CREATED: 27.05.2024UPDATED: 27.05.2024

Passive Income Ideas for Artists

Passive Income Ideas for Artists

Art is not the easiest or most stable career choice, but it can definitely be the most rewarding. Choosing the creative path doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer as a starving artist either. The way to make your art work for you during dry spells and between lulls in commissioned work is to supplement it through passive income.

Side hustles are a great way to create a financial safety net, and worry less about your earnings and more about your artwork. This article will take you through some passive income ideas to help you find the most relevant ways to keep your finances healthy.

Active vs. Passive Income

First, let’s look at what passive income actually means. Your day-to-day creative work is best defined as active income, meaning it requires active effort on your part to carry out and complete. This can include everything from freelance work, your daily nine-to-five, and the occasional commission from a client.

Passive income, on the other hand, requires no active effort. It relies on you setting up revenue sources that’ll slowly generate revenue without you having to constantly monitor them. Almost all of these methods are found online. It’s a great way to earn extra income to supplement the money you make from active work.

Does that sound too good to be true? Quite often it is. There are many scams out there promising struggling artists that they can get money for nothing. Don’t fool yourself. Any form of income involves some effort on your behalf. You’ll need to put in the proper groundwork and ensure your online presence is properly established before you start seeing results. In fact, it may take many years before your passive income streams become truly substantial.

In short, don’t quit your day job and expect to make all your money online right away.

Passive Income Ideas for Artists: The Hustles That Pay

There are countless passive income ideas out there for artists. Here are some of the major revenue streams that can start making you money.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing

As an artist, you’re constantly using different materials and resources to produce your work. Fine artists rely on a range of different paints and brushes, crafters use different fabrics and machines, and graphic designers have their go-to drawing tablets and editing software.

By recommending these resources to viewers and other prospective artists, you can earn extra income through affiliate links. Simply provide the links to the site or service where others can obtain these resources or tools, and you’ll earn a small cut every time someone does so. Companies like Amazon are well-known for their affiliate link programs.

Put in the initial work, and the links will keep making many. It’s as simple as that.

The click-through rates (and revenue you’ll earn from them) will be a trickle to start with, but will turn into a steady stream as your online following grows. As long as you keep working your magic, the viewers and clicks will come.


Many artists supplement their online presence by asking for monthly pledges from their supporters. Sites like Patreon, Ko-Fi, and even YouTube provide ways for fans to show their appreciation in a financial way.

Subscriptions provide a stable monthly donation from viewers, usually in return for extra rewards or promises from the creator. Rewards are usually arranged by tiers. A high-tier supporter could be offered a monthly commission, while lower-tier supporters could be treated to regular livestreams. The rewards are up to you.

Once you have a regular online presence, try bolstering your income by offering viewers the chance to subscribe and support your work. Make it worth their while and they’ll return the favor.

Licensing as Art Passive Income

If a company or business likes your work, consider licensing it out to them to use in their own products. Production licenses are a good source of passive income, and are quite flexible in their terms and conditions.

You’re in control when you license your work. You can set whatever period of time and price you feel appropriate for the size of the business and what your artwork will be adorning. Apart from following up with clients for license renewal, there’s no need to worry about any other production or advertising.

Just be sure to get everything down in writing.

eBooks and Courses

eBooks and Courses

If you’ve been a creative for a long time, then doubtless you’ve got some expertise that others would like to read about. You may even just want to write that novel that’s been brewing in your head for years.

Self-publishing eBooks is not only possible, but easy thanks to sales platforms like Amazon that facilitate PDF publication with none of the production costs spent on print runs. Even if you only sell a few copies a month, that’s still something.

If you think your work is better suited to visual learners, then why not produce a course on your work in video format? With the right hosting platform like BlurBay, you can easily host one or more videos for customers to purchase. What’s more, BlurBay even allows you to create custom previews of your course, meaning you can show as much or little in your video samples as you want.

Once your courses or instructional videos are uploaded, they’ll always be online to generate income without you having to worry.

Online Print Shops

Has anybody ever told you your art would look great slapped onto a mug or T-shirt? Well, the good news is, there are plenty of sites that’ll help you do just that, without you having to worry about producing them.

A big hurdle for many small artists is the time it takes to produce merchandise from their artwork. Time and resources are often in short supply. E-Commerce sites like RedBubble, Etsy, and TeePublic handle the production side of things in return for a larger cut of the profits. These print-on-demand sites allow hosting artists to effectively earn a passive income every time a sale goes through.

Providing you have a good portfolio of work to upload, the rest should take care of itself.

Leasing Your Art

Passive Income Ideas for Artists - Leasing Your Art

Not all art sells quickly. Good things take time, after all. While you’re waiting for your labor of love to find a buyer, why not lease it out to a party or organization in the meantime?

Leasing your work to a client will not only provide you with a monthly income for work that may otherwise be gathering dust, but it’ll also give your work greater exposure in public or private places. A viewer might even buy your work or become interested in your entire catalogue as a result.

Blogging and Vlogging

It’s super simple to start a blog or vlog of your own. Just choose a platform, and get writing or speaking. Search for a specialized topic or niche where you feel like your advice or opinions can shine. Above all, make sure you have something valuable to say.

Popular blogs and vlogs make money through endorsements, affiliate links, and ad revenue. As your output starts to gain more attention, so the sponsorship emails and partnership offers start coming in. Ad revenue programs like the YouTube Partner Program and Google Ad Sense are a great way to provide targeted ads to your audience and profit passively in return.

Social Media

Most social media sites realize the value that great artistic voices bring to their platforms. Sites like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, all rely on art to keep viewer attention and increase ad revenue. If you’re able to build up a sizeable following on one or more of these channels, then you can be paid for your regular uploads and high-quality productions.

Why not upload your latest print works, creative timelapse videos, or how-to guides that’ll inspire and entertain others. A well curated profile or channel can be a great source of passive income, while exposing your work to a wider audience.

Art Passive Income That Pays

Art Passive Income That Pays

As with all income, you can’t expect to be flooded with money while exerting little to no effort. Any passive income ideas for artists aren’t a silver bullet that’ll get you out of putting in the hard work to begin with. Audiences are hungry for originality and drawn to quality. Growing a following takes time and effort.

Look for the hosting platforms and sites that offer low commissions while ensuring the protection of your creative rights as an artist. The bigger the role they play in producing or distributing your creative works, the more time you can spend working on them.

Once you’ve made a name, you can expect things to pick up and the passive income start to roll in. It may never be enough for you to quit your day job, but it’ll definitely provide some security and ease your financial pressures.

Unlock the true value
of your content

BlurBay is perfect for visual artists.
Start selling photos for money and let the world meet your talent.