A Guide to Diversifying Revenue for Artists & Designers | Liz Kohler Brown | Skillshare

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A Guide to Diversifying Revenue for Artists & Designers

teacher avatar Liz Kohler Brown, artist | designer | teacher | author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Basics


    • 3.

      My Creative Revenue Story


    • 4.

      Getting Started


    • 5.

      Affiliate Links


    • 6.

      Print on Demand


    • 7.

      Creative Assets


    • 8.

      Online Courses


    • 9.

      Art Licensing


    • 10.

      Creative Books


    • 11.

      Final Tips


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About This Class

In this class you'll learn how to get started with diversifying revenue for your creative business by generating passive income using your creative skills!

I currently have 8 different creative income streams that support me so that I can have the freedom to work on risky creative projects that may not make much money.  Aside from these 8 income streams I have tried many others that didn’t work well for me over the years and in this class I’ll walk you through some of the lessons I learned so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

We’ll also talk about how to choose which passive income opportunities are best for you based on your skills and experience, so you don't have to waste time trying things that you may not be ready for.

In the class we’ll cover everything from beginner opportunities like Print-on-Demand sites to more advanced concepts like Self-Publishing, so whether you are just starting out or already have some creative income streams, you can pick up some tips in the class.

When you watch this class you’ll get the class workbook where I share links to all my favorite passive income resources, and help you get started with creating your creative income strategy.

