How To Make Money As An Artist

I love working for myself, but there is definitely a trade off: no benefits and no set pay check. A year or two ago, I started researching ways to create multiple streams of income, and I wanted to share my research with fellow artists.

For those that may not know me, I’m Amanda! I run this blog and also run an Etsy Shop. While I am not 100% full time, I have been able to generate enough income to be per diem at my day job working as a nurse.

How To Make a Living as an Artist

You might be surprised to learn that there are many ways you can create multiple streams of income as an artist! The whole “starving artist” concept doesn’t need to be true.

So, why would you want to create a bunch of streams of income? Because your income as an artist can vary month to month. It can be a scary thing working for yourself and not knowing exactly how much money you’ll make, and it’s really risky to put all of your eggs into one basket. If you’ve worked as an artist for a bit, you’ll start to learn that there are busy and slow months, and nothing is every 100% consistent. By having a few or several different income sources, one stream may compensate for the another that didn’t generate as much in any given month, so you won’t be sweating making the bills!

dollar bill

Types of Income Streams

First, lets go over the types of income streams. A combination of both of these is common when creating different sources of income.

Active vs Passive Income

Active income is basically trading time or money. A day job where you are provided an hourly rate or salary in return for a set number of hours worked would be a good example of this.

Passive income does not require active daily work. While there is up front work involved to create(sometimes there can be alot!), say a product, this source of income can generate even when you aren’t working on it once it is created! An example of a form of passive income would digital products, such as ebooks, prints, patterns, etc. (There are definitely lots of different passive income streams like rental property, but I won’t be going into anything that doesn’t apply to being a maker/artist in this post.)

Multiple Income Streams Ideas For Artists

Active Streams of Income

In my etsy shop, I create original embroideries and offer custom pet portraits. I’m trading my time for money in this circumstance. This is my main chunk of income that I make each month. The downside to active streams of income is that there is only so many hours in the day, so there is a limit to how many sources of active income you can create and how much money you can make.


  • freelancing (billing a customer an hourly rate)
    (i.e. If you’re an illustrator, you could do editorial illustrations, paint murals. If you’re a web designer, you can design websites and bill for however many hours this takes.)
  • making original art and selling it on a marketplace or your own website
  • creating custom art
  • teaching in person classes and workshops

How to Create Passive Income


A common misconception with passive income is that it requires little to no effort. This is most definitely not the case, as it requires a lot of work to create a product or to set up the structure and sales funnels to get things up and running, but it’s such a rewarding way to make money once you’ve established these streams! Also, you can create as many of these streams as you want, which is great.


Creating Digital Products

This is the most common way I see that artists make money passively, and it’s one of the ways I do as well! Since the product is digital, it’s infinitely reproducible. I create PDF patterns and I have a few ebooks for embroidery. The beauty of these products is that it’s a “set it and forget it” way of making money (to an extent). The only exception to this would be updating your products to have the most current and up to date information in them. Common digital products are:

Creating a Blog

Just like the blog you’re reading right now, you too can create your own website and blog and make money! This is a whole topic that’s pretty dense, so I won’t go super in depth, but you can create a blog and monetize it in several ways:

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is when you recommend products and get paid if someone clicks and purchases a product through a unique link that you provide on your website or in your blog posts. You get paid a certain percentage normally of whatever the product costs, and it doesn’t charge the customer anything extra. It’s basically a little reward every time you for refer customers! The most important rule with affiliate marketing is to recommend products you have thoroughly researched / would honestly use. Things just get icky if you’re recommending products you don’t believe in or know nothing about!

A great way to utilize affiliate marketing on your site is by recommending some of the art supplies you use!

If you’d like to learn more about how to do this, this course, Making Cents of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle of is extremely valuable, and I’m glad I invested in it. (This link is an affiliate link!) I learned a lot with it and implemented what I learned onto my blog!

Common Affiliate Ad Networks

Ad Income

Bloggers can get paid by having display ads on their site. They then get paid a certain amount per 1000 visitors (RPM) and also by people that click on these ads. I started out using Google Adsense, which you can implement on your site right away because there aren’t any traffic requirements. The downside to this is that you really won’t get paid very much. Once you generate enough traffic, however, you can use programs like Monumetric . I currently use Mediavine, but Monumetric pays really well and has a lower barrier to entry for the amount of traffic you need to be accepted.

Sponsored Posts

Brands will work with bloggers and pay them in exchange for a post about their product or a post using their product. A lot of influencers on Instagram get paid this way as well.

Selling Your Own Products on Your Website

We’ve already covered this a bit, but I wanted to emphasize that even if you don’t monetize your blog in any other way, you can use the posts that you create to generate traffic using SEO (search engine optimization). By making your site SEO friendly and having a lot of content, the chances of you getting found in search are better! If you create lots of informational posts about a product you have or make posts related to your ideal audience, this is a great way to get more eyes on your product!

teaching classes

Teaching Online Classes

While in person workshops and classes were listed in the active income section, you can passively make money by creating and filming classes online! This is another way that I make money as an artist. I teach on Skillshare.

This platform pays you by the minutes watched of your classes you publish. It also pays you every time someone signs up through your referral link to get 2 months free access to all of the classes offered on the platform. (Here is mine just in case you want to learn and not teach! I still take a bunch of classes on here and find them really worthwhile!) I did a whole review/detailed post about Skillshare if you’d like to read more about it.

Other Online Teaching Platforms




It can be hard working for yourself sometimes, especially when you have to worry about making ends meet. So I really hope these tips and ideas helped inspire you!

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how to create multiple income streams - ideas for artists

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