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If you talk with full-time Artist and Creatives that are making a living doing what they love you'll realize that they've created multiple streams of income that allows them to support their lifestyles. So here are a variety of ways that I have learn over the years to monetize your artwork and do what you love for life!
First things first, if you haven't already started, start building an audience now! In order to make money from your artwork people need to know who you are and what you create. So before we even get to making money from your art work I need to make it clear that you must share your work. You need to make yourself visible. Doing so in the beginning will help you in the long run.
Create art (everyday if possible)
Post art consistently
Engage with your followers
Build a brand for yourself
When you agree to do Freelance work you are being paid to do a short term job for a person or a business. Commissions work very similarly where you are being paid to complete a specific project or task and this payment can be an agreed upon flat fee or a percentage. Receiving a percentage of the sales of a Children’s’ book you were commissioned to Illustrate is an example. One of the biggest questions artist have about commission and Freelance work is what do I charge people?
There never seems to be a definite answer because the rate always depends on you as an artist. I’ll be honest with you for illustration work I charge $60 an hour. Your hourly rate will depend on you figuring out your overhead costs, how much you want to make an hour and how long it takes you to complete a project. Once you have figured out your hourly rate you can then also create flat rate pricing for specific jobs because you will already know how long it takes you to create.
If you don’t already have a ton of people in your inbox asking you to do creative work for them them you can be proactive in finding work on your own. One way to do this is to make sure you and your work is visible. Submitting your work to directories and pitching for blog features is a great way to start. Making sure you have a website and a Social Media presence is important, this way there’s is something to link to from the directories and blog post when people want more of you.
Tell people you are open for commissions! It’s ok to tell people you are open for commission, and give them a call of actions. Post it in the bio section of your Instagram page. When making your post on Social Media it’s as easy as saying “Let me create one of a kind artwork like this for you”, or “This was created for my last client, who would like custom artwork made for them as well?”.
POD’s are websites where you can go and upload your artwork to have it printed on an array of different products in small quantities. As an artist you are usually allowed to create a storefront that customers can go to order one off products with your artwork printed on the item and you receive a percentage of each sale. The POD Company then ships the products directly to your customer
POD sites are probably one of the easiest ways to start selling your artwork as prints and products, and this also makes it a very saturated and a very competitive place to be for an artist.
Being Successful on POD sites
It took a few years for my artwork to gain any traction on POD sites. In the beginning I was basically uploading any and everything I created, sharing it on social media and hoping that someone besides my immediate family would purchase something. I wasn’t being intentional. When I started being more intentional with the artwork I put on POD sites I started to see sales.
I learned that being trendy and creating very netche artwork pays off. Lots of people turn to POD sites when they can’t find Artwork about the things that they love and are passionate about anywhere else. They search for Artwork that allows them to showcase their favorite things or tell a little bit of there personality in new and creative ways. This doesn’t mean to just go and create artwork about Star Wars if you don’t like or have any interest in Star Wars. It means it’s a good idea to create art that goes along with the things that matter to you, that you know will resonate with others as well. For example if your crazy and obsessed with astrology, and the phases of the moon, make new and creative artwork that you would be totally obsessed with and I guarantee people who love astrology and the phases of the moon will be obsessed with it as well.
Once you have created this new artwork make sure you use tags and descriptions that are relevant, this helps people find your work when searching the site. You can take it a step further and Pitch to relevant blogs that may showcase your products to their audience. Also post your work to your Social Media. You should have followers that share the same interests that you do and would love to by your artwork.
If you want to make money from POD sites you have to do a bit of foot work. But once you build the initial foundation sales will start to come and you will start to see an income roll in month after month.
Creating your own products is another way to make money from your artwork while being able to have a larger profit margin than POD sites, but it doesn't come without its own set of problems.
If you are anything like me in the beginning when you are making a decision to sale your own products you may get sucked down an internet rabbit hole while trying to find manufacturers and once you find manufactures narrowing it down to the ones that don't require a huge quantity limit can be very daunting leaving you with only a handful of options.
One of the easiest ways to start selling your own products is to start with prints. There are tons of print options online but don't forget to check around locally. There are prints shops that maybe in your neighborhood that would love to work with you in reproducing your artwork. The plus side to this is you will be able to talk to someone and build a personal relationship with them and you will also be supporting a business in your neighborhood.
Another great way to start selling your own products is to use dropship companies. Dropship companies are companies that will allow you to customize products they create. When you receive an order for your products they then handle fulfilling that order for you. Choosing the right company to work with can be a lengthy process. You want to test out companies and different products to make sure the quality is to your standards and that the shipping process is smooth. The last thing you want is to get complaints about your products from your customers. You also want to take nice photos of your products and maybe even have some on hand if your are selling at markets in your area, which is a great way to get your products seen.
When you License your artwork to a company you are basically allowing them to use your artwork for a specific amount of time. You maintain ownership of your artwork and companies pay you to utilize the artwork on their products.
Exclusive vs Unexclusive
Though you maintain ownership of your artwork, with a licensing contract you have the option of offering exclusive or unexclusive rights to use your artwork. With granting a company exclusive rights you are granting them the right to use your artwork and no one else is allowed to utilize the same artwork for an agreed upon amount of time. With an unexclusive licensing agreement you are granting them the right to use your artwork but you can still use the artwork for other things. For example you can still utilize that artwork other places such as POD sites or your own product line.
In addition to licensing your artwork to companies there are a lot of companies and manufactures that would prefer to just purchase your artwork outright. When you sell your artwork to companies you are selling them the right to use your artwork on their product. They can use your artwork as long as they want and they do not have to credit you as the Artist or pay your royalties.
Selling your artwork outright is a quick way to make money but it can also be a bit tricky if you have a distinct style. You have to be careful not to sell the same artwork to multiple companies, and making sure you are not using the same motif in patterns or images that you sell outright.
You can also offer companies a category buyout. With category buyouts your are selling your art for use in one specific category, but you can still sell it to a manufacturer in a different category. For example if you sell a print to a company for Wall Art you can still license or sell that piece of artwork to a stationary company.
Teaching is a billion dollar industry and Artist are a very important part of that industry. Lots of people think that it is very saturated because it seems like everyone has a course. This is true there is a lot of courses and content out there but it is in high demand so there is space for new courses and new content everyday. Even if you are teaching the same course as another artist it doesn’t mean that it will be taught in the same way.
Teaching doesn’t just limit you to online courses, there is in person workshops, e-books, consultations and so many other ways to share your knowledge with others. One of the things that you want to do if you want to start teaching is showing that you are an expert in your field. You also want to build trust with your audience so that they know that they can come to you when they need information on a certain topic.