Wondering how you can leverage your skills and how to make money as an artist?
Here’s how you can get started and create a life you love!
We want you to know that there are so many ways to earn money as an artist. We’ve been busy analysing how other artists are making money and collated everything to this post. You’ve done the hard work for you.
On top of that, there are many artists that are making a really good income of their art. Art is something that gives so much value to others lives and you should be charging accordingly. This is a money block that so many artists experience. Just know that art is an integral of society. There’s art everywhere if you really look. It’s also been the centre of most cultures over time and even today.
It’s most definitely a way to earn a living and you have the ability to scale it beyond trading time for money.
I also want to say that all of these ways should also be accompanied by the creation of your own website. I strongly recommend that you put the time and money into creating your own platform and then using the ways below as well as being able to generate income on your own website.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning when you click through and make a purchase I receive a commission. This occurs at no cost to you.
Let’s get into it and learn how to make money as an artist!
Surface Pattern Design
Surface pattern design has a special place in my heart because it was through learning how to create repeating patterns that I actually realised I was artistic. Until then, I had always been told that art wasn’t my thing and that I should focus on other interests. It hurts my heart to think about it now but it’s been so much fun exploring art as an adult.
It was through learning how to create repeating patterns that I realised how many ways there are for an artist to make money! I didn’t know this whole world even existed! I realised that it could be applied to almost all forms of art. I also learnt that there were so many ways to sell and use the repeating patterns that were created.
Once you’ve created your pattern, it can be licenced for fabric design, wallpaper or stationery supplies. You can use a platform like Spoonflower, Creative Market or license it to another company. Whatever you chose, make you charge what it’s worth and have rules around how the product can be used and the rights that you retain for each pattern (consult with a lawyer if necessary).
The course that started all of this for me was Bonnie Christine’s Introduction to Surface Pattern Design over on Skillshare. Sign up here for a 2-month free trial.
Opening an Etsy shop
Everyone knows Etsy. It’s a great platform to get started with even though there is more competition there. It’s relatively easy to open your shop and start selling your art, it’s also inexpensive to set up it.
If you’ve ever been on Etsy, you’ll know that there are so many products available. It’s possible to sell both physical and digital art.
This is the beauty of Etsy and selling your art online if you can turn your art into a digital product, you have the capacity to generate passive income. You’re able to sell that item over and over again without having to recreate it each time. For artists, this is a game-changer. Creating art can be so time-consuming and expensive but this all changes when you’re able to create passive income.
On top of this, you could also sell your artwork on your own website once you have it up and running.
Selling your artwork directly on Instagram
Instagram is the perfect platform for artists because of the visual nature of it. It’s where I’ve found some of my favourite artists (we’ll look at their businesses later in the post) that I’ve gone on to purchase from.
It’s even more possible now that Instagram has the capacity to shop within the platform itself.
Have a look at your favourite (and successful) artists and see what they’re doing. Working as a social media manager though, here are my tips to get the most out of the platform as an artist;
- Take good quality photos. This seems straightforward but you’d be surprised! Make sure you’re taking great pictures (or outsourcing it if you’re not up for the task) and that you’re editing them well. Make sure your editing stays consistent and on-brand.
- Tell stories. Don’t make every post a sales pitch, tell stories. Tell stories about your art, your inspiration, how you created it and any other story that you think would resonate with your audience.
- Add a call to action on every post. Whilst I said don’t make every post a sales pitch, you need to have a call to action on each post. That might be tag a friend, comment, buy the product, read a blog post etc. There are some many ways you can get your audience to engage with you.
- Get social. Get out there and interact with other accounts in an authentic way.
- Research your hashtags. Make sure you’re using hashtags that your ideal client is using. I know this sounds like a no brainer but really think about what they’re searching for, not necessarily what other businesses in a similar niche are using.
- Use all the functions. Instagram likes it when you use all the functions. Get creative with your posts, stories, IGTV and make sure you set up your shopping.
With those few pointers, you should be able to get started on Instagram, just remember though that growing an audience takes time and dedication!
Create your own course.