Get the Class Workbook and Links Here

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Liz Kohler Brown

artist | designer | teacher | author



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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. I'm Liz Kohler Brown. I'm an artist, designer, and teacher. Today I want to talk to you about how to get started with generating passive income from your creative skills. I currently have eight different passive income streams that support me so that I have the freedom to work on risky creative projects that may not make much money. Aside from these eight income streams, I've tried many others over the years that have failed, so I want to share some of those failures with you so you don't have to make those same mistakes. We'll also talk about how to choose which passive income opportunities are best for you based on your skills and experience so you don't have to waste time trying things that you may not be ready for. In the class, we'll cover everything from beginner concepts like print on-demand to more advanced concepts like self-publishing. Whether you're just getting started and just need an overview, or you've been working with passive income for a while and need some new ideas, this class will help get you started. When you watch this class, you'll get a workbook I created where I share links to all my favorite passive income resources and help you get started with creating your passive income strategy. You probably already have some skills as an artist or designer that would allow you to jump right into making passive income. You just need to learn what platforms are best and how to apply your skills to making passive income. We're going to cover all of that in the class, so if you're ready to get started, let's jump right in. 2. The Basics: I know that most of you watching this class are already really familiar with passive income, so we're not going to spend a lot of time talking about what passive income is. Instead, we're going to dive into some real life examples, so we can talk about how passive income plays out in the real-world. I do just want to make a couple notes about passive income now before we get started. As you know, passive income is money you make over time in exchange for a product or service that is done in the past. It's also usually a slow drip of income rather than a large lump sum. I think that's really important to keep in mind when you start thinking about your passive income journey. This is not something that's going to make you a lot of money upfront, rather it's a long-term game where you slowly get paid for things you've done in the past over time. Some examples of passive income might be patterns, designs, classes, fonts, and photographs. We're also going to talk about how to get creative with skills you already have, so you can come up with new ways of making passive income. Passive income for me has really represented freedom and time. I want to put that out there because I know when you first start getting into passive income and you're making very small amounts of money, it can feel like you're wasting your time. I want to put that out there that you can gain freedom and time through making passive income if you continue pushing through the early obstacles. For me, this played out as time to learn new skills, freedom to make some risky work that probably wouldn't make much money, time to travel, freedom to take time off whenever I needed to, and time for family. Whatever it is that's on the top of your mind that you wish you had more time for, passive income is one of those things that can help you make room for that in your future. As you probably already know, creatives are in a unique position to create assets in exchange for passive income. If you're wondering, if you're qualified to generate passive income, if you have any creative skills, drawing, patternmaking, class making, whatever it is, you probably already have the skills that you need to get started with passive income. I want to ask you what skills you already have that could generate passive income. Throughout the class, I'm going to ask you to keep thinking about these passive income platforms and strategies compared to your own skills. Some of these are going to make a lot of sense for you, others are not. This is the time to start assessing which ones are used with skills that you already have, so you don't have to start by learning a new skill. I want to set some realistic expectations right out of the gate and tell you that this is not a get rich quick scheme. There is nothing fast about passive income. Also, some of the efforts you take will not be profitable, that's just part of passive income. Some things will make all of your money and other things will make no money, and that's just something you have to accept from the beginning. Also, like any job, you get out what you put into it. The more time you put into researching, and practicing, and learning about passive income, of course, the more money you're going to make. Another thing I want you to keep on the top of your mind is that the more difficult tasks will usually be more profitable. If you look at a new platform and you think, wow, that sounds really hard. Imagine all the other people out there who are having that same bought and how many people that reads out. You might think of a platform like Spoonflower where you're required to purchase swatches in order to make your designs for sale. That might sound like a bad thing and you think, I don't want to put money down in the beginning when I don't know if this is going to be profitable. How many other designers are out there thinking that, and have never purchased swatches, and never made their designs for sale? Anything that has some barrier to entry that might be financial, it might be a time constraint, those are things that are going to weed out a lot of the people who are getting there in the beginning. Of course, that means that the easy platforms are often overrun with great content. If you come across a new platform and you think wow, it's so easy to upload designs. It only takes me five minutes. You hardly have to put any tags in. It's so easy. Think about how many other people are out there doing that, and how much more competition that creates for you. I want to point that out because I want to mention that it's key to be willing to put in a lot of time and effort in some of these passive income ventures in order to actually make some money. 3. My Creative Revenue Story: So before we get started with talking about passive income strategies, I want to tell you a little bit about my background with passive income, so you know what kind of experience I've had. In 2014, I started working at Spoonflower and that's when I realized that repeat patterns can make money on Spoonflower. I had no idea that this concept existed. It was really exciting to me to realize that I could create patterns, put them on the Internet, and people would actually send me money for that. In 2015, I started taking some of my designs that were in my Spoonflower shop and putting them on other platforms. Some of these platforms include Society6, Red Bubble, a lot of others that didn't work well for me, so I'm not going to recommend those to you. But I started to understand the concept that these patterns that I created were assets that could be used in other places, so I didn't have to start from the ground up to create new patterns every single time. In 2018, I published my first Skillshare class and I realized that teaching art online is possible and profitable. Before that, I had been teaching in local art centers and schools, and I was making very little money, people weren't showing up with their supplies, the companies weren't ordering the supplies on time, all kinds of things were going wrong. The idea that I could record a class at home, put it on the Internet and people would just watch it was an incredible moment for me and I really doubled down on Skillshare and created over the next few years 50 plus classes. In 2019, I realized that writing a book is possible when a publisher reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in writing a book. I didn't think I could do it, but I went for it anyway. I came up with a topic, I created the outline, and it took me about six months to produce the book. In 2020, I realized that selling creative assets is possible. I started creating fonts and listing them on Creative Market. I want to point out here that making fonts, enlisting them on Creative Market is a lot of work. This is one of those platforms that you look at, and you think, "Oh my gosh, that is so much work, how am I ever going to do that. " But in turn, there isn't a lot of competition and so you have a much higher likelihood of selling. I only had a few fonts in the beginning and I was selling a font every day. I suddenly realized this is a really good passive income opportunity to put a lot of fonts out there and just see what happens. In 2020, I also started art licensing when some companies reached out to me because they were interested in my work. I want to note here that I didn't get into art licensing on purpose. I really put a lot of work out there and shared work almost every day and then companies found me. Now, I'm being a little more proactive about art licensing, but I just want to note here that one way to get started with passive income is just putting your work out there. If you don't ever put your work out there, nobody's ever going to find it. That is a guarantee. In 2021, I realized that self-publishing is possible when I published my first book on letter styles. