You put in the long hours, hone your craft, spend money on materials and tools. Then, how do you make money as an artist, crafter or creator? These 5 ways can help get the money rolling so you can put more time and resources into doing what you love.
Resources and Tutorials
You’re good at what you do, and others want to be too! Taking some time to document your process and how to replicate it is a great way to build community and make a little money in the process.
Many creators do some form of this already via short, free, process videos on their social media. Consider providing these snippets as a gateway to resources like full tutorial videos, courses, or templates.
These can take many forms, but the most common ones are probably video tutorials, PDFs, and e-books. The best part: You only have to make something once, and it can continue to generate money for you over time. The more tutorials or resources you release, the more your income grows.
Someone doing it well:
Kamui Cosplay is an incredible cosplayer who has mastered the art of passive income. She and her husband create multiple resources like tutorials and templates and sell them via their website. Honestly, she could fit into any of these categories, but I really admire the quality and presentation of their products. She even has some guides on how to make money as an artist! Talk about spreading the love.
Where do you host and sell resources?
- Skillshare offers a great platform to host and promote your video tutorials. “Teachers” get paid based on referrals and royalties based on # of minutes your videos are watched.
Pros: Established platform, easy to get started.
Cons: Income can be unpredictable, Skillshare keeps a large portion of profits.
- Udemy is similar to Skillshare as it offers an established platform to host and promote your videos. But, instead of royalties, you get paid every time someone buys your course, giving you a lot more control over your profits.
Pros: Established platform, per course payments, up to 97% profit when you refer your own students.
Cons: Up to 75% of your course fee can go to Udemy if they helped promote it.
- WooCommerce now offers a video gallery plugin so that you can upload and sell video content on your own website. Of course, the downside to this is that you also need to build a website, but with WordPress templates, this can be pretty easy if you’re code-savvy.
Pros: Complete control over video sales and promotion, you keep 100% of profits.
Cons: You have to build the site and likely pay for hosting your video content somewhere.
Tutorials and Templates (e-books and PDFs):
- Etsy allows you to upload and sell digital products, including PDFs. Starting a store is free and comes packaged with many great resources to help distribute and market your product.
Pros: Established platform, lots of customization for your store, seller resources.
Cons: Crowded marketplace makes it hard to stand out, must pay fees on sales.
- Fiverr is usually used for gigs and commissions, but more and more people are using it to sell digital products. You can set up and promote listings for your products, then follow up with an e-mail containing your product when an order comes in.
Pros: Established platform, easy to create and promote listings.
Cons: Must manually deliver products, listings have to be maintained so they don’t expire.
- Again, having your own website is a great way to go and gives you so much freedom in distributing your content, especially if you use multiple formats and don’t want to juggle multiple platforms, fees, etc. The upfront work is worth it in the long run.
Create a Physical Product
There are a couple of ways to approach creating your own product. Some hobbies lend themselves easily to physical products. For example:
- Prints of your art or photography of your cosplay.
- Physical crafts like dice, clothing and plushies.
- Game resources like maps, minis, etc.
The other option is to use your passion to create something brand new related to your hobby. For example, Hero Journal took their love of RPGs and turned it into a daily planner for adventurers. Or, Tablewar developed several products and accessories for tabletop wargamers like mats and carrying cases.
Doing this takes a bit of an entrepreneurial edge and may very well BECOME your art, rather than being a supplement to it. So, keep that in mind. But, if you’re the business type, it’s a fun adventure to go on!
Someone doing it well:
Beyond the above examples, I’m infinitely impressed with Sky Castle Studios, makers of Hero Forge. This small team found a gap in the market and filled it with their tech, 3d modeling, and production skills paired with a serious passion for tabletop gaming.
They didn’t start big, but with a great idea and a successful Kickstarter, they became leaders in bespoke miniatures and statuettes.
How do you sell or get funding for a product?
The process of actually creating your product will largely depend on what it is. The skills and materials to create dice is different from plushies, which is different from manufacturing completely new product ideas. Once you have that nailed down, here’s where you can go:
- Kickstarter can, of course, be a job in itself to set up, but with the right forethought, a decent following, and a solid idea, you can see incredible success. Many Kickstarters even double or triple their original funding goal or more. The important thing here is that you’ll need to do a lot of legwork to get the funding. There is some level of discovery on Kickstarter, but you’ll need to utilize your friends, family, and followers to get it off the ground.
Pros: Great platform to raise a significant amount to fund a project or new product.
Cons: Competitive, lots of work, and you only keep the money if it succeeds.
- Etsy is an excellent option if you already have the ability to produce your own product, especially if it is handmade. It’s easy to get set up quickly and start selling right away, plus you have the bonus of Etsy’s built-in search engine and marketing tools.
Pros: Easy to set up, built-in search, and marketing tools.
Cons: Sometimes tough to stand out, takes fees for listings and sales.
