What does it Mean to Be an Artist and How Can I Make Money Doing it?
Let’s get a little philosophical for a minute…what does it meant to be an artist? I️ think anyone can be an artist. It isn’t limited to a certain level of success, a certain level of education or training, or even a certain level of skill. Anyone can be an artist, you just have to define what that means to you.
Now that you have overcome the imposter syndrome (just kidding I️ know one short paragraph won’t do that), let’s get into how to make money as an artist. There are the obvious routes like selling your work or working with galleries, but what other ways are there? Today I️ am going to share 12 ways to make more money as an artist that will not take up all of your time, but instead will allow you to grow your business and make more money!
How to Make Money as An Artist: DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME
Many artists understand this concept but also say, Hayley I️ have limited time. I️ recommend taking it one income stream at time. Once you have one running steadily, then add another. I️ also recommend finding income streams that build off the work you are already doing. For example, are you already creating work on paper, could you also scan and make prints from that work? Or are you already filming videos for a Youtube channel? Could you pull those and mash them together into a course? I️ love thinking about ways to build upon the work you are already doing.
Second, think about what comes naturally to you. The best advice I️ ever received was “think about what you are uniquely good at and consider how to make a business out of it.” For me that was art business coaching. I️ always knew I️ loved the business side of art and helping artists but I️ never realized that there was such a need for that skillset. For you it might looking like combining your teaching skills, collage skills, tech skills into an online collage course. Think about what you are better at than the average person and then think about how you can build something off of that skill or skills that could benefit others.
Today I️ am going to share a few ideas to get you started. I️ recommend you build off of these. Make them your own. These could be a spring board for an even bigger or more unique idea.
1. Traditional Art Sales
This is the way most of us got started. Just sell your art! You can build up this by reaching out to galleries and designers. I️ have tons of blog posts on this. You also can diversify your offerings to reach more people. Different sizes, framing and more can all help you to sell more work to more people. Remember, you want to make sure everything you do is appealing to your Ideal Customer.
This is another one many of you may already use. Can you think of ways to make this more profitable like using a print on demand service or buying a nice printer and doing it in-house or even spending more money upfront on quality prints but charging more in the long run for a better ROI.
Many artists have found out that their work translates well into products like t-shirts, mugs, fabric, homewares, the list goes on and on. Explore what you can turn your art into and see if it is a good fit with your Ideal Customer.
Whether online or in person you have a skill to share. Teaching can be rewarding and a great way to get out of the studio if you are a little more extroverted. My advice is to make sure teaching speaks to you and is something you enjoy.
5. Create a course
I️ guarantee there is something that you know that another artist does not. You can always create an art course, but why not think outside the box and do something like a course on marketing your work, Instagram for artists, licensing artwork, turning art into products or fabric…the list goes on and on. I️ am sure there is something you have learned throughout this art career that you could pass on to a newer artist.
Have you considered licensing your work? It can be a great way to get your work on more products created by other companies. For more information on licensing, listen to this podcast with Julie Hubbard.
7. Create a Membership
I️ have seen many artists turn their teachings into memberships. If you are already teaching, why not save all of those videos or film yourself if you are in person and compile them all. Then people can pay a low monthly fee for access to all of your teachings in one place! There are tons of ideas for memberships, but that is an easy one to build off of if you are already doing some teaching.
*I️ think the success of a membership comes down to finding a niche and knowing you market.
8. Blogging and Affiliate Marketing
Do you already have a blog? Add affiliate links! I️ use them all the time. Basically, I️ write a blog post and if I️ mention a product or company I️ look up their affiliate program, apply, and add the link. It is as simple as that. It might not bring in the big bucks right away, but it is an easy addition to something you are already doing if you like posting blogs.
If you have a well-known blog or Youtube channel you can always add ads. This is easy super-passive income, just make sure it does’t interfere with your content or lessen your blog or channel quality.
10. Digital Products
Could you create an ebook, template, digital print, coloring pages or something else that you could sell digitally? I️ sell all of my digital products through Etsy and find it so easy! Have you created something that other people would love to purchase or other creatives would love to use? Create a digital product and sell it!
Another area that artists have ventured into is selling NFTs. This is another interesting way to digitize your work if you think you have the market.
*One thing to look out for is fake NFT requests by bots or spammers in your DMs on Instagram. Anne Thomas has a great article on how to stop these fake requests.
Events can be a great way to sell more art and physical goods, but can also be an income stream. I️ know an artist who put together an art pop-up in her neighborhood. She invited artisans from around her area and charged each person a small entrance fee. Every artist was responsible for their own table and was assigned a food or beverage to bring. The fee she charged covered the event space and then some. She not only made a profit from hosting, she also created an event to sell her own work.
Another great option is to do paintings at events. Live wedding painting has recently become popular. It is basically combining the idea of a commission and pairing it with a fun event. There are so many ways events can make you art business money, but remember to consider all of the input costs and work that can go into an event.
Are you really good at hanging artwork or maybe you have an eye for placing work? Do you know all the galleries in town and could offer tours? Maybe you grew your Instagram following by 10k this year. Could you develop your unique skillset into a business? This could take some work but could be a fun and exciting way to continue to diversify your business income.
Now the next time someone asks me how to make money as an artist I️ am going to point them to this list of 12 ways it is possible and there are so many more ways. Be creative. Brainstorm your unique skills and figure out ways that you can make even more money off of your art business.
Interested in learning more about diversifying your income? Consider signing up for a 1:1 coaching call where we can discuss you exact business and determine what would make the most sense for you.