So, you want to learn how to create passive income as an artist. Isn’t that the dream?!
You’ve made the art. Now, you want to open the possibility of it generating passive income for you. You’re in the right place!
Maintaining an inventory of physical products is a hassle. You never know how many of a certain product are going to sell. It’s annoying to physically store the products and make sure they don’t get damaged in the process. You pay the vendor fee at craft fairs in attempt to sell your art, lug all your products there, set up a display, and then may not see a single sale afterwards. If you have your own online store and someone actually does buy something, you have to package it up, pay for shipping, and make a trip to the post office. Then you cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t get damaged during shipment! Nothing about that is passive.
That’s the opposite of what I’m sharing here! In this post, I’m going to talk about the print-on-demand websites where you can upload your artwork, people can purchase a wide variety of physical products with your art on it, and then the website handles everything for you. They have their own revolving coupon codes, they do their own advertising to get customers on their website, they can offer the appeal of free shipping, and they print the products on-demand so there is no huge inventory of unsold products.
To create passive income as an artist, first you need to:
1. Create your store
2. Upload your artwork
3. Choose the title, tags, and description
4. Enable product types and adjust art placement as necessary
When you get a sale, the website emails the customer, prints the product, ships it to them, and handles all aspects of customer service. You just get an email that tells you how much you made. You don’t have to do anything after that! That’s why it’s passive.
Even if you never post anything on social media, I still think it’s worth setting up your own online art stores. Online marketplaces like TeePublic and RedBubble have a tag system. You tag your products with searchable keywords, and then random people who are shopping on the website can find your artwork.
So, let’s get you started!
Types of Art
Graphic Design / Digital Art
If you create art in a digital format, you’re basically already ready to create your art store and start uploading!
Maybe you’re aware of color profiles or maybe you’re not. sRGB is the default color profile in most programs. The CMYK color profile works best for printing while sRGB works best for viewing designs on the web. If you’re making art with the main intention of having it printed, it’s best to create it with the CMYK color profile. But if all your existing art is in sRGB, it’s okay! Sometimes the colors don’t look identical as they do on your screen, but it’s not the end of the world. You can choose to create your new artwork in CMYK if you’d like to have peace of mind with this. You can read more about this here.
If you create physical, tangible artwork like drawings, paintings, and sculptures, you can still benefit from uploading your art to these sites! You just need a high quality picture of your art. You can still continue to generate passive income from the photograph of your artwork, even if you sell the original version to someone!
Here are my favorite online storefronts to help you generate passive income as an artist.
TeePublic is my absolute favorite storefront to upload art to. Why? Because their uploading process is far by the easiest and most time-efficient of any of the sites I’ve tried. Their uploader works with multiple files at a time and it is simple, fun, and satisfying to use.
Their design interface is also user-friendly and it gets a lot correct without much need for manual intervention. This matters a lot when you are uploading many different art pieces and needing to them to display just right on all the different product types.
If you’re brand new to setting up art stores for passive income as an artist, I highly recommend getting starting with TeePublic.
TeePublic recommends high-resolution transparent .PNG at 150dpi. Minimum dimensions of at least 1500px by 1995px (not including outer transparent pixels). To enable all products, your file must be at least 5000px by 5500px. They have more detailed recommendations in their Design Guide. These are some great tips and they apply to printing your art through most other stores, too!
To check out an example store, you can look at my TeePublic storefront.
RedBubble was the first store I made when I got started selling my art online in 2018. It’s the store I have the most art uploaded to, and the store where I have the most sales.
However, it can be time consuming to manually adjust your art placement on each individual product type.
If you have a lot of art pieces that are the exact same size, you can save time by going to your current portfolio, clicking on one of your already uploaded pieces, and choose “Copy Settings.” This makes a new template for you to upload different art with the same settings and product placements.
RedBubble recommends high-resolution JPEG, PNG or GIF files with a minimum of 1000px resolution. They have more detailed recommendations in their Design Guide.
The Dimensions & Format page is also super helpful. When it comes to creating your art, larger sizes are better when it comes to RedBubble. For example, the recommended art dimensions for some of the largest products, shower curtain, throw blankets, and tapestries, is 7632×6480. Their website says you can upload files up to 300 MB in size.
To check out an example store, you can look at my RedBubble storefront.
The main advantage of Spring is that it has the highest default artist margins out of any online storefront that I’ve found.
However, unlike TeePublic and RedBubble, Spring does not have a main site that is searchable where random people can find your art based on what tags you applied. With Spring, you have your own store URL that you are responsible for sharing on social media. So unless you have a large fanbase, or a group of people who are absolutely going to purchase your products, it is unlikely that random people will find your Spring store.
There is another benefit of using Spring, though. You can create your own custom coupon codes to offer discounts to your social media followers.
Spring doesn’t have any recommended dimensions, but you can upload files up to 50 MB in size.
To check out an example store, you can look at my Spring storefront.
Of course, there are so many other websites where you can create your own store, upload your art, and create passive income. Some of them include Society6 and Zazzle. I have stores on those sites, but I chose to focus my efforts on other sites instead.
It can be so much work to upload tons of art to many different sites and adjust the product placement for each variety of product on each site. Whew! It really is so much work. That’s why I recommend focusing on just one store to get started, maybe two if you’re feeling super ambitious. Again, TeePublic is a great beginner-friendly site to get started with.
If you have the funds to outsource all this manual work, you can hire someone on Fiverr to upload it for you. That would involve trusting someone with your art, your account info, and trusting that they’ll have the patience to make sure all the product placement is just right. Luckily, there are lots of people who do this specific task for a living, so you can search on the site and read through reviews other people have left them. I never went down that path, but I wanted to mention it just in case it appeals to someone. Plus, if you sign up through my link, you’ll get 10% off your first purchase of a service through Fiverr.
Tips & Tricks for the New Art Store Owner
Try to keep your art store name the same (or if not possible, very closely similar) across all art store platforms and social media.
Have patience! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately get your first sale. Your chances of getting your art in front of as many eyes as possible increases with the more art you upload, the better variety of tags you use, and the longer your art is out there. Create your art, upload a bunch of it, and promote it on social media.
It can be fun to order physical products with your own artwork printed on it. The best time to do this is when a website offers a coupon code so you can get it at a discount. Not only do you get to enjoy your art even more tangibly, but you can use those physical products to take your own promotional photos for social media. If you buy apparel with your art on it, people may ask you about it in public, getting you some free promotion as well.
I hope this post gave you useful information or inspired you in some way. I wish you many art sales and passive financial abundance!
Do you have questions about setting up your art store on any of these sites? Please reach out to me, I would love to hear from you!