Table of Contents
You’re probably here because you’re wondering how to make money as an artist. If you’ve always been told that “you can’t make money as an artist”, take heart. It’s just not true, especially today.
You can join the ranks of the many who are… if you’re serious about your art.
- Audio Article
- For Artists Serious About Their Work
- One Piece of Art Sold for $91 Million
- The World Needs Your Art
- How to Make Money as an Artist
- Knowledge is Empowering
- 6 Reasons Most Creators Fail
- Creating isn’t Enough
- Best Options for Success
- Why You Must Succeed
- Sell Art Online
- Why You Must Pursue Your Dreams
For Artists Serious About Their Work
How to make money as an artist? Get serious about your work and commit to it for the long haul.
The fact that there are thousands of successful artists today, earning a full or part-time living from their art is testament to what’s possible. Not only is it possible to make money as an artist and creator, it’s more possible today than ever in the history of the world.
The reason the iCreateDaily slogan began as: For creators serious about their work, is because that’s what it will take for you to make money as an artist, writer, musician, dancer, product developer, ecommerce seller, online and off-line retail.
If you want to create for the sheer joy, relaxation and soul inspiring benefit of creating, that’s awesome! But if you want to earn a living and make money as an artist, it will require your dedication and determination to bring it to fruition.
But isn’t that true for any career?
“If you just follow what’s in your heart, and you’re willing to work hard for it, then nothing is impossible.”
~Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance director, choreographer, producer
One Piece of Art Sold for $91 Million
Recently, a sculptor’s work sold for $91 million dollars. That’s one sculpture by one artist now listed as the second wealthiest living artist. That one artist, Jeff Koon, who persevered over time, and who kept learning and leveraging skills and opportunities.1)https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeff-koonss-rabbit-sculpture-sells-for-91-million-11557970798
While the one sculpture made Koon incredibly wealthy, there were all the years of work and failures, learning and refining skills. There was even a departure and a return to his art. Then there was the other job creators have— arguably—equal to that of creating: the sales, marketing and relationship building needed to sustained his life and grow his career exponentially.
You Must Create, and You Must Also…
Most creators abhor sales and marketing. However, just as the work of the chef includes shopping and prepping, scrubbing pots and cleanup, until he’s successful, so too must the creator do the before and after stuff until she’s successful enough to outsource that.
The writer must write, and also build a following. The artist must create, and also grow an audience of those who love her art. The creator must love also the business of his art, for that will sustain him/her to create more.
The artist must bring art and creativity to his/her business for it to thrive.
The most successful creators are those who also bring creativity and artistry to the business of their art.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
The World Needs Your Art
We believe that the world needs your art. The world needs more creators bringing beauty, ideas and imagination to life. And… the world needs more creators helping other creators to do more of that.
To create is human destiny and connects us with divinity.
Helping fellow creators is our passion and our mission. The hard questions we regularly ponder at iCreateDaily daily have to do with this:
“How to help creators (who wish to) monetize their talent and creations?”
We’re on a mission to help you succeed in doing more of what you want and need to do. We’ve written before, about this being a new age of art… a new renaissance or “Art Inno”.
We believe in you. We believe that the world needs your art. And even more than that… you need your art.
How to Make Money as an Artist
The short and simple answer is this:
- Learn a skill
- Create consistently
- Improve steadily
- Grow an audience
- Sell them your work
Simple, but not easy.
Earning a living as an artist is hard.
Earning a living as an artist is possible.
Doing work you don’t love is hard.
So put in the hard to live what’s possible.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily
Knowledge is Empowering
We all know the challenges of earning a living from the arts. You’ve probably heard of high failure rates of entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The statistics are not a pretty picture when it comes to business success in general. However, if you’re aware of the road ahead, it’s easier to navigate the potholes. It’s easier to settle in and enjoy the ride when you know it will be a long journey.
Startup Business Failure Rates as of 2018
These statistics include all kinds of businesses in the USA.
- 20% of small businesses fail within 1 year
- 30% of small business fail within 2 years
- 50% of small businesses fail after 5 years
- 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business
But there are ways to succeed.
All who have succeeded before you have created pathways and processes that others can model to also succeed. To learn how to make money as an artist is to follow the examples of those—past and present—who are doing it.
If one can, then anyone can.
If you have the determination to succeed, you will.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
However, that doesn’t mean pouring exhausting hours, month-after-month and year-after-year without success. But either way, here’s the thing:
If you don’t start building your dreams now, will you regret it a year from now…
or 10 years from now..?
