If you want to become a successful (read: profitable) artist when you have several skills and talents, you have to find the niche(s) in which you are really good at and/or that is in high demand.
You can be a passionate illustrator or painter who works as a graphic designer, or an architect who takes gorgeous photos.
But your talent alone isn’t enough to make money as an artist and there are specific reasons why only a few people really succeed and others do not.
If you want to learn how to make money as an artist, there are two paths that are inevitable:
1. Choose your (profitable) niche or invent a new one.
2. Find the best platform to showcase your Art.
1. Choose your (profitable) niche
There are no limits on how to make money online nowadays, but 1 thing is necessary: you must stop thinking as a hobbyist and start acting like a business owner.
As it appears very common for artists and creatives to have many skills and talents, choosing the niche you wish to develop becomes essential in order not to waste your time and energy.
If you can find a niche that you love to do with customers willing to pay for your art, you’re set.
2. Find the best platform(s) to showcase your art
Whether you are focusing on selling prints, creating unique sculpture, or want an online gallery to highlight your work, finding the top places to sell art is a huge win.
But with an increasingly digital landscape — not to mention the social distancing restrictions in place — you might be starting to wonder about the best websites to sell art online, rather than in person.
These websites and platforms will offer everything you need to start selling as soon as you upload your pieces, charging a commission or an initial fee.
Every platform has its pros and cons, choose the most suitable for you to set up your website portfolio and sell your work.
But… The internet seems like a magical space where everything can happen quickly and easily.
Setting up your portfolio website online and waiting for clients to find you (without marketing and promoting) is like choosing to open your gallery in the darkest street of an abandoned neighborhood, where only those who lost their way will pass by.
There’s not much of a chance to notice your work, even if you sell masterpieces unless know how and where to sell them.
So as not to fall into this pitfall, let’s review what can be sold online and the best platforms to showcase your masterpieces for each of the categories.
It’s recommended to make your own thorough research to see which is the best fit for you.
What are the best platforms per category
1. FINE ART
Fine art is what comes to mind for many when someone says that they “work as an artist.”
They set out to create paintings, sculptures, and other works of art for patrons, and typically work with galleries and aspire to be in museums.
This is art for the primary purpose of appreciation and aesthetic rather than commercial utility.
Often, for an artist just starting out, dealers and collectors are impossible to reach – and even if you do manage to connect, they might not be interested in engaging unless you are an artist they already know.
But for a savvy artist, selling possibilities are endless, and the outlook is bright in today’s booming online art market.
What to sell?
- Artistic work including paintings, sculptures, photographs, performances, writings, etc.
- New media art: Any artworks created with new media technologies including but not limited to.
- Digital art (i.e. Computer-generated visual media and 3D still or animated imagery, Digital installation art).
- Computer graphics and animation (i.e. Two-dimensional (Pixel art, Sprite graphics or Vector graphics) or Three-dimensional).
- Virtual / interactive art (i.e. Any art made with computer programs such as animations, movies, computer games and so on).
- 3D printing (three-dimensional objects from a CAD model or a digital 3D model).
Where do people buy Fine Art?
Brick-and-mortar galleries used to be the gatekeepers of the art world: If you couldn’t get into a gallery, you couldn’t really sell.
It seems obvious that Galleries will enhance their online presence as it is expensive and exhausting for them to travel the world and ship their wares overseas.
Not only that, but most galleries now conduct a large percentage of their sales online or via mobile apps.
Here are some of the best sites that facilitate sales for artists and help cut out the middle man.
2. VIDEO & ANIMATION
Do you make a lot of videos, and think that they are good enough to sell?
Well, there has never been a better time to sell videos online.
As society starts navigating the waters of remote learning and online entertainment, the popularity of video on demand has reached an all-time high.
In spite of the wide availability of free content, paid videos are seeing the biggest upsurge.
Users are willing to pay for high-quality content, as it’s deemed more professional, trustworthy, and valuable.
This trend has affected nearly every type of video content, from tutorials and courses to workout classes and workshops. Consequently, selling videos online has become a valuable practice for professionals across many industries.
What to sell?
- Documentaries: Social-media platforms(such as YouTube) have provided an avenue for the growth of the documentary-film genre.
- Short Video (Ads): Any film not long enough to be considered a feature film.
- Video animation Intros & Outros: Professional-looking intro and outro videos.
