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9 Steps to Making Money with Your Art

May 28, 2021 11:48 AM | Dan Nelson

First, let me say, that I KNOW that for some (many?) of you, making money from your art is not a high priority, so I apologize for a Blog Post that really doesn’t apply to you. BUT— you might know somebody it DOES apply to, AND you might just be curious to “see how the other half lives.” 

9 Steps to Making Money with Your Art

1. Learn how to paint. (Duh.)

Study, practice, repeat.

2. Develop a BODY of work.

This may be the single  most important piece of advice on this list. Nobody cares what you can paint. They care what you can paint over and over and over. Any ONE of your paintings can only be evaluated (and priced!) against the backdrop of a BODY of work. How much is “a Body”? I don’t know . . . at least 20 paintings all in a same-ish style. THIS is where that ubiquitous bit of advice is on-the-mark: Develop a style

3. Paint for free.

We all have to start somewhere. Do paintings for family, friends, fundraisers . . . 

4. Paint for cheap.

After you've done it FREE for awhile, try to get into a local coffee shop or restaurant . . . 

5. Market, Market, Market . . . 

Here’s the life of a working artist in the world we live in:

• Paint • Post • Paint • Post • Paint • Post . . .  

Social Media is the MAIN marketing tool these days: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Fine Art America, etc.

6. Build a website.

I know a LOT of people ONLY have social media marketing. Somebody has to tell you this, and I’ll be that somebody: When I see an artist with ONLY social media presence, it screams “beginner” / “amateur” / “perennial hobbyist.” Sure, it’s a pain in the neck to learn new stuff, but everybody can build a website these days, and that’s what you need to do. Consider the learning curve as part of your “staving-off-dimentia” strategy. There are lots of options: Wix, Square Space, Network Solutions, Web.com; and if you’re a Mac person— Sparkle. And don't forget to make it mobile-friendly.

7. Set yer bum down in yer chair and develop your signature!

As you may already know, this is one of my perennial rants. 


A) Initials Only

(“I’m such a nobody I don’t really want anybody to know who did this. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I deserve to breathe.” )

B) Making in inscrutable scrawl.

(“It’ll be like the mark of Zorro! I’ll be SO famous, they will swoon when they see it!”)

C) Using a bristle brush.

(Use a good sable brush— like Winsor Newton Series 7. Also— NO markers!)

D) Signing your paintings the way you sign your checks.

(You’ve got to “Disney-fy it a little bit!)

8. Design a really cool business card.

You're an artist! Your business card had better look like it! Put some of your work on it-- at least on one side.

9. Believe you're awesome until you really are. 

You've GOT TO manifest an air of competence. Not arrogance . . . Just a professional "I got this" attitude.

Truly— this is one of those areas in life where you have to fake it til you make it. 

Hope that helps! And, yes, I did every one of these things at various stages in my career. 

Tell us what you would add— or subtract!

In the meantime . . . forget about selling!




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