6 Reasons Most Creators Fail
- Not identifying a viable market and customer “avatar”4)https://mywifequitherjob.com/why-artists-fail-in-business/
- Inconsistency of creating
- Not investing time and money in growing your skills
- Unwilling to learn how to navigate the social platforms
- Lots of activity without enough planning and thinking it through
- Lack of goal setting and working goals daily
Creating isn’t Enough
Excerpt from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com article by Steve Chou
“The main reason why artists fail at business is because they don’t identify a viable market to fill. Creating art is a self-indulgent activity. Artists listen to the inner voice that drives them to create.
Overall, it’s a really great thing. Art has the power to move us, to transport us to new worlds and to inspire us. And creating good art is difficult. It takes a lot of introspection and searching. But creating good art isn’t enough to make a viable business.”
Steve Chou, Founder-Seller’s Summit
But creating good art isn’t enough to make a viable business.”
~Steve Chou, launched two 6-figure businesses while working full time
Best Options for Success
With most endeavors you undertake, the more you pour into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
There are many platforms and avenues of pursuit today for artists and creators to get your work out into the world. Most of these require a tremendous amount of work and time over severals years to truly build to profitability.
All of these are important for growing your business if you plan on being in it for the long haul. For shorter term profitability, the last one has the greatest potential soonest.
Channels for Creators to Grow and Sell
- ART SHOWS & FAIRS: A lot of work that may pay you for your time there, but is rarely a profitable venture.
- PODCASTS: Starting a podcast? It can take years to get enough listeners for sponsorship deals.
- BLOG or WEBSITE: A blog can take years to get a real readership that will monetize
- YOUTUBE CHANNEL: Takes years to grow it to profitability.
- BOOK/S? Writing a book can take up to a year or so to publish (on average), and only the very few ever profit from their books.
- RETAIL STORE: A brick-and-mortar (B&M) retail store is very costly with tremendous time and responsibility commitment.
- ONLINE STORE: Vastly easier than a B&M, but requires marketing and growing an audience.
- COURSES can take 2-3 months to create, and with the right marketing plan, can sell for years to come.
All of these platforms and avenues for selling your work are viable, with multiple ways to earn money from each. To be financially successful and learn how to make money from your art, requires education along with sales and marketing.
Of all of these that we’ve seen in all our online years thus far, creating and selling courses has the greatest opportunity to monetize your skills and knowledge more quickly than just selling your art.
‘Teachable.com‘ is an excellent and reputable education platform that makes it super simple to create, market and sell your own course, even if you’ve never taught before. Their program easily walks you through every how-to.
Consider how you create your course once, and then your course does the teaching FOR YOU. You can find their current offering linked here.
For more education resources for your creative and entrepreneurial journey, this article has lots more resources for you, including free courses from CreativeLive. Some of their upcoming classes are geared to teach you how to grow your business.
Artists can often make more money teaching art than selling it.
But teaching what you know frees you to create what you want.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Why You Must Succeed
- …work matters
- …art matters
- …dreams matter
- …freedom matters
- …life matters
5 Tips to Success
- Believe you can achieve
- Set goals and work them daily
- Elevate your standards
- Step outside of your comfort zone
- Learn and apply… learn and apply
This article on common mistakes of startups published on TheBalanceMB.com, applies to creators as well.
Sell Art Online
We’re most familiar with these first few online platforms for artists and creators. However, there are many, so be sure to check out the additional options in the link below.
Print-on-Demand (POD) Platforms for Printing and Selling Your Art on Merchandise
Many of these platforms can create similar products for you, from apparel to home decor, journals to mugs, shower curtains to cushions. Each has its nuances, pros and cons.
We recommend you peruse each one and then settle on the one you like best in terms of your own user experience when visiting.
- GearLaunch – create custom apparel, cushions and bags
- Printful – see our review on Printful here.
- RedBubble – Create all kinds of products and sell from Redbubble
- Society6.com – submit your designs to be featured
- TeeSpring – create custom apparel
- Zazzle – Productize your art
- Spoonflower – upload your designs and earn commissions
Lynda Suzanne Wright is an artist, photographer, writer… creator extraordinaire, and she had her art made into custom curtains using Society 6 Print On Demands services.
If you have your own inventory of products, then you may be ready to start your own shop. There are multiple options there as well.
