I probably don’t have to tell you that selling only original works of art doesn’t always pay the bills. Sales can be seasonal, galleries can shut their doors, or the economy might tank.
This is why I am all for artists having multiple streams of income – when it makes sense.
Multiple Income Streams for Artists
An income stream is a source of money.
Your income streams might include employment outside of your art business, but I’m going to focus on diversifying how you make money from your art.
Selling original works of art is probably the most appealing way for you to make money from your art. Other avenues include, but aren’t limited to, teaching, licensing, and selling reproductions.
Sometimes multiple income streams go together.
For example, if you teach art, there might be money from both online and in-person classes. Additional funds might come from how-to books and information products.
They’re all information based and marketed to the same audience.
Likewise, you could probably market products with your art on them in a single place, such as note cards, note pads, and calendars.
When It’s Silly to Have Multiple Income Streams
Diversifying income sources from your art is tempting. You might think, “More stuff, more money!” Watch it.
As I described above, some sources make sense together because they are marketed to the same audience. Other times, they’re completely separate businesses.
One example is licensing. There is an entirely separate audience for licensed art than for original fine art. The people and venues you work with are different.
This means you essentially have separate businesses. Two businesses = twice the effort. Three businesses = three times the effort.
That means multiple business plans, marketing plans, venues, and so forth. Each income stream must be attended to.
It’s silly to go to the trouble of creating a new source of income that you don’t have time or energy to invest in.
It’s also silly to sell more “stuff” if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Many artists are spending too much time on things that have too little return. [Tweet this]
You have to do the math. Is it making money? Do you see progress toward that goal? Or is it costing time and effort without the promise of reward?
Here’s some math: Wouldn’t you rather sell one $1000 work of art than 200 $5 note cards?
Consider all the work you have to do to sell 200 note cards. You’d have to have multiple accounts in many places that you keep track of since it’s very unlikely you’d sell 200 of the same note card at a single venue. You have shipping and packing costs and separate bookkeeping tasks for each account.
If you’re in the note card business, you really have to be in the note card business.
If you’re in the original art sales business, you really have to be in the original art sales business.
And if you’re in the art licensing business, you really have to be in the art licensing business.
Let me repeat: I’m all for artists having multiple streams of income. Just be aware that you will be juggling separate businesses. Are you up for that?
Tell us about your experience with multiple income streams. What lessons have you learned?