What are you an expert at? Take a few moments and think about what it is that really gets your creative juices flowing. What could you talk about for hours on end without getting bored? When others see you do something, do they exclaim over how easy you make it look? If so, you’re a great candidate to make money teaching art online!
Creating art tutorials and selling them either on your own website or through an online education marketplace like Udemy, Teachable, or Skillshare is a savvy way to supplement your art income as well as extend the reach of your brand and get more eyes on your work. What are some factors that contribute to being successful teaching art online?
- You must have something to teach
- You must be willing to put in the work to create the tutorial and then market it. This can be very time consuming.
- You need the appropriate technology. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and inexpensive apps and programs out there for both PCs and Apple products. If you have a smartphone and a laptop, you can create an online art tutorial.
Artists Selling Art Tutorials Successfully
In case you need a little extra convincing of the viability of selling art courses online, here are a few examples of other artists doing it successfully:
- Rebecca Rhodes, watercolor artist. We just held a Facebook Live with Rebecca Rhodes where she shared what is working for her as she sells watercolor tutorials online. She retired early from her job as a music teacher to pursue being a full-time artist, and is now halfway to her income goal and moving upward steadily! Listen to or read our interview with her here.
- Kelly Rae Roberts. Kelly Rae has created a very recognizable brand from her personal style of creativity, and she sells a variety of workshops and creativity courses that do very well and receive excellent reviews. Check out our interview with Kelly Rae Roberts here.
- Flora Bowley. Flora sells her work in galleries and online and also licenses her art commercially. In addition, she sells online courses and workshops through her beautiful website. Check out our interview with Flora here.
Case Study: Bill Inman
Another artist successfully selling art tutorials online is oil painter Bill Inman. Bill offers free art lessons on his website as well as longer paid courses, a website membership, and even a DVD set. We chatted with Bill Inman about how he built his thriving art tutorial business and what he’s learned along the way.
How He Got Started
In 2006, Bill didn’t have any time for teaching. He was a working oil painter, busy sending inventory out to galleries. 2006, however, is also the year YouTube appeared on the scene, and soon enough artists began to take notice.
A few years later, Bill decided to purchase a training video from Scott Powers to study how other artists were creating tutorials. The video he purchased was 6 hours long, and cost $165. He was under the impression that the video would show every part of the painting process, but he was surprised to find that- particularly for the price- it was significantly edited down.
That video was the catalyst that helped Bill decide to create his own tutorial. His first video was a tutorial on how to paint a rose. He decided to show every single step of one of his rose paintings. The big question was how to do it without it being 20+ hours long. In 2012 Bill finally produced the video. It took him 5 months to figure out how to record it, edit it, and upload it to the internet.
The answer to Bill’s question of how to shorten the video while still including the entirety of the painting process was aggressive editing to cut out everything except the brush strokes and all of the color mixing. This meant editing out every sneeze and nose scratch, which explains why it took so much time.
Bill began posting snippets to YouTube, which was very time consuming. Meanwhile, viewers and fans were asking for full courses. Finally, Bill and his wife agreed that they wanted to create a full course. They weren’t going to skimp on the details despite how time consuming it would be; the course needed to include everything that Bill was being regularly asked about: how to prepare panels, choose brushes & paint, and his signature painting techniques as well as the principles of value, color, composition, and finally putting on the finishing touches.
What He’s Learned
- Email marketing is key. In October of 2016 Bill’s mailing list had about 1,200 subscribers. He now has over 13,000 and uses an email sequence to stay front-of-mind with his subscribers.
- You have to spend money to make money. Bill shared with us that he spends $750 per week on Facebook ads.
- You can’t rely on any single platform to sustain your business. Last year, YouTube changed their algorithm resulting in a significant dip in views and subscriber growth for Bill’s business. Make sure that you have other sales channels and marketing avenues that you can pursue to spread the word about your courses, just in case one goes sideways.
Platforms for Teaching Art Online
These are a few of the most popular online teaching platforms. They all function a bit differently. Udemy and Skillshare are searchable marketplace platforms, while Teachable requires you to do all your own marketing and functions more as a teaching utility. There is, of course, also the option of just selling your courses through your own website (you’ll notice several of the artists we profile here have gone that route.)
Final Thoughts on Art Tutorial Businesses
Learning how to make money teaching art online can be time consuming up front. The good news is that there are just about as many different ways to succeed at it as there are different subjects to teach. If you’re interested in getting started, you have the advantage of the numerous interviews and case studies we’ve done with artists who are already teaching art online successfully:
We’ve helped several artists get their online art class businesses up and running. If you’d like to talk to us about making that happen for yourself, check out our coaching page.
Are you teaching art classes online? We want to know about it! Let us know in the comments.