worry about it being perfect! Just lay out the curriculum and try to get some decent video with good audio and good lighting. You can update the course in the future after you start getting feedback from your customers.
For now, your priority is to just get something out there as fast as possible!
All you need to get started is your phone (to record the lessons) and some good lighting.
Now that you have your lessons recorded, you might be wondering how you can sell and deliver your course!
As someone who has tried and tested many platforms, let me give you some of the best options out there.
Thrive Cart would probably be my #1 option if I were to start all over again from scratch. It is a shopping cart tool and also a course hosting tool.
You can host all your lessons inside of Thrive Cart without having the need to have a WordPress site setup (super cool for newbies). And because it is also a shopping cart, you have the option of adding upsells to your offers (to generate even more revenue), a feature that other platforms like Teachable or Thinkific don't have.
In the future, you can also branch out and sell other items that are not necessarily online courses using this same Thrive Cart platform!
Teachable or Thinkific
Teachable and Thinkific are also two great platforms that make selling courses super easy! You don't have to worry about hosting and managing your own site.
Just setup your course using their platform and viola! All done! If you are thinking about selling a course or tutorial Teachable makes it sooo easy to get started.
4. Sell PDF's, Downloadables, Cheat Sheets, Guides, and Templates
How else to make money as an artist online? Think about how you can help your customers with a template, a cheat sheet, a downloadable PDF, or a guide. Consider making a downloadable item with Canva and selling that to your audience.
So think about what problems your customers have and what you can provide to help them solve those problems (Information e-book, sewing patterns, useful guides, templates, organization tips and tricks, etc).
5. Sell Your Own Physical Products
Think about what your audience needs and give it to them!
For physical products, I highly suggest using Shopify as your selling platform as it is very easy to setup, has great customer service, shows you your website's analytics that will help your business grow, and many other features that are well worth your money!
6. Sell Your Designs on Print-on-Demand Items
Another of my revenue streams is selling designs on print-on-demand items. You can sell your designs on mugs, towels, rugs, posters, hats, tote bags, and more!
Once that is done, integrate your Printful account to a WordPress site, Shopify store, Etsy shop, etc to sell your prints.
The amazing thing about selling print-on-demand items is that you pretty much set it and forget it! Once your store is setup and your designs are uploaded, you don't have to worry about shipping anything out. Printful processes and ships your orders for you.
7. Do Painting Parties and Private Classes
Offer to do painting parties for:
- Birthdays, Anniversaries
- Baby Showers, Bridal Party, Bachelorette Party
- Wine Nights
- Corporate Events & Team Building
- Church group activity
- Family Reunions or Just to Have Fun with Family or Friends
Or do private classes!
I love doing paint pouring parties and private classes. I go to their homes and teach them how to paint pour. People enjoy it sooo much and I get to meet new people!
8. Affiliate Marketing
If you don't want to create and sell your own courses or downloadable items, then consider doing affiliate marketing.
Reach out to a few companies that have affiliate programs for products and tools that you already use and love (or that you would love to try)! Then recommend those products/tools to your audience through email marketing, on Youtube videos, on social media posts, on business cards, on ads, blog posts, etc.
For every sales that is generated because of your recommendation, you get a small commission at no additional cost to your followers!
It is a win win situation for you and your followers! They get to know what the best products are out there without having to waste time and money buying products or tools that don't work, and you get a commission for helping them find products that they will love!
Yes, that's right! Ads can make you money.
Plenty of Youtubers make a living with what they earn through the ads that Youtube places on their Youtube videos. Youtube ads is probably not going to make you a millionaire (unless you are very lucky or go viral), but you can earn enough income to fire your boss and focus on growing your own business doing what you really love!
But, what if you DON'T LIKE doing videos or don't have a Youtube channel? Well, you can still make money off of ads, however, you are going to have to write optimized blog posts and install Ezoic or Google Ads on your blog.
10. Free Products
Some companies will even give you free art supplies in exchange for an honest review. Even though this is not cash, I still consider it a sort of income because I don't have to spend money purchasing the supplies that I need to make my art projects.
If companies don't reach out to you with free products, don't be afraid of reaching out to them and offer an honest review in exchange for discount on their product or a free sample.
Other Ways to Make Money as an Artist
Even though I am not yet earning money from the income streams listed below (either because I don't want to or because I am not famous enough yet), they are still great options to make some extra money!
Once you have decent traffic to your Youtube channel, big companies will reach out to you to sponsor your videos. This means that you will showcase their product or service on one of your Youtube videos in exchange for a lump amount of money!
My Youtube channel is still not big enough so I don't have sponsors yet, but hope to eventually get there.
12. Sell Commissioned Work
This method is not for me... however, other artist love this!
I don't like to feel stressed when I create my artwork, so I prefer to just create whatever my heart desires and then sell those pieces.
But some customers really want custom portraits, paintings, or piece of artwork that specifically speaks to them. So if you are up for the challenge, then go for it!
But keep in mind that you can create simpler pieces of commissioned work that might not take that much time to create or are not so difficult to ship... for example holiday or greeting cards, diaries, small pieces or art, etc.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to earn money as an artist online... and I am sure there are many more ways that I haven't yet explored or come across.
The limit is your imagination!
If you want to learn my strategy for making money online, then watch the video below!