Creativity. It’s a skill that we’ve had for as long as we’ve been walking around on two legs. We’ve been painting on walls since before we learned how to talk. We’ve been telling stories through song and dance way before we began committing them to print, and our ability to make sense of the world around us through art is one of our defining characteristics.

Although we may all be creative in childhood, sharing our perception of the world by drawing pictures way before we learn how to read and write, comparatively few of us choose to nurture this skill going into adulthood. When we do, though, we do it with passion, gusto, and finesse. It’s a rewarding and important pursuit of social and monetary value…  So why is making money from it so darned difficult?

The cliche of the starving artist is as old as the renaissance but a whole lot less romantic. Since there’s no nobility in poverty, those of us who are artistically inclined have had to nurture creative side projects as and when we can alongside drudgerous and soul-crushing day jobs. If only there were some way to create art and sell it directly to the consumer without being exploited by galleries or paying prohibitive overheads for your own high street presence, eh?

… Wait a second!

Etsy and/or Shopify

Etsy has been around for just over a decade now and has led to a great many success stories in helping otherwise struggling artists to find their audience. It’s great for providing a platform for artists that’s pretty much ready to go, but it also requires a lot of promotional work to be seen on Etsy. It’s a crowded marketplace full of extremely talented artists and trawling through page after page of other people’s work can be crippling (we creatives tend to be an insecure bunch after all).

Selling successfully on Etsy can be a lot of hard work. Needless to say, stunning images of your work are a must and detailed descriptions will help your visibility with Etsy’s search engines. It’s also widely believed that having a lot of listings (as in triple figures) helps with visibility on the service too. Of course, it can be time-consuming (not to mention exhausting) to manufacture 100 individual pieces but even if this isn’t feasible for you, it’s a good idea to approach Etsy with a large body of work for sale.

On the whole, Etsy is a great resource because it is a widely used and trusted brand with a built-in customer base. Its fees are reasonable and while promoting your art may take a lot of work… It’s work you’d have to put in regardless of where you sell.

Some artists who’ve become disillusioned with Etsy or feel that the service stacks the deck heavily against newcomers have had more success with Shopify. You can see a side-by-side comparison here. The great news is that if you’re already set up on Etsy you don’t have to start all over from scratch. You can export your inventory into a CSV file which can then be imported to Shopify.


There was a time when artists’ work and lifestyles were funded exclusively by a patron, and in the age of crowdfunding, Patreon represents an attempt to allow artists to crowdsource funding for their creative endeavors.

Some creatives are too proud to use Patreon as they feel that it’s a handout but the reality is that Patreon is just another platform through which creatives can grow their customer base.

Setting up an online store

Some people don’t want to be constrained by the fees and inhibitions of an online store and choose to set their own up. While you’ll still have to do a lot of the same legwork in terms of promoting your work, your cut of the profits will be much healthier.

There are many platforms available to help you do this with a minimum of hassle with Zen’s Magento 2 inventory a popular choice among retailers. If you plan on doing this for the long haul, setting up your own store may be the best way to establish a declarative online presence.

Social media

Needless to say, any artist who expects to sell their work needs a strong social media presence in order to survive in the over crowded 21st-century workplace. A social media presence allows people to invest in you as a person and if they like you and feel warmly toward you they’ll come back to your work again and again. As well as taking beautiful pictures of your work, social media posts, blogs, and videos that detail your work in progress are also very important.