For more on creating products from your own art, you may benefit by reading this article on Print on Demand services.
Selling Your Creations
The simplest and safest way to start sell products, art and crafts that you’ve already made is to do so from the existing social platforms. Now, you can sell your products without even creating a shopping cart, such as through Facebook and Instagram.
There are many advantages to starting there, which warrants its own article. For now, consider selling from your:
Top Seller Platforms – Sell What You Make on These Platforms
- Amazon – Yes! Artists can make money on Amazon. You can sell through Amazon Handmade, however, the most successful sellers sell through the main Amazon platform.
- Etsy – A more popular platform favored by makers, we’ve done a few podcasts featuring Etsy sellers.
- Fine Art America – sell your art from their platform
- Facebook page or profile (the FB terms are business page or personal profile)
This article may help if you’re confused by the Facebook options and terminology.
How to Make Money as an Artist on Amazon
Those artists who are also savvy at leveraging their efforts and learning the basics of outsourcing, can do exceptionally well.
One example of a highly successful artist selling on Amazon, is Susan Lordi, of Willow Tree. Susan is employing numerous success principles that are serving her exceptionally well.
Exceptional and Consistent Branding
BRANDING: Susan and her team at DEMDACO have created exceptional branding. Her line is about positivity, caring, sharing, and health, all conveyed through simple yet elegantly wholesome carved figurines with timeless and universal messages.
Our analytic tools indicates that Susan’s Willow Tree brand, averages around 700 units per month over more than 60 different products. The most popular Willow Tree item sells over 3,500 units per month, and the least popular sells 10 per month.
Now Susan is in partnership with DEMDACO, which means that the profit is shared. We don’t know whether DEMDACO pays her a royalty fee or a percentage on each item. Susan and DEMDACO also have to pay Amazon’s seller fees and percentages.
Susan Lordi’s wood sculptures exude a gentle grace, warmth, kindness and love.
An Average Rough Estimate of Amazon Profit = 33% of Retail.
Estimates are that the average net profit for Amazon sellers is 33%, with 1/3 in product cost, 1/3 for Amazon Fees and 1/3 net return on investment (ROI) profit. Of course there are those earning much more as well as those struggling with less.
Back to Susan Lordi and Willow Tree, here’s a rough estimate, (based on analytics tools and generalized averages to provide an example); these are not actual calculations from Susan, her company or partners, however they could definitely be realistic numbers in general for an Amazon seller.
3 SELLER SCENARIOS
3,500 units/mo x $5.92 (at 33% profit for a $17.95 retail) = $20,732 est. net ROI on ONE best selling item
78 units/mo x $10.21 (at 33% profit for a $31.63 retail) = $796/est. net ROI on ONE least selling item
AVERAGE MONTHLY BRAND SALES ACROSS ~60 ITEMS:
700 units/mo x $10.44/mo (at 33% profit for a $30.36 retail) net ROI = $7, 307 brand average
Now consider this, fellow creator: no matter the exact numbers, this scenario from high to low to an average is the amount an artist could receive for ONE item created ONCE, then reproduced many times over and sold month after month, year after year, from the one creation. Now THAT is LEVERAGE!
And yes… it didn’t happen overnight, but it’s an example of what’s possible if you keep creating daily with intention and goals in mind.
How to Build a Million Dollar Brand on Amazon by Ryan Moran
- Create 4 different products
- Retail price range of $30
- Sell a minimum of 25 each per day = 100 / day x 30 days = 3000 units / mo.
- 3000 units/mo x $30 = $9,000 x 12 months = $1,080,000 gross revenue for a net of ~$356,400/yr.
You could live off that, right?
When you’re a business owner, it becomes clear very quickly, how costly it is to do business, and why businesses must charge what they do.
Source Your Own Designs
Another way for creators to leverage time is to create one original, then outsource the making of that to others who can do so cheaply at scale. Many private Amazon sellers today, source their product manufacturing to China for a fraction of the cost to get it made domestically in the US.
Like Susan Lordi, you can create an original, then parter with a company like DEMDACO to bring it to market. Or, if you’re up for the challenge to get it manufactured yourself, it’s the harder path but the greater profit over time.
One artist, one original, times many multiples leverages for a multimillion dollar company. That’s no starving artist!!
Courses and Coaching for Artists and Writers
- The Abundant Artist – Fantastic membership community with coaching and programs especially for teaching and coaching visual artists. TAA says:
“Double your online art sales or get that first sale!”
