10 ways to create passive income as an artist

paper on a table with paint brushes a palate and water color paints creating passive income for artists

Making a living as an artist is hard. You have to be creative, persistent, and talented-but sometimes, even that’s not enough. 

It’s tough out there for artists. The competition is stiff, the hours are long, and it’s hard to make a living just from your art, so a lot of artists also work a day job just to get by.

But trading hours for dollars gets exhausting and limits the time you have to dedicate to your art. Enter passive income! In this article, we outline several different types of passive income for artists to use to create multiple streams of income that will help you pay your bills AND keep your art career alive.

What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is money earned without putting in a consistent, active effort. It’s passive because you usually don’t have to work for the money actively; instead, you create a product or service one time, and it continues to bring in income month after month without much additional effort from you.

Why passive income?

The art world is unpredictable at best. It’s hard to make a living as an artist, and passive income can help you pay for extra expenses and sustain your art career. Plus, passive income streams are often much more reliable than relying on commissions or sales.

Passive income can help you pay for extra expenses and sustain your art career even if sales of your work are slow or unpredictable. Since it provides a consistent, stable income, it can also reduce the day-to-day financial stress in your life and even bolster your creativity as an artist.

Passive Income Strategies for Artists

As an artist, you can easily incorporate multiple types of passive income into your overall business plan. We’re going to take a look at the top 10 passive income-generating strategies for artists that you can use to get started.

Create Online How-to Tutorials and Classes

Thanks to sites like Skillshare, how-to tutorials have become incredibly popular. You can create tutorials and classes to teach people how to do something specific, like drawing or painting. You can upload these tutorials and classes online, where they become passive income streams for artists that generate money for you even when you’re not actively working on them.

Start a Blog

Blogs are no longer the online diaries they once were. Now, they can be powerful passive income generators for artists. You can monetize your blog with affiliate links, sponsorships, and advertisements. You can also create products such as e-books or printables to sell through your blog.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite tools for building out passive income for artists. It involves you promoting other people’s products or services and earning a commission when one of your referrals makes a purchase. You can promote products related to art, like books and tools, or offer promotions for online classes.

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, check out this masterclass.

Start and Monetize a YouTube Channel

YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google, and as a visual artist, it makes perfect sense to leverage it to create passive income. As a matter of fact, YouTube can be one of the best income streams for visual artists. You can start by creating tutorials, artist interviews, or reviews of art materials and monetize your channel with advertisements and sponsorships. You can also directly link your product review videos and how-to tutorials from youtube directly into your blog post and further monetize them through affiliate links.

Create an Online Shop with Dropshipping and Print-on-demand Sites

Selling prints of your work is an obvious passive income stream for artists, and print-on-demand platforms make it easy. You can set up your online shop and create passive income with minimal effort. You can also use dropshipping sites to sell physical products like t-shirts, mugs, and posters that feature your artwork.

Sell Digital Products

Digital products like e-books, courses, and digital art prints are a great way to boost an artist’s income with minimal effort. You can offer an ebook detailing the process of creating one of your works or create a course teaching people how to draw cartoon characters or simple doodles.

Turn Your Art Portfolio into a Coffee Table Book

Coffee table books are hugely popular with millennials and gen z, and creating one of your own is a great way to generate passive income. You can curate your portfolio, choose the photos or digital artwork you want to feature, and then have it printed and sold through Amazon or another platform.


NFTs are a relatively new passive income stream for artists. Non-fungible tokens are digital artworks that can be bought and sold on the blockchain. They offer a way for you to monetize your artwork in a completely unique way, and it’s also a great way to get your work noticed by a larger audience.

Lease Your Art

Art leasing is a passive income model where you license your work for display in either public or private spaces. This could be anything from a corporate lobby to an apartment complex.

License Your Art

Licensing is similar to art leasing, but it involves granting permission for the use of some of your artwork for commercial purposes. Companies may want to use your work for advertisements, product packaging, or TV and movie sets.

Passive Income for Artists FAQ

Can beginner artists make money?

Absolutely! There are so many passive income streams available to artists of all levels. Whether you’re just starting out or have been creating art for years, passive income can provide a stable source of revenue and help you finance your art career.

Can passive income replace my day job?

It depends on how much passive income you’re able to generate. If you build out multiple different income streams over time, quitting your day job is definitely a possibility.

Is selling art passive?

It depends on how you do it. Digital downloads and art prints can be passive income streams if you set them up to sell without having to do any hands-on work.

How can I legally sell fan art?

We’re not attorneys, and fan art is a tricky subject. Generally, it’s best to get permission from the copyright holder before creating and selling any fan art.

Final Thoughts

Passive income is a great way for artists to diversify their income. While it might require some initial effort, the rewards will pay off in the long run. With the right combination of information and effort, passive income can be an incredibly lucrative option that helps you both grow as an artist and sustain yourself financially. With passive income, artists get to focus on creating meaningful work while still making money — a dream come true! So whether you’re looking to pay for extra expenses or sustain your art career, passive income is definitely worth considering.

Want to dive in head first? Check out Passive Income Academy.