As an artist, chances are you spend a lot of money creating your work. Your financial plan includes expenses like promotion, venue costs, hires, artist fees…but where does the revenue come from?​ 

​Having a plan and a timeline in place before launching your art-based business is key to understanding whether your cashflow is positive, or if you’re going to need some extra cash and need to consider taking out a loan or saving money first.​

Examples of revenue streams

While you can’t (and shouldn’t) try to do them all, here is a list of potential revenue streams for artists. Take your time, be patient, and pick the ones that best suit your needs!

  • direct sales​
  • crowdfunding or Patreon​
  • subscribers or regular donors​
  • a fan club​
  • e-commerce via your website​
  • third party sellers (i.e., Etsy, society6)​
  • freelancing ​
  • commissions ​
  • gigs ​
  • selling through a representative (i.e., gallerist, agent booker)​
  • grants, loans, awards, contests​
  • sponsorships, partnerships​
  • fundraising​​
  • licensing​
  • tiered services​
  • personalized products​
  • conferences, speaking engagements ​
  • selling prints of originals​
  • facilitating workshops​
  • skill-trading​
  • a day job (!)

Helpful tips:

1. Be realistic​.

Identify ways in which you are capable of monetizing your skills, products and/or services—now and over time. Keep your capacities and resources in mind—as well as the limitations (and opportunities) of your industry.

2. Price it right.

Determine the value of your concept, time, production, and overhead costs. Then, validate it with a little market research: what will interested parties actually pay? If there’s a discrepancy, you may need to find additional funding or else reposition yourself within the market.

3. Consider the marketplace.

When pitching, producing and pricing your artwork, always consider the realities of the marketplace, i.e., the current supply and demand for the type of product/service you’re offering; the state of the competition; the overall economic climate; and how much people could/would be willing to pay.

4. Develop a financial plan.

Taking the time to develop a financial plan will help you to determine how much money you need to bring in annually to cover your costs and live the life you desire, as well as how much product/service you need to sell to reach this target. Does it add up?

5. Diversify your revenue.

Limiting yourself to one revenue source is risky. Diversifying means finding different ways to make money. If your art can’t support you yet, you’ll need to develop other sources of income while you build up your practice. This might involve working a part-time job unrelated to your art. You might also consider whether you’d be willing/able to do work for exposure. In such cases, the person hiring you should be able to give you numbers in terms of the exposure you’ll get​. However, in most cases, any work you do should come with an artist’s fee.

Above all, respect yourself, know the value of your work, and stay the course!

Additional Resources

An artist coach can help you identify the best plan for YOUR business. Contact us to book a free consult.