There is a saying that an artist’s work only becomes profitable when he or she dies, and that may be true for traditional artwork produced by the old masters. Today, though, there are ways for artists to earn a good income and have control over their careers.
This guide will introduce you to 10 different ways that you can earn money as an artist. In most cases, you will need to be employed with another career when you’re first starting out, as it can take time to make enough money to work as an artist full time. It can be a very good extra income from the start. You’ll also need to learn about Internet and social media marketing to effectively promote yourself to make these ideas work.
With a little work and consistent effort, though, it can be possible to earn money only as an artist using one of these methods or a combination of ideas:
1. Try Freelance Websites
Freelance websites are places where clients who are in need of the help of an artist advertise projects. Artists can browse the job listings and offer bids for completing the work. There are a wide range of artistic jobs listed on these types of sites. Many will be short-term projects, but occasionally, there are long-term opportunities as well.
When you use freelance websites, you will have to compete with other artists to get work, making it important that you produce professional bids and keep your pricing competitive. Two of the most popular freelance sites for artists are PeoplePerHour.com and Upwork.
See this guide about earning money as a freelancer.
2. Sell Prints Online
It used to be that to sell prints of your work you had to spend hours going to art shows and craft shows in your area, but those days are gone. Now, it’s possible to make a good income selling prints online on a variety of websites. With sites like Society6.com, InPrnt.com and RedBubble.com, you post prints that are available for purchase. When a customer buys a print, the site handles producing it and shipping it and then takes a portion of the sale price as a fee.
3. Sell Digital Wallpapers
Nothing is more frustrating than realizing that people are downloading your images for free to use as their desktop wallpapers and mobile device background and lock screens. The good news though is that if you know your work is appealing to people who want to customize their computers and gadgets, you can capitalize on it by selling wallpapers online. There are a number of sites that will let you sell high-resolution wallpapers for a fee, or you can sell them on your own website and keep all of the profits.
4. Offer Online Classes
Offering online classes and tutorials is a great way to earn some extra money as an artist, particularly if you use digital techniques that people can follow along with during a class. You can start a website and use social media to promote your workshops and charge a fee for people to attend them live via Skype or web conferencing or to download or view videos online.
5. Do Commission Work
Creating custom bespoke artwork for individuals and businesses is a great way to earn money. Many artists find it rewarding and pleasantly challenging to create artwork to order and enjoy interacting with customers.
6. License Your Work
If you have a sizable portfolio, you can earn money as an artist by licensing your work and allowing companies and individuals to use it for advertising, promotional materials, Facebook skins and more. It’s a good idea to have a legal contract draw up that puts limits on how your artwork can be used.
7. Write or Publish Reviews
Digital software developers and art supply companies will frequently pay artists to review their products, do video demonstrations or write how to blogs or testimonials. Normally to do this kind of work, you have to have some experience as an artist and an established reputation; however, newcomers may also be able to secure work from manufacturers.
8. Become an Affiliate
Affiliate marketing online is a way of earning money by promoting all kinds of products and encouraging people to buy them. See if the manufacturers of the software or art supplies that you use offer affiliate programs. If they do, sign up to become an affiliate. Then, you can create a website, blog or video series that explains the benefits of the products or that reviews or demonstrates them. You’ll be given a link to provide viewers and readers, and when the link results in a sale, you’ll receive a portion of the price.
9. Offer Design Services
Graphic designers are frequently in demand, and an artist who has some background in the field can often make good money by working for clients. You can set up a website and promote your services using social media or try sites like Fiverr.com that allow you to offer gigs to make money doing various types of design. Keep in mind that it can take time to build a clientele when you’re starting off as a graphic designer. Specializing in a particular niche can help you to earn more money.
10. Teach One-on-One Classes
Provide in-person or online tutorials for people who want to learn how to master a technique that you use. You can typically charge more for one-on-one instruction than you can for workshops and seminars because the class is geared to the individual needs of the student.