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that was an easy process. It's a lot of work and I'm going to tell you more about that later in the creative book section. But all that to say, of course if something is really difficult, and you have to put a lot of work in on the front end, you're probably going to get some profit out of it in the end. As you can see from looking at this timeline, passive income progress is slow and steady. I started by making $1-2 a day and that motivated me to push a little harder, then I was making $20 or $30 a day. It took many years, as you can see, to build up to making a full time income just from passive sources. I want to show you all of my current passive income streams so you can see what I mean when I say it's so important to diversify your passive income. I have 50 plus Skillshare courses, I have a course creators master class that I run through my website, I have print on-demand shops on many different platforms, I have art licensing royalties, fonts on Creative Market, I have a published book by a publisher and a self-published book as well. Then I do multiple affiliate programs like Amazon, Paperlike and Skillshare. We're going to dig into each of these topics throughout the class. But I just wanted to start by showing you that list because passive income does ebb and flow throughout the year. I think it's really important if you're going to rely on passive income in a big way to have a really diverse set of platforms that you work with. So you can be sure no matter what time of year it is, you're still making a little bit of money. I also want to point out my failures to you because passive income is necessarily going to include some failures. I published Skillshare classes that had very few students, I have published Skillshare classes on apps that quickly failed after I published the class and so nobody wants to watch the class anymore, I had an Etsy shop that failed, I had designs that never sold. Honestly, I've had many designs that have never sold. I have blog posts that no one has read and no one has clicked. But the important thing here is that every failure is an important lesson. Whenever I have a failure, of course, it hurts, it hurts your feelings, and it's frustrating to have wasted time on a project. But it's also important to be able to take a step back as a business person and say, why did that fail, did I make a bad decision, did I misuse my skills, did I time this poorly? Whatever it is, it's probably some kind of lesson that you need to learn so you can avoid that mistake in the future. 4. Getting Started: I want to tell you what I think is the best route for getting started with passive income so that if you just have no idea where to start, you have some road map to get you on the right path. First of all, I think it's really important to master the one platform that you are best suited for. Let's say you're someone who has spent a lot of time making repeat patterns. Of course, you're going to want to look at the platforms that except repeat patterns. That might be Spoonflower, that might be Society 6, Redbubble. But let's say you're someone who has been teaching an art centers for a few years and you have no experience making patterns. You probably don't want to start on Spoonflower or Redbubble you probably would be better off by creating some courses and using your skills as a teacher to make passive income. I also think it's important to slowly experiment with new platforms. I like to start with one platform that I'm really confident with and then branch out into something a little more risky. I wouldn't recommend going around and doing a little bit of work on every single platform you can find. You're just going to be stretching yourself too thin and never really giving any one platform a chance. I also recommend you follow the best of the best. Whenever you choose a platform, go to that platform and follow all of the people who you think have the best shop or the best profile so that might be someone who has a lot of designs in their shop, someone who looks really professional, people that you see on the front page of the platform, those are guaranteed to be some of your bestsellers. I also think it's important to look for holes in the market. If you go to a site and you see that something is missing, like for example, you search llamas and there's only two or three designs. That tells you that if you create some llama designs, you're probably going to have some success in that category. Now that's not to say that that works for any search term. For example, if you type in neon lizards on geometric backgrounds, that isn't necessarily a search term that's going to be successful. But some of those broader common search terms, if you find that some things are missing, that is an opportunity to fill in a little bit of space. We'll look at examples of that in the print on-demand section. Also, it's important to expect trial and error. Trial and error is just part of the passive income process. Some things work. Some things don't. You go with the things that work and expand on those and that will help you find success in passive income. As you go through this class, I think it's a good practice to start thinking, where should you personally start? I want to ask you, what platform are your current skills most suited to? It might be Society 6 or Spoonflower. If you've created some patterns, it might be Skillshare. If you've done some teaching, it might be creative market, if you've done some fonts. These are just a few examples out of hundreds of different options that you can choose from. I created a workbook to go along with this class that includes a passive income Q&A, where you can start brainstorming how you might use your current skills to get started. You can get this workbook which also contains all the links to everything I mentioned throughout the class by going to the project section on Skillshare. I'll also put the link in the discussion section and the about section so you should be able to find it wherever you look. Before we get started with going through the passive income topics, I want to talk about growing over time. As you start digging into passive income, I want you to think about the fact that diversity is key for year round income. They're going to be different sites that do well at different times of year, so I think it's really important to slowly start branching out. Also, reporting is key for noticing trends. It's really important to do a monthly or bimonthly report noting what designs are doing well and what platforms are doing well so that you can keep an eye on where your efforts are best spent. Also, I recommend not getting caught in the experiment trap. The experiment trap is where you're just constantly experimenting with new platforms. It's fun and exciting to start a new platform and I always enjoy doing it. But I do want to caution you here that if you don't put in a lot of time on one platform, you really aren't giving it a good chance. If you're putting a little bit of time on a lot of different platforms, you probably aren't giving any of them a good chance and may not make very much money. It's also a great idea to start thinking about growing an audience. An audience can be so helpful for you for not only marketing your passive income ventures, but also for helping companies and new interested people find your work. Of course, if you want to start growing your audience, a few things that you can do would be start posting regularly on social media platforms. Start offering some free content to your followers. Maybe start a website or mailing list and most importantly, don't become a salesperson. I come across Instagram accounts all the time that are just pictures of people posting their print on-demand projects. I want to caution you here and have you think about this in your followers' perspectives. Do you want to follow someone who posts every single post about selling something? Will you buy this? Please buy this. Look at what I have for sale. My stuff is 50 percent off. Nobody wants to follow that. I hope that you'll think about your social media channel as an opportunity to connect with people and share about what you're doing. Not a sales channel. Your sales channel is the platform that you're using. Society 6, Spoonflower, Skillshare, wherever you're putting your content, that is where you're doing, you're selling. But your social media is all about connecting with people, sharing with them what you're doing, sharing interesting things that they might want to follow. I want to put that out there because I don't believe in marketing your passive income strategies aggressively. I don't think it's a good idea. I don't think it works, so I want you to be careful here with how you use your various channels and recommend that you use your social media channels to connect with people rather than sell to people. Now that we've gone over the basics of passive income, let's dig into specific platforms and strategies so you can get started with passive income in the real-world. 