9 Passive Income Ideas for Illustrators


As an illustrator, you can earn a passive income by sharing a passion via a passive income idea. Some ideas include print-on-demand, blogging, affiliate marketing, chatbots, podcasting or selling

There are many ways of earning passive income as an illustrator. Some notable ways include blogging, print-on-demand, affiliate marketing, and monetized chatbots among others. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers make an average of $50,370/year in 2018 from their profession (source) so having a passive income stream (or a couple of them) can help boost income. 

How can illustrators earn passive income? As an illustrator, you can earn a passive income by sharing a passion via a passive income idea. Some ideas include print-on-demand, blogging, affiliate marketing, chatbots, podcasting or selling eBooks. Your choice depends on your interests and what you would like to share. You can combine ideas to create multiple streams of passive income. 

In this post, we highlight nine passive income ideas that can be great for illustrators. However, building a successful business from these ideas is not easy and you will need to remain persistent, dedicated, and motivated while perfecting your skills over time. Once your things are up and running, you can monetize and earn passive income. Check out the ideas below to learn more and hit the orange button to view more information on our site. Let’s get started.

1. Blogging

If you are passionate about an idea or knowledgeable in a specific topic in illustration, you can share it with others through a monetized blog and earn good passive income from it. With the right strategies, you can earn hundreds of dollars per month from a monetized blog. For example, let’s say you are passionate about creating graphic illustrations. You can start a blog that specifically teaches about graphic illustrations based on what people are actually searching for in Google (not based on keyword research).

Creating a successful blog is not easy at first. You need to offer high-quality content people are actually searching for in order to generate traffic, grow your audience, and then monetize your blog content. Some ways of monetizing your blog include ads, affiliate marketing, and selling physical and digital products. With the right strategies (like the ones shared by Jim and Ricky in Income School’s Project 24), your blog can earn you a passive income from a blog. You can use the knowledge you aquire from creating your first blog to open other blogs, monetize them, and earn more passive income. For more details about blogging as an ideal passive income stream for illustrators, check out our full guide.


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2. YouTube

You can share your knowledge and passions through videos with the goal of earning passive income. YouTube videos compelling sources of information that are growing in popularity. With the right content and a few strategies, you can start a channel, monetize it, and earn over $1,000/month (source). For example, let’s say you are passionate and knowledgeable about creating illustrated videos. You can start a YouTube channel that educates your followers on how to create animated or illustrated video content.  With the right content, persistence, and motivation, you can generate traffic, grow your audience, and monetize your channel to start earning a passive income. 

Building a successful channel is not easy and requires dedication at the beginning. Currently, YouTube requires you to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4k hours of watch time within the last year for your channel to be considered for monetization. However, you can learn these and other tips of turning your channel into a passive income source from courses like Project 24. For more details about YouTube and how you can turn your channel into a passive income stream, check out our YouTube guide.


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3. Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly popular communication tools for businesses and individuals. People are making a decent passive income from bots by creating and selling chatbots online, monetizing chatbots and more. You can use your bot to interact with your audience, to answer their questions, to refer to your content, to generate leads, or even to sell to them. You can also use bots to share your sketches, tips, graphics and more.

You earn by getting a commission on leads, selling your chatbot, or monetizing it. Getting started on bots is actually quite easy. We love Tidio for this since it is very beginner-friendly and does not require coding. Once you monetize your bot (through ads for example), you can start to enjoy income from it. For more details on how you can leverage bots and earn passive income from as an illustrator, check out our Chatbot guide.


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4. eCommerce

eCommerce is another cool way to make some passive income as an illustrator. You can create illustrations such as wallpapers, visual effects, paintings as well as other digital and physical products, market them to your audience, and earn money by selling them. With the right products, skills, and strategies, you can earn over $1,000/month from eCommerce.

eCommerce can give you a consistent stream of income and it is very reliable for the long term if you have a well-engaged audience willing to purchase your products. eCommerce can be highly passive if set up correctly. For more details about eCommerce as an ideal passive income stream for illustrators, check out our eCommerce guide. 


