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Episode 22: 15 Ways to Create Income with Your Creativity

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It completely paid our bills, like it completely did what I needed it to do, and it was also in turn, just so fun. I'm Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable.

Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast. This entire episode is inspired by this huge project that we've been working on. You've likely heard me talk about it. It's called the 60 by 60. And so basically I took one of the most common questions that we get, which is, how do I make money from my art? Or you know, people will have been told there's no way to create a career making art, or there's that starving artist mindset, and I just wanted to address it. And so there are so many different ways and different approaches to creating income from your art. And so what I did was ask 60 of the most successful artists that I know if they would be willing to share one way that they create income with us. And they all said yes. Now, the one thing was that I asked them to do it in less than 60 seconds. And so we've put together this entire video of 60 different artists who have come together and shared in 60 seconds or less their absolute best with you. And so we just rolled this out. We've been working on it for months, and it's entirely free. So first of all, I want you to watch that because I was so blown away by how everyone just showed up and served and shared so willingly. I cried and I laughed, and I got so inspired. I took so many notes from this workshop.

We also created an interactive guide where you can dive into all of the artists and their websites and their social media and all of that as well. So to accompany this podcast, make sure you go grab this. You can get it at bonnie christine.com/income. It's bonnie christine.com/income, and you can watch the video. It's an hour that you are going to want to curl up with something cozy to drink and your favorite notebook because you will be taking so many notes.

But as I worked with all of these incredible artists who were willing to share with you all, I really just began to think about all the different ways that I've used my art or my creativity to create income over the years. And so that's where I'm going With this episode, I pulled together 15 different ways that I've used my creativity. I've used my artwork skills to create income over the last decade.

Now, I don't do all 15 of these at all times, but they are always that I have personally used to create income. So I'm hoping that these 15 ways will also just accompany our 60 by 60 event and just give you so much inspiration and so much clarity around how you can create a career out of your art and your creativity, and I hope that you enjoy it.

So let's go ahead and dive in. The first way and my personal favorite way of creating income from my artwork is licensing. Licensing your art in a nutshell is basically like letting a company rent it in order to use it on their products. And then you get basically a royalty fee. Licensing is, you know, somewhat complex. We'll get into it in another episode,

all the ins and outs of it, but at the end of the day, you earn a percentage based on whatever the company sells. And so it's an incredible way to create income from your art. You can do it from anywhere in the world, and then you are only in charge of producing artwork, meaning you don't have to worry about inventory or shipping or anything like that.

But the really cool part is that it's income that isn't capped by any kind of ceiling or it's not held back by anything. Meaning if the company goes wild and sells millions of your products, you are getting paid accordingly. The other cool thing is that it's typically industry specific. So you can take one piece of artwork and license it across multiple industries and really get paid over and over and over again for the same piece of artwork.

And so licensing is a little bit of a slow game, meaning you really have to take time to create a body of work and pitch your work and start working with companies. But once you do kind of get that ball rolling, the ball will really begin to roll. So I've licensed my artwork with all kinds of companies. My favorite and probably longest license is for fabric.

I'm a fabric designer at heart, but I've also licensed for wallpaper, stationary, gift wrap tape, all sorts of things like rugs and aprons and tea towels and kitchen stuff and things like that. So it's an incredible industry and my favorite way to create income from my art. Now number two is by selling art prints. So many times when I create work for my licenses,

I also end up creating really beautiful illustrations that I can pull out and put them on a standalone, you know, art print. And so I don't have art prints currently, but I did for many years, and at the beginning I just shipped them myself. I had Epson printer and I would print and package and ship them myself. Later on I moved to using a P O D website called Finer Works,

which I enjoyed using as well. I don't think we have any art prints that are available right now, but it's a great way to make income from your art. Number three is through commissioned work. Now, I've never advertised that I do this, but you know, word of mouth when you have a skillset goes so quickly. I've definitely taken some one-off projects for logo design,

branding packages help with website design. It's this funny thing when you have a skillset, all of these other things that you know you have the skillset to do, even though I've never set out to be a logo designer, it's completely within my wheelhouse of skills. And so it has definitely helped along the years to be able to contribute to our income, especially in the early days,

to be able to work on branding and logos. Number four is digital goods. And when I say digital goods, I'm talking about anything that is delivered digitally. So eBooks, printable art prints, clip art, brand style packages, fonts, sewing patterns, coloring pages, S V G cut files, which are what people use for cricket or silhouette machines or glow forge machines.

I've sold digital video tutorials and honestly so much more. And so again, this is an incredible stream of revenue because once you do the work, you're done and you can get paid for it over and over and over again. So I used to do most of this in an Etsy shop. I would have eBooks on how to get started and this, that, or the other, how to, how to blog. I had that one back in the day. I also did downloadable art prints. Clip art was huge, especially back in the day when we were all trying to make everything look like it was a scrapbook on the internet, but still sewing patterns and all of these things can come together to support you and use your skillset to create income.

Number five is by selling on POD sites, otherwise known as print on demand. There are so many print on demand sites and print on demand basically means that you have items listed in your shop for sale, but the fulfillment is done by a third party. And so my favorites are probably Spoonflower or something like Society six. But there are honestly so many print on demand sites.

