12 Passive Income Ideas For Artists to Make More in 2020

passive income for artists

Passive income for artists can mean more time to work on what you love (art) and less time stressing about where your next payment is coming from.

Artists are naturally creative people, but because this is such a subjective area it can often be tough to make money as an artist.

This is why it is important for many artists who are looking to take their creative endeavors further, to make sure they have ways of bringing in money.

The last thing you want is to get into a position where you are struggling to make ends meet and you start having to take time away from your art in order to find other sources of income. This means you are going to need to focus on passive income for artists, and how you can make the most of this.

One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it provides so many opportunities for creative people that would typically be out of reach normally.

But, the great news is that there are plenty of ways to generate passive income for artists and keep much needed cash flow a priority for you while you focus on your art.

In this article, we are going to look at exactly what passive income is, why it is important, and the best ideas to create passive income for artists and boost revenue as soon as possible.

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What is passive income?

Simply put, passive income is a blanket term for any sort of income that requires very little effort to earn or maintain. Sometimes there will be occasions where the hard work will have been done months or years before, and now things are in place to bring in this income on a regular basis.

Now, a couple of the most common (and obvious) examples of passive income would be rental properties and dividend stocks.

Having additional revenue streams is very important as an artist; you need to diversify in case one of your revenue streams falls through.

That way you are going to have something to fall back on, and this is why finding the best possible revenue streams for passive income is so important.

Now, many passive income ideas for artists will take time to initially put into place, and possibly have some startup costs. But all are designed to benefit you once that initial set up has been done, and bring in money on a regular basis without you having to revisit them too often.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to help you generate passive income as an artist, so you can ease your worries and focus on making the money you need.

Here are 12 Ways to earn passive income for artists:

Earning passive income is something all artists should be looking to do these days, and it is important to make sure you look at trying to have a few different passive income streams where possible. Here are 12 ways you can use to help boost your financial prospects.

1. Print-on-demand sites

Print-on-demand sites are where your artwork is printed on a selection of different products, ranging from things like iPhone cases and wall clocks, to tote bags and wall art. A great way of seeing a steady revenue stream coming in, and, if your art is good enough, you can enjoy long-term income.

The beauty of print-on-demand sites is that the only thing you need to do is provide the artwork, which you’re already going to have.

The POD companies you are working with will handle literally everything else, including the marketing, selling, shipping, returns, refunds, and more. This is an excellent, stress-free way of being able to bring in some much-needed cash right now.

2. Create and sell content

As an artist, your natural impulse is to get creative and to produce pieces of artwork that make an impression. So, one of the easiest ways for you to be able to find and generate passive income is to create and sell your artwork.

This can be done in a number of ways, but you should take a look at selling things like fonts & graphics, illustrations, video content and more.

Now, there are plenty of places you can do this, but the best thing to look at would be to find content purchasing sites, and there are a lot of them.

Creative Market is one of the best places to be able to do this, as they are a leading site for those looking to sell digital assets such as graphics, fonts, photos, and website themes.

passive income for artists - online courses

3. Sell online courses

Another way to make some passive income for artists is to create and sell online courses in areas of art that you specialize in.

This is definitely something that has become more popular in recent times, and for good reason. It is believed that the e-learning market will be worth in excess of $350 billion by 2026!

So, one of the best ways you could find to look at passive income for artists is to create online courses based on your skill set and sell them.

You’ll only need to record these once, and every time the course sells you’re going to be making money from it. This is an excellent option, and one that can be a massive game-changer for you. To join a marketplace, try Udemy or Skillshare to get started. Or you can host your own courses using something like Podia.

4. Licensing

Now, if you are a good enough artist, or you create something that is on trend, you might be able to benefit from what is known as art licensing.

This is where you grant a company a license to use your art for a particular purpose, typically to help sell things. And then you take a cut of the sales each time something with your artwork on it is sold.

If you can get art licensing deals with well-known brands and businesses, then you could stand to make a lot of money in the process, and all of it passively.

But, there are things you need to know about art licensing that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with before you commit to this.

5. Selling ebooks

This is definitely something that has become more common in recent years, and the world of ebook publishing is something anyone can get involved with.

There are a lot of factors that play a part in this, and it’s a great way of generating passive income for artists that can be helping you on a daily basis.