- Shopify is an extremely robust e-commerce tool giving you infinite freedom to set up and sell how you like. It also allows for point-of-sale, so if you plan at selling at cons, markets, or even your own store, you’ll be ready to go!
Pros: Very flexible, control everything, pay for the service, not the sales.
Cons: You have to set-up and manage your own site and store, can be time-consuming to learn.
Patreon or Ko-fi
Doing something you enjoy (and your followers enjoy seeing) but doesn’t always translate to a physical product or service? Livestreaming, YouTube channels, blogs, cosplay, DMing, etc., are all entertaining and bring real value to people but can’t really be sold in a store.
Sites like Patreon and Ko-Fi allow your supporters to do exactly that–support you! You can offer rewards and benefits to your friends and followers in exchange for a monthly subscription fee.
Someone doing it well:
Kinda Funny is a YouTube channel and podcast network with over 7,000 Patreon subscribers and a monthly income of over $22,000! Built from their base of 284k subscribers, it’s no wonder they found such wild success, but this extra source of income helps them improve their shows, add new content and even hire new employees.
They offer early access, exclusive content, show shout-outs, and more, depending on how much you pledge.
The most popular options:
- Patreon is what most people have heard of and is the leader in the “supporter subscription” space, but some creators have started to complain that the pressure to create so much exclusive content, paired with high platform fees, can take the wind out of their sails.
Pros: Well-established, you define the tiers and rewards for your supporters.
Cons: High platform fees, no instant withdrawal of funds, pressure to create regular content.
- Ko-Fi is a newer player on the field and is being celebrated for its less stringent content policy, creator-friendly features, and better yet, its lack of platform fees! They also have some features that Patreon doesn’t yet offer, like one-off donations and a store for selling products.
Pros: Lots of support options for your fans, instant fund withdrawal, no platform fees!
Cons: No tiered memberships (yet), not as established/trusted as Patreon (yet!)
Partnerships and Affiliate Marketing
Do you have products or brands you can’t live without? Why not make some extra cash promoting them? Partnerships and affiliate programs are a win-win. Your favorite brands get business, and you get a cut.
Sites like Amazon and eBay have easy (and free) programs you can sign up for, making it easy to share individual items on your channel, page, or blog. The items won’t come at an additional cost for your fans, but you’ll get a cut of the sale.
Companies also run affiliate programs for their product or brand, such as NordVPN, Shopify, and more. You can do a quick search for brands in your niche to see if any of them offer established programs.
Another common option is to strike private deals with brands you love. Companies in your niche may not have an established program but will be willing to pay you to create content around their stuff. I’ve heard of even beginners making upwards of $1500 for a single sponsored post!
Pro Tip: Don’t be tempted by partnerships for trade! Honor your time and talent, and understand that even free products probably won’t add up to what your time and promotion are worth. Free products are great, but the goal here is to make you money as an artist. Make sure you’re also requesting a commission on sales or an up-front fee.
Someone doing it well:
Miniac is an award-winning tabletop miniature painting with a YouTube following of over 200k. He has multiple monetization streams but makes great use of the Amazon affiliate program to promote products he uses in his videos and tutorials. His channel includes a whole playlist full of paint, primer, and brush recommendations, among others. He gets paid for every sale! I even got my paintbrush recommendations from him. 🙂 Can confirm, they’re great.
Like physical products, if your hobby can somehow be customized for your fans, you can literally make money as an artist with commissions. Physical and digital art, crafts, costuming, and more can all be offered to those who want a one-of-a-kind display of your talents!
How you go about this will largely depend on you and what you’re creating. Give some thought to what you’d like your rates to be, any limitations like size or scope, and how many projects you can take on at once. Like any business, communicate early and often so your followers know what your bandwidth is like and how they can get their hands on a commissioned piece!
Someone doing it well:
Offbeat Worlds is an incredible illustrator that occasionally opens commissions for custom character or D&D party portraits. I admire how she’s very specific about the slots she has, the windows in which she offers commissions, and the limits on what kind of portraits she’ll offer. Those boundaries are what will create ongoing successful relationships with your patrons!
Where to sell your art:
Many of the sites mentioned above are also great for selling commissions, just like any other product. Consider these as a great place to start:
- Ko-Fi now offers the ability to have a store and offer commissions.
- Create an Etsy listing for commissions and let your customers add information about their request.
- Use Fiverr gigs to promote your commission work.
- Or, start your own store with something like Shopify to customize your ordering process fully.
- You can even sell directly via social media. Try announcing your willingness to do commissions via a post or your bio and accept orders through private messages.
And, that’s it! These 5 ways to make money as an artist are sure to get the money rolling in. Don’t forget, all of this is made easier by being consistent, growing your following, and creating quality content that people love! Always focus on your craft first, and with the right strategy, the money will take care of itself.
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