A How-To Guide for Artists Looking to Boost their Passive Income

Hello Everyone

I wanted to share some valuable information on how to grow a passive income for artists and anyone else who benefit from this blog post Cat Coq.  Another good way to earn is to sponsor pages containing your artwork from a link, click on this link  Landscaope Prints For sale

My goal for 2016: Maximize my passive income. I knew at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be able to spend less time working and more time exploring the world around me, so I’ve spent the last twelve months working towards that path. I took everything I learned this year about earning passive income as an artist and compiled it into this one guide. I hope it helps all of you out there who are looking to boost your income in 2017.

I recently had the opportunity to partner up with Society6 and Skillshare to teach my own class on this topic. The online class is packed with information for artists and designers looking to broaden their revenue streams. (I’ll update when it goes live in February 2017.) Consider this guide a summary of the basics. Enjoy!

What is passive income?

Passive income is money being earned regularly that requires little effort to maintain. For artists, this can mean generating regular income from the artwork you’ve created.

For example, I painted these alpacas in January, and because of strong sales, have continued earning a monthly royalty rate from them since. All the work was done upfront– now, I just promote them occasionally through social media. I use this method for nearly every piece of artwork I create. Now, I’m selling hundreds of pieces through dozens of outlets.

One of the greatest perks of passive income is the time it frees up, allowing you to focus on other avenues of life. For me, that means working as freelance designer and traveling the world for creative inspiration.

1. Print-On-Demand Sites:

PODs will print your artwork on phone cases, pillows, tote bags, apparel, notebooks, wall art, and so much more. The POD company handles the production and manufacturing, sales, shipping, returns… everything.

POD Examples:

  • Society6
  • Redbubble
  • Casetify
  • Art Crate
  • Threadless
  • Drawdeck
  • Design by Humans
  • Fine Art America
  • Zazzle
  • Saatchi
  • …and literally hundreds of others. There are new POD companies starting up every day.

POD Challenges:

  • It’s difficult to get noticed. With thousands of artists participating, it can be challenging to make a name for yourself and gain traction.
  • Loss of individual branding. When a POD sells to a customer, the branding is a reflection of their company. Sure, they’ll credit you as the artist, but you won’t have an opportunity to include your business cards or collect email addresses from each order.
  • Less control– The POD site may change at any time without notice, which could affect your store, for better or worse. (Keyword tags, search functions, uploading platform, algorithms for how featured artwork is chosen.) A POD site may be going well for you, then totally go under OR get bought out by a company that mismanages it. Bye, profits.
  • Each site has a different uploading process and template requirements. You spend time accommodating for each.
  • Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes effort to promote your shop, gain followers, push sales. It’s a slow build.
  • Artist profit margins can seem very low. $2.40 for a $24 travel mug means you earn just 10% off each sale. However, it can be worth it if you sell in large quantities.

POD Benefits:

  • It’s easy. You don’t have to fulfill orders, handle production, or manage customer support. You can focus on creating beautiful art. They do the rest.
  • The POD site will invest a lot in marketing, which can benefit you if your work is included in campaigns, Instagram posts, e-blasts, etc.
  • Co-promotion. Society6 has nearly 300,000 Instagram followers alone. Any time they tag me in a post, I gain plenty of new followers.
  • People will notice you. I have a handful of new clients every month that have found me through my POD shops and are reaching out for custom work or wanting to sell my work through their site as well.
  • Sales will grow with time. Month 1 = $. Month 2 = $$. Month 3 = $$$.
  • No web hosting fees or custom design requirements. Everything is ready to go and maintained by the POD site.
  • PODs often promote their own sales events. This always translates into boosted sales for your shop.
  • Once your store gets traction, you get a paycheck every month. This is the reason I get to spend so much time traveling and exploring the world.

2. Art Licensing:

You work directly with an art licensor to license your designs directly to a company. An example of the latter is the work I sold through Urban Outfitters. Similar to POD, you get paid a royalty rate based on sales.

3. Content Producing:

  • Online classes or tutorials through sites like Skillshare or Lynda.com
  • Selling fonts, assets, illustrations, textures, etc. through content purchasing sites like Creative Market

Four questions to ask at the beginning stages of building your passive income:

  1. Do you have unused artwork or existing designs you could repurpose to sell online?
  2. Are you putting all your eggs in one basket? Make sure you’re diversifying your channels of income. One bad month on Society6 isn’t ideal, but it’s not going to bankrupt me. I sell through a variety of POD sites, license my work through various brands and licensors, and work as a freelance designer.
  3. Are you expecting overnight success? I grew my brand slowly over several years before I started making a living wage.
  4. What do you want your brand name to be? I use an abbreviated version of my name. Cat Coquillette = CatCoq

A quick note on contracts…

Read them. The three biggest factors I look for:

  1. Nonexclusive. Because I sell my work through a variety of platforms, I want to make sure I can sell an identical piece of artwork through all of them. This helps me maximize profits for each piece.
  2. Fair royalty rates. Your royalty percentage can fluctuate wildly, depending on the quantities sold, type of product, distribution, etc. This is my go-to guide when I’m wondering about pricing.
  3. I retain ALL copyrights. Even if you’re creating exclusive content to license, it’s vital that you own the copyrights to your work. There are occasions when I do sell my copyright, but it comes at a high price. (Example: If I create custom branding for a company, I sell them the copyright so they own their own identity.)

Deciding Where/How to Sell Your Work

Use past history to project future sales.

  • Be proactive: Create holiday artwork in advance so it’s ready to sell/promote when applicable.
  • Track what’s selling well and create more work in the vein– People like to purchase multiple pieces of artwork that pairs well.
  • Using past records, I can identify coming months with high sales (back to school, holiday) and promote heavily during those times to maximize income.
    • Here’s a snapshot of my December sales statistics with Casetify. I can see page views + sales by day, as well as individual designs that are selling well.
    • Considering where to sell certain works:

      • Know the audience of your POD. Some PODs are catered to specific products, like Casetify, which exclusively sells tech accessories. I upload designs to Casetify that translate well to their specific market and audience: blogger fashionistas who want a stylish phone case.
      • Patterns and quotes sell best on phone cases. While all-out patterns do great as phone cases, they don’t sell as well (for me) as art prints. I make a higher profit margins on art prints, but move product faster on phone cases. It’s a balancing game.
      • Observe what type of artwork sells well for you across the Big Three:
        • Art prints (highest royalty rate)
        • Phone cases (lower royalty rate, but sell in large quantities)
        • Apparel (another low royalty rate made up for with large quantities of purchases)

      Top-selling art prints:

      Common factors for a top-selling art print (for me): hand-painted watercolors or acrylic, quotes, animals, cheerful vibe, limited color palette, light backgrounds.

    • Thank you  for Reading this post and I hope you found it useful
  • Joanne
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