The best part about selling ebooks is that they don’t even have to be about art (though this might be the wisest choice). You can literally write an ebook on any topic, and this is something that plays a massive role in the process of helping you with this. Make use of Amazon Kindle e-publishing to generate success selling ebooks.

6. Subscription services

If you have a strong social media presence and following, one of the best things you can do to help generate passive income is to create subscription services that you can use to help you make money.

There are a lot of things that you can do with this, and you might choose to grant access to things like new videos, exclusive previews of work, etc.

By setting up these services and letting people on social media know, you can start to generate decent passive income as an artist.

Now, there are a lot of things that might play a big role in this, and it is important that you make sure you are focused on finding the best subscription service to use. Podia is one of the leading options for people these days, and it is certainly one to check out.

7. Create an online shop

As an artist you need to be looking at some of the best ways of marketing yourself and your work. And this means you should look at doing what you can to create the best possible online store.

Selling your designs and artwork through your store is one of the best ways of generating passive income.

Do this by way of digital downloads, so you don’t have to lift a finger in order for people to get their purchases. There are plenty of great ways of being able to do this, but setting up a Shopify store is definitely one of the best and most effective options to consider.

8. Create a blog

Blogging is all the rage these days, and the advantage you have is that it is easier than ever to monetize your blog as one of the best forms of passive income for artists.

This is an excellent revenue stream to consider, and there are a lot of things that play a role here, so you need to make sure you get this right and blog in the best possible way.

Blogging about your art and using your blog as a platform to promote your artwork is one of the best ways of achieving this.

Try to think about the way in which your blog is presented, and how this is going to help you when making money. An easy way to sell your art online through your blog is by embedding the art commission forms directly into your content.

9. Sell surface designs

There are multiple sites out there that you can use to help you achieve this across a digital platform. One of the best examples to use that will help you achieve this is a hugely popular site called Spoonflower, where you will receive 10% commission on all the pieces that you sell, and it’s a good source of passive income over time.

passive income for artists - sell in galleries

10. Sell in galleries

Of course this is the dream of all artists everywhere in the world. Seeing your work available in galleries for the masses to see is something so many of us strive for, but it can be difficult to achieve.

Selling in a gallery is exciting and inspiring, and it’s also a wonderful way of being able to make some passive income for the future.

The gallery will deal with everything so that you don’t have to, and this is what makes it perfect for passive income. The only drawback here is that the gallery will take a chunk of your sale, so you have to be okay with that if you are going to make some regular sales and enjoy this passive income.

11. YouTube channel

YouTubers are so popular these days, and it is definitely worth taking the time to create video content as an artist. You can use your YouTube channel to achieve so much, and this is why it is important to have one in order to create more interest in your work.

You can also make passive income from the channel by finding a way to monetize it. However, it is not guaranteed to find instant success on Youtube.

You’ll need to fulfill certain caveats before you are able to start monetizing your YouTube channel, but once you get there it can be a great way to earn passive income for artists.

12. Affiliate marketing

One of the easiest ways of making a bit of extra income is to get involved in affiliate marketing. This is where you use your platform to promote someone else’s business or product and they pay you for the trouble.

Now, this is something you can integrate and make a huge part of what you’ve already got.

Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to not only generate extra income, but also to develop existing relationships and network in the right way. This is going to help you significantly in the future as well, and will benefit you when it comes to marketing yourself.

Platforms you can use to earn passive income revenue

These are some of the best platforms you can make use of when it comes to trying to find the best options for passive income for artists.

Redbubble

passive income for artists - redbubble

This should be your go-to choice if you are looking to sell your work on art prints, calendars, clothing, tote bags, notepads, phone cases, pillows, t-shirts, and many more.

You can set your own prices, which makes it a great choice for artists seeking passive income.

Redbubble is one of the best POD sites you can use to start building up a portfolio of products that you’ll be able to use for excellent passive income over time.

Udemy

passive income for artists - udemy

Udemy is the perfect option if you are looking to create and sell any kind of online course. Udemy is one of the most popular e-learning sites in the world, and you (and your course) will have access to around 50 million potential students worldwide. And the best part about this is that it’s really easy to sign up for it, and you can get started right away.

Creative Market

passive income for artists - creative market

Creative Market is one of the best places you can go to sell your fonts, illustrations, and digital designs. This is one of the key places you need to keep in mind when it comes to trying to showcase your work and make the most of passive income opportunities.

