10 Tips on How to Make Money With Artwork
We have heard the stereotype of “the starving artist.” We’re used to hearing the stories of painters barely making an income in the past, but there are several answers to the question of how to be an artist and make a liveable income doing so.
Before we had the Internet, artists were more heavily tied to institutions to create income from their works, such as galleries and wealthy and supportive patrons. With the rise of social media and countless digital tools comes many more opportunities to sell artwork as an artist!
So, if you’re looking for a quick guide to how to be an artist in terms of finances, keep reading below for some insights. We’ll start by going over some overarching ideas and then giving you some specific resources that you can use to make money.
Develop Your Business Plan
Before we get into some specific places you can go to sell your work online and in person, let’s dive into some foundational ideas.
Unfortunately, your talent alone isn’t going to automatically make you enough money—you’ve got to make a robust strategy for how you can leverage your abilities into a living.
While the internet does give you a ton of ways to sell your artwork, there is also a lot of other artists online, too. But, with some research and planning, you can make your artwork more visible in digital space. It’s important to be present on multiple platforms so that you can market yourself in different ways, which we will get to below.
When you’re making money with your artwork, you’re running a business—and, like any business, there are important foundational principles to build on. If you need to brush up on your business skills, take advantage of the many online resources, like Udemy, which has nearly 200,000 online courses for low prices.
Another overarching idea to apply to your money-making plan is to find your niche. What specialty can you market yourself with? Figure out what you can offer best and what you enjoy most so that you can effectively lean into those skills. You don’t have to put yourself in a box, but don’t spread yourself so thin that you don’t have an artistic identity. Art is a form of expression and you don’t want to lose your passion for art by offering things that you don’t love.
On a more emotional topic, being an artist also comes with criticism—when you’re making art that you care about and putting it out there, you’re going to get good and potentially negative feedback. When selling your artwork, it is essential to curate a healthy mindset so that you can leverage your skills in the best possible way without sacrificing your mental health.
Let’s start to answer the question of how to make money with artwork with some concrete examples. Some of our suggestions will overlap with each other a little bit, and with all the ways to market yourself online, you’ll surely be able to adapt many of these points into your life.
1) So how to make money with artwork? First tip, Selling Artwork on Instagram or Other Social Media
- Take good quality photos of your work—try to use natural light and a clean background.
- Consider the overall visual identity of your account. Try to stick to a unified brand that represents your art practice.
- Engage with your audience! If you’re getting comments on your post, try to take the time to reply back to them.
- Post regularly—at least a few times a week, if possible.
- Do some hashtag research and include effective ones in your posts. There are countless useful resources online to find the best ones for you.
- Link your website, Etsy page, or another online platform in your biography. Tip: You can use a LinkTree account to compile a bunch of links into one.
- Use the Instagram Story function to advertise upcoming sales, exhibitions, events, and insights into your art practice!
- Make sure you are replying to any Direct Messages (DMs) that you get.
2) Selling Related Products to Your Art
Many artists will sell merchandise in addition to their work. For example, maybe you want to adapt your designs to planners, invitations, or greeting cards.
You could also do seasonal sales. Perhaps you want to make customizable holiday cards or graduation cards. If you wanted to get more adventurous, you could even sell blankets, t-shirts, hoodies, or home decor. This isn’t up everyone’s alley, but it is absolutely a way to make money as a creative.
One con of this method of selling is that a good chunk will normally be taken out of the sale for production cost. Down below we’ve linked websites to check out for selling a variety of products.
3) Create a Professional Website
Having a professional website dedicated to your professional art career is a good idea. You can also maintain accounts on other sites and put them on your website—you don’t need to sell all your products through your own website, although you could if you wanted.
Make sure your website is easy-to-use and professional-looking. Having a business website can also help you further develop your visual brand, which you can then adapt to social media. With so many website builders online like Wix and Squarespace, it’s easy to create your own site without needing to know how to code or being too tech-savvy.
Additionally, websites are a great way to tell your clients a little bit more about yourself. You can put your artist statement, biography, and any awards or education you’ve received, and any other information to express your art practice more fully. It’s a good way to add reputability to your practice without having to go through an online gallery or something similar.
4) How to make money with artwork? Easy, Selling Commissions!
Commissions, of course, are a great method for how to make money with artwork. Mention that you’re available for commissions both on your website and on any social media—mention specific types you’re willing to do, too. Pet portraits and family portraits are always popular. If you’re a photographer, you could offer an artsy photoshoot. You could even offer on-site painting, like murals, if you’re talented in that realm.
You can typically price commissions more than you would other artwork since they are custom-made. Don’t sell yourself short! Figure out a pricing strategy that makes sense for your time and efforts.
Note that if you’re not as big on customer service this can get a little more tricky. Since you’re working directly with a client and probably charging them more than for your other work, sometimes navigating this relationship could get more involved than you prefer.
