Passive Income For Artists: 20 Lucrative Side Hustles

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Being an artist was never actually perceived as being rich.

Gladly, the internet, galleries, and art boom today make some of us richer. But most of us still struggle and have to keep full-time jobs, take care of our families, manage daily life, and somehow find inspiration and time to make and actively sell art.

While active sales and participation in fairs do bring good money, there are simpler ways to earn some passive dollars to just keep you going and feel that motivation that your art may work.

I’m about to share some ideas and most importantly I’m not just gathering them around, I am a self-taught artist who has earned passive income not only with my art for the last 3 years that allows me to travel the world and be happy.

This is me in 2019

Let’s dig in.

Note this post is not only for visual artists, it is for ANY creative hobby. You don’t have to be a Pro.

What Is Passive Income For Artists?

Passive income for artists refers to income that is earned without the artist having to actively work for it.

Think of things like royalties, licensing fees for the use of artwork, and income from the sale of prints or merchandise featuring the artist’s work.

Passive income can be a valuable source of revenue for artists, as it allows us to focus on creating original art without worrying too much that we have no spare money for art supplies or even daily needs.

However, it is important to note that building a sustainable passive income stream as an artist often requires a significant amount of time, effort, and business acumen.

There is no easy-peasy scheme and money is not that easy to make no matter offline or online.

The general rule is: that active presence will generate money faster, but passive income can grow over time and will be evergreen no matter where are you.

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Tested passive income ideas for artists

  1. Blogging
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Print-on-Demand Products (stickers, art on magnets, mugs, mats, etc)
  4. Email sequences
  5. Online Art Tutorials and Courses
  6. Third-Party Art Platforms
  7. Art Licensing.
  8. Create a coffee table book of your art
  9. Sell From Your Own Website
  10. E-books and self-published books
  11. Art Rentals
  12. Printable Art Downloads
  13. TikTok monetization
  14. Youtube monetization
  15. Subscriptions on Instagram or website Members-Only Content
  16. Physical books
  17. Digital wall art
  18. Selling art through galleries or dealers
  19. Commissions for selling your photos online via sites like ShutterstockAdobe Stock, and iStock (even the photos of the creative process!)
  20. Creative online markets (fonts, logos, templates, etc). Some platforms only allow you to earn 50% of the sale price though

Start an SEO Blog

Blogging is by far the most ethical and influential passive income stream for artists.

I’m an art blogger myself since January 2021 and the fact that you’re reading this article proves the fact that even creative souls can make it into SEO with a bit of learning.

passive income ideas for artist

It is not always a source of sales for your original art but it is a proper secondary income based on your passion – art.

When I say profitable blog I mean strictly an SEO blog – meaning a blog adopted and optimized for Google and other search engines. I do not mean a simple website where you share your thoughts.

An SEO blog has immense opportunities for income streams but most bloggers use the 2-3 and are happy with that:

  • ads placed in between content. Good ad platforms don’t stuff your post with ads and don’t use pop-up ads covering your whole page, but they are also harder to get in (though still super doable). Readers don’t have to click on them for you to earn. Simple viewing earns you a little cent.
  • affiliates. If you use a specific paint and it works amazing for you, you can recommend it and earn a little commission if readers buy through your link. Simple and very honest way to earn some side money.
  • digital products sold through your blog, for ex., a tutorial, a course, prints, coloring pages, a mentorship, a book.

Advantages of having a profitable website-blog:

  • You don’t have to be active on social media and even to have them at all
  • there are fewer “trends” to follow and it is more straightforward than figuring out Instagram algorithms
  • You are offering content for people who are already actively searching for such content vs people on social media where we just scroll to kill time.
  • Later when you get some traction, you can have a proper monthly income backed by contracts with ad platforms, which means it is also a protected and safe route.

But it does require a bit of learning of how Google works and how to write well-structured articles that are both helpful for people and have the potential to earn money.

Affiliate marketing

When you buy an art supply, a tool, or a course and you like it, you can apply for their partners’ program and recommend them to people.

In a natural way, and honestly – because you actually used it!

And if a person buys it – you will get a commission. Amazon has the lowest commissions, like 2-4% but some brands have 10%, and courses or soft will usually have around 30% commissions.

To promote you can use your social media, Pinterest, your blog and even recommend it directly to people.

I would recommend though to combine this method with something else. Because in some niches, for ex., mine – painting, the supplies are not that expensive that even a 10% cut will make me reach.

passive income for artists

It will make a nice bonus, and a good month was around $700 on Amazon only, but not every month is a good one. Sometimes it can be as well $70.

Print-on-Demand Products

The best platform to sell them on is Etsy. You need to connect Printify to your Etsy and the whole process will be handled for you – you only create the design!

Yes, both platforms will take a cut. Yes, obvious categories like mugs and t-shirts are very competitive.

The key to success is to do proper research before starting to find something trendy but not yet with many offers on Etsy. It can be something very niche or something very new.

Email sequences

Art Licensing

I licensed one print for $75 for a 5-star hotel and all I had to do is register on Saatchi Art.

side hustles for artists

However, some curators and platforms focus specifically on licensing (as well as some coaching experts).

You can even go to a big print shop and negotiate.

It can be either a fixed pay if it is a one-time use (my case) or a royalty-based payment.

Please make sure you have a contract! Especially if it is NOT a one-time thing. Because it is a very thin ice and you need to maintain your intellectual property.

TikTok monetization

For accounts that grew over 100,000 subs, there is a monetization option and it is a really lucrative one (many times better than Instagram)

Youtube monetization

Once you reach 1000 subs and 4000 total watch hours your videos will be able to make your money.

I’m on my way to testing this (with very low time and effort investment my YouTube grew in a few months from 0 to 700 subs).

YouTube will take a significant cut, but it will be completely passive money.

Not only ads in your videos are available as ways to make money – but you can also add your affiliate links, links to your own art/craft, and make closed memberships.

Subscriptions on Instagram or website Members-Only Content

Instagram, Patreon, Substack, and other alternatives offer you an option to have paid subscribers who receive exclusive content weekly.

The minimum is usually $5-$8 per month for weekly content.

Starting your own creative side hustle? This textured art artist has a practical ebook (that I also bought for full price) that will guide you through the making and give some insights on how to start earning with your art. Send him a DM and mention acrylicpaintingschool code word!

How can I make $1000 a month in passive income as an artist? REAL Numbers

There are a few ways to make $1000 a month passively if you have a creative hobby:

  • with a blog. Monetization can bring from $600 to $1500 per month
  • doing live workshops for $20 per person. Once a week do a live teaching session of 1.5-2.5 hrs for 15 people max and it will be 15*$20*4 = 1000 USD.
  • selling art prints and other printables on Etsy or your site.
  • Sell you pre-recorded courses/ workshops. Artists sell their classes for $35 to $225 for a 4-hour content.
  • Royalties from multiple licensing projects and books on Amazon
  • Drop-based sales of your original art. You show the process of creating it for the whole month and only open sales for a few days at the end. Email subscribers gain priority access (and/or gifts and special prices). Sold out.

My Final Words

Do not let anyone stop you from pursuing your art career; do not fear failure.

Do not listen to people telling you that you can’t do X or Y because it’s not what an artist/musician/crafter will do. Whoever this person is they don’t pay your bills or define your happiness.

Do not quit your full-time job if you want to have financial stability and may need to take care of your family. There is nothing shameful in it, and nobody has no right to tell you that you’re not an artist unless it’s full-time.

I fight my imposter syndrome and disbelief daily and yet I’m here!