In today’s digital age, artists are no longer limited to traditional canvases and galleries to showcase their talent and make a living. One innovative avenue they can explore is learning how to make money with digital art.
This comprehensive guide on how to make money with digital art will explore 20 great ways to monetize your digital art effectively.
How To Make Money With Digital Art: Overview
Here’s a sneak peek into the 8 categories that make up the strategies for making money with digital art that we will be discussing further below.
- Selling Digital Artwork
- Licensing and Commercial Work
- Teaching and Courses
- Freelancing and Commissions
- Software and Tools
- Social Media and Community
- Traditional Art Spaces
Platforms like Etsy have democratized the art world by giving artists direct access to customers.
With a simple setup process, you can upload your digital art and sell it as prints, digital downloads, or even on physical products like T-shirts.
This opens up the market significantly, enabling even lesser-known artists to find their audience and generate sales without requiring gallery representation or an agent.
Moreover, it offers the flexibility to set your own prices and schedule, allowing you to work at your own pace.
- Direct access to a large, global audience.
- Ability to control your pricing and manage your own inventory.
- Flexibility to run your business on your own schedule.
Stock websites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are platforms where you can upload your digital art, illustrations, and even photographs to be sold to a wide range of clients.
These platforms are frequented by marketers, business owners, and other creative professionals looking for high-quality, licensed artwork for various projects.
While you might earn less per sale due to the platform’s commission, the potential for a high volume of sales can make up for it. These sites often have algorithms that reward popular items, potentially giving your work more visibility as it gains traction.
- Exposure to a diverse and professional clientele.
- Opportunity for a steady stream of passive income.
- Increased visibility through platform algorithms.
NFTs have revolutionized the digital art space by providing a way to sell digital art as unique, verifiable assets.
When you mint an NFT, you’re essentially creating a digital certificate of authenticity that can be bought, sold, or traded on blockchain platforms. The NFT market can be extremely lucrative, with some digital artworks selling for millions.
However, it’s also highly volatile and requires an understanding of blockchain technology, so it’s advisable to do thorough research before diving in.
- Ability to sell digital art as unique, verified assets.
- Potential for extremely high earnings.
- Creation of a digital certificate of authenticity for your art.
Websites like Redbubble or Society6 offer an easy way to turn your digital art into physical merchandise.
These platforms handle all aspects of production, sales, and shipping. You simply upload your artwork and select the types of products you want to offer, like apparel, home decor, or phone accessories.
This is a great way to diversify your income streams and get your art into the world in a functional form.
There’s satisfaction in seeing your art being used in daily life, be it on a T-shirt, a mug, or a notebook.
- Low-risk entry into merchandising with no upfront costs.
- Diversification of income streams.
- Opportunity to see your art in various functional forms.
Unlike print on demand, creating and selling your own merchandise requires a larger investment of both time and money.
You’ll need to collaborate directly with manufacturers, manage inventory, and handle sales and shipping yourself.
This method gives you greater control over the quality of the final product and potentially higher profits.
You can also create limited-edition merchandise to increase exclusivity and demand. This route is often best for artists who already have a strong brand and a dedicated following.
- Greater control over product quality.
- Potential for higher profit margins.
- Ability to create limited editions for exclusivity.
Licensing your art for commercial use can be a highly profitable venture.
This involves providing businesses with the right to use your artwork for a specific period and for specific applications—be it for advertising, packaging, or promotional materials.
Since the licensee frequently handles marketing and sales, licensing can offer a consistent source of income with less effort.
However, it’s crucial to understand the terms and conditions of the licensing agreement to ensure you’re adequately compensated and your art is used responsibly.
- Steady income with potentially less marketing effort.
- Increased exposure through the licensee’s distribution channels.
- Opportunity for long-term partnerships with businesses.
Creating book and album covers allows you to collaborate with authors and musicians, applying your art in a way that directly contributes to another form of creative expression.
Your art becomes the visual representation of a body of work, reaching audiences who may otherwise never come across it.
This type of work often pays well and can lead to more consistent work if you develop a strong portfolio and industry connections. Plus, it’s an excellent way to diversify your skills and your portfolio.
- Opportunity for collaboration with other creatives.
- Strong potential for well-paying projects.
- Diversification of skills and portfolio.
Concept artists create the visual guidelines for projects in various industries like film, video games, and animation.
