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How to Make Money as an Artist (13 Ways)

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Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Daniella

You know what I wanted to be when I grew up? An artist. 

But I had one problem – I didn’t know how to make money as an artist.

Becoming an artist is one of those career aspirations that others laugh off. They don’t think being an artist is a “real job” and that there are limited ways to make money. Well, they’re wrong.

What even classifies someone as an artist? Writers, painters, designers, illustrators, and digital artists come to mind. But it doesn’t stop there. If you create art, you’re and artist, and there are endless ways you can make money as one. You can design digital products to sell, teach online art classes, license out your art, sell digital art on etsy, become a web designer, and the list goes on. 

Let’s dig into more ways to get paid for your art – both online and IRL.

How to Make Money as an Artist: 13 ways

When I was in college and after, I needed some extra cash so I was actually able to sell some of my artwork. This came hard to me at first because I was confused on how to sell them and even price them.

Remember, revenue – expenses = profit

Revenue is the money you have coming in as an artist whether that is sales, teaching, mentoring, etc.

Be sure to price yourself high enough to pay for not only your materials but your labor and expertise too.

1. Create an online store with Shopify or Etsy.

If you want to sell your art in your own online shop, you could start one using Shopify or sell on Etsy. There are pros and cons to both.

A pro to using Etsy is that they have the userbase already on Etsy looking for your designs. By knowing who your target custoemr is and using keywords they are searching for on Etsy, determines if those users ever see your listings but it does manage to automate the marketing for you once you have an established store on the site.

However, with Etsy you don’t actually own the domain of your store and they can remove your store at any time, without warning which is a problem for many Etsy shop owners.

With Shopify, you own your domain and your store isn’t going to be taken down by shopify unless there is some sort of cease and desist order sent to your hosting provider per any legal action. But you won’t have a pool of customers already searching for your listings unless you start marketing your store on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Google Ads, mailing list, etc.

A pro to Shopify is that you don’t have the recommended listings from other shops pop up like it does in Etsy which strays shoppers away from your store. That doesn’t happen on Shopify.

2. Sell fonts and designs on Creative Market.

Creative Market is one of my favorites if you are a graphic designer. On Creative Market, you can open a shop and sell your designs, vector patterns, fonts, icons, and more. You can even sell animations, patterns, textures, templates, mockups, and more.

It is a small business owner’s dream.

For some Ideas for things you can sell on the marketplace:

  • You can use a tool like to create different fonts and sell them on the platform.
  • Create designs in photoshop and sell them in series packs.
  • Create social media templates in Canva and sell them on the platform.

3. Sell your art on Instagram.

There are artists out there that as soon as they post a picture of a new painting on Instagram, it take only seconds to sell. Instagram is so widely used now that many enjoy using it more than even Etsy for selling art work. You can do flash sales and promote them with Insta-stories.

Check out here how one girl sells her work for up to $30,000 right off of Instagram.

Photographers can also market their photos on Instagram and funnel their followers to their website where they sell their work.

Related post: 10 DIY Crafts To Sell For Extra Money

4. Live paint at events and concerts (and TikTok).

You can do live painting in busy areas like town squares or shopping centers that have an eclectic feel. I use to go to live concerts at a small venue in the area and ask the owner if I could ‘live paint’ during certain concerts during the week or weekend. This wasn’t a problem as many artists do the same thing at the same venue.

I would bring some paintings with me that were already finished and set them up around the spot where I would be live painting. Between sessions and throughout the night, people would browse and usually every night people would buy a couple. The most I made in one night was $800.

Depending on the type of art you create, live painting or creating can be possible in the ideal setting. For me it was indie/psychedelic and experimental concerts because my paintings were very bright, surreal and abstract.

Find the spots where your ideal customer would interact and go there. Look into music festivals coming up where there might be opportunities for you to do this and maybe get a booth to sell more of your inventory.

You could set this up as being an online experience through TikTok lives and running sales on your online shop at the same time.

5. Create a YouTube or blog.

To supplement your income from an online shop, you can create a YouTube where you post videos of you creating your art whether it is painting, digital painting, illustrating, crafting, building, producing music, etc.

Post videos consistently on the platform while targeting specific keywords your target audience would be searching for. Over time you will build up an audience. Once you get to 1,000 followers, you can start serving ads on your videos which will earn you money every time someone watches your videos.

This starts out as active income but can become passive income once you serve ads and tone down your posting schedule.

You can do the same thing with a blog if your artistic expression is writing, are a bit introverted, and don’t want to be in front of a camera. You can serve ads on your blog to add another income stream. You can get started with a Blog with Bluehost.

6. Sell on Amazon Handmade.

Because of the killing that artists are making through selling on Etsy, Amazon came up with their own version of an Etsy styled experience called Amazon Handmade.

