How to be a social media artist: Before your quit your full-time job

This article is part of the Internet Marking for Artists series that you can follow at

This article is for those who have ever wondered if it's possible to quit their job and be a social media artist and earn money with the internet.

It's certainly possible but it's not easy. By the way, I've been blogging since 2009 and making Youtube videos consistently since 2013. And I still have a full-time job. I could be a full-time social media artist if I want to, but this whole internet thing is just my hobby on the side. Anyway, I'm speaking with a decade worth of experience so this is not some intern or guest-post grade article.

Oh, this article was inspired by this video below that Michelle Lam aka MewTripled on Youtube has made.

I'll be talking about the same thing. You can watch her video for another perspective.

So what's a social media artist

For the purpose of this article, I'll refer to the social media artist as someone who makes a full-time income from online sources by making art or art-related content or merchandise.

The only thing you should know

If you can't remember anything from this article, just remember this.

If you expect to earn a full-time income, be prepared to put in full-time effort.

Unfortunately when it comes to making money online, it takes time, months if you're lucky, but usually years. Making money online usually involves earning through different income sources, and it take time to build up your revenue stream. Because when you're starting out, no one knows who you are, not one's going to buy your art or watch your videos. This is not like having a salary job when you get a lump sum at the end of the month.

But to be a full-time social media artist, you still have to put in full-time effort until you can actually make a full-time income. This takes a lot of time so don't quit your salary job yet.

How to be a social media artist

The way to become a full-time social media artist is to ease yourself into the job.

Create art, market your art. Do this regularly. Have a schedule. Look at your analytics to see which artwork you've made is popular, make more of that. But also create a variety of content to see what content is popular.

With art, you can talk about the tools you use, your creative process, make merchandise from your art, talk about your struggles, etc. There's a lot to talk about. Turn all that into content to build an audience. Use all the social media platforms to market your art, then focus on the platform that you enjoy using - you don't have time to use all of them. I recommend using platforms that allow your work to be searchable.

Explore different ways of making money online. See the many articles I've written about making money online as an artist. By explore, I mean actually go make something to sell, create an affiliate account and promote products. Put in consistent effort to explore all these different ways of making money. They will not make you much money at the start, but they will show you it's possible to make money online.

Continue to create art, create content, learn from other successful artists and experiment.

What's the reality of being a social media artist

At the beginning, you won't be earning much. If you really want to go in full-time, back against the wall, you have to find ways to make big money. And that would usually mean taking commissions, or giving class if you have something to teach.

I recommend easing into being a social media artist, so don't quit your day job first. Pretend that you're already a full-time social media artist and create as much content as possible on a regular basis. If you quit your day job and can't find freelance work, it can be very stressful.

Earning money through art videos on Youtube is not going to make much money because Youtube pays US $1-2 per 1000 views. If you want to earn $50-100 daily, you need 50,000 views daily. When you're a beginner, you're not going to draw in that amount of views unless you're some sort of genius.

For each new income stream you discover, just work backwards to see how much web traffic you need. If you make $2 through an affiliate sale, to make $100 a day, you need to sell 50 items a day! Very difficult. You can take one commission and earn as much.

Different social media platforms can have effects. You may not earn much through ads on Youtube videos, but if you have a sizable audience, you can get them to support you on Patreon. If you have a sizable following on Instagram, it makes it easier for you to sell your art, prints or merchandise.

What's good about being a social media artist

There are many types of rewards as a social media artist.

The best reward is the control you get over your life. You can plan your schedule however you want, create the content you like, don't have to take commissions from clients and still make enough money from online source.

Being able to do whatever you want to do on your own terms is the best reward. For me, when I want to buy any art supplies or artbooks to review, I just buy and don't have to think about money. If I want to create art, I don't have to think about whether my art will be popular or can sell.

Being able to earn money on your own terms if great. You decide how much you can earn.

Other rewards may include getting sponsorship deals, being invited to events, getting freebies. But these are really small rewards compared to the freedom and control you get over your life.

