We all know the stereotype.
You know, the artist stereotype. The one where the artist is so burdened and driven mad by their creative pursuit that they can’t put food on their tables? The starving artist.
Well, It’s wrong. It’s always been wrong. And it’s about to become even more obsolete within the coming years, so much that the next generations will ask “why do they call them starving?”
This isn’t to say that making money off of your art isn’t a struggle. It is. But so is trying to do anything we love for a living: doable and possible with certain amounts of persistence and dedication.
And now, the internet is changing creatives’ fates by expanding their opportunities to make money online. From selling artwork directly on Etsy to getting commissioned work through Instagram, the world is slowly becoming an artists’ oyster. It takes effort and hard work, but the avenues have multiplied and continue to do so.
But this year, in 2023, the ultimate best way to make money as an artist online has been revealed. It’s consistent, reliable, and can be really lucrative…
Teach your skills online.
Create an online school containing a few courses that help people learn what you know and do. Videos, workbooks, exercises, live session… whatever it takes to give people enough value for their money. They learn a new skill, you make a lot of money, and you expand your personal brand as an expert at a specific skill… it’s a win-win situation.
While it may sound like a daunting task, it can be one of the most lucrative decisions you make. Your initial investment is pretty low, and the potential profits are high.
Entrepreneur Ramit Sethi, the owner of GrowthLab, currently ranks teaching online as the most practical online business to run right now:
Our data at Uscreen backs this up too. The average Uscreen video business owner generates $5,700 in monthly passive income, with running costs as low as $149 per month.
Not a bad profit margin, right?
You can work from wherever you want, whenever you want and with whomever you want. All while keeping complete creative control over what you teach, and freeing you up to create more of the art you want to create without worrying about how you’ll pay rent next month.
So in this blog post, we’ll tell you all you need to know about starting to teach people your skill so you can start making a lot of money on the side on a recurring basis.
But before we do that, we need to set a few things straight:
Debunk 3 Dangerous Myths about Teaching Art
Consider this a PSA for all artist, if you will:
1. Teaching is for artists who couldn’t make it in the art world
Wrong wrong wrong. Wrong.
This has been a general misconception that makes a sizable number of artists feel like resorting to teaching art for a living would be admitting defeat to the art industry. In other words, it would be admitting that they suck as artists. This belief creates such an unbelievable disservice that leads them to miss out on opportunities to make make a living as an artist through teaching.
Very much so that scholars have been studying and writing about this:
A sensitivity to the attitude that “those who can’t do, teach” underlies the artist-teacher image.
C.H. Anderson rejects the notion that art educators are a group that couldn’t make it as artists and insists that “the art teacher must be competent…in technical skills required to create art.” She suggests that non-producing art teachers are liable to creative, intellectual, personal, and professional stagnation.Michael D. Day
Artist-Teacher: A Problematic Model for Art Education.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 20, no. 4 (1986)
So you can now stop thinking that teaching art admits defeat. It’s not good for you.
2. No one will pay you to learn your skills
This is really a two-part question:
Q1: Why would people pay for content if they can get it for free?
A1: According to a 2017 survey from Statista, up to 40% of adults over 18 years of age pay for online video content. Turns out there are 7 specific reasons why people will pay for content when they can get it for free.
Q2: Why would people pay you for educational content?
A2: If you already have a following somewhere (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Patreon, Email), that’s proof that people like your style and are into what you do and your process. They can be considered your groupies in a way. If they’re interested in creating art themselves, they will likely be willing to pay to learn from one of their favorite artists.
If you want to be a little more sure about the marketing demand for your knowledge and technique teaching, you can validate your online school or course in a few ways.
3. You need to keep your artistic skills a secret or you will lose business
So many artists fear that sharing their creative processes and techniques would put them out of business. It’s a valid thought: you teach someone exactly how to do what you do best and they could do it better than you. But if you already have an established visual brand and style, there’s nothing to be afraid of because:
- Your work will be considered original, while other’s works that look exactly like yours will be considered… well, copies.
- Smart artists who really want to learn will take your skills to build their own voice, and that’s always something to encourage.
This is similar to teaching music. You can teach someone how to play and master one of your specific songs, but no matter how well they end up playing it, it will always be considered a cover of your original song. But when they learn your song well, they’ll be able to incorporate what they’ve learned from you into their voices to create their own body of creative work.
A real-life example of this (one of many) is Matty Moe, aka The Most Famous Artist, who uploaded a YouTube video teaching people how to recreate one of his most famous pieces of work, Pink River. He teaches more of these on his Patreon page.
How To Start Making Money as An Artist
Here’s your guide to start teaching people your art skills online:
1. Find Your Niche
This is always the first thing we tell people to start with. But since you already have an idea for your online course (teaching them your art skill), you’re kind of already halfway there. The second part is narrowing down on your niche is figuring out who your course would be a good fit for.
Or finding your tribe.
