Ready to stop dabbling and start selling?
Humans have a psychological need to make art. That’s why art is one of the most saleable skills online. Whether it’s business or pleasure, art is in everything we do. The internet offers more opportunities than ever for artists to make money with what they love to do.
So, it’s time to express yourself and learn how to make money online as an artist.
#1. Create an Online Space
The first step to making money from your art online is to have an online space. Obvious, right?
An artist can live off social media if they know what they’re doing. But we recommend a website to give you a real hub for your activities – and another opportunity to monetize what you do.
Your site doesn’t need to cost you much. Services like WordPress can help you get one up and running at minimal expense to you. You won’t even need to know a scrap of coding.
Choose a style of the website which lets you show off your portfolio. Let your art take center stage.
As your hub, your site is where your fans will come to find out more about you. It’s also where you can direct them to monetized options, like your Patreon or a storefront.
You can also monetize your site to bring in extra cash. Ad revenue isn’t a practical end goal for most small sites, but it’s some extra change for the jar.
With your site as a hub, you can hook up your social media accounts. These will allow you to reach a far larger audience for free and draw fans to where they can spend their money.
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#2. Establish a Patreon
What’s a Patreon, you ask?
Patreon is a crowdfunding service allowing your fans to support you in what you do. Unlike similar services such as Kickstarter, your patrons don’t back a specific project. They back you as an artist.
Having a Patreon page is free, so maintaining a Patreon is a fantastic way to bring in the cash. It’s also an excellent way to feel the warm glow of fandom. There’s no endorsement quite as glowing as people willing to spend money on what you create.
Patreon lets you establish a variety of patron levels, so people at all income brackets can support you. If you’re lucky, some well-off and generous patrons could skyrocket your income.
Some creators have also found success using an open format where even the smallest donation unlocks all backer content.
Make sure to tell your story when you set up your Patreon. Putting a human story to the work can build a real connection between you and your fans. The more you can break down the barrier between an abstract creator and your personal self, the more you’ll find fans will loosen their purse strings.
#3. Sell Prints
One of the quickest and easiest paths to making money from art is to make it available as a direct purchase.
Offering prints, wall art, and other similar items is a great way to do this. Visitors to your site can then click to buy. For this, you’ll want to pair with a print-on-demand service. This means you won’t have to do anything except sit back and make money when you sell a print.
If you only have a set number of prints available at any one time, then keep an eye on what’s popular. If a certain image starts trending, make sure it’s available to buy.
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#4. Going Viral
While we’re on the subject of trending, there’s the old favorite of marketing gurus everywhere: going viral.
There’s no magic to going viral (it just means “becoming popular”, after all), but virality is elusive. Finding the winning formula can be tough – so can repeating it.
Your best chance at going viral is to make sure you present your art in a shareable format. Watermark your images if you don’t want your art to spread uncredited across the internet.
If you do succeed at getting noticed, you can expect a sudden influx of interest. It might burn out, but make sure to use those 15 minutes of fame to promote as hard as you can.
#5. The Merch Mash
We won’t go into the psychology of wanting to wear your favorite things on your chest, but it’s a fact that people love merch.
If you’ve grown even a small audience, think about how you can deliver your art in ways fans might want. Sites like Redbubble or Threadless can make it easy to turn a piece of art into a cool shirt, a unique clock, or the perfect mug.
There are two amazing things about selling merch outside of making money. First, adoring fans snapping up your merch is an amazing ego boost.
Second, merch is self-promoting. More of your art will be out there in the wild for all to see. Your fans will show it off to their friends and family, drawing more eyes to you.
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#6. Use Instagram
Instagram has established a niche in the social media world. That niche is as the world’s newest and most exciting art dealer.
Instagram audiences go nuts for fresh and interesting ideas. It’s a positive space for creation, helping creators build a dedicated fandom.
If you haven’t spent much time in the Instagram sphere, you might not realize you can even sell on Instagram. You can activate shopping on Instagram to turn your posts into window displays for your art.
With Instagram, you can build a loyal fanbase by immersing yourself in the culture. Join the world of hashtags and influencers to make sales or direct your audience to your site or to Patreon.
#7. Cross the Streams
You may have noticed that we’re suggesting a shotgun approach to making money. That’s intentional.
Combining multiple revenue streams is a brilliant way to earn more cash while also giving you some extra stability. The online world is always changing. You don’t want a major revenue stream to disappear and leave you back at square one.
Maintaining multiple streams also helps you capture the largest audience possible. You’ll hook the window shoppers with ad revenue, the buyers with prints and wall art, and your true diehard stans with Patreon and merch.
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#8. Grow Your Brand
The idea of “selling out” is prominent among artists. There’s something about making money and making art that strikes many people as a diametric opposite.
It’s not true. The fact is the vast majority of popular media out there makes money in some form. Making money and selling out isn’t the same thing.
So, don’t recoil when we talk about branding. Think of branding as an extension of your artist’s personality – the part people see.
Growing your brand is as simple as reaching larger audiences and making sure they know how to engage with you.
For an artist, the easiest way to grow your brand is on social media. Hitting up Twitter and Facebook lets you reach huge numbers of people for only a small initial effort. And, of course, you can do it for free.
Growing your brand is also a matter of shaking off any residual shyness about your art. By this point, you should have a solid audience. That alone proves your art is worth something.
No art appeals to everyone, so forget the critics and shout your talents from the rooftop.
#9. Sell Out
Here’s another hot take about selling out: there’s nothing wrong with it.
Alright, so we’re not talking about compromising your principles to earn some cash. There’s a gray area, though.
For all but the most avant-garde artists, their art isn’t some philosophical presentation of truth and beauty. It’s a hobby and a passion. But the entire business world works on buying the passion and drive of others to hire them as employees.
You can do something similar in the online space. Like music, art is so core to our experience it’s always in high demand.
Try approaching the companies you think might want your art. Art fills empty space and defines brands. It’s vital for business success.
Don’t be afraid to try and sell your skills. While businesses need art, they often don’t know how to get quality work. Help them out by doing the hard part for them.
You could work with a game design company to create art for their games, or a marketing company to establish a brand. Or work with a web design agency to turn your eye for aesthetics into a service people need. The possibilities are endless.
Working with a company will also push your artistic expression into new areas, taking you out of your comfort zone. If you’re the kind of artist who thrives on that, then this path could be right for you.
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Make Money Online and Spread Your Art
If you’re looking to make money online as an artist, you should know many of the steps you’ll take will also boost the profile of your art. The two go hand in hand. Most artists want appreciation, so follow these steps to gather an audience and earn some serious money as you do it.