5. Affiliate Links: The first and I think one of the easiest passive income strategies is affiliate links. As you probably know, affiliate links are links that you share that go to products or services that you love and you make a commission. The upside here is that you don't have to create anything. You're really just sharing things that are already out there that you love in a creative way and then if someone clicks on it and purchases, you make a little bit of money. A few affiliate programs that I really like include Skillshare, Amazon affiliates, Design Cuts, and Society 6. I've also made a full list in the workbook and have links to all of these in the workbook. Again, you can get that in the project section, the discussion section, or the about section of this class. So let's talk about how to get started with affiliate links. I recommend you start by creating a blog and coming up with a really interesting blog topic. Of course, you want to create valuable posts regularly and use social media to market the posts. So you're not marketing the links, you're marketing the posts, and then they find the links through your posts. Also, you can use YouTube to market your blog. You could have a little short YouTube video that goes along with every blog post and that would get you a lot of traffic as people are coming through YouTube to get into your blog. There is some essential research that you need to do if you want to do affiliate links, and that is getting educated about the rules for each affiliate program you're going to use. Every affiliate program has rules and you really want to stick to those because if you don't, you can get removed from the affiliate program. You can have your funds that you've already made withheld. Of course, we don't want to get in that situation and it could also be embarrassing. Before you get started with affiliate links, do a lot of research on whatever affiliate program you've chosen. Let's talk about a real-life example so you could see how this might play out in your own life. This is Suzy, the painter, her topic is a peek inside the artist's studio. She likes to share her materials and supplies. She likes to do little painting tutorials. When we click follow on Suzy's profile, we are following an artist. We're not following a salesperson. We're not following someone with a print-on-demand shop. We are following an artist that we love and we get to see inside her studio and her process every day. She likes to share posts on Instagram and Facebook and they're always about her process, materials, and tutorials. She has a YouTube channel with weekly studio vlogs that might just be turning on her camera for five minutes and saying, hey guys, look at these new paints I got or look at how much of a mess I made last night when I was painting, I have to clean this up now and I'm going to speed up my camera while you watch me clean up all my paints, or maybe she's just starting a new project and she's going to sketch it out and show you how she likes to sketch or show you her new notebook that she likes. It can be anything, whatever it is you're doing as a creative, I guarantee there are people out there who are interested in it because the creative process is interesting, it's exciting, and even people who aren't creative like to watch it. This is a chance for you to use your creative process as a way to interest people in your work, interest people in your website so that they come into your fold, and of course, we hope use your affiliate links. So Suzy might share links to her favorite supplies and classes on each blog post. She would probably also have a page on her website with all of her favorite materials and all of those would be affiliate links. I want to show you some of my affiliate blog posts just so you can get an idea of how this is going to look in the real world. This is a blog post on my website where I talk about a screen protector that I like and already use. It's called Paperlike and I went through and listed all of the things I like about it, why I like to use it, some of the common questions that people might have when they're thinking about buying it, questions that people have asked me about it, everything I could think of and then, of course, I have a link to order the screen protector. Of course, I'm trying to get all of the keywords in there about the screen protector, like the brand and maybe some problems I think people are having. If you scroll up to the title, Should You Get a Paperlike Screen Protector? This is something someone might search in Google when they're trying to figure out if they should buy it. This post has pretty good SEO because I've answered a question that a lot of people are asking. Here's another blog post where I talk about my new book, and of course, all of these are affiliate links. This is a link to my book on Amazon. I get a little bit of passive income when I sell a book, but I also get the Amazon affiliate referrals for everything else that someone has in their cart when they purchase through this link. You can see this doesn't look like a release salesy post. It has some video. I'm just talking about the book in general. I have a way for people to sign up for my e-mail list to download a free sample. I'm using this freebie to get people interested and then, of course, I have another link to the book at the bottom. This is just an idea for how you could get started with passive income. Of course, you may not have a self-published book, but you could do this with any product. This could be Suzy's painting supplies. This could be Suzy's favorite sketchbook in this picture and then a button here that says get the sketchbook. Let's talk about some important tips for this concept. Number one, not every post should have affiliate links. If you want to have a good blog where people go to really get information and they really want to subscribe, it's important not to make every single post about a product. Number two, stick to an overall theme but try new things occasionally. Sticking to an overall theme is really important for retaining followers. If you're doing different things all the time. People don't know what they're following and they don't want to stick around to see what other crazy thing you might do next. What they want is consistency with occasional little interesting twists on your theme. I also recommend starting an e-mail list immediately if you're going to do this option. This is the only way that you have 100 percent access to your customers. All of the social media platforms can troll the algorithm and they decide how you can reach your customers, how many customers you can reach in a day. All of that is controlled by those platforms. Not to say I don't love and use those platforms. But you also want to have the number one most important secure way for contacting your customers and that is a mailing system. If you are, for example, Suzy, the painter, and you're sharing painting tips and tutorials all the time, people are going to want to sign up for that and then you occasionally put some affiliate posts in there and people click on those. Next, I recommend you follow all the similar blogs. Any blog that is doing a concept that's similar to what you're doing no matter how big or small. If you think they're doing a great job, follow that person, check in on them all the time. Look at their new posts and you can get ideas that way, of course not to copy them, but to just get inspired by new concepts they might come up with. Of course, it's important to only share links to products you love. If you're sharing links to bad products, people are going to pick up on that. They're going to pick up on the fact that you aren't really interested in this thing. I really recommend only doing this with things you actually love using, and of course, consistency is key to long-term success. If you say you're going to do a blog post a month, do a blog post a month or a week. But of course, you don't want to do 10 blog posts in a month and then do nothing for the rest of the year. This is not a good way to get new followers. It's not a good way to keep people interested in you. It's really better to do a slow and steady drip than it is to try to do a lot of work all at once. I think you can see how using affiliate links to get passive income can be a fun way to make passive income because you're really just sharing stuff you like. You're writing blog posts, you're doing little tutorials on YouTube, you're sharing about your process. It's really just giving people something that you already have. You're just putting it on the internet and then throwing in some links here and there. For me personally, I love doing affiliate posts if it's a product I love, of course, and I find that it really is a slow drip all year round. Of course, if you think about something like Amazon affiliates, you can make a lot of passive income not just through the products that you sell, but also through any other product that's in that person's cart. So for example, if someone goes to my website and orders my book and they put 20 different things in their cart, I get a little percentage of that on every single sale. I think you can see how this can add up. If you create a really nice blog that people really want to visit, you can eventually build up hundreds, maybe thousands of links to products and be making a steady income just from affiliate links. 