Illusion of social media

Just because someone has a large following on Instagram or many subscribers on Youtube does not mean the creators are making full-time income.

Remember to calculate full-time income, you have to work backwards.

Look at your favourite creators, the ones with huge following, then look at the number of views they have for each video. If the videos get 10K views, that means they've only made $10-20 for that video. Calculate how many videos you need to make full-time income.

However, having a huge following online means you'll have a lot of potential because there are many ways you can monetise your online following. How you monetise your following will determine how successful you can be. For example, if you're just selling art prints to your followers, you're not going to earn as much compared to selling original art or online art courses.


Don't quit your salary job yet.

Do this whole social media artist thing on the side first. It is possible to make this a full-time thing, but you really have to work hard for it. I guarantee you that it's worth it.

And be sure to read all my articles on internet marketing for artists.



I disagree on all about

I disagree on all about everything you wrote and I'm standing ( strongly lol ) on the exact opposite side.
I'm a full time watercolor artist without a day job and without a single social media account.
My online presence begins and ends on my website ( aside from the comments that I make from time to time on fellow artists' websites).

The reason why I don't have social media accounts is my belief that social media and their algorithms devalue Art, the artists and their creations.

There are countless artists out there that became content creators with the hope that they will manage to make an income from their social media presence, ( the social media illusion) by making their artworks that have to be uploaded regularly, "content" for the social media platforms.

Now according to the dictionary "content" is this thing:

something contained

the topics or matter treated in a written work

the principal substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a website

Art on the other hand is, among other things, all about self expression through creativity.
How can this match with the above definitions about content?
How much of self expression is the art that has to be produced according to the x or y algorithm's demands, that it is contained, or becomes a topic, or becomes the substance of n+1 social media websites!, without being paid at the end of the day until the artist/content creator gets a strong following? A following that needs as you said above, years to be done, and schedule, and work and check the analytics, and "going back" to check what was the most successful post ( that literally killed me when I read it) instead of going forward. Instead of taking the risk to make something new for you?

I'd say not that much. Because creativity and self expression need thought and thoughts need time in order to materialize to a meaningful and unique result, which time is consumed by the demands that social media platforms have from their users in order at some point to give them back some money as and exchange for the time and money they have invested on those social media platforms.

Have you ever thought how many hours you have spent in order to participate on all those social media platforms where you had or still have accounts? Or how much money you have spend for the equipment that is needed in order to create "content"?

This is time that you could have use to sketch more, travel more, improve your sketches, learn a new technique, participate a workshop, join an exhibition, make a commission etc in other words focus on our creative and artistic work the way YOU want not the way youtube, fb, twitter, instagram ( you name it ) algorithm wants. And the money that you've spent all these years for your equipment is the money that you could have spent on art materials. Or travels to get inspiration or whatever you like better.

Social media don't allow artists to take control of their lives because they strip them from what is supposed to be their life. From their art. Of to be more precise, the time to focus on their art.

I have to remind you also something but I'll email it to you.


If that is the case, and

If that is the case, and social media and internet can indeed provide a full-time income then why haven't you replace yet your day job with that of the social media content creator?
Because these social media content creator jobs are impermanent, insecure and they can be cancelled at any time given, by the social media platform owners whose priority is THEIR pockets and not the content creators' pockets.
You 've got it right when you said that social media success is an illusion. It is the carrot in front of the horse, the honey pot that is used to attract people to create as unpaid or underpaid unofficial employees the content of these platforms.
If you write down on a paper the amount of time and equipment that is needed in order to become a successful content creator and the amount of time and the money that this content creator will get back in the long run ( if it gets them) your are going to see that these logistics benefit the platforms and not the content creators.

You make some very sensible

You make some very sensible points Teoh! Unfortunately to earn a living from social media most artists have to game the algorithm, and it takes a long time to make a name for yourself. It's important to treat social media as a tool instead of the be-all-end-all!

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