How To Make Money As An Artist

"There's no point in seeking out an art degree." "You're wasting your time and our money!" "Yeah she's hopefully going to get a good college experience, we're not expecting it to become her actual career."

The Advice

These are all typical things you've been told by your parents, teachers, or friends at some point during your life if you've ever been interested in pursuing a degree in the arts. It can honestly seem like a waste of time trying to convince people around you that this is something you're passionate about and that you can make money pursuing.

If you've ever been feeling this way or have been told you should feel this way, read on my friend because I'm going to prove that you CAN make money being a freelance artist/creator and prove all the nay-sayers wrong!

Now I should note, I am not a professional artist nor do I personally have an art degree but I do know the art of creating and selling and there are certain principles that span over different facets of art.

Specialize

The key is to become a specialist. The same thing applies in whatever style of creating/selling or buying/selling you decide to take leadership and ownership of. When you specialize in one particular area or niche, you become an expert at that particular skill. This could be anything from painting landscapes, drawing graffiti art, or carving wooden sculptures. Just know that the old adage, "A jack of all trades" is almost always followed by "A master of none." Use this to your advantage and focus solely on creating one unique specialized form.

You have to understand that when it comes to art there is a lot of competition out there. Why would a gallery or storefront give their precious space up to you vs. someone else? The answer is simple: YOU are the best at x*.

Take a look at @itsasign by Keith Henderson on IG to get an idea of specializing. He’s an artist who has honed his skills into making custom window splashes for business window displays. An excellent example of how to make doing what you love into a business and monetizing it.

Use Online Selling Platforms To Your Advantage

In today’s day and age, selling direct to consumer is as easy as creating an Etsy account or even a business IG page. Use these platforms to your advantage! They can be especially advantageous when you have mastered point number one, “Specialize". First of all, people love buying handmade and custom made things from Etsy. It gives you a feeling of wow this was made just for me! It works out even better when it comes to gifts for people's birthdays and holidays. Making your art customizable for people to buy as gifts is a huge advantage to being able to do what you love to create and make some money doing it.

Yes I know, Etsy takes a fee but trust me when I say that everything comes with a price. At least you're putting your work out there to thousands of eyes who wouldn't have seen it previously! I will probably do a more detailed post about how to create an Etsy page in a separate article.

As far as selling on IG goes or creating your own website, this too is a good way to sell products or gain a solid following. I would avoid posting only "product" posts on IG (especially on the feed) and post more about how it's made or something funny like blooper reels. Take a look at @madeinthemoment on Instagram for an example.

Remember, IG or Tiktok are social apps and people will be lulled to sleep on your page if they don't see anything entertaining. GET CREATIVE! IT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOOD AT!

Instead, use IG or tiktok as a funneling tool to get people to click on your website or Etsy shop. The integration is awesome and powerful. Once you've gained a substantial following of people who love what you create, you can funnel them right into your site! Offer special coupons or call to action incentives for people who order from you directly.

We (@diversityconsign) sell our products directly through our story page on IG. We take venmo payments for holds and ship things out for an extra fee.

On The Road

Now that you have your social apps working to your advantage, it’s time to get the word out there. You can try and wait it out and spend your time twiddling your thumbs until word of mouth spreads or you can get yourself in the drivers seat and spread the word yourself!

Start by researching and getting involved with outdoor or indoor markets. They’re typically affordable (small start up costs) $50-100 and they can be great for exposure if you find one in a busy part of the city! I know for example @neoopenmarkets has a few in our local area of Boston! But if you do your research, you’ll definitely be able to find some near you.

You’re going to need a few basic things; a canvas tent, a foldable table, a card processor, table cloth and be prepared to have some products ready and available! Make the investment! Bring some business cards to hand out that can direct people back into your funnel and be ready to talk people’s ear off about who you are and what you do! Be prepared to spend some weekends traveling and waking up early.

If you’re an artist you’re going to want to make some prints available of your originals. Trust me, most people do not carry hundred of dollars on them during pop-up markets and are less likely to buy originals and carry them around. Use your social skills to tell them about where they can find your originals for sale.

Get your products in as many stores and local businesses that will take them. From a small business perspective, we love the feeling of helping someone gain exposure. Even if your art doesn’t get purchased in the store, you should have an artist bio made up letting shoppers know who you are and where they can find more of your products!

Conclusion

I know you want to spend your time creating new products but you need to remember that you’re trying to make some money here as well. Turning your art into a business is extremely time consuming and involved. That’s why only a small number of people actually succeed in transforming “doing what they love” into a sustainable career! You’re going to need to spend a lot of your time focusing on marketing yourself and creating a need for your work. That’s what separates the dreamers from the doers.

I would recommend watching YouTube tutorials and reading educational books on business regularly. After all, that’s what we’re really here to do right? Prove the nay-sayers wrong and show them that you can make a career making art and more importantly doing what you love!

Leave a comment down below and let us know if you think this information was helpful! -Much Love- …Ian Drake, Diversity Consignment.

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