10 Sure-Fire Passive Income Ideas for Artists

January 30, 2024

The best passive income ideas for artists are local lead generation, opening an online shop, setting up a YouTube automation channel, and a lot more. Having online sources of income are important for artists because they can use them to either share their works publicly or to generate a passive income stream to fund their passion. Financial abundance for an artist is a means for an easier career growth.

Having a passive income as an artist is possible and we’ll be talking about these ideas in this article. We’ll see why local lead generation is still on top of this list as a passive income idea even for artists in 2023, and how other ideas on this list will help you out in turning your art into income.

10 Best Passive Income Ideas for Artists for Quick Money

1. Local Lead Generation

Local lead generation still tops this list of passive income ideas for artists. Website designers can create and design their own website for lead generation. A website with an impressive design can easily attract an audience, which you can turn into leads.

The logic of local lead generation is simple: rank your website, produce leads, sell it to local business owners. This is where the primary income of this idea comes from. Another good thing with local lead generation is that you’re not stuck with just one source of income. Since you’re building your own website, you can also generate a passive income source from ads and sponsors.

I’ve been making around $52k per month with local lead generation. However, it takes time getting there. You still have to rank your website in order to generate leads. Plus, you’ll need to disburse capital to build your website. But if everything goes right, you’ll be able to experience ROI in a year or so.


Multiple income streams

Stable passive income source in the long-run

Opportunity for other income sources, like having your own blog


Takes time to build your website

Need to shell out money for website

2. Opening an Online Shop

Selling artwork designs online is one of the go-to’s for artists. You can simply set up an online shop and upload your artwork. This is a great opportunity, not just for you to sell art, but to expand your portfolio as well.

Setting up an online shop is quite simple. Choose your ecommerce platform (like Shopify and Amazon), set-up your shop, and upload your digital products. Apart from these steps, ecommerce platforms can also help you optimize your online store and each digital product you upload.

However, this idea is highly competitive, so you may need to think of alternative ways of getting your art to be seen easily, such as using paid ads. You'll also have to worry about creating enough inventory, handling your own shipping, and your shop's marketing and branding.

Depending on what designs you’re selling online, you can earn around $10 - $100 for each. It’s actually a good deal, especially if you’ll be selling a lot of a certain design. Setting up an ecommerce shop is also a practical way to make passive income while traveling.


Easy to set up

No need for capital


Takes time to build an audience

More work on branding and marketing

Inventory, packaging, shipping

3. Setting Up a YouTube Automation Channel

Starting a YouTube automation channel is another great passive income strategy for artists. Like having an online shop, a YouTube automated channel can help an artist expand his portfolio and gain an audience as you publish content showing your art online. Furthermore, if you already have a shop set-up, you can plug it on your channel.

A YouTube automation channel also provides multiple streams of income from ads, sponsors, driving traffic to your online shop, and even affiliate marketing–which I’ll be discussing in the next section. Now you can do all the work on your channel, but an automation channel is definitely better. 

Though you’ll need to expense money for this one, you’ll definitely get it back once you feel the ROI. The average RPM, or Revenue Per Mille (revenue per 1,000 views), is around $5 - $10. Meaning, if your videos garner around 10,000 views, you can earn $50 - $100.


Passive income stream in the long-run

Has a multiple passive income source

Opportunity for other income sources, like incorporating affiliate marketing


Takes time to build an audience

Need to shell out money for automation

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing focuses on promoting products for commissions earned from those referrals. This is a great passive income stream for anyone, even artists. With an affiliate link, you can promote other products and earn commission from having it purchased from your referral.

You can promote an affiliate link to your YouTube channel posts. Or you can even do affiliate marketing for your own products from your online ecommerce shop. Think of it as a combined business venture as an artist. Affiliate marketing can open up a lot of passive income opportunities if combined with other ideas.

Income from affiliate marketing would depend on what type of product you’re promoting. Your choice of ecommerce platform would also affect how much commission you’ll be earning from a successful conversion. Various platforms offer around 5% - 10%. So if you’ll be affiliate marketing a product which is at $50, you would get around $2.5 - $5 as commission.


Opens up other income opportunities

Easy to set up

No need for capital


Less audience means low conversion

Competitive market

5. Making Your Own Blog

Blogging helps artists establish their portfolio online, enabling them to store all their work easily without the need for keeping them physically. Having a blog can also be an opportunity to have multiple income streams in the future from ads and sponsors once having gained enough followers and audiences.

However, like building a website, it will definitely take time to have it set-up. You would also need to shell out capital in order to make your own blog. But fret not, as even if your blog doesn’t have enough followers yet, it’s still usable as your own portfolio. Soon enough, you’ll get to feel the ROI, and can also even use it for affiliate marketing.

Once your blog is set up and is attracting an audience, you can expect ROI already. Though not much yet in the early stages, it’ll surely grow as you gain more visitors. Some established bloggers are already making around $55,000, so that may be something to motivate you if you want to start on making your own blog.


Passive income stream in the long-run

Opportunity for multiple income streams, like incorporating affiliate marketing

Great for storing art online


Takes time to experience passive income

Need to shell out money for website

6. Selling Digital and Physical Books

If you’re a novelist and have stories already built, you can definitely put them into books and sell them. It’s a great way to get exposure for your novels and expand your reach. Selling books is another example of passive income ideas for artists since it generates profit even after having your books published.

However, unlike eBooks, physical books need more attention before achieving passive income. Apart from the novels you’ve written, you would also have to look for a publishing company for your works.

