How to be profitable as an artist

Image by Nidtzy1  CC BY-SA 4.0


One of the most common concerns of many artists, especially emerging ones, is how to make money from their art without having to compromise their artistic integrity or sell out. The following tips will help you to hone your craft and your business acumen, making you not only more marketable but also more profitable as an artist in the long run.


Pricing strategy

Pricing your work can be one of the most difficult parts of running a creative business. Figuring out what’s fair and what’s excessive can feel like a guessing game. It might take some trial and error before you get it right, but there are some good strategies for determining to price—and knowing if it’s too low or too high. You’ll want to think about how long you’ve spent creating your work, what other people charge for similar products/services (there are many sites that list prices for every type of creative service imaginable), how your work is unique, and whether or not you’re willing to make special exceptions in exchange for higher fees.

And remember, you’re not just pricing for yourself—you’re also setting a precedent for how much people can expect to pay for work like yours in your area. Low prices or flat fees make it hard for other artists in your area to charge higher prices or keep their studio doors open. On the other hand, charging too much might result in fewer sales and less work overall. Experiment with your pricing and watch out for competitors offering better deals than you.

If you’re in it for the long haul, keep a close eye on your expenses and figure out how much income you need to sustain yourself. You might even want to try switching from a per-item pricing model (like selling paintings individually) to offering bulk discounts for large orders or doing work on commission for other artists. And remember that creative pursuits—even ones that produce tangible products—are rarely a get-rich-quick scheme. There are thousands of ways to make money as an artist, but don’t get too hung up on finding the one. Every person and every situation is different, so evaluate what’s best for you and your art every step of the way.



Develop a relationship with your local Chamber of Commerce. These organizations can help you network and access resources, many of which can help make starting your business easier. You’ll need a few things before going in. Proof that you are, in fact, an entrepreneur A sketch of what your business looks like so far An idea of how many employees will work for you (if any) Who is on your team (business coach, lawyer, etc.) Even if these people aren’t yet on board, write them down and bring them along to meet other professionals within your city who might be able to help with some aspects of setting up shop.

Now that you’re prepped, go ahead and attend events. Take advantage of your membership with Chamber of Commerce members, which can often come with discounted rates for networking events. At any networking event, you’ll want to know a little bit about everyone in attendance so you’re prepared when they ask what you do. Make sure everyone is introduced (even if it’s just a quick sentence or two) and look up their bios on LinkedIn before going so you have something unique and interesting to say when they do introduce themselves.

When someone says Hi, I’m Sandy and I do x for a living, you should respond with something like: I’m Maggie and I help people lose weight by offering meal plans that work within their busy schedules. So far, we have only ten clients but our business is picking up fast! This will establish your credentials without being too long-winded or boring. And be sure to ask about other people in attendance. People love talking about themselves so asking them who they are and what they do will make them feel important.


Learning from your peers

The first thing is to learn from your peers, what are they doing and how are they getting clients? Looking at their work will give you a good idea of what kind of artwork clients want and how much they’re willing to pay for that. This is super important because if you go into any business blindly then you’ll never succeed. You have to have knowledge of your competitors or rivals in order for you to know where you stand with them and where they stand with each other. When it comes down to drawing art professionally, competition is everywhere so if you don’t know who is who, then get ready for failure. The better prepared you are, gives way to more success!

The second step is to find out what people want. Clients aren’t going to pay you a billion dollars just because they like your work, they want something in return and that’s why it’s important to find out what they want, are they selling prints? Are they selling original artwork? How much do you think people will spend on that kind of art? What about those who don’t know what their clientele wants, then there’s always finding new clients. This may mean going door-to-door or even hanging flyers on lamp posts or telephone poles but it will help you get your foot in the door so to speak.

With your research on hand, it’s time to find a niche! As an artist, if you can nail down what you’re best at and market that product, people will come out of every street and avenue asking for more. The most important thing about being profitable as an artist is figuring out who wants what and how much they want it. Don’t think in terms of art or painting but rather products that can be sold in mass quantities.


