The internet has made it possible for artists to monetize their brand and audience. Here's a few ways how.
The phrase “starving artist” is usually associated with a creative career.
No matter what kind of artist you are, you’ve likely found that making money isn’t as easy as a traditional job.
However, through active and passive incomes, it’s possible to earn a full-time income online. Here are a few ways artists can make a full-time income online.
How Artists Can Make Money Online
#1. An Online Storefront
An online storefront can give you both active and passive incomes.
If you make your artwork digital, for example, then you never have to paint or make them again.
Your customers can look through your catalog, purchase the digital art pieces they like, and you don’t have to make anything new.
If you have a few art pieces that sell really well, you could be earning a good deal of money without lifting a finger.
Those who sell physical pieces will use their online storefront as an active income. When a customer purchases a piece, you need to make that piece.
Once you’re finished, it can be shipped to the customer. In this instance, you may find that your customer wants to pay once the piece is finished.
If that isn’t a business plan that you enjoy, then you can always ask customers to pay half beforehand, then pay the rest once the piece is finished.
This ensures that you still get paid even if the customer decides they don’t like the piece when it’s finished.
As an artist, it’s important that you have several storefronts available where your audience is located. It also depends on the type of artist you are and the method you use for your business.
If you’re someone that prefers to make a piece after the order has come in, then you may find that shopfronts like Etsy are more your style.
Others who prefer to sell digital art may prefer places like SquareUp or Weebly. You can even design your own store, then market it on social media.
The process of buying your art also needs to be easy. Customers don’t want to have to jump through hurdles in order to buy it. They seek convenience.
Instead of asking them to send you a message, except for custom orders, you should have a simple buy link for them to click instead.
Not only does this free up your time, but it encourages customers to make a purchase immediately rather than waiting for you to respond.
They may change their mind during that time.
#2. Gain a Following
Nothing is more important for success as an artist than a following. People won’t buy your art if they don’t know that you’re out there.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever for artists to gain a following. You just need to brush up on your social media skills.
One of the best places to gain a following is through Instagram. As a place reserved for photos, this is an ideal location to upload samples of your work.
You can show your followers the latest pieces you’re working on. You can even show them pieces that are for sale.
Instagram plans on opening its own marketplace. You’ll be able to sell your pieces directly through the app soon.
Another place you should gain followers is through Twitter.
You can upload photos to Twitter, too, but it’s mainly a great site for keeping your followers updated about your life.
You can even pose them challenges to help keep them engaged. It’s also a great source of inspiration.
Unsure of what to paint, photograph, or write next? Ask your followers on Twitter! They can give you some silly, impactful, or brilliant ideas.
Finally, you may want to consider getting a TikTok account as well. As the latest social media craze, TikTok can be useful for uploading short videos.
You can show your followers how you work, what you’re working on, or even just daily snapshots of your personal life.
This can help your followers feel closer to you. The more loyal they are to you, the more likely they are to support you.
The large following that you gain on social media can then be directed to your website.
After considerable hard work hustling to gain a following, you’ll have a large audience ready to buy your art pieces.
Going to craft fairs, comic conventions, and other events can also be a great way to earn money.
Not all events are held in physical locations. Many of them have moved to an online space.
This is ideal for you because it makes transporting your art easy. All you need to do is upload the art pieces that you’re selling.
You should do a bit of research before attending the event. Does your art style fit in with the audience?
Would they be interested in your art pieces? If not, then you may not want to waste your time. You’ll only be wasting money.
Another strategy to take is to create art based on the event.
If you plan on attending an online comic convention, for example, then consider making nerdy pieces of art.
They’re sure to buy it if they enjoy your style or if you feature one of their favorite characters.
Attending an event could be a fun and great way to earn extra income.
#4. Open Commissions
Another example of an active income is opening yourself for commissions. This can easily be done on your website.
With a simple button to reach you, customers can put in their own original artwork requests.
It may even be based on an existing art piece that you have. They may want it in a different color or tone.
