10 ways to make money as an artist or creative
Last week I shared all about how to jump from your 9-5 into your creative business. You can read all about there here.
Today I’m sharing 10 money making ideas specifically for artists and creatives. I believe the world is a better place when we get to share out gifts with the world and do what fills our souls with joy. The world needs more of us bringing light and color.
I’m so happy you’re here!
Here are ways you can make money from your artwork:
1. Sell your originals.
This can be done online from a website, social media, etsy, ebay or other sites. Or it can be done in person at art shows, craft fairs, or in galleries or stores. There are already endless blogs and articles about this but if you’d like me to share more about creating originals then let me know. I love to showcase my originals and market them by photoshopping them into purchased stock photography like this:
2. Sell prints of your work.
I have a whole video about this, telling you what suppliers I use and how to package and sell your prints. Learning how to photograph or scan your work is key. Selling an original is great but it’s a one time transaction. There are a few types of prints you can sell. There is limited edition prints where you only create a certain amount, this can increase their value. You can often do open ended prints as well, you can do this of varying print styles and qualities. I’ve sold everything from postcard prints in sizes that can be framed, to canvas prints, to matted paper prints. There is no wrong answer, only what fits best for your clients, shows off your work best, and fits your needs of storing prints or printing on demand for customers.
3. Sell products with your images on them.
There are plenty of sites to help you do this. From redbubble to fineartamerica, snapfish, and on and on. You can upload your art images and direct interested customers to these sites. The plus side is no shipping or back end work for you. The low end… you make very small profits on your sales. This can be a great way to get started and not have inventory of your own and also see what your customers prefer.
4. Teach art classes.
This option is not for everyone, but if you like interacting with adults or students and are able to clearly explain things with patience then this may be a great option for you. This can be in person through community education or other programs or studios or it can be online.
You can sign up and easily create your own online classes on hosted sites like udemy.com or pay a subscription and have a set place online where you can build your own course like kajabi.com or Ruzuku.com Then list out what your course is about, and market it with integrity. To market your class do live facebook videos, create an ad on google or facebook, share with those who already follow your pages, have a landing page on your website directing people how to sign up, and also send out information to your mailing list. Amy Porterfield and many others offer great courses on how to launch really successful online courses.
5. Do online tutorials.
While some artists choose to list all their work for sale and make money solely from sales, there are a number of very successful artists who share videos of themselves creating their work. One option is to share these videos for free. The goal of this would be to build up viewers and website visitors to the point you can make ad revenue.
6. Referrals and affiliate links.
From your classes or online tutorials you can also refer people to products, supplies, or other promoted goods and get paid a % of that sale or a flat amount. I’m in an online group with some really successful social media influencers where people pay someone to wear their earrings in their videos, boutiques will send clothing for that person to link to and wear in their videos or live recordings. My suggestion is that there is nothing wrong with this if you do it with integrity. Only promote things that align with your brand and that you legitimately like.
7. Ad revenue
Place ads and earn extra money from your blog or social media videos. Ads are annoying, yet. Be smart about this. I do believe though that if you have lots of traffic through your sites you can place ads in ways that aren’t completely annoying and profit off these.
8. Open an art studio.
Oh how I loved having my own art studio. If you want to pursue a variety of these revenue streams and are okay with being away from home and in a studio or storefront consistently then this may be a great option for you. You can have your artwork displayed on the walls, prints for sale, you can use your studio to film in, you can also teach classes there. Here is a video I created all about having the courage to take this step.
For me I ultimately decided to close my studio partly because the amount of work it was took up a lot of energy and I also had a pre-teen and a 3 year old that needed more of my time at that point. Secondly, I wish I would have planned ahead to have others rent the classroom space occasionally or share the 2nd office with another to alleviate some of the costs. I used my studio mostly for a workspace and didn’t open my doors for retails sales other than special events so for me I probably could have found a cheaper space and still achieved my goals. Overall though, I am so glad that I took this leap, it helped me define my style a bit more, up my marketing and promoting game and also learn to take myself more seriously as an artist. Here are some photos from my old art studio:
9. Create work that is true to you.
Do NOT chase every idea that you see someone else having success with. Some fads come and go, other art and products people buy from a creator because they feel a connection to the story behind it and it makes them love the product and art even more. Honor your voice and perspective. You are a WAY better you than if you try to impostor someone else.
It’s normal as you’re beginning as an artist to mimic other styles as you try out and find out what feels right. But always insert your own style in there, then merge that with you. Let the other trial styles go and focus hard on the one that really feels like it fits you. That my friends is a gift when you find it, own it and honor it. What a gift for all of us to get to see your unique style and creations come into this world for us to love.
10. Price what you’re worth
Last but not least, you could be robbing yourself of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year if you are not pricing your work for what it’s worth. You do NOT want to be the lowest priced artist in the room. I strongly believe that we as an artist community have a collective responsibility to honor our craft. When a restaurant owner approaches us and asks us to hang our art for free in their restaurant long term because it’s “good exposure” for us… you have the right to say no. It could indeed be good exposure. It could be a perfect way to reach your ideal clients. But it could also be a whole lot of work and expense for you to go and hang large amounts of your work for free. It’s okay to decide not to do this.
As a society we would never ask lawyers or doctors to consistently work for free, yet us artists have large hearts and often want to help so we end up doing so much for free that we are robbing ourselves of the chance to make a living doing what love. Give when your heart feels called and you know you won’t resent it. That is separate from you pricing your work. I have a whole video about pricing here. A few key point though, we as artists often underprice our work. Much of this happens because it’s easy for us to create so we forget that not everyone can do what we do. We also tend to surround ourselves with other creatives so this re-enforces our believes that everyone is able to create. My recommendation is to create a range of pricing.
A few other areas I didn’t mention that you may love: Get trained as a tattoo artist, do murals, convert your creativity to digital and design websites or animation, learn to designs sets for theatre or film or train as a makeup artist.
What would you add to this? I’d love to hear your suggestions if there are other ways creatives can make money from their craft.
Most importantly remember that you are unique. Find an area that resonates with you and your art style and tweak it to fit your life and skill. I believe in you!!!