Amazon Handmade is where artisans can share their craft and easily sell their work through Amazon.

7. Contract out your skills for projects and become a freelance artist.

If you have expert design experience and are a master at the Adobe suite, you might be able to contract out your services on Upwork or Fiverr. These skills are perfect for someone who wants to become a freelancer. Create a website or blog to showcase your portfolio and offer freelance services through a ‘Work With Me’ page. Make sure you have a PayPal setup to easily invoice your clients.

Then create an Instagram to showcase your artwork, freelance services, products, etc and get the word out there!

Fiverr is difficult to get work through starting out so I suggest following a mentor online to help know how to craft the perfect profile and raise your rates.

I also suggest looking into other ways to gain freelance clients though like platforms like:

  • Facebook groups and search on “freelance artist jobs” or “freelance designers”, “freelance design jobs”, etc
  • Creatively
  • 99Designs

8. Make money as a writer.

As a writer, you can freelance and find clients from LinkedIn, Best Writing, freelancing platforms like Fiverr, and showcasing your work on social media. It’s best if you have a portfolio put together of your work, which can easily be created for free using sites like Canva, your own website (here is what my portfolio page looks like), or put on a Google Drive. As a freelance writer myself, I find the majority of my clients through other writers and content creators I know, and LinkedIn. 

Another option is putting your writing on sites like Substack with a paywall. When someone subscribes, they get access to your content.

Related post: How to Get Started Freelance Writing

9. Put your designs on sites like Threadless.

I use to spend hours browsing on Threadless for the perfect comforter because of how many mindblowing designs the site offered. I later found out this is because on Threadless, you can create a store for free with little to no effort for actually trying to sell your products.

After you get your shop set up, all you have to do is submit your design and what you want to sell with your design on it (cups, blankets, curtains, home decor, clothing, whatever you want), and Threadless takes care of all the marketing, packaging, shipping, and even customer support.

10. License your art commercially.

Art licensing is when you “rent” your artwork and designs to other companies to put on their products. You get paid anytime they decide to use your art.

To get started with how you can do this, read this ultimate guide to art licensing.

11. Print your art on merchandise to sell using sites like Printful and Printify.

You can sell designs you make online on shirts, shorts, hoodies, mugs, blankets, and more on sites like Printful and Printify.

These sites are print on demand 3rd party vendors and you can hook up the account to your Etsy or Shopify store. When a customer purchases your listing, the item is already being printed and shipped by the 3rd party company.

12. Create a course.

If you want to teach others how to create art like you do, you can create courses on platforms like Teachable.

You can start to build a following through your store on Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest, build an email list, and create a course about painting or something else your audience wants to learn and market it to your email list and following.

13. Use Canva to make money selling digital products.

Yes, you can actually make money with Canva. You can use it to create and sell digital products, start a printable side hustle, sell online templates, create websites, you name it.

I have personally used Canva in every facet of my business. In addition to running I Like to Dabble, I also use it to create all of my own digital products I sell online, create designs for my client writing work, and assist me in course creation.

There is a free version of Canva, but chances are you will need their premium features to get the most out of the tool.

How to Find Online Art Classes

Thanks to the internet, you can find training almost anywhere for your certain category of creative expertise you are going for, no college degree required. Focus on what you enjoy creating, where your strengths are, investing in yourself and taking any training you need for things you want to learn with your creative side hustle, and how you can start putting a portfolio together for a collection of your work.

If you are looking for to invest in training, guidance, classes, and a wonderful community to help you along the way, I suggest Creativebug. Sign up for Creativebug for a 14 day trial with access to 1,000 classes, new classes added every day, and free templates, patterns, and even recipes PLUS a 20% off Joann coupon code.

Udemy is another great great online learning platform that has an array of different art and digital art classes.

If you are strapped for cash, check this guide for tons of free online courses to look for additional training you want.

How to Start a Creative Business

* This is not professional tax advice. Please consult a professional accountant and lawyer before proceeding with anything.

If you want to start a creative business and sell your art online, there are legal and tax precautions you should take. Even if you are only selling a couple of items a month as a side hustle, your income is taxable.

Some taxes you might be liable for, for both online digital art downloads and physical art sold:

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • Sales tax
  • Self employment tax depending on your business structure

You’ll also need to set up a separate business bank account and make your business legal. Many artists decide to classify as a sole proprietorship starting out or LLC. But what you classify as must be best for your situation and I recommend speaking to an accountant or lawyer to help you determine this.

Then you’ll head to your state’s website to register your business or Google “Register business in [your state]”.

Conclusion: Embrace your creativity!

As you can see, there really are no limits to the ways you can make money as an artist, both online and offline. Embrace your creativity and go where your energy flows.

If you are also an artist or striving artist, what other ways do you make money? We would love to hear more from you!

Read more articles on starting creative side hustles:

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