Can you still make money doing art? Of course. There will always be people that are interested and want to buy your paintings and listen to your music. But the real question is, can you make a living out of it? You can always make money playing music at weddings. And if doing any kind of art as a service is your thing, there will always be ways to make decent money. Especially if you’re good at doing it.
But what about making a career out of it? There are many musicians out there that are making music and they earn very good money. New writers show up on the lists of best-sellers out of nowhere. And there are still many artists that are sometimes much better than the popular ones. But somehow, they fail to succeed by doing it as a profession. Could it be that the others got lucky? Or maybe they know something that others don’t.
Don’t Fall for the Starving Artist Myth
The first thing you should do is to get out of the starving artist mentality. We were programmed to believe there is no way to make a living doing what we love. Well, would you mind explaining why so many of them make a fortune by doing it? Rappers, writers, illustrators, producers, and many others.
The starving artist mentality includes many false limiting beliefs. They told us that if we become artists, we’re going to suffer. We would somehow have a hard time trying to make decent money out of it. And, of course, they always seem to mention how there are too many artists out there. Well, if they think art isn’t that important, why don’t they quit listening to music altogether? Oh, so it is important.
It’s important not to fall into this trap. It can only give you more trouble. You need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Work as an artist, but think like a business owner. This way, you will naturally work towards making more money with your craft. You’ll start seeing opportunities instead of lack. And you will always find more and more ways to monetize your art. And that’s because you developed an entrepreneurial mindset. Once you start thinking like an entrepreneur, you’ll never be a starving artist ever again.
Learn the Rules of the Game
Whatever you do, you need to learn the rules of the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s music, writing, painting, or any other kind of art. Research and try to understand how your industry works. If you’re still waiting for someone to discover you, you’ll go back to being a starving artist. And I think we already agreed that it’s not the way we want to go.
The best way to understand how the industry works is through people. Meet as many people in your industry as you can. If you’re a painter, find other painters. But be even more selective. If you paint avant-garde portraits, you won’t ask a church painter for advice. Find more people like you that are already a few steps ahead. That’s how you become better. Hang out with people who already have what you want.
Find communities. If you live in the countryside or a small town, find communities online. Join Facebook groups. Find people on Instagram and Pinterest that are doing the same kind of art as you do. There are so many ways now. You can live in the middle of nowhere and still be more successful than someone who lives in a big town. That means you’ll have more competition, of course. But don’t let that discourage you. You don’t even need that many followers to make decent money online.
Learn Marketing and Sales
This is the most boring part for some people. But it’s necessary. If you want to make money with your art, you need to know how to sell. You don’t need to make calls or anything like that. Some basic copywriting and SEO is usually enough. However, it’s always good to know how to do advertising and a few other skills. You never know when you’re going to need them.
Now, do the math. How many followers do you need? Do you need millions of fans? The truth is, you don’t even need thousands. Again, it depends on what you do, but 1000 true fans are usually more than enough. Let’s say you make music. You only need 1000 people to buy your album and some merchandise to earn $30-40k. If you sell paintings, they are usually even more expensive. Let’s say one of your paintings costs $500. If you can do more than 100 paintings in a year, that’s more than $50k.
This is why marketing and sales are important. You’ll be able to find the exact people that want to buy what you offer. There are many different kinds of people. And you never know who can be your next customer. Someone may look like a metalhead, and then it turns out he’s a cook that likes avant-garde painting. So don’t judge a book by its cover. Your next customer may live next door.
Find Your Tribe
We were already talking about finding a community of like-minded people. It’s a great starting point. You can meet many people that are on the same journey as you are and you can help each other. And not only that, but you can also make a lot of new friends this way. There are many musicians out there that are touring together. And they all meet each other over the internet. Some of them even live on different continents. That’s how powerful the internet can be.
Finding your tribe can even be more powerful. You’ll have a group of people that follow you and admire your work. Most of them are probably buying your art. And if they are a part of your tribe, they’re probably showing your art to everyone they know. These are your biggest fans. They are the best kind of followers any artist can have. And you can’t find them. They’ll find you. So it’s more about creating an environment for them to come.
This is why advertising is important. Especially Facebook advertising. You can target a specific group of people that have similar interests. And you can target lookalike people all around the world. This is the most usual way artists build their following. But it’s not the only way. There’s a great free option as well. You can use Instagram to find people over specific hashtags. This way, you can find the exact kind of people that you’re looking for. Comment on their pictures and get involved in conversations. Don’t leave fire emojis or something that won’t involve them in a conversation. Give your honest opinion and ask questions. That’s how you build connections.
Find More Ways to Make Money
Don’t limit yourself to selling your art. There are many more ways you can earn money. Research and see what other successful artists are doing. Look at what other independent musicians are doing. Get your music on all the popular streaming services like Spotify and iTunes. Spotify alone can make you more money than you would make by selling your music. It’s not always the case, but it’s a great source of income.
Another way is to create your website and sell merchandise. And you can do that by creating simple print-on-demand products. Find print-on-demand services like Printify and connect them to your website. All you have to do is upload your design and select the kind of merchandise that you want to sell. You can take pictures of your paintings and create shirts and pillows with them. Or, if you’re a musician, you can use the cover of your latest album or your logo. The options are limitless.
Have you ever thought about live performances? Unfortunately, this won’t be available for everyone. But if there’s a way, you should consider doing it. Musicians already have a lot of options when it comes to performance. If they can’t do it live, they can stream it online and make even more money. If you’re a painter, reach out to galleries. Find ways to get to more people. If you’re a writer, find some cool places where you can do book presentations. Whatever it is that you do, find a way. Meet people offline, make them feel good when it comes to your art, and then take them online. This is the best kind of marketing you can do for your art.
Find a Mentor
If you want to go further and move faster, find a mentor. You may not need a mentor to succeed and you can do everything by yourself. But if you can find someone who’s already doing what you want to do, you should at least try. You won’t lose anything, and you can gain a lot. Most of them won’t even charge you a penny and they’ll be glad to help. But remember this. If a person is a wonderful painter but doesn’t make money, don’t take their business advice. Make sure to also find someone who’s making a decent amount of money by doing the same thing. Even if he’s not as good as the other guy. He probably knows something. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be making money. So the best advice you can take is to learn from everyone. You never know who can help you in your career.