Your tribe is basically the group of people who will want to enroll in your school. Your tribe can be as broad as an industry, like graphic designers. Or it can be as narrow as your Instagram followers or email list. Whichever best fits your skill set.
Knowing who your tribe is will make…
- marketing your online school,
- branding your online school platform,
- pricing your video content or subscription fee,
- and creating course content
…much, much easier.
2. Define The Core Art Skills To Teach
You need to come up with a promise–the main deliverable your online video content claims to help your students achieve.
This “promise” is the reason your students will enroll, and the drive that will make them continue paying for content they can get elsewhere. They’re the two or three skills they know they’ll come away with if they stick with your content.
Let’s say you’re creating an art school for watercolor enthusiasts. You might promise the following:
“Become a watercolor expert in 21 days”
“Find your creative style and voice through watercolor”
You can use these kinds of deliverables to help plan your content, drive your marketing and ensure you’re delivering the results they’re looking for.
If you’re unsure of this, think about the wants and needs of your tribe. What is the result they’re looking for, and how can you help them get it?
Want to learn all of this in more detail? Check out Uscreen’s brand new Video Business School! It will guide you through the whole process of launching an online video business of any kind from start to finish.
3. Plan Your Lessons
With your tribe and deliverables in place, you can begin to plan the first lessons you’re going to teach online.
As the expert on this topic, you should feel right at home. You will be no short of information to share and techniques to teach. In fact, you should be careful not to be trying to cram too much in one course. No matter how long you make it, you have to make sure you’re not overwhelming your students. You do that by only giving them what they need based on their level of experience. Are they beginners? Intermediate? Advanced?
By creating an entire online school, you can create courses for all three levels and more! You can even branch out to have different deliverables for different courses, but make sure the entire school has one overarching theme.
According to this, you can start planning for courses, the chapters that will make up your courses, and the points you will cover in these chapters.
You may also want to add additional extras to these lessons. You can include PDFs, audio tracks, print out sheets and anything you feel will add depth to the lesson.
Now, it’s important to note you don’t need to have a “finished” school by the time you launch.
The beauty of running a school like this is you can adjust, add and change your content based on your student’s feedback.
If you enroll students, they watch a video, and they’re crying out for more information on a particular topic, you’d do well to cater to their needs. The idea at the start is to have enough content they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, but diverse enough they know this isn’t your average course.
4. Create Your School’s Platform
Your final step is to get your school online.
To do this, you’re going to need to use an online teaching platform. They’ll help you to host your videos and courses, and save you lots of money on trying to do it yourself.
Before you choose a platform, you need to ask yourself the question about accessibility. How and where do you want your school to be used?
- Will it be browser-only?
- Will people be able to access it on their phones and devices?
- Will people be able to access through their televisions, with OTT video apps?
Depending on the school you want to run, different levels of accessibility will be expected of you.
Another of the major issues you’ll face in setting up your school is how course platforms work. Many of them only allow you to create a standalone course, and you have to Frankenstein them together to make it resemble a school.
But there is a way to create an entire school where your students can seamlessly move from section to section. Better still, you can make it available on more devices, and cater to your customers where you need them.
Uscreen allows you to create an inclusive online school with categories and tracking student progress and has some pretty cool website themes. Check out our current customers for examples.
You can find out more about us, and what we offer, by clicking here.
5. Find Your Students Online
Now that everything’s set up, it’s time to spread the word in all the right corners of the internet to find potential students to your online school.
How you market your online academy will come down to your audience. You’ll need to choose strategies that focus on where their attention is, and adding lots of value up front.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Use social media: Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are heavily focused on video right now. You can use teasers and trailers or marketing style content to reach thousands of people on a day-to-day basis.
Leverage YouTube: This video-giant can also be a great source of traffic to your videos and your website. You can read our full guide on how to use YouTube to sell your videos online right here
Build a mailing list: Email is still the number one way to get in touch with potential customers. Give people the option to join your newsletter on all of your pages. Then, alert them when new videos and products go live. Here’s a step-by-step guide on building your email list from scratch.
Wrapping This Up…
By now we hope you have a much clearer idea of how you can start an online art school in your creative niche. And, the great opportunity they create for you as an artist to make money online.
So where do you go from here? Well, it depends on how you feel:
- If you’re still unsure and need to think about it, you can browse our current customers to see how their online schools and video websites look and try to envision yourself and your content in their shoes.
- If you’re set on the idea but don’t think you can do it, check out our Video Business School. It covers everything from A to Z about launching and running a successful video business and will guide you through the process step by step.
- If you’re super sold on the idea and want to get started yesterday, you can sign up for a 14-day trial of Uscreen’s platform.
- If you have any specific that were not answered in this blog post, just give us a shout. We’re always happy to help.
But now we want to hear from you. What’s brought you to look for how to start an online school? Do you have any questions about starting your school?
Let us know in the comments…