- Music videos movies: i.e. a short film that integrates a song with imagery, and primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings).
- Footage: In filmmaking and video production, footage is raw, unedited material as originally filmed by a movie camera or recorded by a video camera, which typically must be edited to create a motion picture, video clip, television show or similar completed work.
- Video tutorials: Video that the user views, or interactive tutorials where the user follows on-screen instructions.
- Webinars: Where users participate in real-time lectures, online tutoring, or workshops remotely using web conferencing software.
- Vlogs (video blog or video log): Form of a blogfor which the medium is video. Vlog entries often combine embedded video (or a video link) with supporting text, images, and other metadata. Vlog category is popular on the video-sharing platform YouTube.
- Character Animation
- 3D product Animation
- Visual effects
- Logo animation
What are the best platforms to sell your Video Online?
3. GRAPHICS & DESIGN
Do you want to sell your photos online and make some money?
Photographers, illustrators or Visual Content Creators of various skill levels are in high demand for their work, now more than ever.
Everyone from large corporations, small and medium size businesses to bloggers, graphic designers, marketers and publishers buy and use photos regularly online.
You can easily earn some extra cash (or even start a new career) if you know the right places to sell your photos online.
What to sell?
- Stock Photos: Photos such as People working, Food, Tools, Cities, Nature or Travel are always high in demand. The largest buying base of stock photos are bloggers and small to medium sized website business owners. Have a look at the categories of some of the image marketplaces to see the most popular images.
- Backgrounds / Textures and Patterns: Background illustrations can be used to frame scenes or to add visual interest.
- Icons and Icon Sets / Vectors / PSD (Photoshop Document): It has been long proven that people read icons faster than they can read text and the trend tends to include icons everywhere it is possible. Designers use illustrations to surprise, delight, explain, and compel key business actions like sales and leads.
- Infographics / Template presentations: Building an illustrated infographic from scratch is time consuming and there is growing demand of Powerpoint templates and Google Slides themes for presentations.
- 3D Design: If you know your way around 3D modeling software like Blender, Wings 3D or Sculptris, it could mean cash. There is an emerging market for buying and selling 3D models – especially to game designers, animators and other industry professionals looking for ready-created content.
- Product Mock-ups: Designers use product mock-up illustrations for a very specific purpose — to show a virtual example of a prototype.
- Others such as Frames and Borders, T-Shirts & Merchandise, Flags and Maps Templates, Emblems, Banners, and Badges, Silhouettes or Compositions.
- Brand Style Guides
- Album Cover Design
- Social Media Design: Interface Elements or any web app or other computer program needs designs for buttons, text fields, and other interface elements.
- Catalog Design
- Photoshop Editing
- Building Information Modeling
- Character Modeling
- Printable Pictures: Selling digital photos to turn them into physical photo prints and art prints is definitely a nice way to make cash. From posters, to miniature prints old-school photo strips, buttons and even stickers, every version of a printed image sold nowadays via these Print-On-Demand shops.
What are the best platforms to sell your Photos, Icons , Illustrations, 3D Design (etc.) Online?
4. MUSIC & AUDIO
If you have experience in creating audio and you are good at tweaking midi controllers, you may consider making money out of selling the tracks that you produce online.
Yes, selling music/beats/instrumentals online can be the only job that you need to do, if you know your way around the various audiences that depend on purchasing and using tracks that are available.
What to sell?
The first thing that you need to do is to know who you want to sell to.
Depending on the genre that you know you can produce, identify the types of audience that are likely to buy your music.
You can attract anyone who is looking for fresh music, if you know how to market yourself.
That offers you an entire universe of music enthusiasts who need music for their own craft.
Things people are buying already.
- Songs (Music): Streaming services such as Spotify allow users to listen to music, videos and podcasts.
Specialized or new and innovative niche:
- Beats: Including pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.
- Jingles: A short song or tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses.
- Ringtones: The sound that makes your mobile phone when an incoming call is received.
- Sound effects: Sounds to support artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media.
- Instrumental tracks: recording without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocals.
What are the best platforms to sell your Audio (Music tracks, etc.) Online?
5. DESIGNED PRODUCTS
Are you a DIY enthusiast who loves creating? Looking for ways to sell online to make some cash?
Handmade businesses are becoming more and more popular.
But before you start a handmade business of your own, you need to come up with some handmade items you can sell. In other words, you need to start creating your art with products in mind.
