An astonishing amount of people today make money solely off their anime art, and so can you. I’ve been selling anime art for over five years already and in many different forms.
Let’s explore the secrets you need to know before you can make a living off of your anime art.
- Use platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, Gumroad, and Artstation to sell your anime art if you don’t yet have an audience.
- You can build an audience and a following by showcasing your art on social media and digital art websites, like DeviantArt, Artstation, and Behance.
- Digital downloads, online courses, memberships, merchandise, and freelancing are just some of the ways you can make money with anime art.
- Hard work, consistency, and improving your craft daily will increase your chances of making passive income with your art.
Table of Contents
Build A Following And An Audience
The first step for anyone looking to make money off their passion is building an audience. Starting a social media account or blog for your anime art is a great way to kickstart this process.
However, remember that starting a social media campaign is one thing, and maintaining it is another. Consistent engagement with your followers and frequent posts will help get your name out there.
Building momentum behind your social accounts will lead you to your own personal audience (and potential sales).
Most favored social media platforms among anime artists:
- Instagram: Instagram reels currently work the best.
- YouTube: If you are just starting out, use SEO tactics as well as get your video to suggested search results.
- TikTok: 10-15 second painting videos do well on the platform.
- Blogging: The long road, but also one of the most stable ones. On top of that, you own the content you publish, and the scalability of your online art business is limitless.
Related article: How to create an artist website.
Anime art is all about visuals, so choosing a platform that emphasizes visuals is crucial. All the mentioned platforms are the ones artists use today to grow their audience and following.
As an artist, you want your artwork to be noticed and digital art sites like Artstation, DeviantArt, Behance, and Pixiv are there for that purpose. Posting your best work there will eventually land you followers and hopefully customers too.
Sell Digital Downloads
Instant digital downloads are probably one of the most common ways for anime artists to profit from their work online.
There are many types of digital downloads you can sell, but the ones that apply specifically to anime artists are the following:
- Digital brushes (sell extremely well)
- Art tutorials
- PSD files
- Art resources (progress shots, templates (poses, face, head, etc.), color palettes, high-resolution artworks, etc.)
- Reference images and inspirational images (sketches, final artwork, and groundwork)
- License to use artwork
The above are only some of the best digital downloads I currently sell and have made money with. There are plenty of ways you can make money, and digital planners, coloring books, etc., are some ways you can make money with anime art.
Best Platforms to Sell Digital Downloads
If you are just starting out, you might want to opt for a platform that has organic traffic, so you only need to publish your digital download and wait for the sales to come in. This is what I did with Artstation.
I published my anime art products on the platform, and that’s all I’ve done.
Best free platforms to use for selling anime art-related digital downloads:
- Gumroad: Try using their Gumroad boost functionality and use keywords strategically to get your products in front of customers.
- Artstation: Use Artstations marketing tools to get your products part of different sales periods that Artstation has now and then.
- Creative Market: It can be hard to get inside Creative Market to sell anime art-related products, but it’s definitely a wonderful option to have.
Create A Membership
Gumroad also offers a membership option, but if there’s one platform that’s the most used, it would be Patreon.
The best part about the subscription model is that you can somewhat forecast your monthly recurring revenue and adjust your offering strategies while taking the churn rate into account.
Making money on Patreon isn’t as hard as it may feel. The key is to have some sort of social media following or other traffic sources that you can use to direct potential customers to your Patreon page.
Follow what the most successful Patreon artists do and apply the strategies they use to your own business.
Sell Online Courses
I’ve been selling online courses about anime art, and continue to do so. I’ve noticed that selling through Skillshare and Udemy, but especially Skillshare has been very lucrative.
Creating an online course doesn’t need to be hard or intimidating. At first, it might feel scary to create an online course but what helped me the most was creating video content first on YouTube and then creating the courses.
Best platforms to sell anime art-related online courses:
- Skillshare: Read all of the guidelines they’ve written, and only then create your online course. Skillshare is very strict with course quality. First, get the course approved on Skillshare and then expand to other platforms.
- Udemy: I’ve priced my online courses to the lowest pricing tier and have seen it working for me.
- Teachable: When you want to level up your game, ask for a higher price, and scale your anime art business, Teachable is one of the best platforms out there.
- Podia: Podia is an excellent option when you want to sell a lot of different resources, courses, downloads, etc., in one platform.
- Gumroad: One of the best free platforms to start out with. The user experience might not be the best when it comes to consuming course content, but Gumroad is still an option.
- Artstation: The same applies to Artstation. UX might not be the best for going through course content, but the site has awesome organic traffic for artists.
The most tried and proven method of generating money from art, especially anime art, is by selling merchandise.
If you’ve ever been to an anime convention, you know how much people are willing to pay to have merchandise with their favorite artists’ work.
Today, some websites make creating and distributing your own merchandise a seamless process. You simply upload your artwork, and these sites will take care of everything from processing the payment to creating and shipping the merchandise.