5) Write an Art Blog
This might not be for everyone, but it is absolutely is an answer for how to make money with artwork. If you’re a fan of writing, you can write an art blog! Some examples of content you could feature are:
Interviews with local artists
Tips on forming a career as an artist
Tutorials on specific art techniques
Reviews of exhibitions you’ve been to
Reviews of art supplies
Op-Ed pieces on recent art trends
As far as making money from blogs, there are definitely ways to make it work—blogs are so popular for good reason. There are loads of resources online for how to monetize your blog. Some ways include paid ads, affiliate marketing, and promoting products on your blog.
Just remember that your blog should probably look different than your portfolio—it’s not your personal art website. However, you can still use blogs to market your art, any courses that you might offer, or even an eBook that you wrote.
Blogging might not be the most profitable method on this list, but if you enjoy writing and are willing to put time into it you can definitely generate some income from it.
6) Selling Artwork on Etsy
We mentioned it briefly above, but let’s dive into Etsy. It’s such a major marketplace that it gets its own bullet on our list. This is an extremely popular platform for a reason—a lot of artists use Etsy to earn a steady income. Whether you make jewelry or paintings, you can open an art store on this worldwide platform.
There are pros and cons that come with Etsy. Let’s start with the pros:
It’s really good for beginners. The platform is friendly and helps you set up your store.
There is so much information online on tips for how to get traction on Etsy. With such a big marketplace, there are lots of experienced people willing to share their tips on their blogs.
You have the comforts of being on a big platform. There are more privacy measures in place, built-in analytics, and it has secure communication, as well as a help center for resolving issues.
The most major con comes with the size. There are a lot of sellers on Etsy, so it might take a bit to stand out—but, the beauty of the hand-made products of Etsy is that every seller is unique. Etsy also charges a transaction fee and takes 5% of your sales.
If you’re just starting out trying to figure out how to make money with artwork, Etsy is a good place to start.
7) Selling On Creative Market
Do you make digital artwork? If so, this is an important tip for how to make money with artwork. Creative Market is another online platform, but rather than the physical products of Etsy, it allows artists to sell their digital artwork.
Products can be a whole host of things: fonts, textures, wallpapers, Adobe tools, and templates for anything from business cards to presentations. If you’ve got a talent for graphic design, definitely check out Creative Market.
Creative Market does take 40% commission on sales, but there are some pros to counteract that number. The interface is great, it’s easy to reach your target audience, and again you have some of the security comforts of a larger platform.
Other online marketplaces that you can sell more design, photography, or illustration type work are:
So, don’t worry if you’re not a master oil painter offering commissions. If you’re embracing digital methods for making your art, there are still plenty of options for selling your work.
8) To learn How to Make Money with Artwork consider to Sell Canvas Paintings or Other Fine Art Online
If you’re not a digital artist and like to stick to traditional paint and canvas, there are great platforms online to help you sell your work. A really popular one is Saatchi Art.
On there, you can post high-quality photos of your work after making an account. It is more focused on fine art as opposed to the broader marketplace of Etsy.
You can sell both prints or original works on Saatchi Art. Like most places online, you’ll have to deal with commission; this one takes 30% per sale. You are also in charge of shipping.
Here’s a list of more websites where you can potentially sell your art online:
9) Sell Your Work at Art Fairs and Other Events
Let’s move offline for this idea. Of course, you can sell your work in person! There are a wide variety of events nowadays to sell your art at. Although young people often buy online, there are still a lot of people who would prefer to see your artwork in person as they make a purchase, especially an expensive one.
Check for local art fairs, farmers’ markets, festivals, and other events that you can sell art at. Make sure you have a business card and plenty of artwork to sell! Not only is this a great way to make some money, but it’s also nice for connecting with your local community.
You can also advertise your availability for commissions if someone is interested in something specific.
10) Teach Art Online
This is a different idea than most of the things on this list, but you can actually make some money by teaching art online. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a teacher, being an artist means that you have valuable experience and unique knowledge in creative fields.
Some of the more popular platforms where you can sell your courses and teach online are Udemy and Skillshare. If you aren’t ready to jump into a platform, you can make simple online tutorials and post them on your website or YouTube. You can test the waters there, get a feel for the content that people might want to see and how your followers interact with you.
You might be surprised at how many artists choose to develop a following as a teacher in Skillshare in addition to their own art practice.
Know your worth and make a living as an artist now that you know how to make money with artwork!
As an artist, you’re making unique products that you spent a good time on—remember that when you’re trying to make money off of your artwork. Don’t sell yourself short! Come up with a pricing strategy that works for you to learn how to make money with artwork — some artists calculate based on the price of materials plus an hourly rate, for example.
You can combine a lot of these methods to build up your income and in fact, many of them work really well together. You can advertise your Etsy on your Instagram, your Saatchi Art profile at an art fair, and showcase your commissions online.
Selling artwork is a unique business—and, just like any successful business, it requires dedication, discipline, and organization. Although art is a more creative product than many other businesses offer, it still needs a plan to burgeon into something big.
Combine many of these ideas to create robust channels of income. There are a lot of methods for how to be an artist nowadays and how to make money with artwork. Don’t limit yourself to just one!
Just a note…would you like to learn to paint like Monet? Then read the article “How to paint like Monet“….