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What are Passive Incomes for Online Artists?

According to investor legend Warren Buffett, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” While that might sound like a dream come true if you’re passionate about your job, it’s always nice to have extra money coming in without much effort on your part. That’s essentially the gist of passive income–income generated without exerting energy like at your job. It’s gotten a lot of attention with the rise of social media and the FIRE movement (financially independent, retire early), and it’s worth checking out. 

Why? Because who doesn’t like to wake up at 7 am and see deposit notifications from their bank overnight? Working full-time as an artist or freelancer is time-consuming, and you might not always know when your next big sale or business opportunity is coming. It’s nice to have some extra money coming in on the side, whether it’s almost a year’s worth of earnings or just enough to buy more supplies. We’ll talk you through the basics of passive income and what you can do as an artist to help set up your own passive revenue using your brand. 

Passive Income 101

Passive income, as we said before, is income that doesn’t really take much of your time or consistent energy/effort to create. It can come in many forms: as an investor, you can collect dividends; as a business or real estate owner, you can collect earnings or rent; if you have a patent, you can collect royalties; if you have an online store, you can earn sales without having to sell. And so on. The point is that you’re earning money without having to put more time or energy into it. 

People are embracing passive income streams because it affords them more freedom. If they’re earning a decent sum of money from YouTube videos they uploaded months ago, they might decide to work less and travel more. People with multiple evergreen passive income streams might have the option to retire early. While it sounds amazing, be aware that building a passive income stream can take a lot of time and energy upfront--if you want a YouTube channel or social media account that nets you enough sales and ads to live off of, it’ll take time to produce content and grow it. 

Social Media

Different social media accounts pay differently–YouTube is praised as one of the best, while TikTok has gotten flak for not paying creators fairly. But in the end, social media is one of the best ways to generate passive income. If you have a big following and a lot of viewers, you can simply produce ads and sponsored content. You might even be entitled to a small percentage of revenue. You can also link to an online store to sell merchandise and artwork. 

If you aren’t on social media, we highly highly highly suggest you start now! It’s free to create, and offers so many ways to connect with fellow artists and potential customers. We’ve offered ways to grow your following in other posts, such as showcasing the actual production process and behind the scenes of what goes into making your art. These are ways to connect with the person buying your art, in ways that large manufacturers simply can’t. So, capitalize on it!


Blogs can be thought of as the forerunner to social media, going back to the early days of the internet. People would create websites and write weblogs or pages of content. Blogging, like social media and the internet, is saturated but still alive. You can earn income through posting advertisements and affiliate links, but it also depends on your number of readers and followers. 

Blogging is alive and well, but the tricky thing for artists is that blogging depends on writing, unlike social media. It’s tough to convey the visuals of artwork through writing, although you can certainly post photos of your work on your blog. If you have the time and enjoy writing, you can tie a blog to your social media. It’s a more personal way for followers to get to know you; plus, when someone subscribes to your mailing list for your blog, you own that–the social media platform can demonetize or suspend your account, but your blog is your own little platform. 

Online Store

If you aren’t looking to partner up with a brand or advertise on their behalf, you can also make money by selling your own stuff directly to followers. This can be your own artwork (though technically, that might not make this passive income if you’re physically producing it), branded merchandise, or digital assets. There are more options than ever to create an online store–you can have it integrated directly with your social media account so followers can buy products in just a few swipes, or you can create your own website to sell from. There are also plenty of software solutions that can automate the payment process as well as companies that can handle the shipping and fulfillment too. 


Passive income simply provides online artists with a pathway to financial stability by being able to utilize their creativity and online social presence. Through platforms like social media, blogging, and online stores, artists can generate a steady income even while they're not actively working. By simply engaging with followers and staying active online or even using automation tools, artists can create multiple streams of passive income, in turn offering them flexibility and the potential for long-term financial freedom. Who wouldn’t want that? Try it out, but remember it does take time.

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