And if the customer isn’t satisfied with the product? They’ll take care of the returns and customer service, too.
Some of the best-selling anime art merchandise:
- Art prints
- Art books
Art prints are a great merchandise option for anime artists to explore. That’s because there’s a significant profit margin.
Customers can choose to have their favorite pieces of yours printed on paper, canvas, and even wood and can pay extra to have them professionally framed.
Inprnt or Society6 will take a small commission fee, like many other sites on this list, but the rest of the profit margin is entirely yours.
Like Inprnt, you simply upload your work, and your customers can choose which product they want it on. Products include mugs, t-shirts, stickers, hoodies, journals, and even duvet covers.
Another advantage of using print-on-demand sites like Redbubble is that they regularly push sales to their customers, which will attract more people to your online store.
If you’re primarily a digital artist, it’s very rewarding to hold a physical version of your art in your hands.
That feeling is special for your fans, too, which is why you should consider selling a compilation of your art in a book.
Publishing your book is easier than it sounds, especially with the advent of self-publishing. Amazon Kindle offers an easy and user-friendly way to compile your art into a book and sell it as a digital download.
They also have a print-on-demand service for Amazon customers who order your book.
- Hardcover Book
- Ladowska, Asia (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 168 Pages - 05/28/2019 (Publication...
- Hardcover Book
- Wei, Gu Zheng (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 152 Pages - 09/15/2020 (Publication...
Another great company to consider is 3Dtotal Publishing. 3Dtotal Publishing is an independent publisher that showcases some of the best of the best when it comes to digital artists.
They have fantastic volumes showcasing the art of Loish, Djamila Knopf, Guweiz, and many other famous anime artists.
Sell How-To Books
- Hart, Christopher (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 144 Pages - 07/07/2015 (Publication...
If you already have several online courses under your belt, you can take that content even further by condensing it into a how-to book.
How-to books on drawing anime are consistent best sellers on Amazon and are frequently picked up by 3Dtotal. A fantastic example is Christopher Hart who has published multiple how-to anime art books on Amazon.
You can also use how-to books to subtly push your social media pages or other paid content.
If you have a Patreon or similar membership service, try offering members an exclusive discount (or even a free digital download) of your how-to books.
Become A Freelancer
When approaching the topic of how to sell anime art, it’s important to remember to take different approaches to online commerce. Whether you’re looking to make a few dollars off your art or create a self-sustaining income, you must be creative in approaching an already crowded market.
Freelancing is a massive part of the world’s economy. As a freelancer, you can lend your services to businesses or other creators needing art.
Even with the rise of AI art (taking part in the art market), there’s still a huge demand for original hand-made artwork. Besides, AI art isn’t automatically copyright protected, so anyone can use some other creatives’ AI art as their own.
Original anime art is automatically copyright protected, and thus, there’s still money to be made with freelancing.
Upwork is the largest gathering of freelancers and clients. You can sign up for free, although applying to jobs will cost you “connects,” which you can purchase whenever you run low.
In addition to people offering their services, several clients seek help for both short-term and long-term projects.
You can also create a profile in which you can link to your portfolio and list your experience. Similar to LinkedIn, you’ll appear in searches when clients look for talent on the site.
I’ve used Upwork before to buy freelancing services, and for me, it worked great.
Fiverr is a unique approach to the concept of freelancing. It started as an idea where freelancers could offer their services for only $5, as a sort of microtask.
Nowadays, you too can offer your services for $5 and much more, as the site is now a sort of marketplace for freelance services.
Commissions are very sought after on this platform, and anime artists regularly make quite a bit of revenue on Fiverr. Other popular services include logo design, art assets, and colorization/photo editing.
I’ve also used Fiverr to buy freelance services and see the platform as an easy-to-use and solid way for any anime artist to start making money on the platform.
Behance is the quintessential portfolio host for artists. You’ll find the portfolios of some of the best names in illustration, graphic design, photography, fashion, and anime.
Listing your portfolio on Behance is essential for gaining industry connections and long-term projects. Even if you’re not interested in becoming a professional anime artist, listing your portfolio on Behance is a great way to gain legitimacy and respect from your peers.
Behance is regularly scouted by companies like Google and Apple, which are particularly fond of hiring small-name artists.
I’ve had a Behance account for years already and get commission requests consistently on the platform. I can only recommend setting up an account there.
Anime art is a niche inside digital and traditional art. Being in a niche brings its own challenges and opportunities.
What I’ve noticed with my anime art sales is that the more platforms you are selling your art on, the better chances you have of making money. While that might sound super obvious, it’s actually something that I didn’t think about when I was starting out.
I thought of putting my digital products on sale in one place would be the route to take. However, when I switched my mindset from that approach, the income quadrupled almost overnight.
Try out different platforms and solutions until you find the one that works the best for you. Keep things simple, and remember that with time and consistent effort, you will see results.