Today, I want to talk about making money with your art. Specifically, I want to crush the misconception that you can never make money as an artist. I’ll talk about the mindset of an artist who makes money. I’ll give you some ideas of how you can do it, and price it properly. And I’ll give you a few tips to start TODAY!
The Starving Artist Cliché
For the longest time, I was convinced that I would never make any money from writing. Or if I did, that it would never be enough to live. Before starting The Part-Time Artist business and quitting my job, I had to make a drastic change in my mindset. I am not going to lie: this is the hardest step.
Society has conditioned most of us to buy into the “starving artist” stereotype. Worse: money is often seen as “evil” and a lot of artists think that it should be kept aside their creations. While you believe this, you will never make money from your art, and certainly never enough to live. What you need is a different set of beliefs.
Change Your Mindset
I am not going to pretend that all artists can make millions because it would be false. And it might not even be your goal. However, I am deeply convinced that ALL artists can make SOME money from their art. It could be a nice side hustle, a passive income stream, an alternate salary or a full business.
So if this is what you want to do, we need to talk about how to change your mindset. The first step is to make a list of all the preconceptions you have about money. Whether they come from your family, from what you’ve heard in the media or from fellow artists, try to understand what it is that pollutes your mind. For example, one of my ideas about money used to be: “I can only make money if I do something that I hate”.
Once you have your list, you need to replace each unhelpful belief with a more constructive one. For example: “I can make money and enjoy what I’m doing”. Rely on examples from other people to prove to yourself that it’s possible. I love reading biographies, following successful people on social media and listening to personal stories in podcast. There are PLENTY of people who can prove you wrong when it comes to money. You just need to listen to them.
Finally, hang your updated list somewhere where you can see it every day. Read your new beliefs, internalise them. It will take time, but it will help you believe in yourself.
What Do You Sell?
Now, the concrete part: how do you make money? Well, you will have to SELL something. A product or a service, that will depend on your industry and what works for you. Often, that’s the step where artists get stuck, because they feel like they can’t sell what they do.
One thing that you need to understand is that you might not make money from the exact thing that you are doing currently, but you can get money from something ADJACENT. For example, I write science fiction stories, but it is very difficult to sell one of these. So I researched other stuff that I liked to do with writing and I realised that I also loved reading non-fiction books, that are much easier to sell.
Make a list of all the things you could do that are related to your art, and don’t limit yourself to one or two things. Think outside of the box: it could be giving classes, writing a blog with affiliate sales, making pieces for a commercial use… The options are infinite! I’ve found this awesome blog post from the Red Lemon Club that can give you a lot of ideas: Over 65 Ways to Make Money From Your Creative Skills.
Take some time to think about the options that you have and write them all down. If you need more inspiration, have a look at other artists in your fields and what they do to earn money. What is it that they sell? Do they earn more money online or do they do things in person (like teaching)? Once you have your list, and have chosen one or two options, it’s time to market!
Marketing is a word that frightens many creative people. Often, we see it as “scamy”, “salesy” or just boring. But the truth is, marketing can be ethical and fun, if you do it the right way.
What’s the right way? Simple: do things that you enjoy. You are not a marketing professional, you don’t need to do things that you don’t like to promote your art, at least at first. Otherwise it will come across as forced and not genuine (hence the “salesy” feeling that we often get from other people marketing their stuff).
Start with something that you enjoy, for example posting more often on social media, or making a video about your projects. Anything that sounds fun to you, even if you haven’t tried it yet. Don’t worry about complex tasks or SEO. While these might come about later, you don’t need to start with that just now. Same with paid adverts: they are not necessary right now!
When I started marketing The Part-Time Artist, I started with things that I was familiar with (my online platform) and the more I got used to talk about the project, the more I dared experimenting with other techniques.
Pricing & How To Get Paid
Pricing might be the scariest part of the process, but it is necessary. Choosing the price of a product or a service is EXTREMELY difficult, and chances are that you will not get it right the first time. I remember I couple of years ago I sold a manual about fanfiction online, and I priced it way too high, resulting in a bad review. It happens! You live and you learn.
One helpful research you can do is to check what other people charge for something similar. And mimic what they do. If you feel uncomfortable about charging a certain amount, mostly because you think it’s too much, try to ask your audience. They might help you! I firmly believe that most artists undervalue their skills. Don’t hesitate to charge more, you are worth it!
And don’t forget to have a system in place to receive the money. If you are planning on getting cash, make it clear to your audience. If you are getting money online, you might have to use a third party app. Check that it works properly before using it! And don’t forget that at one point, you’ll have to deal with taxes (however don’t let this block your first sale, you have time to figure out taxes afterwards).
Your 30-Day Challenge
If you have never made any money with your art, this challenge is for you! I want you to break the glass ceiling in your mind that tells you that you can’t make money, because you totally can!
And to do that, you need to start today:
- Day 1: Choose ONE idea that you can do easily and quickly. Ideally, it should not take you more than a few days to make / organise. If you hesitate between several ideas, pick the one that other people make money from. If you have no idea at all, research!
- Day 2-14: Make that idea happen! While you are doing it, start talking about it on your social media platforms.
- Day 14: Complete your project. Think about how much you’ll price it and how you’ll get paid.
- Day 15-21: Keep talking about it on your social media platforms, build interest, but don’t release it yet!
- Day 21: Release the product / service.
- Day 21-30: Market! Market! Market!
This small challenge might not be able to bring you much money, but the idea is to get SOMETHING. Even if it is $1/£1/1€/1…
The idea is to prove to yourself that you can do it, that it’s possible and to break the “starving artist” mindset. From there, the sky is the limit!
Are you going to attempt the challenge? If so, report your results in the comments! If it doesn’t work, or if you are blocked, let me know too!
Céline is an author and podcaster passionate about helping fellow artists reach their potential and live a happy, balanced life.