8 Innovative Ways to Make Money From Your Art

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Stock Photos from Doglikehorse/Shutterstock

A reality of modern life for any working artist is diversification. If you want to make a full-time living as a photographer or fine artist, sometimes it's not always enough to rely on gallery representation or freelance clients. Luckily, as the world has changed, the opportunities for artists to make money from their creativity have also expanded.

In fact, more often than not, it's critical to think of different ways to monetize your art in order to achieve both creative and financial success. Before just diving in, you'll want to evaluate your skill sets and what makes you most comfortable. For instance, maybe public speaking isn't your thing, but you enjoy explaining your creative process. Instead of forcing yourself into speaking engagements before you're ready, try creating a YouTube channel where you can share your passion with the public from the comfort of home.

Whatever it is you decide to try, remember that everything is an extension of your brand as an artist and you need to ask yourself if the path you're on will lead you toward your bigger goals. So, get ready to think outside of the box and diversify your revenue streams with some creative ways to monetize your art.

Want to create art and make a living off of it?

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Stock Photos from Flamingo Images/Shutterstock


Sell Prints

You don't only need to be a photographer to sell prints. Illustrators, painters, and even installation artists or sculptors can benefit from selling high-quality prints of their artwork. This opens up the door for fans who may not be able to reach the price point of an original piece, allowing you to diversify the type of collectors you attract. You can either print and sell directly or use one of the many online services, like Society6, that allow artists to easily sell prints online, taking a small commission in exchange. Many of these sites also sell products like smartphone cases, scarves, and backpacks with your artwork printed directly on them, letting you offer something to everyone. Check out our guide on how to sell art online for more print-on-demand websites.


Teach Online Classes

If you feel like teaching is your calling, you may want to consider teaching online classes. More than ever, people are seeking out knowledgeable teachers in the creative world to help them take their work to a new level. Crafters, painters, photographers, and graphic designers are just some of the creatives who will find a demand for their knowledge if they are skilled at sharing what they know. Some people even turn their teaching into full-time work, launching paid membership services where people have access to private tutorials. If you aren't sure how to get started, our guide to teaching classes online will give you the knowledge to begin sharing your craft with the world and suggest the best platforms to do so.


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Stock Photos from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock


Lead Workshops

Maybe you like teaching, but the thought of planning a full course is daunting. Or, you simply enjoy the in-person experience of engaging with students. If so, teaching workshops might be for you. Especially popular with photographers, it can be a great supplement to your income, especially if you have a niche like astrophotography or street photography. Some photographers, like Cuma Cevik, run destination workshops where they lead groups to exotic locations and shape the trip around a specific theme. Of course, workshops aren't limited to photographers. Are you a street artist? You could run workshops on how to use spray paint or cut stencils. Or maybe you're an expert in hand-lettering? Give workshops on the basics of calligraphy and typography. Think about your artistic niche and what you can offer that is special and unique. If you plan ahead carefully, you may even be able to organize workshops around your travel schedule and turn a profit while on the move.


Book Speaking Engagements

If you enjoy public speaking, you may be able to leverage this into a lucrative side hustle booking speaking engagements. Whether for corporate events or as a guest lecturer at universities, there's certainly a market for creative thinkers to share the secrets of their craft. And, this can often run in tandem with a workshop, making for a full day of activities. Get started by brainstorming some lecture topics and pull together a short presentation on your work. Then look locally for organizations that you think may be interested and move from there. Remember, it's not only arts organizations that may be curious about what you do. By thinking outside the box, you'll be able to land more jobs. For instance, if you specialize in wildlife photography or scientific illustration, contact natural history museums or scientific organizations that could be interested in hearing about the crossover between art and science. Want some inspiration for lecture topics? Watch these incredible TED Talks from the world's leading creatives.


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Stock Photos from Beautiful Quotes/Shutterstock


Sell or License Your Art through Stock Agencies

Earn royalties from your work by licensing it or simply sell it outright to a stock agency. Photographers, musicians, and video makers will look to Getty Images as a top choice in the field, while Shutterstock is one of many agencies that also accepts illustrations and vector graphics. If done wisely with quality work, this can be a steady stream of income that can quickly add up.


Write an eBook

If you enjoy writing more than creating video content, you might want to try your hand at creating an eBook. As an artist, there is no shortage of guides you can create, whether it's giving advice on how to use a specific medium, teaching the basics of composition, or giving a specialist approach to your niche. Whether you're writing about underwater photography or the basics of studio lighting, your expertise will be valuable to other creatives—and they'll be willing to pay for it. Check out this list of the top 10 eBook creators to find the perfect software to help you design the project.


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Stock Photos from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock


Become an Influencer

If you are savvy with social media and build up a good following on your Instagram, you may notice that you'll begin to be contacted by brands for sponsored content. Especially lucrative for travel photographers, many fund their way around the world by linking up with hotels, airlines, and travel boards looking to publicize their services in exchange for sharing incredible images of the destination. However, it's not only travel photographers getting in on the action. Artists are also collaborating with diverse companies, from art supplies to fashion brands, and sharing the results of their work with their followers. Aren't sure how to connect with brands or what to charge for sponsored content? There are services out there that can help match you, like Influence.co, AspireIQ, and iFluenz.


Start a Blog or YouTube Channel

How can you make money off of this? Besides the fact that potential clients can find your work through a well-thought-out blog or interesting YouTube videos, advertising and affiliate commissions can be lucrative revenue streams. Street photographer Eric Kim runs a highly successful blog that certainly draws traffic—allowing him to better advertise his workshops and eBooks. If done correctly, you can also earn commissions from recommending the products and equipment you enjoy using. As for YouTube, it's no secret that the platform has made millionaires out of its biggest stars. But the reality is you don't need millions of views to start earning. This simple calculator will help you determine how much you can earn if you decide to monetize your videos and a look at people teaching how to draw on YouTube will give you some inspiration on how you might leverage your own channel.


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Stock Photos from Dean Drobot/Shutterstock


Want to trade ideas on how to use your creativity and build your income? Come and join us on our Facebook group focused on creative careers.


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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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