Define your brand

Before you can figure out how to make money with your art, you need to define your brand. That doesn’t just mean putting a clever name on it, either; make sure that every product you create aligns with your vision and is true to what your followers and fans will want. If you’re building a long-term business, consider consistency one of your main values. You don’t necessarily have to stick with one style of art either—different markets respond well when they see variety in creativity and expression. Make sure that whatever type of art or products you create are unique enough that they can stand on their own, regardless of if they follow any trends.

Every product you make should also look and feel like a part of your brand. Before you sell anything, make sure that everything is well-made and of top quality. A cheap-looking finished product can really hurt your image and reputation, especially if it’s not something that aligns with your brand message. If you want to create original art or products that follow trends but don’t compromise your identity, do some research into crowdfunding platforms or sites where you can sell one-off projects.

Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to find out how to make money with it. Some of your best opportunities will be in private sales, such as merchandise and commissioned pieces. Make sure that you understand any legal requirements before selling art or other products, especially if you plan on selling outside of your country. You might need a tax identification number or a vendor’s license depending on where you live. You should also study online payment methods so that customers can easily pay for their purchases through any platform or device they choose.


Don’t get discouraged

If you’re just starting out and trying to build your client base, it’s important not to get discouraged. It can take a while for customers to find you and even longer for them to trust you. The key is consistency. If you deliver high-quality work every time, clients will notice over time, and they’ll come back year after year. In fact, with some customers, you could go a decade or more without hearing from them—and then they call with a job offer! Be happy that they found you and keep striving toward perfection in your craft—you never know when someone will come knocking on your door again!

There’s a time and place for everything, but there is never room for procrastination in a business sense. If you’re starting out, don’t wait until it feels like the right time or some other milestone has been reached before advertising yourself and getting new clients. Instead, start today—even if you have zero-paying jobs on your schedule. Even if you don’t end up getting any offers, putting yourself out there will start building relationships with potential clients and establishing your reputation. That way, when one does come along, you can jump on it immediately! It doesn’t matter what type of work you do or what field you want to get into—marketing is marketing no matter where your career takes you!

Make sure your branding is consistent, both online and off. You don’t want a potential client visiting your website one day, then going on social media or hearing about you from a friend or family member and finding something totally different. Use all of your online outlets—whether it’s a Facebook business page, Instagram account, or your own personal website—to put out information about yourself and what you do. It can take time for customers to find you, so it’s important that when they do check you out online they see what they’re looking for right away! Have high-quality photos with a compelling copy so they can see that you know what you’re doing!


Marketing plan for artists

Artists rarely have any experience running a business. But making money isn’t hard; if you’re not making money, you’re not marketing enough. An advantage of being a smaller fish in a big pond is that it’s easy to find niches where your art has value. Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook offer relatively simple ways for artists to sell their work directly from their accounts. It can also help you grow your audience and keep them updated on upcoming shows or products so they never miss another opportunity to buy what you’re selling.

You need a plan, but you don’t need much. Start by signing up for your favorite social media accounts and creating a profile with a clear image of who you are and what you do. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all useful platforms that offer opportunities to connect with customers who might not otherwise find out about your work. Upload your art to each platform and start following some like-minded users. Be sure not only to post professional-looking images that match your brand, but also make sure they’re consistently good quality.

You don’t want people to see a beautiful painting one day and then a blurry photo of you and your cat on another. The more consistent you are with uploading great content, the more likely it is that people will follow you back and buy from you in person or online.

When posting on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, try using hashtags like #artistsoninstagram or #artistsontwitter so people can find other artists like yourself who share similar interests and hobbies. Make sure to use relevant hashtags for every post so it’s easy for potential customers to find you! If someone likes your work, tag them in your posts so they know how much you appreciate their support!



Let’s get down to brass tacks here: how do you become successful as an artist? The answer is surprisingly simple. Do your work. Make art that makes you happy and puts a smile on other people’s faces (that doesn’t mean being saccharine or insincere – it just means don’t compromise). Improve your technical skills with practice, education, and feedback from critics who know what they are talking about.

Participate in exhibitions. Market yourself. This may sound like common sense, but believe me – there are some serious weirdos out there pretending to be painters so if you can get past them (and I promise most of them to have websites) then you will have a good chance at being competitive in today’s marketplace.

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