31 income streams for creatives


With all the changes our world is going through, many more people are now appreciating the value of having multiple income streams. 

I know I am. COVID-19 rendered 3 of my income streams non-viable because they all relied on people coming together physically – Afri-love Fest, Afri-love Connection Club and my graphic recording services

Luckily for my business, I had a few others that weren’t dependent on human interactions in real life and recently launched another. It has meant I can continue to support myself and my team.

If you’ve been thinking of pivoting or diversifying your income, there’s no time like the present to take action!

In case you’re feeling stuck, here are plenty of ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

The examples might be focused on a specific creative discipline but, most of these approaches can be applied to all. Use the creativity I know you have plenty of or, if in doubt, ask me a question in the comments below.

Passive income streams 

With the following ideas, you create something once and can sell it over and over again, thus creating a passive or almost-passive income.

1. Online classes: teach a technique – E.g. Watercolour painting for beginners

2. Online classes: facilitate the creation of something specific – e.g. Paint flowers in watercolour

3. Online classes: teach the practice – E.g. Setting up your watercolour toolbox

4. Online classes: teach the business of what you do – E.g. Licensing your watercolour art

5. Shopping lists – E.g. Everything you need to start your watercolour hobby

6. Step-by-step guides – E.g. Schedules, menus, playbooks

7. Templates – E.g. Beautifully designed presentation templates or things like photo presets

8. Worksheets to achieve a certain goal – E.g. How to find your photography style

9. Posters – e.g. Cooking with the seasons

10. Deck of cards – e.g. 52 prompts to improve your writing every week

11. Books – E.g. Colouring books, children’s books, recipe books, novels, non-fiction works etc.

12. Merchandise – For visual artists: objects with your artwork on them; for non-visual disciplines you can have words or images that exemplify your brand essence on objects

13. Prints – Sell prints of your artwork. A no-brainer for visual artists but, writers could have powerful words designed into a print and performers could explore creating prints featuring beautiful photos of them doing their work

14. Licensing – Allowing other businesses to use your work, e.g. your pattern designs on their wallpaper or your song on their TV show 

15. DIY kits – Curate all the things somebody would need to create something and include instructions, e.g. create a sunflower mosaic or bake your own beetroot red velvet cupcakes

16. Subscriptions and memberships – Regularly drip-feed valuable content so it’s more manageable for your members to consume, e.g. a new sewing pattern every month. Subscriptions and memberships can include digital or physical products, e.g. a new pair of earrings each month!

17. Affiliate programs – Get a commission for recommending products and services you love

18. Challenges – Run a challenge and charge for it, e.g. 21 days of still life drawing

19. Rent out your gear

Income streams dependent on your time

The following ideas require trading your time for money and thus, there are limits to your earnings with these ones.

Some of the ideas might not be COVID-19 compliant but, you use this time to start putting plans in place.

20. Consultations – Figure something out for somebody, e.g. designing a music curriculum for a school

21. Coaching/mentoring – Guide somebody else along their journey, e.g. early-career individuals in the same discipline as you or people who aren’t in your industry but need your skills for their work (writing comes to mind, as does public speaking which is a skill that could be improved with lessons from a comedian or actress).

22. Commissioned work  – Create a piece of work for somebody

23. Speaking engagements and appearances – Share your story, expertise or perspective

24. Live performances – Give an experience of your work e.g. live painting, dance, spoken word, music etc.

25. Live classes and workshops – As with online classes: teach a technique

26. Live classes and workshops – Facilitate the creation of something specific

27. Live classes and workshops – Teach the practice

28. Live classes and workshops – Teach the business of what to do

29. Meet-ups – To bring your community together

30. Pop-up event – To sell your wares

31. Creating sponsored content – Using your creative skills to showcase somebody else’s brand to your audience

Now let’s get rid of some barriers

I know what it’s like when the ideas sound good but, you can think of a million of excuses not to take action :).

Nobody wants/needs it

Don’t underestimate the demand for expertise or skill that may feel basic or natural to you. Pay attention to what people are always thanking or complimenting you for. 

It’s already been done before

As have most things under the sun. However, it hasn’t been done by you – with your unique perspective and special flavour – for an audience who resonates with YOU and your story.

Too many ideas – I can’t decide

I created an opportunity checklist for this very purpose: to help you make decisions that will move you towards your goals, not distract you from them. Get it here – it’s free!

It’s too difficult

I’m guessing you chose to read up until this point because you’re interested in additional, better, varied or more sustainable income. If that’s the case, I’m sure you also know that it’s not going to be easy. 

It can however be simple. A good framework can make any difficult task manageable and even enjoyable!

If you’d like some support growing a profitable, sustainable and joyful business, join me inside my program SHINE.  

What income ideas have I missed?

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