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5. eBooks

If you are interested in illustration, you can earn a passive income by creating and selling eBooks to online customers. By identifying a niche, sharing your knowledge and bunding it into an eBook, you can sell it online and make the process very passive. Illustrators may be interested in sharing their techniques or art in eBooks. Coloring books for adults can be a very interesting example of an eBook.

Selling eBooks can be a highly passive means of making an income if set up correctly because you can automate most of the eCommerce process. You can also outsource the writing process if you wish (writing, editing, and publishing) Platforms like Amazon’s KDP allow you to sell eBooks on Amazon directly. Check out this guide for more information about eBook passive income.


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6. Print on Demand

If your designs would look cool on a shirt, hat, mug or poster, you may be interested in this idea. Consider offering print-on-demand products. All you have to do is upload high-quality illustrations, graphics, photos, cartoons, text illustrations, or designs to a Print-on-demand service like Printful. For example, if your shirt sells, Printful handles the printing, packaging, and shipment for you allowing you to earn money more passively.

Different customers can repeatedly buy a similar design and help you earn even more. You can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars monthly depending on your work, skill, and clientele. Print on demand is also a good way of promoting your original work online. Check out our Print-on-Demand guide for detailed information about print-on-demand and how you can earn a passive income as an illustrator. 


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7. Creating Niche Sites

A niche site is a website designed to serve or resonate with a specific audience. Your audience has common interests and a niche site serves as a source of specific, detailed information. As an illustrator, you can create a niche site based on your topic of interest like art, wallpaper, fonts and more. And if your audience hits 30k page views every month, with the right monetization strategies, you should aim to make around $1,000/month from your niche site.

For instance, instead of blogging about illustrating as a general topic, you can narrow down your niche to a specific subset of that niche. Your audience will visit your site to search for information about a specific topic so ensure you provide well-researched, quality content to make it easily understandable. In due time and with a sound audience, you can monetize your site (through ads, affiliate marketing, selling products, email marketing, etc.) and start earning passive income. We love the Project 24 methodology to learn how to build a successful niche site in 24 months. For more details about niche sites and how to build one that earns passive income, please view our niche site guide.


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8. Affiliate Marketing

An illustrator can earn a passive income by choosing a product in the art, design industry that they love or use frequently, promoting it through their content, and earning a commission on sales made through their affiliate link. Ideally, all you need is a popular or essential product you love, and marketing strategies to help you earn as an affiliate marketer.  For example, you can market paints, brushes, oils, and other products you highly recommend, use frequently and love. Some of the most popular affiliate marketing sites include Amazon Affiliates, and Commission Junction (CJ). 

Affiliate marketing may sound easy and lucrative, but it actually takes a lot of work because you need to identify a viable product, create content about it, and promote it to your audience. Your audience trusts your feelings about the product(s) so, it is important that you to promote products you are well knowledgeable about or use frequently and actually like. For more details about affiliate marketing as a viable passive income stream for illustrators, please view our affiliate marketing guide


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9. Podcasting

You can choose to share knowledge through recorded audio files (podcasts) and post them for your audience to listen. Once your podcast starts generating traffic and your audience grows, you can monetize it and earn a passive income from it. The quality of your content is key and can help in how fast you generate traffic, grow your audience, and maintain loyal followers. You can monetize your podcast by placing ads, affiliate marketing, selling products and more. You can also earn income through membership fees and donations. 

Building a successful podcast business is not an easy task. However, with the right niche, content, monetization, and a few more strategies you can learn from Project 24, you can earn well over $1,000/episode. For more details about podcasting and how to earn a passive income from it as an illustrator, feel free to view our podcasting guide. 


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Related Questions

Do illustrators make good money? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers make an average of $50,370/year in 2018 from their profession so having a passive income stream (or a couple of them) can help boost income. 

How do graphic designers make passive income? As an illustrator, you can earn a passive income by sharing a passion via a passive income idea. Some ideas include print-on-demand, blogging, affiliate marketing, chatbots, podcasting or selling eBooks. Your choice depends on your interests and what you would like to share. You can combine ideas to create multiple streams of passive income. 


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It takes time, effort, perseverance, motivation and skill to build profitable, sustainable passive income streams. We hope to inspire you and provide you excellent passive income ideas along your journey to financial independence.

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