If you have something that other people are wanting to learn, then chances are they’re willing to pay for it! Think about what you get asked about the most and start brainstorming ways you would be able to package it up and sell it to others.
I strongly recommend that you start with the Teachable platform, it’s free to get started and is really user-friendly.
When you’re brainstorming, write down your ideas and then start planning the course out. Creating your modules and what you’ll be covering in each one. Look through and see if you’re missing any of the key components and then get to creating your content. This will be the most time-consuming part of your course but work through it systematically.
If you’re looking for a course to help you create a course, then I recommend Liz Benny’s course Create a Kapow Course. It is on the more expensive side but she shows you everything you need to create a very profitable course and business.
As an artist, you have the capacity to work directly with clients. The scope for work is huge here and you have the ability to generate a decent amount of revenue into the business.
There are two downsides here. One is that you’re working to deadlines. Some people thrive on that, others feel the pressure and stress. The other is that you’re trading time for money. This model isn’t that scalable but you can increase your fees as you need or want to.
Having said that, it’s a great place to start and as your business and reputation grow, you’ll be in more demand and therefore able to increase your prices.
Now that we’ve been through the way that artists are able to make money, let’s look at a couple of cases studies.
These women are ones that follow and love their work. I’m going to highlight how they’re making money within their businesses. I don’t know how much money they’re earning but I am confident that they are making a good income from it.
I hope they inspire you and show you what’s possible within the amazing world of art!
Lisa is perhaps my favourite artist in general. I love her work and I love following her!
I know from following her she’s a self-taught artist that started ‘later in life’ (I think she was in her mid-thirties when she started creating art). She’s grown her skills and built a beautiful business with so many facets to it.
Let’s have a look.
Lisa’s website gives you an idea of the ways she’s making money in her business.
First and foremost, she’s has a site that is branded in a way that you instantly get a feel for her style of work and whether it’s something you’d be interested in knowing more about. She also has her portfolio as the first tab in her menu.
Moving along the menu, we know that she works with clients, has an online shop (her shop is an Etsy shop, you don’t need to make things complicated!), she teaches online (both how to create art and how to make money as an artist. Head over to Creative Live to check out her classes), she has illustrated and written books, she has a new retail space in Portland and she is available for speaking gigs.
She has a lot going on but it goes to show you that you are capable of earning money with your art. Make sure you head over to her Instagram and start following. She’s awesome!
Bonnie has a special place in my heart! She’s the one that got me really started with creating art. Up until that point, I believed I wasn’t capable of creating anything. I was an avid sewer and wanted to create fabric that I had designed. I joined Bonnie’s tribe and I’ve been there ever is!
She’s a wealth of knowledge if you’re wanting to create repeating patterns with your art. She teaches you how to do it but also teaches you how to create a business doing it. I’ve learnt way more from her than I ever thought I would and I’ve taken those skills with me into my online business journey!
I believe Bonnie is also self-taught (when I say self-taught, I meant that they’ve not taken any formal training but I’m sure they have learnt from many people!)
Let’s take a look at her website and business.
Again, you get a real sense of her style as soon as you land on the page. I do think this is so important so if you’re reading this and your site doesn’t truly represent you and your art, go change it!
When I first started following Bonnie I think she was mainly blogging so I’m going to include that her. She has a blog and I’m assuming is using affiliate marketing in her business, she has a shop that sells her art as digital wall art (this is a very clever and easy way to get started with earning money online. It’s scaleable and you’ve already created the art but now you can sell it over and over again without any more work!), she designs fabric for Art Gallery Fabrics and she has created courses (both independently and over on Skillshare, head over to sign up for a free trial).
If you’re wanting to learn to take your art offline and create something digitally, then I highly recommend Bonnie’s courses over on Skillshare. She shows you how to use Illustrator in an easy and manageable way. I’m so grateful for her courses!
From the bottom of my heart, I hope that has given you some inspiration and hope that you can create a living from your art. Art is something that is everywhere in society and it can bring so much joy to people around the world.
You have such a beautiful skill that you now get to share with the world!