How to make money as an artist online
The easiest and less risky way of getting money online is doing commissioned work. Indeed, you can sell ready-made artworks too, but you might have a large inventory and insufficient cash flow. With commissioned pieces, you don’t have to bear the risks of producing something that is not sold. Your customers will pay you online in advance, so you can purchase the materials using the payment.
However, you will need trust and credibility to convince strangers on the Internet to pay for something not produced. If you are from a local art school, make sure you say that in your communication. If you have a lot of experience, reflect that on your portfolio. If you have many happy customers, ask them to write reviews on your website or social media because those recommendations can boost your credibility.
1. From your website
You will need a personal website with payment methods to charge your clients online. Currently, there are many options to embed into your website, from a minimum handling fee to a monthly cost of around 300 USD.
The free option is BigCartel, which allows you to list up to 5 products, one image per product. Imagine if you say you make three different prices for commissioned works, such as wedding photo painting, kids portrait painting, and sketching of your dog. BigCartel doesn’t charge you commissions, but the two payout methods, PayPal and Stripe, charge around a 3% handling fee. Selling from your website is the cheapest option on the Internet. Beware that you will still need a website to use BigCartel because it doesn’t bring you traffic.
2. From Service marketplaces
If you don’t have a website, you can use other platforms, such as Fiverr or Upwork. These two are the most popular websites where thousands of freelancers offer their skills for a small sum of money.
At Fiverr, as the name suggests, you charge 5 dollars per gig. When you get leveled up, you will be able to charge more. Professionals typically charge 5 to 50 dollars for a micro gig made in a few minutes. Your customers will expect the work to be delivered online.
3. From Online marketplaces
I am sure you know Etsy, the most famous artisan marketplace for all handmade items. It’s a mature business founded in 2005. Now there are millions of products ranging from jewelry to paintings and toys. At Etsy, you can sell commissioned works as well. Most of the time, customers expect a hard copy to be delivered by post. If you are located in a place without good postal service, I would recommend you to stick to Fiverr.
Perhaps doing commissioned work online doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it can help meet ends. Think of it as an exercise. If you are spending time working on your techniques anyway, why not do so for some extra money? Also, don’t forget that you own the rights to your work. You can use them for your portfolio, which can bring more opportunities in the future.