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How to Make Passive Income as an Artist

Updated on January 28, 2018
fairychamber profile image

Niina is an artist and illustrator who has been selling her art online for the past 15 years.

Earn passive income with your artistic skills

There are many opportunities for both digital and traditional artists, designers and photographers to make passive income online by doing what you love. Difference between passive income and active income is that passive income is something that continues to bring you revenue from something that you don't need to repeat. Whereas active income comes from performing a service. I´v been selling my art online for years and tried different channels. Some of them have worked great for me. Some have not. Here I share some of my favorite ways of earning passive income online as an artist.

Sell your art in online galleries

Selling your art through online galleries can work for all kinds of creators. If you are a traditional artist you can use the online gallery as a platform to sell actual products (prints, postcards, paintings...) Many online galleries also have print-on-demand programs where your artworks can be reproduced and sold to collectors world wide. You can find several print-on-demand companies online and through some of them one can also sell physical artworks. Online galleries can also bring potential clients. Someone looking for an artist can see your works online and like your artistic style and hire you to make a commissioned painting for them.

Where to start


Etsy is one of the most well-known online selling platforms for small-business owners, handcrafters and artists. You can also sell digital items through Etsy. I sell coloring book pages that are based on my artworks but only sky is the limit what you can sell. You can sell photos and prints that customer can print at home. You can sell all kinds of printable products. Best part about selling digital products on Etsy is that you can determine the price yourself. Adding one listing to Etsy costs about $ 0.30 Selling digital goods through Etsy can bring more sustainable income than getting small royalties through some other sites.


Saatchi art is mainly for visual artists and serious art collectors. Main focus in Saatchi is in the fine arts so if you are a fine artist you might like to give it ago. Saachi art takes 35 % commission of each original artwork and prints that are sold through their page and artist receives 65 % of each sold artworks. You can also sell prints through their print-on-demand program.

You can also try your luck with:

Artfinder (bit pricey but can work for some)

Print-on-demand programs

Print-on-demand programs have grown more and more popular within recent years. There are both pros and cons in them. Usually commissions that artist gets from each product sold through p-o-d pages are very small but if you have great variety of products and you take some time to advertise your galleries they can help you earn great deal of passive income.


One of the oldest and most well-known print-on-demand companies. You can find literally thousands and thousands products from Zazzle. You can reproduce your artwork into any product imaginable from ipod cases to holiday plates. Some bigger brands like Marvel and such also use zazzle as one of their selling platforms so for self-representative artist promoting your zazzle shop is essential. One great thing that zazzle has compared to other pod companies is that creator can choose them self the commission percentage. When your sales have reached $50 you get paid via paypal, bank transfer or cheque depending on your contract.


I'v had a gallery on redbubble for few years now. I mainly sell prints there and commissions are rather small (like in most pod-companies) but I like a lot. Page is very easy to navigate and there is very supportive community. Creator gets 30% commissions from each product sold through the site. Redbubble is a popular print on demand page especially among younger customers.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. Andy Warhol

Some other print-on demand pages you might like to try:


Fine Art America


Have you ever thought about selling your art as Greeting Cards? If the answer is yes. Take a look at Greeting Cards Universe

Writing about art

Do you enjoy writing and taking photos? If you have a monotized blog or another platform you can get some decent passive income for creating art tutorials and doing what you love. Video tutorials are also very popular at the moment but money wise they only tend to work for those with millions of subscribers.

Are you more interested about art history or the life of famous painters. Why not write about them. Find the area that you are very passionate about and turn that into your main focus. You can also approach art magazines and ask if they would be interested publishing your articles. If approaching art magazine ceo´s is too intimidating why not approaching art bloggers and art vloggers. Writing can lead into all kinds of collaborations and new opportunities.


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    • fairychamber profile image

      Niina Niskanen 2 months ago from Wrexham

      Definitely go for it!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 2 months ago from Norfolk, England

      There's some really good ideas there. I make greetings cards, so could try and sell them. Thankyou.