There’s a lot of hype — and hate — about passive income online. The debates go back and forth, pro and con. But as an artist who believes that, not only is passive income with your art possible, but it’s also smart to have multiple streams of income. So I want to show you how to sell your art 100% passively in a few different ways.
(Just so you know, this article contains affiliate links. Not sure what that means? You can click here and a new tab will open with a full explanation.)
Let start with my favorite: Setting up your own Shopify shop.
By creating your own Shopify shop and integrating the Printful app, you can have a website that automatically, and 100% passively, takes orders, prints orders, and ships orders (with a label that makes it look like it’s coming from you) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Sounds pretty dreamy, right?
But I’m also going to play devil’s advocate here and tell you that, once you have that website up and running, you still have to get the buyers there. That’s where the “passive” does not apply. But you can get people to your shop with things like social media (Pinterest is by far my favorite, but also Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), traffic from Google searches as well as Google ads, Facebook ads, PR, guest blogging, and more.
So how do you start a Shopify shop? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Start a Free 14 Day Trial with Shopify
- Buy a domain (either through Shopify or a web host like Siteground. I prefer Siteground because I can also have a blog and an email address associated with my domain.)
- If you buy your domain through Siteground, connect your domain in Shopify
- Sign up for a Printful account. (It’s free!)
- In Shopify, log into their app store and search for/download the Printful app.
There are several steps to starting your Shopify shop, but they have some great video tutorials as well as a very responsive help desk if you need help getting started. Generally, you’ll want to have a logo ready, as well as your high-quality print files of your artwork to upload in Printful.
Once you’ve chosen your Shopify theme you can start adding products. Normally you’d add products directly in Shopify (for instance, if you were selling original art there). But to do this 100% passively, you actually want to log into Printful, click on “Stores” then click on “add” and from there are you able to choose a product to print your artwork on (Printful has everything from 2 types of paper and canvas options, as well as all kinds of apparel, home decor, gift items and more), upload a high-quality image of your art, choose your variations (sizes, styles, etc.), set your prices, create a product listing description, and submit it to your store.
That’s it! Your new art print (or whatever product you choose!) is now available in your store. I always log back into Shopify after I’ve done this to tweak and perfect my product listing. For instance, I add alt text descriptions to my product photos as well as tags for proper SEO. Then I repeat this process for all of the art I want to sell passively as prints, etc.
It definitely will take some time up front, but once you’ve got your Shopify shop up and running with Printful, you’re ready to start making that passive income! And once you’ve added a few products, you’ll see how super easy it is to add more in the future as you make more work.
I have a step-by-step course on exactly how to set up this kind of shop, if you need more help and in-depth information. Registration is currently closed, but you can sign up for the waitlist here:
The Next Best Ways to Sell Your Art Passively
You can also sell your art passively on Print on Demand sites (aka POD sites). With these websites, you also have to choose which products to sell your art on, upload your images and create product descriptions. But most of these sites will also (potentially) send you customers, too!
So why would I say this is the “next best” way to sell you art passively? Well, there are a few reasons: one is that in most cases you cannot set your own prices on products. The other is, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of thousands, maybe even millions of other sellers and artwork. If you want to know how to make the most of these types of sites, please read my interview with the artist Cat Coquillette because she is NAILING it on POD sites!
So which POD sites should you be selling your artwork on? It depends.
If you consider yourself a fine artist, hands down I would choose Saacthi art. You can sell original art on Saatchi, but they also allow you sell open edition prints, that they will print and ship on your behalf. Saatchi has millions of art buying visitors each month, most in search of high-end, fine art.
Illustrators and other artists seem to like sites like RedBubble and Society6. I have art on both of these sites, but, as of the time I’m writing this, I tend to prefer RedBubble as a seller. I personally find their image uploading process easier and faster, plus I get more sales there. … Which may be because I upload more art there because it’s easier and faster. 😉 RedBubble also has an affiliate program, so if you sign up for that you can blog about other artists and earn a commission on any sales generated. But the funny thing is, I tend to prefer Society6 as a buyer, plus I’ve heard that they recently revamped their uploading system, and it’s easier. So you might want to give Society6 a try!
If you’re a designer and you want your work on ALL THE THINGS, you can try Zazzle. They have SO MANY products you can have your work printed on, it’s almost overwhelming to me. But I have talked to a few people who sell their work there, do very well, and really like it. And, like RedBubble, Zazzle also has an affiliate program you can sign up for and make commissions on sales generated.
A Curated Ways to Sell Your Art Passively
Finally, there are sites that act much like online galleries, that will sell your work for you, but you have to be accepted in order to sell your work there. These types of sites, just like IRL galleries, will have a certain look they prefer. So, say you’re an illustrator and you come across a gallery site that mainly sells abstracts: it will likely be a waste of your time and theirs to apply. So take an honest, unbiased look at the art they are currently selling next to yours, and if they seem to be a good fit, apply!
Here are a few sites that accept artist applications:
Well there you have it, several answers to the question: How to Sell Your Art Online 100% Passively! It’s my passion to help artists and creatives to make more money with their work. Please feel free to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments below, and sign up for my weekly letters to stay in touch!