become full time artists

How to Obtain the Lifestyle You Want as a Full-Time Artist/Photographer

Dispelling the “get rich quick” artist fantasy once and for all, and a look at what full-time artists are actually doing to obtain the lifestyle they want.


Why are you trying to sell your artwork, and/or start or grow an art business?

If you're anything like most of our customers, it's likely to:

  • Quit your 9-5 job and focus solely on your art
  • Generate retirement income

  • ​​​​Have the freedom to travel, working whenever you want, wherever you want

In short: to attain a lifestyle you don't currently have.

But how do you actually get there?

Do you have the right strategy, or are you wasting time, going down the wrong path without even knowing it? 

To answer that, it's actually a lot easier to explain what doesn't work. Here are several popular distractions that won't get you where you want to go:

Taking a "spray and pray" approach to art marketplace websites

This tactic involves uploading your art everywhere you possibly can in hopes that an occasional print sale from each of the marketplaces will stack into a considerable income.

Marketing is what drives art sales, and the more platforms you use to sell your art, the less attention you can give each of them. 

With hundreds of thousands of artists on marketplaces, tens of thousands of images are being uploaded each day and millions are already there. The likelihood that someone will stumble across your images is miniscule. 

In fact, if you manage to sell a couple of prints a year this way, you are in the top .01% of earners. Even in that case, you are still a victim of the marketplaces' algorithm changes, which is always based on their current best-sellers. 

The best way to make it work is to drive traffic to your marketplace accounts to ensure art buyers are seeing your work. But if you're going to go through the trouble of doing that, you would be better off sending that traffic to an online art gallery that you own and you alone reap the full benefits of – the customer's email address, phone number, and opportunity to create a direct relationship. 

The marketplace strategy does not work for generating enough sales to attain a desired lifestyle. 

We've interviewed over 100,000 fine artists and photographers from the US and Canada, and have never found an exception to this rule. Have you?

The good news is that having this knowledge is powerful! It will stop you from wasting your time - perhaps years - "spraying and praying". Instead, you can focus all of your time on activities that will get you to your desired outcome. 

Because not making sales on a marketplace is not an indicator on how well you can do. More on that later. 

Sitting back and thinking buyers will come to you

If your art is just sitting online, with no active romance marketing taking place, you are putting your future in the hands of pure luck. 

There are no hacks, there are no get rich quick schemes. “But give me the one marketing tactic that is really working!” The truth is, there isn’t one.

The only way you get buyers to come to you is through consistency in marketing.

It’s by following a plan, sticking to it, building relationships with your audience and playing the long game. We call these small wins.

After a while, all the small wins stack up and create big wins.

You know those artists we talk about who sell over $100,000 per year, right from their own art gallery websites? This is how they did it. Don’t be fooled into thinking anything else. You have to put in the work just like every other business in every other industry.

Relying on the declining art gallery market

Art galleries have been going out of business for years.

At an increasing rate, people are buying more online and this continues to take market share away from retail. This is why art galleries have been closing at an ever increasing rate.

If you want to achieve your desired outcome, you need to make sure you are making art sales in other channels and are not overexposed.

how to become a successful artist

If art galleries were the means through which you achieved your desired outcome, it probably won’t last very long and you’ll be back closer to where you started from. Don’t let that happen!

Believing in any part of this phrase: “Art doesn’t sell online”

Forgive us for making a blunt statement here: Just because you haven’t sold art from your website, doesn’t mean that it is not happening.

This is a defense mechanism that usually surfaces from those who have no problem selling offline at art fairs or in galleries, but have failed to turn the online channel into something significant.

Upon digging deeper with these types of people, we almost always discover they are using an old and outdated website that offers none of the 7 cornerstone features an art website needs. Of course, if you provide a terrible buying experience, you won't sell anything!

This is not reflective of the online art market as a whole – which is not only growing, but thriving. We have spoken with many, many not-well-known artists and photographers who are selling over $200,000 a year right from their own art gallery website. Some of them are on our platform.

Artists are now selling original art, limited editions, and open edition prints on a regular basis.

Simply put - if you are not taking advantage of this direct channel (your own art gallery online) you are missing out on your biggest revenue opportunity! It is bigger and more consistent than everything else.

Alright, so we've covered what doesn't work. How about what does?

Obtaining the Full-Time Artist Lifestyle – How It's Done

Hear more about Megh's success as full-time artist in this podcast interview.

Do you know any full-time, successful artist or photographer who has NOT put in the work to build their own business step by step?

We don't either, because they don't exist!

Everyone who has been able to quit their 9-5 job, retire on their art-selling income, or live the lifestyle of the full-time artist/photographer had to put their head down for a few years and build their business.

Fortunately, it's not rocket science, and it's far more work-based than luck-based (contrary to what most non-artists think!).

So where do you start? It's simple: you make it easy and enjoyable for people to buy art from you by running your own art gallery online.

In other words, don’t have an outdated website that is difficult to buy from and is not in line with industry standards – you will leave tons of sales on the table, and make your life so much harder!

From there, you do what all businesses do – you follow a marketing plan and stay consistent with your efforts. Too many artists post on social media for a couple of weeks, send a handful of email blasts, and then give up. 

You couldn't expect any other business in the world to become self-sufficient in a matter of a couple weeks or months. Your online art business is no different (even if you've had success offline. It's just a different game.)

In short:

  • Ensure you offer the buying experience art buyers expect
  • Educate yourself on being an art business owner
  • Spend your time on the marketing tasks that are known to work, and avoid wasting time on those that aren't.
  • Don't operate on an island. Surround yourself with a community of successful artists that are just like you. Share the knowledge and get better, together. (We offer our customers a private Facebook Group for exactly this purpose).  

Why It Is So Worth It

how to become a full time artists

If you've given much thought to the lifestyle you want to obtain with your art career, you likely know the answer to this far better than us.

With consistent income, you can live the way you want. It's as simple as that.

Nothing good comes easy, but if you put in the work now, you can reach the future you want in 3-5 years. 

So, what are you waiting for? 👇

See why thousands of artists are using Art Storefronts to run their own art galleries online » 

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