How to Make Money as an Artist | Alice Conner

Engage Art | Artist to Artist | February 25, 2022

We all know how difficult it can be for even highly talented artists to profit from their work. But with some effort and know-how, you can pull it off and build a satisfying, stable career while showcasing your gifts. Here we'll cover a few ways you can start making money with your art in a short time.

Develop Your Skills

As they say, practice makes perfect. Even if you’re extremely talented, there’s always room for improvement and for learning new things. Using new tools, exploring different techniques, and practicing like crazy all help you get to your goal of making money as an artist—because they'll all expand what you're able to showcase to the public or provide to a client.

One great way to get your practice in—regardless of whether you’re focusing on new techniques or honing current ones—is to carry a sketchbook (or a tablet perhaps) and practice daily, while you're on the go. This way, you can trust that you're always honing your craft and progressing toward mastery (particularly if you adhere to the 10,000 hours rule!).

Figure Out How to Market Your Work

One of your main goals should be learning to market your art so that it's out there for people to see (and purchase). This can be done through a portfolio on a website, posts on your own social media accounts, or even through commenting on social media and participating in events such as contests or courses.

Don’t be afraid to make your art public. The more people see your work, the more likely you are to make contacts that will help you move your career forward. You might even earn a commission here and there. This is something you can do at festivals, in galleries, and possibly even through local businesses you make connections with. For that matter, all types of artists—musicians, filmmakers, and even dancers—should try to get as much exposure as they can. You never know when a film exhibition at a local gallery, a dance display at a Sunday festival, or a painting in a café window will be seen by the right pair of eyes!

Another aspect of marketing your art is knowing how much your art is worth. Do your research in order to find out what other artists charge for similar work, what platforms they use (such as Etsy) for getting their art to customers, and how they get paid. Don’t sell yourself short, either. Consider everything you invest in your art, including time, materials, shipping costs, etc. Speaking of costs and finances, this brings us to our next point.

Educate Yourself in Finance

It is also important to educate yourself in the financial side of running a business—since as an independent artist, that is effectively what you're looking to do. If you haven't gone to college yet and plan to, a liberal studies education will typically allow you to pursue your interest in arts alongside some practical coursework in accounting and finance. You'll gain the basic skills you need as a foundation to conduct sales and manage finances responsibly. On the other hand, if you've gone to school already or don't plan to at all, there are plenty of online learning options you can turn to—from one-off college courses to YouTube tutorials.

Ultimately, one way or the other, a sound understanding of finance and/or accounting will help you to better organize the business side of your art.

Be Disciplined and Organized

This is a helpful tip for all freelance-style creative jobs that require the artist or creator to manage their own schedule, marketing, expenses, and other tasks. Simply put, artists and creators benefit greatly from having consistent schedules—not only in work but in life in general. Independent artists should allocate their time strategically. For instance, some find it beneficial to devote the first three hours of the day to creating, and the first two hours after lunch to business and marketing matters. This should help you to cover your bases, and it leaves some flexible time toward the end of the day that you can spend where needed.

Just make sure to also include a little flexibility and the necessary down time to avoid burnout. Creators often do not have traditional jobs and are prone to blurring the lines between personal time and work. If you notice yourself working around the clock, try scheduling a few breaks into your week.

Consider Teaching

As an artist, you have a coveted skill that people are willing to pay to learn. In addition to selling your work, you can monetize your skill by teaching others what you know, helping them practice, and giving feedback. Meanwhile, another added benefit to teaching is that we often learn about our own process, ourselves, and our craft, as we teach others! Sometimes students ask us about things we haven't mastered yet, which forces us to learn more. At other times, we quietly realize things we've been doing wrong in the process of instructing others. The more you teach, the more you might learn. Cool, right?

As we’ve mentioned already, however, make sure you know how much to charge—in this case, for your time.

We hope that these tips will help you get your foot in the door with selling your art and skills! It may not happen overnight, but if you pursue true expertise, learn to market your work and manage finances, and find creative ways to profit from your knowledge, you may just have a personal art business in time.

This article was written for by Alice Conner.

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