Can you really sell crafts online for free?
Yes! There are plenty of websites that will let you open up your own virtual shop to sell your handmade goodies, and they would not cost you a dime to start.
Although not all are free, others can still be well worth the small fees you will pay.
If you’re keen to sharpen up your shop and improve what you offer to customers and followers, here are some of the things you can sell online.
What to sell?
- Clothing: Clothing is one of the most popular categories for handmade goods, since it can encompass so many different things. You can stitch various garments from scratch or even upcycle older items into new and improved clothes. You can also paint, embroider or print your own designs onto T-shirts or various other garments.
- Jewelry: Jewelry is another popular category that includes several different types of items. You can buy some beads and string them together to make necklaces and bracelets. You can create unique designs out of wire. You can make interesting pieces out of fiber. Or you can even blow your own glass to make truly unique beaded creations.
- Dolls: Dolls make great keepsakes, gifts for kids and even collectible items. You can craft your own dolls out of fabric, fiber, plastic or any other materials you have lying around. Then you can sell them online to those looking for kids’ gifts or keepsakes.
- Wooden Toys: If you’re a skilled woodworker, you can even use your tools to put together wooden toys for kids. Wooden cars, blocks and even larger play areas are popular with parents and those looking for handmade gifts online.
- Scarves: When it comes to handmade accessories, scarves are incredibly popular. You can knit or crochet them, use some cool fabric and stitch them together, or even embroider or embellish them to make them truly unique.
- Hats: You can also create and sell hats that go with your handmade scarves. Knitting, crocheting and sewing can all be techniques used to produce handmade hats.
- Hair Accessories: If you’re looking for a smaller type of handmade item to sell online, hair accessories can be a good way to go. You can make headbands, clips, pins and various other accessories. Then you can embellish or decorate them in a creative way.
- Pillows: People love buying decorative pillows and pillow covers from handmade sellers. Find or design a cute fabric and stitch it to fit around your pillow stuffing or a standard pillow size if you want to just sell the covers.
- Curtains: You can also stitch together some curtains using unique fabric. Or you can embroider or embellish those curtains to create something that’s truly unique.
- Rugs: While it might be a long, complicated process to make full sized rugs by hand and ship them out to online buyers, you can make smaller rugs and mats by weaving or using similar techniques and more easily sell them to those who want to add small, unique touches to their décor.
- Blankets: There are plenty of different ways you can create blankets by hand. You can knit, crochet, stitch, quilt or use any number of other techniques. You can even offer personalization options if you sell things like baby blankets and buyers want to add a name or other details.
- Furniture: Certainly a more complicated process, but if you’re skilled with woodworking or upholstery, you can create furniture items and sell them online. You’ll have to account for shipping though, and either charge accordingly or focus mainly on smaller handmade items you can sell in your online shop.
- Pins: There are plenty of different styles of pins that you can easily make by hand and sell online. You can create unique designs and turn them into regular buttons. You can make some more intricate enamel pin designs. Or you can even use some interesting materials to put together something more intricate and decorative.
- Soap: If you have all the right materials, you can make your own handsoap and even liquid soap and sell it online. You can even add essential oils or unique fragrances to really make your handmade soaps stand out.
- Candles: Likewise, you can create some unique fragrance combinations and use them to make your own candles. You can even use interesting moulds or jars to create candles that are also interesting decorative items.
- Bags: Bags come in all different shapes and sizes. But if you’re skilled with a sewing machine or similar other techniques, you can create everything from totes and diaper bags to purses and clutches.
- Pet Toys: Some people also like to purchase handmade goods for the four-legged members of their families. You can stitch dog or cat toys or even put together pillows or beds for them to lay on.
- Books: You can create your own stories or even create journals or other items that people can make their own. You can also bind them by hand to make sure they’re truly handmade and unique.
- And so on…
- Each of these items are original in nature and it is up to you to promote their uniqueness.
What are the best platforms to sell your designed products (Crafts, Clothes, and Jewelry, etc.) Online?
If you are a creative of some sort (which I’m guessing so if you reached this part), you might have now some elements to do what you love and be successful at the same time.
Learning how to make money as an artist is definitely possible, even though it includes a lot of hard work and a long-term strategy.
Dan is contributing to cashtipsandtricks by providing his expertise as an investor and entrepreneur.