Looking for more passive income streams beyond online classes? We have you covered.
We can’t predict the exact play-by-play for the coming year. However, there are some things that will never change, despite a shifting calendar. In 2020, 2021, or the years to come, you want to seek out passive income opportunities for your art business.
Of course, passive income is a bit of a misnomer, as it actually takes quite a bit of work to set up these income streams. However, once the hard work is put in upfront, these avenues provide a steady income in addition to your art sales.
When times are lean, passive income provides security. When times are prosperous, passive income allows you more funds to expand and innovate within your career.
Many artists in 2020 took to their screens to host online art-making workshops and classes. But, online teaching is not the only way to drive new income. There are lessons to learn from when creatives in the visual arts and in other industries got, well, creative with earning money in 2020.
Here are our top alternative passive income ideas for your art business in 2021:
Membership Services or Perks
The idea of online membership and subscription services are not new. Whether it’s a Spotify subscription or movie and tv streaming site, people have embraced and normalized online subscription services. According to Forbes, the average American uses 3.4 services just for streaming.
The popularity of personalizing online subscription sites is a bit newer. Whether it’s curated subscription boxes or membership sites that connect fans with individual artists and celebrities, these services are booming.
In the past few years, social media has helped create a new type of celebrity—think Youtubers—and connect fans with their favorite actors, musicians, and athletes.
Membership sites like Patreon have been around for years but took off even more in the past year as artists and content creators of all types looked for new ways to continue to connect with their audiences. Patreon allows its hosts, mainly musicians, to create and share unreleased music, personal content, and to connect with fans in a “backstage” type of virtual environment.
Sites like Patreon are “accessibility subscriptions” that allow artists to create and share content to their subscribers who pay a set or leveled fee each month to participate.
While you may not feel the need to set up an account with a formal membership service or content sharing site, you can start your own or take a leaf out of the subscription and V.I.P. model.
If you do workshops, tutorials, have teaching material on hand, or other engaging art sharing materials on hand it can be worth giving this already created material some extra life.
If you are new to the idea of monetizing your content, you can always start off smaller or test interest by posting recorded lessons or downloadable materials online for one-off sales.
There are a plethora of sites that will host your content and charge users for downloads of your videos or text. Sites like Udemy or Skillshare allow you to experiment with selling content and will help you see what is most popular as you create a plan for a membership or subscription model.
Digital and Physical Art Renting
Think beyond the gallery.
Another growing pre-existing but growing business and changing business is the world of art rentals. Renting your art allows you to earn income before landing a buyer. Your art is sitting but still bringing in revenue—the definition of passive income!
Usually, when you rent art, you are giving your physical artworks to an individual or business for an agreed-upon amount of time.
Renting your art has another payoff. When your art is displayed in a business, restaurant, hotel, or other public places, like a city bus, you are gaining new audiences. Art rentals will help you to break into new and unexpected areas to sell and display artwork.
Some well-known art rental businesses for corporate use—like on television sets and for real estate development—are Turning Art, Art for Film, Artemus, and Art Force. Art galleries will also help coordinate corporate and private art leasing like London’s Red Eight Gallery and Rise Art.
While art rentals aren’t typically marketed to individuals, there are also services working to bring art into people’s homes. Curina is a company that is bringing emerging artists new collectors by allowing individuals to rent their work. If your renters like your work, there’s a good chance your renter may become your buyer—or at least will request your work again in the future!
What if you could make renting your artwork even more passive?
Art rental services that bring high-quality digital images of artworks to home viewers on digital screens are now another option. Canvia blends bringing famous artwork from museums and galleries as well as contemporary artists into viewers' homes and venues on framed screens.
For now, physical art rental is the standard for art renting, but we are keeping our eye on digital art rental services—and so should you!
Hype up a Brand or Service You Love
Is there an art product or service that helps your practice and art business thrive?
You can share the love by exploring ways to partner with businesses that you love. Influencer marketing encompasses everything from repping a business you like to content marketing and more formal brand partnerships.
Start out by reaching out to a material provider or business you use and let them know how important they are to your art career. Ask if there are any marketing partnerships you could take part in. You might arrange content swaps, guest posts, or be paid to promote a material or service.
Partnering with a brand is another great way to earn passive income.
You can work with brands and still remain true to your vision and your art-making goals. We loved speaking with Artwork Archive artist Amaury Debois about how he creates relationships for licensing and branding and his work with businesses like Mercedes Benz and McDonald’s while still remaining true to his artistic self. Debois maintains that he doesn’t have a “brand” but an artistic “world” that allows for flexibility, ideation, and all sorts of creative possibilities including working with businesses and brands to create together.
If you’ve never approached a company and asked about partnering, know that you also have something to offer that company. There is nothing more valuable than an enthusiastic user. If you are going to tell all your friends about your favorite materials or tools anyway, why not earn cash while doing it?
Passive income is all about putting upfront work into a system that will pay off now and in the future.