Fiverr

passive income for artists - fiverr

Fiverr is one of the best sites you can use to bring in more income, and they have recently revamped their rules so sellers can charge what they like. Of course, it’s not entirely passive as people will still have to lodge orders. But, if you are selling existing artwork, graphics, fonts, logos that you already have on there it’s pretty much passive income.

Lynda.com

passive income for artists - lynda

Lynda.com is another great site that you need to check out if you are serious about finding passive income options. The site is great for those looking to record video tutorials and courses to sell about your area of expertise.

Offering courses in photography, design, web development, and business, this is certainly one site that can help you enormously when it comes to generating passive income for artists.

Wrapping it up

As you can see, there are a lot of ideas you can use if you’re seeking ways to earn passive income for artists and generate success. You need to diversify and have plenty of amazing revenue streams to work with bringing in passive income is your goal.

Being a successful artist means spending time and effort on your art. To get better you have to try new things, think outside the box, and practice.

And this is why it is essential to have passive income, because this affords you more time and opportunities to be able to do that well.


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  1. Thanks for the ideas Ben. I must admit I’ve got tonnes of unused logos that I haven’t used and could be making me some money somewhere if re-purposed. It’s interesting to hear that the setup time for some of these sites can be time consuming. I’ll certainly bear that in mind before I decide to go down that route.

  2. A very useful and relevant article. We sometimes exhaust resources on pitching and development work and then move to the next project. We need to start using our unused concepts to generate some income hopefully!

  3. One method my brother has found to recycle his unused design work has been through sites like 99 Designs. Live briefs from real world clients, he finds a project that requires something close to what he has designed, tweaks and submits it. This site is tax free as you are technically entering a competition amongst others for each project, but for minimal work he has won quite a few and generated revenue from work that would have just been sat in his unused folders.

    1. That’s smart thinking Porter.

      As problematic as sites like 99 Designs can be, that’s probably the best use of them I have heard.

      Thanks for the idea.

  4. Hi. Thanks for the article. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to leverage my design services or a product, so as to create passive income, but without devaluing the core of my customized design services. I’ve thought of reselling unused designs, including logos, but while I make it clear in my contracts that unselected designs remain the property of my company, I’ve been ethically torn as far reselling them as stock (on my site or others) should the client for whom I originally designed them for see them. What is your view on this?

    1. I would say if you have a contract stating the designs remain your property, and they are visually different enough from the final result that none of your clients will feel ripped off, then it is fair game.

      However, I would choose a happy client over a new piece of stock every time. So if it feels like there is even a slight risk to offend a client I would avoid it.

  5. Great article! I wasn’t familiar with either of the sites you’ve talked about (GraphicsLeftovers and Society6) and they both look like good sources for buying and/or selling. Your advice about exploring possibilities for passive income is spot on, especially in a struggling economy where even ‘regular clients’ have become a little less regular as their needs/demands change. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas on the subject.

  6. Graphic Leftovers is not accepting new sellers at this time, according to their website. What would be your next best site, Ben?

    1. Sorry Paul,, I should have check that out first.

      The others that I’ve had the most sales with were Dreamstime and Canstockphoto but I think it’s almost as important to look at what site’s file preparation guidelines are easiest for you.

      Hope that helps a little.

    1. Thanks Cheryl!

      Have you tried any of these, or do you have any plans for trying some?

      Let me know how they work for you if you do.

  7. These are great ideas about how to turn your unused designs into something useful. I can’t tell you how many designs I’ve thrown out because I had no use for them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Nina,

      Give it a try! Sounds like you’re a perfect candidate to turn those unused designs into some income.

  8. Great article, Ben! I’m 100% behind this method of repurposing your designs and resources to help stabilize your freelance income. I think it’s important and very beneficial for a freelancer to try and build something more than just a client base. Even if you can get a couple of digital products online, then maybe those sales could pay off one of your monthly expenses. Anything helps, right?

    The two platforms I benefit from the most are Creative Market and Gumroad. Check them out and see how you can utilize what they have to offer with your skills.

    It doesn’t take much effort to refine what you’ve already created, so don’t keep your resources all to yourself. Share everything you can and everything you know. It can generate additional income and even help build your online presence.

    Again, great article. Keep up the awesome work! 🙂

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