There's tons of resources. We will link some of our favorites over in the show notes for this episode. I think you're gonna love to dive into it. So basically it's the quickest way to get your artwork on a product and start selling it out in the world and you just bypass having to license or anything like that because you are creating the product yourself.

But it's great because you don't have to actually fulfill it. Number six is handmade markets. Now, I haven't done a handmade market in a while, but I honestly miss them so much. I almost did one last year and it just didn't work out with my schedule. But I used to do handmade markets all the time. I mean, way back in the day, I think I had a, I had a booth for soy candles for a couple of years. I don't make those anymore, but later on I was focused on selling sewing patterns and my fabric and I used to make things outta my fabric, so sewn like camera straps and things like that for handmade markets. And they were so fun. They were a great income generator, but also such a great connection point with the community. And so when you have the skillset, you can start designing so many things that you can sell in a handmade market. Now the next one is similar, but it's just an online shop. So I do manufacture some things on my own. And so these are just kind of passion projects that I wanted to see come alive.

They're not licenses or p o d products or anything like that. I went out and had them manufactured and I keep them in my shop for sale. So I have a planner. I've got sketchbooks and notebooks, I've got custom pencils that are stamped with all of my Bonny isms. I've got washy tape and just some really fun things like that, products that I wanted to be in charge of completely from top to bottom.

And it's so much fun. And so those things, we are in charge of the manufacturing. We're in charge of housing the inventory, and we're in charge of actually packing and shipping it, which is a lot, but it still is so much fun to have your own products for sale that you designed from top to bottom.

I am so excited to share with you a brand new project we've been working on. It's called 60 by 60 because there are 60 incredible artists who have come together to share with you one way that they create income from their artwork in under 60 seconds each, which means that it's 60 minutes of incredible knowledge and wisdom being shared by some insanely talented artists that I know you're going to love. Our hope is that it not only shows you what's possible, but it also encourages you and helps you get clarity on the very next steps you want to take in your own creative endeavor. And it's entirely free. We've also created an interactive directory with all of the artists included so that you can go dive into all of their worlds and get to know them a little bit better. To watch the video, head on over to bonnie christine.com/income. Again, that's bonnie christine.com/income. You'll be able to watch the 60 by 60 video right away, and we cannot wait to meet you there.

Now we're gonna move out of some of the more physical items into some more of the more kind of professional ways to contribute. The first one is one-on-one coaching or mentoring other artists. I didn't do this for a couple of years because it just takes a little bit of time to really be able to pour into someone else, but I probably started in 2016 taking one-on-one calls for coaching. I only did it for a couple of years, but it was incredible. Not only did it really help create income, but I also just fell in love with helping other people. I think so many times we don't do this because we don't think that we're far enough along, but the truth is that you really only have to be a few steps ahead of the person that you're helping to make a tremendous impact.

And so the most common way that I did this was that I would reach out to my audience and say I was taking maybe 15 one-on-one coaching spots and they would have to basically apply. So I had a form that they had to fill out. And so I didn't accept just anyone. I only accepted people who I felt really confident that I could help.

And this kind of takes the pressure off because for sure after they apply and you read through it, you'll know if they're like way more advanced than you, maybe you don't wanna take it, but chances are you'll have plenty of people who you can absolutely help. I remember one time several years ago that we were really in a pinch and we needed to pay some bills, and I thought, how am I going to help? How am I going to create some income and quickly, you know? And so I just put this out and took, I think 15 spots filled them all up. I believe they were $150 each, and it completely paid our bills, like it completely did what I needed it to do, and it was also turn just so fun.

The other thing that this does is help you understand if you think you'll ever move into the education space. It helps you understand your person, like who you're able to help so much to be able to be face-to-face and help them one-on-one. Number nine is similar but different. And these are portfolio reviews. I never realized the demand for portfolio reviews. And if this is something that you feel like you would be able to offer, then do it because we always get way more requests than we can physically handle, and it's something that people are really, really hungry for, is a good portfolio review. I remember when I was working on my first portfolio and I just felt like I needed a fresh pair of eyes on it. I was too close to it. I had looked the pretty off of it.

I didn't know, I couldn't see what really needed to change. My mom was the only person who was looking at it and she had, you know, mom glasses on. So she just loved everything about it all as mothers do. And so I just remember wishing that I had someone to come in and give me some feedback, give me some advice, this is what art directors are so great for, but if you can have someone come in and help you before you end up working with an art director, how valuable is that? And so portfolio reviews, you know, you can charge anywhere from a hundred to $500 for a good portfolio review depending on how you know far along you are in your own journey and they are a great way to add a revenue stream, you know, based on your ability to give feedback.

Number 10 is speaking. I haven't done a lot of speaking. I've done a little bit, but it's absolutely something that I want to do more of. So I'm putting that out into the world. The one that immediately comes to mind is Skillshare, they invited me to come up to their headquarters in New York City, I think back in 2018 to present and speak to hundreds of people in the room. And it was incredible nerve-wracking, very nerve-wracking, but I enjoyed it so much. That speech was called from dreaming to doing. And you know, as nerve wracking as it is, I actually enjoy it so much once I just kind of get outta my own way and and get started.