6. Print on Demand: print-on-demand is one of the most popular ways for artists and designers to make money online. I think that's because it's one of the easiest. All you have to do is upload your artwork, customers find it and order it on various products. You get a commission of the sale price. Basically, you create the art and the company does the rest. This is a great setup because most creatives, we love doing our process of creating art or designs, but we don't really like the sales part of it. This is where print-on-demand comes in. Although it can be really easy in some cases, it can also be a lot of work. I'm going to show you a few examples here. Let's start by looking at some platforms that are the most popular. Society6, Spoonflower, Redbubble, Casetify, I've got a full list of the ones that I really like in the workbook. I also wanted to tell you that I've tried a lot of others over the years and had varying levels of success. I haven't listed any in the workbook that I haven't seen success on. I'm not going to tell you all the bad ones because I don't want to bad mouth the company that maybe it was my fault. Maybe I didn't do it right, maybe I didn't have good tags or search terms. I'm not saying that those other companies are not good for anyone, but for me, they didn't work well. That's just part of the passive income experience. If you're like most people, you're probably wondering what platform is best. I think it all depends on your work. It depends on the products that are offered on that side. It depends on the customer base that's on that side. Some examples might be Redbubble sells a lot of stickers, so they tend to have a lot of teenagers in their market. If you're doing designs that would be popular with teenagers, you're probably going to do pretty well on Redbubble. Spoonflower sells fabric and wallpaper. They do a lot of patterns of course. A lot of the patterns can be a small scale. If you're a person who makes a lot of patterns and you think those would be good for projects like quilting, clothing, things that people are making with Spoonflower fabrics, then your work is probably going to do well on Spoonflower. The key here is finding the platform that seems to align best with the work that you're already making. Take a look at your portfolio, take a look at your style, and see which platform seems to align well with your style. What I recommend when you're getting started is browsing all the platforms. Of course, choosing the platform for your style and then creating or if you've already created them, just uploading 10 designs that are searchable. We're going to talk about searchable in just a minute. But of course, that means designs that people can search easily. Maybe they include some important theme like llamas or cats. It's also important to assess your successes and failures over several months, so you can keep track of what designs are and aren't doing well. Just a few tips to get started here. Try new platforms with caution because it's important not to spread yourself then. Also be aware of the customer request traps. A lot of people will contact me through my Spoonflower shop and say, "Hey, could you do this in lime green? Or could you do this at 50 percent of the size?" There is no guarantee that that person is going to purchase. It's up to you whether or not you actually want to take the time to do this, but the bigger your shop gets, the more difficult these can be. I recommend doing those with caution. Maybe if it's a regular customer who purchases all the time, that might be worth your time, but not every single person who says, "Hey, that design should be in magenta." It's not really your job to do custom work through print-on-demand platforms. Instead, I recommend that you offer the color and size variations that you think are appropriate for that design and then just leave it as it is. Of course, you want to avoid unsearchable designs. One example here might be if you really like doing triangles, and you did 5,000 designs with different triangles in them. That's okay, but not a lot of people are going to go to a site and search for triangles. These are what I would call unsearchable designs. Another example might just be swirls. Swirls can look good in some cases, but if you have a huge portfolio of swirls, then of course, those aren't going to all get found by customers. Instead, I think it's better to have a diverse set of designs that try to touch on a lot of different search terms. Also great designs are better than heavy marketing. I don't recommend the artists and designers spend a ton of time figuring out how to market their print-on-demand shops. I really just don't think that one individual could reach the amount of people needed to support a print on-demand shop, whereas these companies, these platforms where we put our work, they have a huge marketing base. If you make beautiful designs and you upload designs all the time, those companies are going to do the marketing for you. I think in the beginning, if you don't have a huge audience and you don't have a lot of people who are just there waiting to purchase your work, I don't think it's a good idea to spend a lot of time on marketing. I want to take you through my Spoonflower shop and look at a few designs that have done really well, and some that have done really poorly, and talk about why I think some of them succeeded and some of them failed. This is a design that I created many years ago, and it's a really simple design. It's mud cloth, which is a searchable term that people I think, type in search buttons all the time. If you click on one of these patterns, you can see all of the search terms that I used to tag this. Black and white, that's a popular search term. Batik, this is similar to a batik effect. Primitive, native, tribe, kente, references an African feel. Aborigine, indigenous. Of course, this pattern doesn't necessarily represent those exact cultures, but it does have that feel and it might be what someone types in order to find that design. I created this design and that is one design on its own, but of course, I want to use that same design for many colors and sizes. Although it started with one piece, it ended up being 24 designs total. Now, if a customer writes in and says, "Will you make a red version of this?" Unless I think it's a really good idea, I won't waste my time doing it. This is what I've stuck with. That's what I think makes this design successful and searchable, is that it relates to a lot of popular concepts. Same idea here with these 90s patterns. If anyone searches something like guitar, cell, boombox, 90s music, 90s style,90s sunglasses. These are concepts that people search for, then they're going to find this design and maybe make some crazy pillow or something out of it. I think that this idea of what is and is not searchable is really important for us to think about when we upload new designs. Here's another example of a search term that I found on the site that didn't have really any designs are related to it, and that was golf. I created a few different designs relating to golf. This design has done pretty well, I think partly because it's relating to a search term that nobody had covered. It's just a really simple design that someone who likes golf might be okay with having on their tie or maybe on a pillow, in a man cave, or something like that. It's important here to think about what the search term is and who are the people who might be interested in this search term. I also want to note here that this shop, this is an old shop that I created many years ago. It really doesn't represent my current work. Also my husband has put a lot of time into the shop. It's a mixture of both our designs, but I wanted to note that because I think it's okay to have a print-on-demand shop that isn't just your personal style. Maybe you're just using your print-on-demand shop to fill in search terms on different platforms that you know your work can be successful. It doesn't necessarily have to be your work that you love. Of course, I am not passionate about creating golfers, but I am passionate about making passive income so that I can draw whatever I want in my free time. That's just something I want to note here. I'm sure you might be looking at this thinking, Well, that's not your style at all." That is true. I didn't make this to show people my personal style. I made it in a shop that I really don't use is really just for my designs for passive income. I also want to show you some patterns that I have not done very well and talk about why I think that's the case. This is a series of watercolor paintings that I did. I think these are great. Some of these I think would be beautiful, has wallpaper, like an accent wall. I think some of these colors are beautiful, but I want to be honest with you and tell you that nobody purchases these. These for years, have just sat and nobody found them, nobody was interested, even some of the ones that I think are some of my most beautiful designs. That is just part of the print-on-demand process. This, I think, is partly because this is not very searchable. You can figure that out by looking at it and saying, "How would you describe that?" It's really hard to describe. It's like watercolors, symmetrical, geometric pattern. Nobody is going to type that in a search bar. While, if I got this in the target on a throw pillow, it might do pretty well. On a place that relies on search, this pattern is not going to do well. I did my best with search terms here, but it just doesn't make up for the fact that this design is simply not searchable. I want to put that out there because I know you're going to put some designs up and then be really disappointed when they don't sell. I want you to know that everyone who does print-on-demand experiences this. I hope that gives you a little bit of insight into what I mean when I say a design is searchable or not searchable. Maybe you can apply that to some of your decisions when you're putting designs on these platforms. I also want to note that I have a class on Society6 and my whole process from how I choose artwork and topics, how I create tags and descriptions, how I create color versions, to how I size my work for each project. The class also comes with a workbook where I have every Society6 product and share with you the dimensions for each product. You can figure out the sizing for your designs and what products you want to sell your work on. If you really want to dig deeper into my print-on-demand process, you can check out that class, but let's go ahead and move on to the next passive income strategy. 