As artists, we can always use a little extra money! Even if you’re short on time, you can easily start making passive income. These are the 5 best ways that you can start making passive income online as an artist, graphic designer, or photographer.
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1. Stock Photos, Videos & Music
Selling stock content is a great way to make passive income as an artist. When you’re selling any sort of stock content, you’re actually selling licenses to use the content. The licenses will usually have different prices for personal use, commercial use, or redistribution.
This is passive income because you don’t have to go out and take a new photo for each license. You can have 1 photo, and sell an infinite number of licenses for that photo. As long as your photo is out on the internet, and as long as people are buying it, you’ll be making money without having to put in extra work.
Using a Third Party Site
If you’re selling on websites like Shutterstock, Envato, or Creative Market you’ll be paid royalties or a percentage each time a license is sold. The benefit of using these platforms is that you have access to their pre-existing website traffic.
Using Your Own Website
If you choose to sell on your own website, you’ll get to keep the full amount of profit. However, you will have to find a way to drive traffic to your site. The easiest way to do this is through paid advertising or building a following on social media.
How Do You Make Money Selling Stock Content?
Building an audience or a fanbase is the best way to make money as an artist. The more eyeballs you have looking at your content, the more potential sales you can make. If you have dedicated fans following your work, you will have a much easier time selling your art.
Out of stock photos, stock videos, and stock music, selling stock photos is definitely the most competitive.
Stock videos and stock music are much less competitive. With these, it’s also easier to provide something unique. For example, you may notice that there isn’t much drone footage available, or 4k footage, or maybe a particular genre of music.
You really have to think about what people and businesses are looking for, create what’s in demand, and capitalize on that.
Don’t want to sell your photos? If you’re good at editing photos, or color grading video, you can start making passive income by selling presets.
You’ll see almost every major photographer on social media selling presets. (For example: Peter McKinnon). It’s an extremely effective way to make passive income – especially if you have a specific editing style that people want to replicate.
Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions are both great options to sell. You can develop them using photos you already have, or base it on editing that you’ve already done.
If you’re tech savvy or really ambitious, you could even create an app with the presets.
3. Print on Demand
Print on Demand is when you upload your file to a site to be printed on products. Nothing is actually printed until someone orders an item. So when it’s ordered, it’s printed – hence print on demand.
This is a great business model for selling physical products with your designs because you don’t have to pay for or hold onto any inventory, and you don’t have to deal with shipping or customer service.
Using a Third Party Site
The downside to these third party platforms: is that the royalties if you’re pricing items at a price that people would actually be willing to pay. So your royalties may only end up being a couple of dollars per item.
Using Your Own Website
You could alternatively choose to sell print on demand on your own website. This is great if you already have an audience that wants your products, or if you’re planning on building up a brand around your art or designs.
There will be costs associated with hosting a website and having a domain name. You will also have to pay a monthly fee to use Shopify or other e-commerce platforms.
The easiest way to set up print on demand on your own website is with Shopify. You can sign up with Shopify to create your own e-commerce site. You can then use different print on demand apps that integrate with Shopify.
Printful is a great option for print on demand. They have many of the same products as Rebubble and Society6. But by selling on your own website (and cutting out the middle man) you’ll have a much higher profit margin.
If you’re a fine artist wanting to sell higher priced, professional quality prints, Fine Art America is a great option.
The products that Fine Art America sells are very expensive, but it’s also very high quality. Customers can additionally choose frames and other customizable add-ons. If selling fine art is your specialty, it’s nice to have someone else handling framing and shipping.
Print on demand is a really solid way to make extra money as an artist. Since it is competitive, to be successful you will usually have to spend extra time or extra money marketing your brand or products. In that regard, it’s a little bit less passive than other methods. But if you’re willing to put in the time, it can definitely be worth it.
4. Digital Assets & Templates
Similar to stock content, selling digital assets can be a great source of passive income. Digital assets are things that people can reuse in their own work.
Professionals will spend money on digital assets to use in their own projects. Often times, making the same thing themselves would waste a lot of time or money. In many cases it’s easier and more cost-effective to buy an asset that someone else has already made.
Templates are also a great source of passive income. You can sell nice brochure, resume, or even wedding invitation templates. Those are things that the average person needs or wants, but doesn’t necessarily know how to design themselves.
What to Sell
If you’re a 3D artist, you could sell pre-made models, rigged models, lighting rigs, or effects.
If you’re a digital artist, you could sell brush packs.
If you’re a graphic designer, you could sell elements like icons, fonts, or product mockup templates.
If you’re a motion designer you could sell little pre-made After Effects or Premiere animations & transitions.
If you’re a web designer, you could sell WordPress or WooCommerce templates.
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5. Create an Online Course
Selling online courses is currently one of the most profitable business models for passive income.
Art and design are areas where online courses are extremely lacking. They’re either really boring, really redundant, or really expensive.
If you can provide people with really good course for a fair price, there is a lot of money to be made, and a lot of value that you can provide.
Tip: Try targeting your course at a specific group (high school students, college students, professionals with a specific specialty, etc)
Making online courses takes a lot of time. If you don’t want to commit to creating an entire course, you can set up your own YouTube channel with tutorials and start collecting ad revenue!