And so speaking for sure is something that I wanna do more of. I absolutely enjoy it. Number 11 is writing articles. So this is typically for other websites or for magazines. I've written articles for where women create Uppercase magazine, a bunch of sewing and quilting magazines, and sometimes they're paid, sometimes they're not paid, but even when they're not paid, I find that they really do have such a great roi, which is short for return on investment. And so they end up, you know, paying in other ways, but traffic and awareness and authority and just connecting you with people who you might not have connected with earlier. And so writing articles has been a great way to add a little bit of income and also just increase awareness of who I am and what I'm doing now.

Number 12 is a big one, and it's teaching I think I've shared with you that I actually really never set out to teach. Kind of came in from a side angle in 2013, 2014, and it has been just the most incredible and joyful kind of pivot that I never saw coming. It is amazing to be able to share what you know with other people.

And teaching for me has taken over the majority of my business, even though I'm absolutely create artwork and license still. But it has been a way to not only increase revenue, but also increase the development of the entire industry. And so if you are thinking about ever getting into educating or teaching others, I can't recommend it enough. Again, this is something that you can do once and get paid for over and over and over again.

So oftentimes the simplest way to get started is to teach on another platform like Skillshare. And then once you feel confident that you have your own audience and can generate your own traffic, it's also great to teach something on your own website and offer that as well. Number 13 is a membership. So my membership is called Flourish and it's 10 years old. And if you would've told me 10 years ago that I would be creating content every week for a membership for 10 years, I think I would've passed out and said, no way. And I just hope that encourages you because here I am, loving my membership more than ever. It's never felt like a burden. It's always felt fun and exciting, and it's helped create predictable recurring income for us for a decade now, which is incredible, but even more so an incredible way to just foster community and surround yourself with like-minded creatives.

The very first time that I even thought about a membership was after I spoke with someone and they encouraged me to think about anything I was doing that someone would pay for even just a little bit. And so I remember just downloading into a notebook, all of these ideas. And 10 years ago I was in a very different spot. I was illustrating, but I was also doing things like writing recipes and doing clip art and like printable gift cards and things like that.

And so I launched this membership and it was five bucks a month. In fact, I still have people in the membership that only pay $5 a month because you get kind of locked in whenever you join. And so it was in hindsight, really nothing more than a paid newsletter at the time. Of course, now it's a full on membership with a, you know, community portal and a login and everything like that. But it got me started and it's been incredible. So I encourage you to think about that as well. Number 14 is retreats. Now I have only done a handful of retreats, maybe two, but I also do retreats for my mastermind, which feels like I've, so, you know, it feels like I've done a lot more than two. But this first one was one that I did with Lisa Jacobs back in like 2015. We did a women's conference in Charleston, very small and intimate. I think we had maybe 15 people come, but we charged for it and it was an amazing way to connect with people. I've also done one for immersion alumni back in 2018 in Texas, and it was also just one of the most rewarding ways to spend my time preparing for a retreat and inviting people to come in. This could also be a workshop. And so if your craft is something that you can teach workshop style, this is an incredible opportunity to just hold a workshop. You know, maybe you bake bread or maybe you work with clay or you're a painter or any of those things.

You can pull together people and offer a workshop and create income that way as well. The last one is number 15, and it's affiliate marketing. Now, nobody likes that term affiliate marketing, but truthfully, you and I are both recommending stuff all the time. Stuff that we love and we use every single day. So for example, people are always asking me what paper I like to sketch on, or what are my favorite pencils, or what kind of paint do I use when I watercolor, paint, all kinds of different questions that come in. And so, because I'm recommending all of this stuff anyways, I of course never recommend anything or give an affiliate link to anything that I don't personally love and use. But if I love and use it and this company offers an affiliate or a partner program, then as I recommend it, I'm able to get a little bit of a return if that person purchases it. So there's no cost to the person who uses your link. It's only a cost to the company, and then they return the person who recommended it. Some kind of a percentage. It's usually not much. But if you have an audience and you're recommending stuff all the time, it can absolutely add up. So no matter what industry you're in, I know that you have tools and resources and stuff you buy on Amazon and maybe you buy from your favorite art supply store. And all of these places can allow you to get custom links. Now, caveat there is that if you are providing affiliate links or trackable links, you always have to let that be known.

So just like a disclaimer on your post or on the page where you're recommending it it. And so people will know that they're clicking on a trackable link, but it's a great way to add income to your revenue that is 100% related to your creativity and your art. So that was my 15 ways I've created income from my art, my creativity over the last decade.

I hope that it got your gears turning, and I know there are so many other ways as well. Don't forget to watch the 60 by 60 event. It's an incredible hour of just mic drop moments from some of the most successful artists in the industry. Again, you can go watch that at bonniechristine.com/income. You can also get today's show notes and show notes from any other episode at our website.

It's professionalcreative.com.

Always work to create the beauty you want to see come alive in the world, my friend. And remember, there's room for you. I'll see you next time.

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I'm Bonnie Christine.


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