7. Creative Assets: The next passive income strategy is selling creative assets. This could be textures, fonts, photographs, seamless patterns, digital planners, digital brushes. There are so many more that I haven't listed here. This is one of my favorites because I love creating resources for artists and designers. Usually, I just give those away for free in my skill share classes, but I also love creating assets for sale, specifically fonts. Some of the platforms that you can use to sell creative assets are Creative Market, Design Cuts, Etsy, MyFonts, Patternbank, and again, I put a full list in the class workbook with links to every single one. Again, I think the important thing here is to start with the one that makes the most sense for whatever skills you already have. Explore that one as much as you can before moving on to the next one. Some tips for getting started are start by specializing. If you go to someone's shop and they have 50 different types of products, it looks a little unprofessional. But if you go to a shop and they have 50 different types of procreate brushes, you think that person is the procreate brush person. Same thing with fonts, textures, patterns. If you can specialize in something, you can become the go-to person for that thing. Also, the marketing images are crucial, of course, your resources need to be great. But the marketing, I think, is almost more important, because that's how you show your customers what they can do with what you've created. It's not enough to just make beautiful assets, you have to make a beautiful way of presenting those. I want to show you my Creative Market shop as an example. I have a little blurb at the top to tell them what it is that I specialize in. I'm a hand letterer who loves turning funky letters with a handmade feel into fonts. Send me a message if you have questions about my fonts, so they feel like they can contact me. They know what they're going to find in my shop, they know what I specialize in. If they find one of my fonts and they really love it, they might go back and look at some of the others. I also have a header that really speaks to the theme of my shop. I want to show you my most popular font and tell you why I think that's so popular. This search term, Art Nouveau, if I open this in a new window, whenever someone goes to Creative Market and they type in Art Nouveau, there really aren't a lot of things here that are exactly Art Nouveau. Now, you can keep scrolling and you can find Art Nouveau patterns and brushes and design kits. But in terms of an Art Nouveau font, there really aren't that many. So mine shows up here at the top because it's the best match. I think if we insert the word font, it might go, yeah, even higher up and such. I know if someone goes to Creative Market and types that term, they're definitely going to find my font. Then of course, my hope is that once they find my font, they want to click on my name, and then they see all of my different fonts and say, "Oh, she makes similar hand lettered fun fonts." That's one thing I recommend is if you're going to be driving people to your shop, why not have a selection of similar things for them to choose from so that they have plenty of opportunity to purchase your work in that same style. I also want to show you some of the marketing images for these fonts. Here's one of my newer fonts, the weighted tops and bottoms font. It's hand lettered playful font, just like I described in my profile. I just put some playful little sparkles and a texture over this to give it a vintage feel. Then I just made a few advertisement cards that I think people could use this for. I think this look swirly like fog, so I came up with a name that was relating to that topic. I also show them exactly what they're purchasing, which is the alphabet, and then these specific numbers and symbols so that they aren't confused about what all is included in the character set. This is what I think is important for advertising, showing exactly what you're getting and also showing possibly how it could be used in a final product. I want to note here that I do have a class on how I designed my fonts and lists them in my Creative Market shop. If you want to see how I designed my fonts on my iPad and watch me list a new item in my Creative Market shop, as well as see how I create these marketing images, you can check out that class. I think you can see though, that making creative assets is one of the more fun passive income routes. Because you can really just play around with materials and make cool textures, photographs, patterns, and then just put them out there in the world for other people to use them. It's so fun for me to get an image with someone using one of my fonts, and then it's like I did a hand lettering project for them but I didn't actually have to do the project. I think you'll find that making creative assets can be really fun and very rewarding. 8. Online Courses: The next passive income strategy I want to talk about is online courses. I probably I'm most familiar with this one because it's my favorite thing to do. I love teaching, I love video editing, I love all this nerdy stuff about setting up backgrounds and working with other artists and designers and providing resources for them. That's definitely my number 1 favorite thing to do and that's why I put so much time into it. You can also put classes on social media platforms as a way to grow your audience. You could have, for example, YouTube tutorials, you could have IGTV tutorials, and that would be a great way to drive people to your other passive income ventures. You could also, of course, put classes on Skillshare, which you probably know is my favorite course platform, you could do a site like Udemy, which tends to have longer, more extensive courses that are paid for by the course, or you could list a course on your website. This does take a little bit more work, and of course, you need to have a little bit of an audience before you get started with that, but it's definitely something you could do down the road after you feel comfortable with creating courses. How does someone get started with creating courses online? Let's say that you are someone who loves teaching, maybe you teach locally, maybe you just like teaching your friends new art tutorial topics. This is a great way for you to get started with teaching: Number 1, practicing in person and getting comfortable with your teaching. Next, I recommend you start by creating short tutorials on low-commitment platforms. Low-commitment platforms are things like IGTV, YouTube; you don't have to do much to sign up, you can easily delete things if you hate them later on, so that's what makes these a low-commitment platform. Next, I recommend you learn the filming and editing process through creating those short tutorials. In the beginning, there are probably going to be some struggles with the lighting, the video, the audio, all of those things need to be worked out. By creating these short tutorials in the beginning, you can get a lot of practice and get more comfortable with your process. You can also build your audience with freebies. Every time you create a course, you could provide some materials lists, some free download, some list of tips, or 10 best tips for a certain topic, something that you can provide people to download so they feel like they're walking away from the class with some knowledge and with a freebie. Last, I think once you feel comfortable with all of these things and you have a little bit of an audience, it's a good time to start trying a larger platform like Skillshare, Udemy, or your website. There are so many different ways to market your online courses, you really just have to find a way that works for your style. But some things that I recommend are number 1, remembering that the best marketing is creating great classes on a consistent schedule. I really believe that you could do nothing but create great classes and never do any marketing and you could still