Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

5 Ways to Earn Passive Income From Your Art (With Tips)

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could make money while working on personal projects?

I’ve spent the last 5 years making this dream a reality and I’m so excited to share some of the things I’ve learned a long the way.

Why am I so excited about passive income? Passive income doesn’t mean not doing any work, actually very far from it. If you want to be successful you’re gonna have to put the hours in (sorry to disappoint guys) But for me, passive income has brought me so much freedom in my life.

  • It allows me to take time off when I’m feeling burned out
  • It gives me the freedom to travel the world and work from anywhere I want…all I need is my iPad and Apple pencil
  • It gives me the freedom to choose what I want to draw, so I never have to compromise on my style for a client
  • And most importantly it allows me to stop trading my time for money.

Think of passive income streams as seeds you need to keep watering every now and then. They grow slowly, but eventually you’ll be left with a thriving garden. If a plant dies it doesn’t matter because you should hopefully have lots of other income streams that can keep you afloat.

It’s good to diversify your income streams but not to spread yourself too thin, I’d recommend focusing your attention on 3-4 areas. The main 3 I focus on is licensing my work to different companies, creating online classes on Skillshare and Selling my work through POD platforms like Society6, Rebubble, Thortful etc.

Here are some ways you can create passive income yourselves:

Passive Income Stream 1:

Turn Your Work Into Prints & Products on Society6

It’s good to diversify your income streams but not to spread yourself too thin, I’d recommend focusing your attention on 3-4 areas. The main 3 I focus on is licensing my work to different companies, creating online classes on Skillshare and Selling my work through POD platforms like Society6, Rebubble, Thortful etc.

Here are some ways you can create passive income yourselves:

Tip #1:

Trends With Benefits

Society 6 have monthly briefs and showcase the latest trends on their blog. So if you’re unsure what’s trending right now that’s a great place to start. They also share key words for what people are looking for. It’s all about hitting that sweet spot between what’s trending and your unique drawing style. So don’t just copy what’s already out there, think of ways you can bring something new to the platform!

Tip #2:

Kick-Start Your Success

Although POD sites are constantly marketing the products on their platform, your work might not necessarily be part of that, especially when you’re first starting out. So it’s good to take charge of marketing your own work through all your social media channels. Create engaging stories on Instagram, showcase your latest designs on your website and why not send out a weekly/monthly newsletter to show your followers new products and designs you’re currently working on. Share the behind the scenes and your process – people love to see how things are made!

Pssst.. for more inspiration, check out my good friend and Society6 badass Cat Coq, who does an amazing job with this!

Tip #3:

Be Patient

Seeing sales trickling in slowly can be really disheartening, especially when you feel like you’re putting in all this work and not getting much back. Since I opened my shop, I’ve learned that patience and perseverance is key to getting results. The more work I can upload, the quicker I’ll see what’s selling. This helps me focus on creating more work in that vain.

POD sites can be very slow at the beginning, and it does seem like a lot of work upfront but it’s a great way to test the waters and experiment with different designs to see what appeals to your audience. It’s a great way for you toYou’ll start to notice certain trends or subjects that people are buying.

Society6: Bonus Tip
Bonus Tip: Order your own prints & products from Society6, so you can take nice photos of them. For more tips on taking great photos of your art, check out this amazing class by Sean Dalton on Skillshare

Passive Income Stream 2:

Sell Greeting Cards on Thortful

Everyone needs greeting cards right? Whether it’s for a pets birthday, holiday or just a message to show someone you care. Because there are so many reasons to send a card, there’s a lot of opportunity for different designs to be made. Greeting cards have been one of my main sources of income for the last 3 years so I wanted to share some tips on how to be successful…

Tip #1:

Get Specific

It’s really important to ask yourself “Who is the card for?” A common mistake I see a lot of people do is they’ll often create artwork and then later decide to make into a greeting card which can then be very difficult to aim it at a specific person. Really try to think about who the card will be for, you can also repurpose designs for different occasions. For example, this card was originally designed to send to a friend, but it was so popular, I decided to repurpose it for mothers day. The response was great!
Call specific people out in your cards
This tiny tweak made all the difference to my sales!

Tip #2:

Stand Out From the Crowd to Get Featured

If you want to stand out, and get featured on the front page of Thortful (This will increase your sales tenfold) then make sure you research what’s already on their platform. If it’s already been done, chances are you won’t be featured on the front page.

Tip #3:

Being Funny Makes You Money

I get it, it’s easier said than done! But being funny earns you money! I get the question a lot “What if I’m not funny?” But let me tell you now, I haven’t always been this funny 😛 Like anything else it requires a lot of practice. Think about inside jokes you have with your friends, watch more comedies to get inspired. Parody your favourite shows. And of course bust out the old puns and word play! For example, one of my best selling cards on Thortful is my “Michael Scott hates Toby” card. So this made me focus on creating more parody cards from popular TV shows. People love something that gives them a little lift in their everyday life and if they can also relate to it in some way then that’s even better!

Here’s a list of popular shows that have done well over the last year:

  • The Office
  • Game of Thrones
  • Brooklyn 99
  • Gavin and Stacy
  • Friends
  • Love Island
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Tiger King
Cards that reference popular TV shows are consistently some of my best sellers

Passive Income Stream 3:

Teach Your Skills on Skillshare

Skillshare is an amazing platform to share your knowledge and connect with your followers. The best part about creating classes for Skillshare is the fact they take care of everything, from marketing your class to customer service so you can focus all your time on creating the content (The fun stuff).