This kind of work is often done in collaboration with a team, providing an opportunity for networking and skill growth.
The job pays relatively well and can offer a more stable income compared to other freelance options.
However, this field is competitive and may require specialized skills and a strong portfolio to get started.
- Steady income and potential for long-term contracts.
- Opportunity for skill growth and networking.
- Involvement in potentially high-profile projects.
Platforms like Skillshare or Udemy provide a channel for artists to create courses and share their knowledge.
From basic drawing techniques to advanced digital painting, you can develop courses tailored to various skill levels.
Once the course is up and running, it can provide a source of passive income. This not only establishes you as an authority in the field but also allows you to monetize your expertise.
- Establishment of authority within the digital art community.
- Source of passive income.
- Opportunity to refine your teaching and communication skills.
YouTube is another excellent platform for artists to share their expertise.
While creating high-quality videos can be time-consuming and may require an initial investment in equipment, the potential for income through ad revenue and sponsorships can be significant.
Moreover, regularly uploading tutorials on your YouTube channel can help build a community around your work, increasing your overall visibility and potential customer base for other revenue streams.
- Community building and increased visibility.
- Potential for significant ad revenue and sponsorships.
- Flexibility in content creation and scheduling.
Conducting workshops, whether online or in person, allows you to interact directly with students.
This offers a more personal and interactive way to teach, providing immediate feedback and the chance to address specific issues.
Workshops can be a more lucrative income source compared to passive teaching methods, as they often command higher prices.
Furthermore, hosting workshops can offer opportunities for networking with other professionals and help solidify your reputation as an expert in your field.
- High earning potential due to premium pricing.
- Opportunity for immediate feedback and direct interaction with students.
- Enhancement of your reputation as an authority in your field.
You can list specific gigs or services such as logo design, character illustration, or custom artwork.
While these freelancing platforms often take a commission, they handle aspects like payment processing and dispute resolution.
Freelance websites are a good starting point for budding artists who may not have an extensive portfolio or network.
- Access to a broad, global client base.
- Streamlined payment and contract processes.
- Ideal for beginners looking to build a portfolio.
Custom commissions offer a more personalized way to monetize your digital art.
You can offer to create bespoke pieces for individuals or businesses. These could be digital portraits, pet illustrations, custom logos, or even elaborate murals.
Commissioned work can be both fulfilling and lucrative, especially if you specialize in a specific niche or style.
- High level of creative control and artistic fulfillment.
- Opportunity for higher profit margins.
- Allows you to build a specialized niche or style.
Patreon and other subscription-based platforms offer a way to build a community around your work.
You can offer various tiers that provide subscribers with exclusive benefits, such as early access to new art, behind-the-scenes content, or even limited edition prints.
This model offers a more stable, recurring income and enables you to focus on creating art rather than constantly marketing yourself.
- Predictable, recurring income.
- Ability to focus on community engagement rather than constant sales efforts.
- Flexibility to offer exclusive content and rewards.
If you have a knack for creating unique brushes or tools for digital art software like Photoshop or Procreate, you can sell them to other artists.
This offers a way to make passive income and helps you build a reputation within the community.
It’s not just a one-time sale either; satisfied customers are likely to return for future releases or updates.
- Passive income potential.
- Opportunity to establish expertise and reputation.
- Encourages repeat business from satisfied customers.
Templates can be a real time-saver for both amateur and professional artists.
By creating and selling pre-made design templates, you can cater to a large audience looking for quick solutions for presentations, social media posts, or websites.
These can be marketed directly to businesses or through online platforms specializing in digital assets.
- Broad appeal to both individuals and businesses.
- Opportunity for passive income.
- Further diversifies your income streams.
Once you’ve built a substantial following on social media platforms like Instagram, you can offer promotional shoutouts for a fee.
Brands and other creators may pay you to feature their product or service on your feed or stories.
However, it’s crucial to maintain authenticity and only promote products that align with your brand and values.
- Easy way to monetize an existing follower base.
- Opportunity to collaborate with brands and other creators.
- Adds another revenue stream with minimal effort.
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter can be used to finance larger, more complex art projects.
Whether it’s an art book, a digital art installation, or a unique merchandise line, crowdfunding allows your fans and supporters to contribute directly to your vision.
However, successful crowdfunding requires strong marketing skills and a dedicated following.
- Allows you to raise significant capital for large projects.
