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How to Get a Side Gig Going as an Artist

By Chelsea Lamb:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pixels

Not too long ago, most people would say that getting a part-time job on the side, or even a couple of freelance gigs, was too complicated to manage. Maintaining a single, steady job with one paycheck was the way to go. That made it pretty challenging for artists who needed to earn a living without giving up their passion.

Things are different these days, and more people than ever are starting side gigs, artists among them. Starting or finding flexible jobs to supplement your income while still having time to create is a realistic venture. Here are a few tips for navigating side gigs as an artist.

Look Into Your Options

There are countless ways to earn an income when you're creative. For example, you can sell your drawings, paintings, or other artwork through different online marketplaces. You could create an online course teaching others how to master your craft, which would allow you to earn passive income. Or, you could start an e-commerce store selling your artwork and other art-related products.

If you have a mind for business, one option is to start a company. If your company wouldn't be a full-time gig, you could really make it anything you want as long as it aligns with your skills and knowledge. Some artists find it refreshing to work in a trade or industry unrelated to their creative side because it adds variety to their lives.

If you choose to launch a business, take the time to write a thorough business plan and choose the right legal structure. You'll also need to create a unique brand and build a professional website to serve as your marketing hub.

Lay a Legal Foundation and Get Your Credit in Order

You have several legal structures to choose from when it comes to a new business. Many artists operate as solopreneurs because it's easiest to set up and manage, but forming an LLC will help protect you from liability, give you flexibility in how you're paid, and yield specific tax benefits. The key is to research the various structures and select one that will set your company up for growth instead of holding you back. If you need help with this step, look online for a resource guide, such as one that explains how to start an LLC in California.

Obtaining an Employee Identification Number (EIN) is another step you’ll need to take to lay a solid legal foundation. Also known as a Tax ID Number, your EIN is how the IRS will identify your business and track your payroll taxes. An EIN will also simplify the process of filing state and federal taxes.

If you will need funding for product, materials, or a brick-and-mortar storefront, check your credit score first. Most lenders will not give loans to people who do not have good credit, and if you apply at multiple places only to get rejected, those inquiries will also look bad on your credit report. So take a look at your credit score first, and then either apply for loans strategically or build up your credit before applying.

Use the Right Tools

If you choose to start a business or sell services as a freelancer, it's essential to establish a reliable invoicing process. Otherwise, you may constantly deal with late-paying clients, making it difficult to maintain a healthy cash flow.

Use an online invoice generator that allows you to download invoices in whatever format you choose. You can easily find premade templates and customize them with text, logos, images, and other elements.

While you're at it, research the web for other tools that can help you make money and find clients. You might be surprised how quickly you can find clients for your art business by joining online job boards; some sites even cater specifically to artists, as the Goodwall Blog shows. You might also benefit from incorporating productivity tools that help you stay on track and make the most of your time.

Gone are the days when you have to sacrifice your love for art to make a buck. If you want to keep creating while earning a living, research all the different side gigs you could start. And if you launch a company, be sure to lay a firm legal and financial foundation and use all the tools at your disposal. Supplementing your income can relieve a lot of stress and give you the freedom you need to create at the highest level!


Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist and co-founder of Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership and entrepreneurship.

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