have a really successful teaching channel. I think that is one of the most important things to remember is that marketing is a supplement or an extra thing that you do, creating great courses is really what's most important. Next, you can post class projects, trailers, clips, and tips on social media, you can start an email list where you email people about your classes, and maybe you're going to do the blog post idea along with your classes, so you could have both of those things going out in your email, and of course, engaging with your students. I think it's so important to take time every day to answer comments, comment on student projects, connect with your students, answer their emails; I think that people appreciate this so much. It's probably the best marketing you can do, it's just one-on-one really connect with people and let them know that you're there for them if they need you. I want to take you into my Skillshare profile to show you that while now I have a professional-looking profile and I have a lot of followers, I started with zero followers over here, and I started with one class. If you scroll down through my profile, you can see I really have these listed mostly in order of when I created them. Some of my earliest classes were honestly not very good and I may eventually ask for them to be deleted. My very first class was on Photoshop because that was something that I knew how to do. I created a class on how to create repeats in Photoshop; as you know, I had my Spoonflower shop, so I was creating a lot of repeats in Photoshop, I felt really comfortable with that process. It was really just a matter of creating one nice repeat and then showing people how to do that in a screen recording. That gave me the idea to do a couple other classes related to Photoshop and watercolors. I've had these classes up for several years and some of them hardly have any students compared to my newer classes. That really, I think, is fine to have some classes in the beginning that are just for learning, and of course, if you'd rather just do this on a social media platform or a place like YouTube, there will be a lot less of a commitment than there will be on a larger platform like Skillshare. Over time, I worked to improve the quality of my classes and I try every single class to make it just a little bit better than the previous one, whether that's the audio being improved or the video being improved, whatever it is, I'm always working to improve the quality of my classes. I think that is the key to having a sustainable class creation passive income system is just continuing to produce classes on a schedule and making sure that you're always making little improvements. I have most of my classes on Skillshare, but I also have a class on my website. That is all about how to become a course creator. I only launched this class a few times a year, but I want to note here that if you eventually do want to create classes, it's important to remember that launching classes on your website is a lot of work. You can see all of the different sections that I've built out here, all of these forms and links and everything has to be set up in order to have a successful course on your website. That's why I think in the beginning, it's a really good idea for course creators to start on low-commitment platforms and then move to the larger platforms and last start listing courses on your website. This is what I would consider an upper-level difficult process to have a course on your website, and especially to drive traffic to a page like this. Just something I want you to think about as you consider creating some classes. I hope this section inspired you to start thinking about whether or not you want to become a course creator or just create some short tutorials to grow your audience. Of course, this is great for someone who has teaching experience, but if you have no teaching experience, that doesn't mean you can't get started with creating online classes. You could just do some 5-10 minute tutorials on your Instagram channel or on YouTube just to get your feet wet and see how you like the process. 9. Art Licensing: Next, let's talk about art licensing. Art licensing is selling your art for royalties or flat fees. It's usually great for someone who has already honed in on a creative style, and you will have to create a professional portfolio, share your work often, and reach out to agents or contact companies. I want to show you some examples of some of my art licensing opportunities and tell you a little bit about how those came about so you can get some insight into how to get started with art licensing. First, a few tips I want to mention. Number 1, your portfolio is a menu. I try to think about my portfolio as a menu because it just helps me think about the concept of someone coming to my website and ordering something. If you go up to a counter in a website and you look at the menu and there are 500 different things on the menu, you probably feel a little bit overwhelmed and you may not know what to order. Whereas if you go to a menu and there are five or 10 really great things on the menu, you just have a really simple decision to make. I would recommend when thinking about your portfolio, think about some of those classier restaurants that you go to that have a small yet cohesive and high-quality menu versus those big restaurants you go to that they just hand you like a book when you sit down at the table and you're just flipping through like American food, Chinese food, Japanese food. If they do everything, they probably do nothing very well or they probably don't do anything very well. I want you to think about your portfolio and what kind of restaurant do you want to be. How do you want people to feel when they're ordering from you in an art licensing context? Also, once your portfolio looks great, you can start emailing companies you love. I know it's uncomfortable to email people, especially if you're cold calling. But it's also one of the only ways that you can be found in the art licensing world. A lot of people will not respond, and that's your job to keep following up with new work. If you don't like this process, you may be someone who needs an art licensing agent rather than doing it all yourself. Of course, it's important to be professional in every communication. Every time you email someone related to art licensing, it's very important to be professional. Companies don't just want a great artist, they want a person they can work with who is professional and easy to work with. I try to always keep that in mind every time I work with a company. How do you even get started with art licensing? If you are someone who is just thinking about starting out, I recommend that you take classes about art licensing. There are classes on Skillshare. There are a lot of classes out there on people's individual websites. There are blog posts. Consume everything you can about art licensing. The class that you're watching here today does not have the kind of detail that you would need to have to get started in art licensing. I'm going to give you some examples here, but you really need to do some deep dive research to get started in art licensing. Next, you can share a consistent body of work regularly on social media, on your portfolio, on your email list. Keep creating beautiful work and keep sharing it. When you're ready, reach out to companies with designs that fit your aesthetic. Most art licensing classes will tell you it's important to only reach out to companies who have work that looks like your work. For example, I have reached out to companies that have illustrations with hand lettering because that's typically what I do. I wouldn't reach out to a company who created, for example, t-shirt designs because I don't really make t-shirt designs. That doesn't work well with my style. Reaching out to companies with designs that fit your aesthetic, I think is one of the most important keys to being successful in art licensing. Next, I want to tell you about a few of my art licensing opportunities and how they came about so you can start thinking about how you would approach art licensing. Here's an example of a company that I found that had a lot of beautiful designs with illustrations and hand lettering. They were greeting cards and I've always wanted to design greeting cards. I reached out to the company with a few examples of my work and asked if they would let me create a series of cards for their site. I want to note here that they did say yes, but that doesn't mean that you've locked in the job. You still have to keep working to impress them by providing great sketches, having professional communication, and getting things delivered on time. Here's the process that I used to work with this company. First of all, I sent them over some sketches and concepts and I asked them what concepts they thought would be best for their website. They know their audience best. I don't know anything about their audience, so at this point I was open to whatever they thought would work well. I also came up with an overall theme, which is a stamp theme. Because I think working in a theme is so much better than just creating several different random designs. I also provided a color palette to make sure they were okay with the colors and gave them a little example of what my process would