When you flip burgers, design logos, or create user interfaces for clients, you trade hours of your time for dollars. You might get paid by the hour or by the project. Either way, you trade your finite hours for payments that, we hope, can add up to enough to live on.
When you put a piece of art online and let fans of your work order it on a t-shirt, mousepad, or mug, your art can be earning money while you sleep.
Types of Income
In the United States, the IRS divides income into three categories:
- active income
- passive income
- portfolio income
Passive Income includes things like owning an apartment building and receiving rent money. But for our purposes the focus is on art that people can buy as an ongoing source of income.
Typically your Website + Social Media like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc are how you develop a base of people interested in your work who might buy items or pay to subscribe to your creative output.
Someone might see an image of yours on Instagram, click through to your website, and order it as a print or other merchandise item. Then they might forget about you.
“True Believers” are super-fans you might develop over time and continuing work. These are your most dedicated audience members who will buy or pre-order anything you put out without seeing it first because they believe in you and your work. Big celebrities like Taylor Swift have legions of True Believers. But an indy artist can also cultivate a small following of True Believers that provide you with a base of support.
Platforms for Passive Income
Here are a few of the many platforms you might use to connect with people who appreciate your work and allow them to support it.
OnlyFans is best known for giving adult film stars a platform to distribute their video content directly to their fans. For that reason you may or may not want to use them. There are many other options available. However, OnlyFans also allows fans to support many other types of content creators including fitness, musicians, cooking, music, comedy, education, and art.