- Engage your community by letting them be part of your creative process.
- Validate your ideas by gauging public interest.
The line between traditional and digital art has blurred, and many galleries are open to displaying digital art.
Whether in physical spaces with digital displays or through online galleries, this exposes your work to a different, often more traditional, audience.
Being featured in an art show can boost your credibility and offer networking opportunities within the art world.
- Exposure to a new, potentially more traditional, audience.
- Boosts credibility and prestige in the art community.
- Excellent networking opportunities.
Being featured in art or lifestyle magazines can be a significant milestone for any artist.
This not only provides a platform to showcase your art but also to share your story and connect with a broader audience.
Whether through a paid feature or as an invited artist, magazine features can bring significant exposure and lend credibility to your work.
- Wide exposure to a broad and varied audience.
- Enhances credibility and can elevate your status in the art community.
- Opens doors for further opportunities, such as collaborations or interviews.
Each of these methods comes with its own set of challenges, so it may be beneficial to combine multiple streams to create a sustainable income.
Always be sure to understand the terms and conditions when entering into contracts and possibly consult a legal advisor to protect your work and rights.
Learning how to make money with digital art involves much more than just creating compelling pieces.
It requires a multi-faceted approach to income generation and brand building.
From selling digital prints and licenses to conducting workshops, freelancing, and leveraging social media platforms, there are numerous avenues to explore.
If you’re interested in exploring more avenues for generating income or diving deeper into the entrepreneurial world, make sure to check out our other articles on money-making strategies and entrepreneurial tips, such as;
- Make Money Writing Online; 21 Fun & Actionable Ways
- 21 Best Free AI Art Generator Tools to Up Your Design Game
- How to Sell Art Online and Make Money in 2023
- How to Make Money with Photography & Travel the World; 17 Fun Ways
These resources are designed to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.
Here’s to your success as a digital artist.
The income of digital artists can vary widely based on factors such as experience, skill level, location, and the platforms they use to sell their art. Entry-level artists might earn as little as $20,000 to $30,000 per year, while experienced artists with a robust portfolio can make upwards of $70,000 or more. Artists who diversify their income streams and have a strong online presence tend to earn more.
Selling digital art involves several steps:
- Create a portfolio: Showcase your best work to attract potential buyers.
- Choose a platform: Decide where you want to sell, be it your website, digital galleries, or online marketplaces.
- Price your art: Set prices that reflect your work’s quality and market demand.
- Create an online store: This can be on a personal website or through a platform that specializes in digital art sales.
- Market your work: Use social media, SEO, and networking to bring attention to your art.
Jobs in the gaming and movie industries, such as those for concept artists and 3D animators, tend to offer high salaries, especially for experienced professionals. Additionally, specialized roles like UX/UI design and augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) development can also command high salaries, ranging from $70,000 to $100,000 or more per year.
Beyond selling your art directly, there are numerous ways to monetize your skills:
- Freelancing: Offer your services on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
- Teach: Use online courses, eBooks, or workshops to educate others.
- Merchandise: Create and sell products like prints, t-shirts, and mugs featuring your art.
- Commissions: Create custom art for individual clients or businesses.
- Subscriptions: Use platforms like Patreon to provide exclusive content to subscribers for a fee.
Yes, it is possible to make a living solely from digital art, but it typically requires a combination of selling art, freelance work, teaching, and other income streams. Consistency, quality, and a strong marketing strategy are crucial for long-term success.
Technical skills in digital art software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or 3D programs are essential. Additionally, a strong understanding of design principles, creativity, and marketing know-how are important for generating income in the digital art space.
You can protect your digital art by watermarking your images, using low-resolution files for online display, and making use of digital rights management (DRM) tools. Additionally, copyright your work to have legal grounds for action if someone uses it without permission.
Platforms like Etsy, ArtStation, Saatchi Art, and even social media platforms like Instagram can be good places to start. Each has its own set of fees, community, and advantages, so it’s advisable to research each one to see what fits best with your art and business model.
An effective strategy involves consistent posting of your art on social media, engaging with your audience, collaborating with other artists or brands, and offering value through educational content or behind-the-scenes looks at your process.
Pricing is a complex factor that depends on your experience, the complexity of the work, the time invested, and market demand. Researching what similar artists charge and evaluating your own expenses and desired profit margin can help you arrive at a fair price.