Tip #1:

The Money is in the Minutes

Unlike other platforms, Skillshare pay per minute watched so it’s really important your classes are entertaining so your students are engaged throughout. Add music during speed paintings, create a fun, shareable project to follow along with and break your class down into bite size classes to make it less overwhelming for you and your students.

Tip #2:

Find Your Own Unique Angle

This may seem like an obvious one, but I see so many people creating classes that have been done a million times already! Really try to think about how you can bring something unique to the platform. What are you known best for as an illustrator? For example I’m known for my stylised portraits and colour palettes so this is exactly what I created my classes on. Sometimes we struggle to see it ourselves, so if you’re unsure, why not reach out to friends and ask them what they notice about your work.

Tip #3:

Celebrate Your Students

The best part about teaching is my students and my classes wouldn’t be anything without them! Show your appreciation by showcasing your students work, feature them in your stories and give feedback on projects as much as possible. It’s so important to celebrate their wins, and to encourage them to share their work with the world.

I'm constantly amazed by the beautiful projects my students create for my "Fun With Faces" and "Fun With Spaces" classes, so I make sure to take time out of my day to congratulate them and share their wins!

Passive Income Stream 4:

Package Up Your Illustrations Into Bundles to Sell on Creative Market

Skillshare is an amazing platform to share your knowledge and connect with your followers. The best part about creating classes for Skillshare is the fact they take care of everything, from marketing your class to customer service so you can focus all your time on creating the content (The fun stuff).

Here’s a couple ideas for products that illustrators could make (with examples):

Tip #1:

Repurpose Your Work

Do you create your own ink, paper, or paint textures? Package them up and sell them as texture bundles.

Have you taken beautiful photos of your artwork? Use your Photoshop chops and turn them into mockups that other illustrators will be willing to pay you for.

You're probably already creating new illustrations and doodles every day anyways, so why not package them up into bundles - like this beautiful "Ceramic Illustration Collection" bundle by Danila aka FeelinArt

Tip #2:

Illustrate For Specific Styles, Moods, and Aesthetics

Most customers on CreativeMarket are designers, so it pays to start thinking like one…

Every project that a graphic designer works on has it’s own unique style or aesthetic (ex. minimal, black and white, abstract, or watercolor), and it’s own unique purpose (ex. perhaps they’re designing a children’s textbook, or a menu for a Mexican restaurant). So when they’re browsing CreativeMarket, they’re looking for assets that will match the style and purpose of the project they’re working on.

Try to think about specific projects that designers might work on, and create bundles around them. For example, a designer creating a website for an app might be in need of a set of slick characters. A bundle of illustrations with a “Summer Aesthetic”, could be useful for a designer making ads for a fashion brand.

Of course, more generic assets (like these gorgeous inky polka dot patterns) will be in demand as well – but there are already hundreds of talented artists making these, so you’re going to be up against a lot more competition!

Tip #3:

Use the CreativeMarket Affiliate Program

Have a blog? Why not work with companies to help promote their products. For every person you refer you can make a little extra cash. Lot’s of companies have affiliate programmes that you can apply for, just check their websites or shoot them an email!

Passive Income Stream 5:

Sell Pretty Patterns on Spoonflower

Skillshare is an amazing platform to share your knowledge and connect with your followers. The best part about creating classes for Skillshare is the fact they take care of everything, from marketing your class to customer service so you can focus all your time on creating the content (The fun stuff).

Here’s a couple ideas for products you can sell (with examples)

Tip #1:

Repurpose Your Work

Do you create your own ink, paper, or paint textures? Package them up and sell them as texture bundles.

Have you taken beautiful photos of your artwork? Use your Photoshop chops and turn them into mockups that other illustrators will be willing to pay you for.

Tip #2:

Illustrate For Specific Styles, Moods, and Aesthetics

Rather than just throwing together bundles of anything you personally like to draw, try to take a step back and think like a customer.

Every project that a graphic designer works on has it’s own unique style (ex. minimal, black and white, abstract, or watercolor) and unique purpose (ex. perhaps they’re designing ads for a fashion brand’s summer sale, for pages for a Mexican restaurant menu). So when they’re browsing CreativeMarket, they’re looking for assets that will match the project they’re working on.

Tip #3:

Use the CreativeMarket Affiliate Program

Have a blog? Why not work with companies to help promote their products. For every person you refer you can make a little extra cash. Lot’s of companies have affiliate programmes that you can apply for, just check their websites or shoot them an email!

NOW GET CREATING!

Some Words of Encouragement

Nervous to share you work online? Don’t be! We all have to start somewhere. Sharing your work with others has SO many benefits, not only for your work, but for you too! It helps you get a feel for what your followers want, and it fine tunes your creative voice. There’s something so special about being able to look back at old work and seeing how far you’ve come. Of course it doesn’t come over night, but remember each post you make is another step towards the creative career you’ve always dreamed of. You’ve got this!

And remember, see this blog as a starting point! These are 5 of the most popular ways to earn passive income from your art, but this is in no way an exhaustive list.

Other ways I earn passive income include creating custom Cucu Covers (invite-only), and licensing my work out directly to companies like Brainbox Candy and Whale & Bird.

For a more comprehensive list, get my free download below:

The 28 Best Websites For Earning Passive Income From Your Art (Free Download)

Download my free PDF and start building your income streams today!