5 Passive Income Streams for Artists (From Easy Mode to Expert!)
Imagine waking up in the morning and taking a peek over to your phone or computer, seeing that you had some cash flow your way while you were in dreamland. Cool, right??
Let me introduce to you the beauty and wonders of passive income!
It's amazing that you can spend a bit of time setting something up and see the cash flowing with little further effort.
"But can't I make all of my money from my paintings?"
Sure, you definitely can! But wouldn't it be great to be making additional cash on top of what you are making from direct art sales? Setting up passive income streams as an artist is a wonderful way to ensure that you have a more steady paycheck flowing your way.
I have sorted my list by how easy it is to set the methods up, starting with Easy Mode and working up to Expert Mode. It's important to note here that in most cases, a bit of extra effort can go a long way, and the more difficult methods often yield much higher payoffs.
So enough talk, let's find out what the methods are!
Super Easy Mode: Amazon Affiliate Links
Amazon Affiliate links are a super easy mode way to start seeing some passive cash flow! By creating an account you can post links to products found on Amazon, and when someone clicks your link and makes a purchase, you get a portion of the profits! Pretty sweet, right?
The great thing about Amazon is that everyone knows about it, and it has SO much to offer, including art supplies so it's a great way for you to share about the brands that you use with your audience. As your audience begins to trust you, artists within that crowd will trust your recommendation for art supplies too, and will often buy what you recommend (because clearly you are doing something right!).
These links are super easy to pop into blog posts, into social media descriptions, a Resources page on your website, YouTube video descriptions...the possibilities are endless!
Amazon Affiliate Links
- pretty straight forward, and easy to get started
- create an account, and then start choosing the products that you would like to endorse
- choose things that you use and have talked about, people are more likely to trust this rather than random products
- post a list of the products on your blog, website, YouTube descriptions, social media
- you get a portion of the profits with each purchase
Easy Mode: Print-On-Demand Services
This beautiful digital age that we currently live in allows us a ton of freedom when it comes to where we can sell our art and products - it no longer takes a huge investment to start selling things like shirts with your art on it!
Enter Print-On-Demand Services!
There are a ton of great websites out there that allow you to create an account, upload some images, and start making a profit off of sales!
Some great and popular sites are RedBubble, Society 6, Fine Art America, Zazzle and more! Most of the bigger sites are constantly adding new items, so you can have your art printed on tons of products! I've had banners made that I use for shows, and have a few shirts, mugs and tote bags with my art on them.
While these sites do make it super easy to create printed gear, you will have to do your own advertising in order to sell in most cases, so do keep this in mind.
- shirts, bags, fabric, mugs, prints...you name it
- So many sites like RedBubble, Society 6, Fine Art America, Saatchi, CafePress, Zazzle
- create an account, upload high-resolution images, and start selling!
- these sites usually require you to do your own advertising
Intermediate Mode: Create a digital product
Digital products are an awesome way to supplement your income, and since you can create it once and sell it indefinitely, it can be a key component of your passive income stream. My favorite digital product to create are instructional eBooks on how to paint certain subjects.
I use Adobe InDesign to create my eBook pdf files, but Canva is an amazing free resource that makes things super easy for you!
Add them as an item to your shop (from your website or even an Etsy shop), and upload the file for download - viola! Unlimited sales and downloads from one product that you created!
Create a Digital Product
- eBooks with something like painting instructions, etc.
- print-offs, like cards
- other downloadable graphics
Hard Mode: Teach a class on Skillshare
Skillshare is an amazing platform that allows users to sign up for a monthly payment to have access to the entire database of courses. These courses are typically targeted towards creative types and entrepreneurs (hey, that's us!), and are an incredible way to boost a huge range of skills.
The classes use a video format for teaching, so creating your first class can have a bit of a learning curve if you are not super familiar with video.
As a creator you are given a link to refer people to sign up, and what's super cool is that you earn $10 every time someone signs up using your link!
