side hustle
Your hard work and creativity deserves to be noticed and appreciated. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)
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side hustle

You can make time to make art you want to make AND get paid for it.

It can be hard enough for artists to make money by selling their work, especially if you’re still in school. Between classes, part-time jobs and internships and other demands of college life, there seems to be no time for students to practice their craft. Here are some side hustle tips for student artists to find time to make art and be able to make a little extra cash from it.

Whatever your preferred creative medium is, there’s an abundance of online avenues to sell your art. Websites like Etsy allow you to easily list just about any kind of creation, whether it’s digital pieces or handmade apparel. Other websites like Redbubble, Society6 and Poshmark narrow in on specific types of art (mostly graphic design and textiles), but can be a great resource if you specialize in any of those areas.

After finishing whatever type of piece you’ll be selling, this is probably the easiest selling option in terms of listing the item and letting the customers come to you. Until you have to package your product to ship (some websites will even do that for you), you don’t have to do much other than spread the word that you’re open for business. It can be an excellent choice for the busy student artist.

Big companies like these do often take out a chunk of your profit as a fee for listing your items for sale. And while listing online is extremely easy, it also means you have to ship items yourself sometimes, taking another few dollars out of your overall profit. While this might work for some artists, there are still options for those who prefer to keep as much of their cash as possible.

With the internet being a budding source of creativity for artists of all types, new online publications and blogs are popping up every day. Graphic design and digital art are extremely useful art forms to owners of these types of websites. Consider taking commissions and offer your services to small business owners, bloggers or anyone else who could benefit from getting a high-quality and special design from an actual creator instead of a generic design template.

For digital artists with access to tablets or laptops, this is an especially simple side hustle to get a few extra bucks. You can knock out a design anywhere, and probably fit it between homework and other responsibilities. Plus having your work displayed prominently on a website can be good for promoting your work even further.

There’s also the world of freelancing. While this can seem a little daunting, it’s a low-maintenance side hustle; contact online or print publications to see if they offer any freelance artist opportunities. Even if you don’t immediately find an opportunity, add “freelance artist” to your resume or website to let people know that you’re available.

You don’t have to be a digital artist or cater to businesses to do freelance-type work. Opening up commissions to the general public for anything from painting to textiles can be a great way to make your work accessible to anyone and be able to provide a variety of services.

Especially offering custom pieces around big gift-giving occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day can bring a lot of business your way. People love giving and receiving cool and custom pieces, and you might even end up with a few repeat customers if they like your original work enough.

The best thing about commissions is that they are completely on your own time. You can work around other parts of your schedule, and open and close your commission window as you please since you’re working for yourself.

For the creators who prefer not to sell or do their work online, local markets are the way to go if you’re still looking for a similar side hustle. Depending on where you live, you can probably find markets that are open to any local artisan. Oftentimes if a university’s art program has a big enough presence, they will host their own sales within the community. Or there are local groups dedicated to spotlighting artists in their communities who sometimes host events.

Even if your town or local university doesn’t host community sales like these, the chances of a sale happening in towns near you is high. There’s no shortage of art-makers in most cities, and many communities often look for ways to promote local talent. Scour the internet for resources for artists in your area to see if you’re able to sell your work somewhere in person.

If you want to sell your work in person but can’t seem to find any kind of art sale, look for shops or boutiques in your town that you could potentially sell in. Some small shops will sell locally-crafted goods, especially if the store you’re looking to sell in fits the theme or aesthetic of your art.

While connecting with bigger retailers might be a bit harder than selling things online yourself, being able to sell in a setting like that can set you apart from other creators. For customers, being able to match art pieces to the creator can give them incentive to purchase your items, and can be a more meaningful connection rather than buying something from a stranger online. This is also a great talking point with potential customers if you’re a more sociable artist.

Selling on any platform can be difficult if you don’t promote your art. Using your own personal social media accounts or accounts dedicated to your craft is a valuable way to spread the word about your work and where it can be purchased.

In addition to promoting events or platforms where your products can be bought, social media is a good avenue to promote your art to potential followers and fans. Even if some of your followers don’t monetarily support your craft, sharing your page and encouraging their friends to check you out can be helpful.

Whether you decide to sell your art online or the old-fashioned way, there’s an abundance of resources for college artists to make a few extra bucks from their work. You don’t have to be an art major to turn your hobby into a side hustle that works for you.

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