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4 Ways to Make Money as an Online Artist

Start by thinking outside the paint box

By Nancy Collamer

Whether you're an artist, crafter or woodworker, the opportunities to profit from your artistic talents online have never been better. In recent years, consumers have grown increasingly comfortable with buying art online. According to the IBIS World's Online Art Sales in the US Industry Report, the market size of online art sales grew an average of 17.2% per year between 2018 and 2023.

An artist working on a glass blowing project. Next Avenue, artist make money online
If you're an experienced artist with tips, techniques and skills to demonstrate, consider sharing your expertise by teaching your own online art course.  |  Credit: Getty

If you'd like to capitalize on this trend to generate income from your artistic talent, designs and know-how online, here are four options to consider:

1. Sell Through One (or More) Online Galleries

Traditionally, artists have relied on physical galleries and auction houses to sell their fine art. But increasingly, artists are leveraging online galleries (both their own and third parties) to expand their sales and client base.

"Be prepared to market yourself through social media."

As an example, Marilyn Froggatt, a painter based in Palm Desert, California, age 60+, started selling her paintings online eight years ago. Initially, she created a website through Fine Art Studios Online (FASO). Over time, she added three more sites to the mix: Fine Art America, Saatchi Art and UGallery.

Partnering with multiple sites allows her to reach a much wider audience, but it also means extra work.

"You can't add on too many online sites as you won't be able to maintain them all," she warns. "You must constantly update with fresh work and delete paintings that have been sold. And be prepared to market yourself through social media. No one will buy from your website unless you drive them there with social media."

Froggatt recommends artists look for sites that are a strong fit with their style and ability level. "You must be honest with yourself about your choice of medium, subject matter and your professional level against the other artists showing on the site," she says. And be aware that some sites work on a juried basis, meaning your work might not be accepted by every site.

2. Explore Print-on-Demand Products

Sites like RedBubble, Zazzle and Society6 make it simple to upload your designs to products like T-shirts, phone covers, coffee cups and greeting cards. After you provide the artwork, they handle production, warehousing, payment processing and shipping.

Print-on-demand sites provide an easy way to test out and sell a wide range of products, without the headaches of producing, stocking and shipping your own inventory.

Each time one of your designs sells, you'll get paid a portion of the sale, typically around 10% to 15% of the retail price. Terms and conditions vary by site, so be sure to read the fine print before uploading your designs.

3. Set Up Shop on Etsy

If you're more of a crafty type, consider joining the more than seven million vendors who sell their handmade goods, vintage items or crafting supplies on Etsy.

It's free to set-up shop on Etsy, but you will pay fees for listings, transactions and payment processing once you have sales.


Margreta Silverstone, who is aged 60 and based outside Washington D.C., joined Etsy in 2015. Her site, Margreta MadeIt, features handmade functional items, like double-pocket oven mitts, with a spotlight on Celtic designs and dragonflies. "Having a focus is good for online (and other venues)," she notes.

Barb Perelman, a former teacher and retired engineer in Williamsburg, Virginia, sells personalized blankets and other knit products through her Blazing Needles Etsy site. "Most of my customers are return customers," she says.

"You have to have something special to get seen."

She likes that Etsy handles the bulk of her bookkeeping chores, which give her more time to do what she enjoys most — design and communicate with customers. And she appreciates the relative ease of selling online.

"I used to do shows, but setting up for a show got a bit much as I got older — carting tents and tables around," she admits. Perelman advises new sellers to carefully research their market before setting up shop.

"Etsy is loaded with jewelry and soaps," she says. "You have to have something special to get seen. I have been on Etsy for over 15 years — since I retired. Nothing happens fast, but Etsy has a lot of free information to help you get started and succeed. Read it."

4. Develop an Online Course

Finally, if you're an experienced artist with tips, techniques and skills to demonstrate, consider sharing your expertise by creating and teaching your own online art course.

As an example, I recently purchased a course about abstract landscape painting from a site I found while scrolling through Instagram. Curricula on the site, Laurie Anne Art, range in price from $47 for individual courses to $997 for a pass that gives you access to multiple classes.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of platforms, like Teachable or Thinkific, that allow you do this with minimal technical know-how and hassle. Once you upload your content, the teaching platform is responsible for the hosting, delivery and payment processing of the course.

The beauty of teaching this way is that once your course is online, it can be purchased by a global audience for as long as your account remains active. Both Teachable and Thinkific offer a free starter plan and several hosting options, ongoing fees vary based on the plan you select.

Photograph of Nancy Collamer
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at (and you'll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter). Read More
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