(And since they can get the first month or two free, people tend to be pretty casual with this, which means more cash for you!). Creators also get a portion of the royalties each month, depending on both your views and the total viewership "pot" each month.
It can take some time to create your course, but once you do it is so worth it! Helping others while making cash is such an incredible thing!
Teach a class on Skillshare
- paid platform that utilizes video format for classes
- geared towards creatives and entrepreneurs
- there is an art section, so you can teach a specific skill, or teach about business, etc.
- as a creator you have a link that allows new students to get 2 months free, and you get $10 every time someone signs up!
- you get a portion of the pot each month based on your views
- can take time to create a great course, but once it's done you just need to advertise it
Expert Mode: Start a Youtube Channel
And finally - Expert Mode!
(Ironically, this was my second form of passive income on this list, guess I like to start with a challenge!)
Youtube is an incredible video-based platform that is quite unique in it's class. It allows creators to form their own channel filled with videos of their pleasing.
Now starting a Youtube channel is not for the faint of heart - it requires a lot of work to start and maintain, but it can be a hugely rewarding project. I've had a Youtube channel for a few years, and I am so glad that I started when I did (which is to say I started when I was completely terrified of it, and stumbled my way through - but I did it!).
From my experience, Youtube is one of the rare platforms that actually shows an overall upward viewer trend month after month, even if you post zero new content. I think this is largely due to the embedded "Recommended" feeds that Youtube curates for each viewer - this allows your content, even your old content, to stay super fresh and in front of new viewers. Even when I go a month or two without posting new content, my subscriber and view count keep rising.
(And in a world that otherwise demands constant input for fear of fading away, this is hugely refreshing and welcome).
Once you hit a certain (low) threshold for subscribers and minutes watched, you can monetize your account and have cash flowing in each month!
The Easy Mode for artists is to simply film yourself while painting and upload the video! I created an awesome guide for getting started with filming yourself while painting, so check it out if this Expert Mode idea is your jam!
Most of my Affiliate link clicks come from the links I have included for my supplies in my description, so this works wonderfully with the first item on this list.
What earns this method the "expert mode" title is that it can take some time and effort to gain traction on Youtube. You will find the most success by actually building a channel, filling your feed with amazing videos that your viewers will love, and of course showcasing your amazing personality.
Youtube is near and dear to my heart, so hopefully you will find an appreciation for it too!
Start a Youtube Channel
- Youtube is a unique platform in the way that it does a lot of internal advertising for you (with recommended feeds)
- my experience has been that even though I haven't posted for awhile, the overall trend is still constant or growing
- once you hit certain low threshold you can monetize your videos and have cash flowing in
- easy mode for artists to start is by filming yourself while painting (see my link for how to start) and upload to free music from the Youtube library
- include affiliate links and links to other things in the description
- expert mode because the most benefit comes from building an actual channel rather than posting once
Hopefully this list inspires you to start exploring passive income options!
We all know that consistency is key for acing your social media game - but the exhaustion and burnout is real!
Grab my Content Calendar for Artists and stay on top of your game!
Want to know the materials I use to create my paintings?
Mediums and other liquids
Winsor & Newton Liquin Original - https://amzn.to/2GmK87N
Mona Lisa Linseed Oil - https://amzn.to/2Tmh1F4
Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner - https://amzn.to/2SfH0kk
Gamblin Gamvar - https://amzn.to/2D2IlRW
Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Size Adhesive - https://amzn.to/2GfEeVH
Gold Leaf (Imitation) - https://amzn.to/2GeWAWZ
Gold Leaf (Genuine) - https://amzn.to/2t1Hlst
Liquitex White Gesso - https://amzn.to/2MM0gAy
* The above product links are affiliate links that allow me to make a small commission on each sale - every little bit helps!
Danielle Trudeau creates paintings that walk the line between dreams and reality, infusing magic into every day life.
Wildlife often graces her canvases, brought to life with a spark of magic and oil paint.