This is the best passive income idea for book writers since it is a stable income source after publishing your books digitally or physically. Your books would still be sold out even after not making any new ones. An average eBook sells for around $10 and $15-$20 for physical books. Of course, there are factors that would affect the pricing such as word count, quality, and reputation.


Passive income after publishing the books

For eBooks, there are a lot of distribution sources, like Amazon and Kindle


No sale equals no income

More work on branding and marketing

For physical books, you need to spend money for capital

7. Selling Graphic Design Courses and Guides

There are lots of aspiring artists out there who are looking for online courses and designing guides. You can use this as leverage to sell your own courses and guides, which makes a great passive income idea for artists. If you have your own website or blog, this would make a great lead generation method for you, too, which you can use for future courses and guides.

Selling courses and guides are pretty much passive income streams after publishing them online. It’s looking for buyers that’s going to be the work. A good branding, reputation, and marketing strategy is what will help you sell your courses. And once you’ve got an audience, you could use those leads again to pitch your fresh courses and guides to them.

Online courses and guides are priced at‌ least $50 per course, so that’s great passive income if you’re open to it. And given the technicalities of graphic designing, you can definitely do more than that while keeping a competitive price.


Significant source of leads

Income will still come in even after making the courses and guides


Takes time to build up an audience

A lot to work on when creating courses and guides

If you're looking for a course that teaches how to create high-quality recipes, food photography, and other digital products to sell for bloggers, you can check my article about Content Creator Lab

8. Print-On-Demand Products

If you have design ideas, you can incorporate this into various products and partner up with print-on-demand companies. A lot of designers collaborate with print-on-demand companies, wherein these companies will handle the products and shipping. Once products are ready, it’s pretty much just waiting on passive income from people buying the products you designed.

The only work you’ll need to do for this idea is to design the products. The prices of the products vary depending on what it is, like mugs, for example, which sell out at an average of $10 - $20 per piece. Shirts are also sold at around $15 - $25 per piece, so those are good numbers to earn passive income for artists.


Easy to set up

Minimal need for inventory

No need to worry about packaging & shipping


Low profit margin

No control over packaging & shipping quality

9. Licensing Your Designs

As an established artist, companies will come to you and pitch for them to have the license to publish your designs on their products. There are plenty of opportunities here since you can have multiple companies licensing on one design, given that each company uses it on different products. It’s a good passive income idea.

However, this would be easier if you’ve already established your name or have had your designs put up online for companies to see. If not, it would be added work to look for companies and pitch in your own designs. Depending on your agreement with a company, earnings from licensing vary from 3% - 25%. According to sources, it’s also best to have exclusive licenses of a design for 1 product only.


Great for gathering more audience to your brand

Can control quality since you’ll be choosing your own company to work with and have approval over product samples

No capital required


Hard to get clients if still starting out

Competitive market

No control over packaging & shipping quality

10. Establish Your Own Online Designing Agency

Perhaps the best passive income you can think of, having your own agency, is definitely an end goal for most. Though the logic seems impossible and farfetched, there are steps you can take to attain the status. You can start out by looking for clients. Once you’ve landed your first client, you can look for a freelancer and let him/her do the tasks.

If you’re persistent in building your own online designing agency, then you would have to do a lot of work first before getting the passive income status. You’ll have to spend time on the paperworks to make your online agency legal, hire VAs to help you in getting clients and freelancers, and a lot more. You also need to spend some capital in order to get the business running. But once you’ve set it all up, you can earn as much as thousands of dollars as a business owner.


Excellent opportunity for business growth

Access to more talent

Great passive income source in the long-run


Communication challenges among team members

Client engagement and management

Constantly ensure team quality and production

Frequently Asked Questions About Passive Income Ideas for Artists

1. How can artists make quick money?

For quick money, artists can try out freelancing for companies. If you already have a good number of followers, there are lots of choices for quick money, such as affiliate marketing and print-on-demand products.

2. Can you think of a better passive income idea than starting an online art store?

There are lots of better passive income ideas than starting an online art store like local lead generation, which can get you thousands a month and setting up a YouTube automation channel which is a passive income stream for artists in the long-run.

3. What skills could generate passive income for artists?

There are a lot of skills that can generate passive income streams for artists, like graphic designing, digital and physical art, website designing, and a lot more.

4. Are there online platforms where artists can sell their works?

Yes, there are a lot of options online. You can sell on ecommerce platforms like Amazon, you can open up your own online shop via Shopify, and even online art museums and exhibitions.

5. Can an artist dive into multiple passive income ideas?

Definitely. Like some ideas listed, you can combine affiliate marketing with other ideas to maximize your profits in each area.

6. What do artists need in order to start their online passive income journey?

Artists need to invest in tools and softwares to create their art and designs online. The first things that come into mind when starting will definitely be the Adobe tools, like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. These have monthly, annual, and lifetime (included in the OS) subscriptions you can purchase.


These passive income ideas for artists are foolproof ways for artists to earn passive income in the long-run. Not only will these be a way to earn passive income, these are also a good way of expanding your portfolio and establishing your name as a renowned artist. 

The best passive income idea on this list is still topped by local lead generation since it generates the most profit in the long-run and opens up a lot of opportunities wherein you’re able to create your own website as a blog and capture leads you can use in the future.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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  1. Hey Ippei

    Great article, one thing I guess I would say is that with the print for demand you can have quite a high profit margin as you can set up the price that you would like for the products you sell.

    Either way fantastic article and I love your website design

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