Ep 06: Make Money From Your Art

We welcome Samantha Lopez back for her third and final installment on how to be a more independent woman in the art industry, along with a special new guest, Kat Hubbs.

Just to give you the low-down on what these ladies are all about, Samantha Lopez is an illustrator/graphic designer based out of Los Angeles, and Kat is a hand lettering artist/visual illustrator based out of Washington DC.

Samantha being an in-house designer for Honey, as well as doing freelance gigs on the side, and Kat rocking the freelance lifestyle full time, these ladies make the perfect combo to discuss today’s topic, how to create diverse revenue streams so artists like us can make more money!

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Ways to make money that do not include a day job or freelancing

We want to make more money, we want to do it in less time, and we don’t want to rely on a day job or client work to make us feel financially secure.

With a twelve year background as an in-house graphic designer in e-commerce, Kat made the transition to freelance several years back, whereas Samantha currently balances a day job and freelance illustration. Both, however, are open to figuring out ways to increase their income.

We’re going to name the obvious, tangible products. Whether it be a pin or t-shirt, you have the option of going through third-party platforms such as Threadless, Redbubble, Society6, or keeping it close to home and overseeing the operation via your own e-commerce website.

Where most people might instantly gravitate towards selling tangible products (as is very much the norm), we can name a few alternative revenue streams that might be more suited to what you have to offer in terms of industry and time management.

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For example, you can create digital products, which can take the form of downloadable zines, ebooks, fonts, graphics or even sticker packs for iMessage.

Once you start selling your own product, terms like “Licensing” and “Royalties” will pop up, and are key factors in helping you get paid. Say you’re looking to sell a font. The “Licensing” is going to decide how the font gets used, and a “Royalty” is the payment you receive from every purchase.

Then again, an educational approach might be more your thing. Skillshare as a video class format, or Patreon as a subscription-based system, are both platforms you might want to invest in. You can always check out our Women of Illustration Patreon to get a feel for the platform!

And last but not least, having a large enough following online can give you the option of sponsorships and monetizing your online platform through content marketing methods. For example, the mission of native advertising is to blend in with the content it is placed within, as well as matching the look and function of the online platform that’s featuring this content.

A form of native advertising is affiliate marketing which we can see in plenty of blogs sponsoring products in their articles. Another common marketing approach is PPC (pay per click advertising), where each click gets you paid.

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What would your preferred revenue stream be?

Kat names fabric patterns as her go-to, currently choosing to use third-party platform Spoonflower, where customers have the opportunity to select from a broad range of her fabric designs.

We see that by having outsourced her logistics and supply chain, customers have a wider array of product selection than, say if she were to run the manufacturing infrastructure in-house. She doesn’t need to oversee the sourcing, or the packaging and shipment of the product; not to mention the inevitable storage of inventory.

Third-party platforms may minimize your overall cost and allow for more flexibility to focus on other parts of your business. However, as with everything, you need to balance the pros and cons. A major drawback is that you normally only make 20% commision on each sale.

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Even so, an ordered manufacturing infrastructure is just one piece of the puzzle. Doing the market research and knowing your buyer persona (the demographics and interests of your customer) as well as having your content marketing down, will shift the odds in your favor.

For the time being, Kat’s looking to gradually branch out into products on a monthly basis, with the initial release of a new Skillshare series in which she’ll be covering her illustration process in software programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Samantha’s ideal ballgame would be to run everything through her own online shop. With her first line of t-shirts being such a sold-out success, she’s looking to concentrate on tangible products and further explore what this could mean for her business.

"Look at all the ways you can make money, and how this aligns with what you have to bring to the table. Now go do it."

While Kat chose a third-party platform, Samantha decided on in-house production.

This type of supply chain, as we mentioned earlier, can come with some baggage, like trying to find storage space for all the inventory.

And we get it. There is total truth in that mental and physical cluster go hand-in-hand. It’s important to separate and create boundaries between work and personal environment, but that doesn’t mean to say we overlook the value in “give-and-take.”

So, first, we think of the type of product, for example, pins aren’t going to take up as much space as t-shirts. Secondly, we learn to better organize our process, thirdly, we buy some storage boxes, and fourthly, we acknowledge that there is a larger apartment on the horizon; one where storage boxes don’t count as dining room tables.

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Get your ducks in a row

Like so many of us, we allow for automatic thoughts to get the better of us, and feel instantly overwhelmed by our goals before we even put pen to paper. Goals that, a moment ago, were a source of creativity and motive.

So we’ve figured out the who, what, why, when, and where, now it’s time to turn those “what if’s” into a concrete plan of action. Time management is your best friend, one who will sing praise to your success and buy you pizza.

Cue obstacle one in getting you that pizza, market research, and logistics. Whether it’s just twenty minutes per week or several hours, “we can all make time for our seasons of passion”.

Don’t get stuck in the planning phase, but be strategic in your market research, product development, and eventual release, all the while, being consistent in promoting whatever it may be that you’re making.

A straightforward plan won’t leave you second guessing what to do with your time

Whether it’s just twenty minutes per week or several hours, “we can all make time for our seasons of passion”.

A few tips and tricks to further reinforce this would be to do some sort of beta test. Sharing your prototype on social media can get you feedback in terms of comments and likes, but not any real “add-to-cart” action. Basket abandonment is not something you want showing up in your Google Analytics. You could use a third-party platform like Society6 and Redbubble as an initial launch space, and depending on consumer demand, add it to your own site.

Instagram’s analytics, which you can access by connecting your Facebook business page, or Google Analytics, will give you an in-depth rundown on demographics, what external links are driving referral traffic, and those top posts earning extra likes.

Look at all the ways you can make money, and how this aligns with what you have to bring to the table. Now go do it.

The easiest way to make money?

Having said all this, we all love a snappy solution. So, yes, the easiest product to make would be a digital one. It cuts out manufacturing (whether this is manufacturing on-demand/ or an upfront investment), storage, packaging, and shipping.

Bearing this in mind, being serious in pursuing e-commerce requires a mixture of your own expertise and interests, whether you’re producing something to educate or products of leisure. Discovering these varied diversified revenue streams takes time and attention to detail, and should not be written off as quick-cash.

As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “I have one foot with the fairies, but the other foot is very firmly planted in the real world”.

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SAMANTHA LOPEZ

Illustrator & Designer

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KAT HUBBS

Illustrator & Lettering Artist


THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ONE OF OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS

Rachel Campbell 
Illustrator and Animator
Based in Amsterdam
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