- Creative Live – Courses for all creative arts, with a concentration on visual arts, including technical instructional to business growth subjects. Many courses for free if you attend during the offering period; for purchase thereafter. “One class can change everything. Whatever your level or passion, we’ll help you take big leaps, fast. These all-time favorites are a great place to start.”
- Author Accelerator – Offers a free 7 Day Writing Challenge to help you build a strong foundation by showing you how to drill down into the most important elements that drive your story or argument forward. Author Accelerator also trains and certifies writing coaches, and offers coaching and retreats for authors.
“Working with a writing coach is the best way to do your best work.”
Platform for Creating Your Own Courses
- Teachable.com – Teach what you know! Teachable is especially geared toward helping creators turn what they know into cash.
“Join creators who have made over $300m in sales.”
- KBB – Knowledge Business Blueprint – hosted by Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi, this is for you if you have any skill to teach, OR like to host or coordinate events for others to teach.
“Learn to extract your knowledge, fill your events, run them online or in person and even how to help people while profiting from someone else’s knowledge.”
- YouTube – Yes… it can take awhile to grow your audience, but it’s free and easily accessible and the more you do the more you can earn.
- Create time lapse tutorials that will help to grow your channel more quickly
- Create an Amazon Associate’s affiliate revenue and include your affiliate links to the products you use and earn a commission on those.
- Your videos will attract attention from
- Prospective Students who want to learn more from you
- Prospective art clients who want to buy your creations
When you succeed, you will not regret the hard work.
You will only regret it if you never try, no matter what.
~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
How to Make Money as an Artist?
- Set goals and work them daily
- Establish habits that serve your goals
- Create daily to grow your portfolio while honing your craft
- Share your work consistently via your favorite social platform
- Build a following of fans who love your art
- Learn from those who are successful
- Implement what you learn consistently over time
- Never give up
A Return to Artisans, Heart and Connection
In this era of rapid multiplication of anything, there will be increasingly, a return to individual connections and the value of handmade… artist-driven creations.
Now is the time to do your art and grow your audience of those who like you and what you do. Once again, quality over quantity will come into play as people cherish more the things they purchase from creators they know.
Add Story to Your Art… and Art to Your Story
Increasingly, the art with stories and narrative attached will sell over just the beautiful.
Consumers want to connect. People are craving deeper more human connections. With story, quotes, snippets and bios—both your artist bio and a bio or story for your art—they will connect with you.
The more you add story to your art… and art to your story, either your own, or collaboratively with other creators, the more readily will you grow a your audience.
Freelancer artists and writers who can create meaning and story for your clients will be increasingly in demand.
Give your customers meaning and you will grow a meaningful audience.
~LeAura Alderson, cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Why You Must Pursue Your Dreams
We’re concluding this article with one of our favorite talks by a successful creator, who kept on creating in the direction of his dreams.
Neil did not attend college, yet he made his way in the world doing all the things on his list of “want to’s”.
Neil Gaiman on Make Great Art
Tune into this exceptional and widely viewed commencement speech to the University of the Arts graduating class of 2012 Philadelphia, titled: Make Great Art.
The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible, by going beyond them… and you can.
~Neil Gaiman, English author of fiction, novels, comic books, films
He did not go to college and yet Neil Gaiman was invited to give this 2012 commencement speech titled ‘Make Good Art.
Take a 20 minutes inspiration break to help you find your way beyond the possible.
Hello! I’m LeAura, a philosopher, generalist, autodidactic former homeschooling mom, personal development advocate, entrepreneur, writer, editor, author, ideator, media publisher, and podcaster, passionate about helping others achieve their best possible life! We’re a media publishing company run by our small family of entrepreneurs, writers, and creators on around topics we enjoy, such as gardening, health and fitness, creativity and pets, with more to come.
While my greatest teacher is Life… my formal training includes certifications in mediation, fitness trainer, and strategic intervention coaching, including marriage and family. My favorite thing ever is helping people discover and grow their incredible potential.
Today, the synergy of creating websites, articles and podcasts, brings together all my favorite things: family, learning, growth, creating, connecting and contributing. To share these with you is a privilege, that serves my lifelong aspiration to help others.
My personal areas of creativity are in writing, masterminding, ideation, synthesis and bringing ideas to life through business and entrepreneurship.
Want to submit your photos, videos and/or article content for publication? We love to consider your contribution for publication! firstname.lastname@example.org
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