Others will want a completely original piece. The best thing about commissions is that you can up the price.
Because they’re asking for a fresh piece that you haven’t done before, it becomes an original artwork. Those can sell for a pretty penny.
You’ll want to ask about their budget first.
The last thing you want to do is to spend time creating their custom artwork only to find that they don’t have the funds to buy it.
The half-now half-later model may also work well in this case.
You’ll also need to discuss revisions. If the piece doesn’t exactly hit the mark, then will you create another?
Or is this the case of “what you see is what you get?” For writers, you may benefit from allowing a few revisions, then have a system in place that allows them to buy more revisions if necessary.
Commissions can be a great way to earn a full-time income.
When you price yourself accordingly, you could end up making well past a full-time income through commissions alone.
#5. Online Gallery Shows
There are also multiple online galleries that you can apply to. If accepted, your artwork will be on display for everyone who joins the gallery to see.
It can also be sold at incredible prices.
Galleries give you the chance to display your very best work. These are original pieces that can’t be found anywhere else.
If someone likes your piece, then they can buy it for a large amount. However, it should be noted that galleries take a large piece of the pie.
You may want to speak with the gallery beforehand to figure out how much of a cut they take. It may not be financially reasonable for you to attend.
Finding the right gallery, however, can help you get your art in front of people and make some incredible sales.
#6. Online Art Teacher
Another great way to make a full-time income online as an artist is through teaching.
There are so many platforms available that allow you to teach your craft to others.
There are professional sites that you can join that require you to have a degree in art.
These positions likely pay better than those that don’t require a degree.
There are other sites like Skillshare and Udemy that allow you to upload your own course.
This is a great passive income stream because you only need to do the work once.
From there, the customers pay for it and keep giving you money over time.
You can also host virtual paint-it nights. Drinking wine, or alcohol, and painting has become a fun pastime for some people.
The goal isn’t really to learn how to paint, but rather just to enjoy painting. You can host these parties online. You can even drink with your clients.
Show them the project they’re going to be working on, then help steer them in the right direction.
They’ll have a ball, and you may just have a lot of fun, too.
You can also find online sites for teaching kids if you have a passion for helping children.
The best aspect of these sites is that they can be international as well. Art doesn’t require a specific language to understand.
You can show your international students how to do art.
Teaching online classes is a great way to keep a steady income. It can be both active and passive in terms of earning income.
There are also several platforms from which to choose. You may even decide to have a class on all of them.
#7. Online Consulting Services
If you’ve learned a lot about the business side of art, then you may want to consider starting a consulting business.
Your niche may be about how to gain a social media following or how to do taxes as an artist or how to work as a digital nomad artist.
Whatever key expertise you bring to the table, you can transform it into a consulting business.
This is a great opportunity to run alongside your existing art career.
You can help fellow artists like yourself, earn money, and still have enough freedom to create art and sell it, too.
Your consulting business can also be held completely online. This enables you to reach artists across the country, if not the world.
By helping them understand the particular topic you’re an expert on, you can make their lives that much easier.
#8. Utilize Patreon
Patreon has become the go-to place for creatives. It allows their followers to show their support for their work by regularly paying them.
One of the best aspects of Patreon is that you can set your prices. You can also include tiers.
Those who support you on Patreon usually expect something special in return.
That might mean a members-only Discord channel where you talk to them regularly. It might mean a free piece of art every month.
No matter what kind of art you make, you can find a way to reward your supporters.
Patreon can be a great way to earn passive income every month.
You can use your following from social media to flood your Patreon and earn sizable monthly payments.
#9. Youtube Monetization
If you create art, then you can always start a Youtube channel about how you make that art.
You can make a bunch of tutorials designed to help others make the art piece, too.
Youtube is a great way to monetize your videos. You just need to gain a following first.
It can also be used as a mouthpiece to help steer your audience to your Patreon or other streams of income.
So What’s Next?
One of the ways artists are making money is through affiliate marketing. If you’re interested in learning how you can get started with affiliate marketing, this beginner-friendly course shows you how.