look like so that they knew exactly what to expect before I even delivered anything. In the end, I created a series of nine cards for them. But you can see that I started with a lot of different concepts in order to get rid of some of the worst ones and only go with the best. I always recommend this when you're working with a company is provide a variety of concepts for them to choose from and then see what they think will work best with their style. On the flip side, here is a company that found me. It's not every case where the artist reaches out to the company, often the company reaches out to the artist, which is why it's so important to share your work all the time. This is a company called RED, which is a non-profit that sells products and the proceeds go to helping people with AIDS and COVID all over the world. This was a company that I was already passionate about, but I probably never would have reached out to them because I had no idea that they were looking for designs like this. But they happen to find one of my stamp designs and asked if I would be willing to create a stamp for them. You can see how in the past I've created the stamp design and it's served me well in multiple cases but if I had never put my work out there in the world, then these companies never would have been willing to work with me. Here's another example of a company that found me. This is called LoveHandle and they feature small patterns on their phone grips. I had just created several pattern collections in a row and I was sharing those on Instagram. Then this company reached out to me and asked if my patterns could go on their phone grips. If I had not created those pattern collections, not knowing what would happen with them in the end, then this company never would have been interested in me. I also want to note that I think a lot of these companies are looking for people with an audience. If they go to your Instagram profile and they see a few thousand people on there, they might be more likely to work with you. That is something to consider as you're thinking about all of these passive income opportunities is having an audience is never going to hurt you. It certainly make sense to share your work often or share resources often so that you can start building up your audience. A few takeaways for anyone who wants to get started in art licensing. Number 1, if you share your work consistently, companies will notice. You can reach out to companies you're interested in. They might reach out to you, but it's certainly fine to reach out to other companies. It's important to start developing a consistent portfolio as early as possible. That might mean sticking to several different themes, sticking to a specific color palette, or just having an overall cohesive style in your work, rather than sharing the 500 different styles that you love. Next, start figuring out who you are as an artist and designer. I know we always talk about finding your personal style, it's so important to find your style. But what does that really mean? For me that means how would someone else describe me, or specifically, how would a company describe me if they found my work. If they're having trouble describing me, then I probably haven't provided everything that I need to. For example, how I would like a company to describe me would be an artist who uses hand lettering and illustration with bold colors to illustrate humorous or interesting concepts, something like that. What you can think about is, how would you like to be described by a company or a client? Then how can you show that in your portfolio, both by literally saying it and by having work that demonstrates it? I think figuring out who you are as an artist or designer is really one of the most important things for getting into art licensing. As I said, there's so much more to know about art licensing in terms of understanding contracts, pricing structures, how to get found, how to create a professional portfolio, but note that there are so many other classes out there that do go into detail about this, so keep learning about this topic if this is something you're interested in. 10. Creative Books: This last section is all about creative books. That could be anything from coloring books, children's books, comics, illustrated stories, journals, also known as low content books, tutorial books, planners, there are so many other options here. As an artist or designer, you probably have the skills that it would take to create some creative book, and if you're like me, you will love the process of designing and producing a book. Some publishing platforms include Kindle Direct Publishing, iBooks, Barnes & Noble press, Kobo, IngramSpark. Again, there's a full list in the workbook. I want to add a tip in here that I think this option is best for someone with an audience. If you don't have anyone at all to market to, I do think it would be really difficult to sell a book. There are a lot of marketing strategies out there to get a book found if you don't have an audience, but unless you want to become really good at marketing and do a ton of marketing for a book, you probably don't want to get started with this until you have that audience built up. I just want to tell you a little bit about the process that I did for designing my self-published book, Letter Styles Library. I started by creating a chapter by chapter plan just so I knew exactly what would be in the book. Next I did a sample chapter to determine how much time this was all going to take me. I planned out all my marketing efforts, I lined up some editors who could help me look over the book. I spent a lot of time getting educated about self-publishing platforms and the process. In the end, I had to work really hard to not give up. Like any large creative projects, there are going to be bumps in the road, things are going to go wrong, things are going to be really difficult and self-publishing is no exception. I just want to put that out there because I don't want to present the idea that self-publishing is an easy way to make passive income, but I think the book creation process is really fun. If you think it would be fun for you, then it may be something you could dive into. As I told you, I started with one book and I worked with a publisher and they helped me through that whole process. Next, they created a German translation of the book, so that's the German book you see over here, and then I published my book, The Letter Styles Library. You can see that this is a lot of work. Planning out a book like this is certainly not easy, but I do find it rewarding and think that it's something that a lot of creatives could enjoy in terms of how to generate passive income. 11. Final Tips: To wrap everything up, I just want to tell you a few last tips for your passive income journey to help things be a little more smooth and less stressful. Number one, let this be an experimental process. There will be ups and downs, there will be things that work out and things that don't. Those things that don't work out, that is time to start thinking about why it didn't work and how you can avoid it in the future. How you can pivot to make things, make a little more sense considering your skills and what you actually enjoy doing. Next, I hope that you over time can celebrate any successes. When I made a dollar on Skillshare, I was so happy. My first dollar on Skillshare was probably one of the most exciting. I felt the same way when I made my first sale on Spoonflower, when I sold my first book. All of these early successes are so exciting, but try to also celebrate those tiny little incremental improvements as well, because that is what will keep you going in passive income. Next, keep looking for trends. Doing your monthly or bi-monthly reports are a great way to look and see what people are buying and what you maybe need to consider doing more of if people are buying the same designs or classes or whatever it is you're selling. Make sure you're keeping an eye on what's doing well. Of course factor in some failures. As you saw from my background, I have had plenty of failures and I still have failures. But I'm really getting more used to it and I'm able to bounce back and say, "Hey, it happens." I learned an important lesson and I'm never going to make that mistake again. My last tip is do what you love. All of these passive income strategies work, but only some of them will be enjoyable to you. I think it's really important to go with what's enjoyable because that's what's going to be most sustainable for you. I hope you enjoyed this class and that you feel inspired to start your passive income journey or expand on your current passive income journey. If you liked this class, you may like some of my other classes where I cover a lot more ways to create passive income and how to create art and designs on your iPad and procreate an affinity designer. Also, I share a lot of free downloads for iPad artists and designers on my website. If you want to get more downloads like the ones you got for this class, check out my site. If you have any questions as you work through the sections of this class, please feel free to reach out to me. You could leave me a comment in the discussion section or you could contact me through my website. Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you again next time. Bye-bye.