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#49. Residual Income Systems

Dec 10, 2019

How To Set Up Residual Income Systems In Your Art Business

What is residual income? To me, it means you're done with trading time for dollars. However, don’t believe the myth that you can set some kind of residual income machine up and it works for you while you sip fruity drinks on the beach. That just isn’t real. What is real is thinking smart and working hard to set up systems in your business that allow you to profit without trading time for dollars. In this podcast episode I uncover the methods behind how I started and continue to grow my $7 Print of the Month Club


First off I’m going to go over the residual income systems I know, the ones that I have personally used and highly recommend. 

At the heart of this topic today is: PRINTS!

I cannot talk enough about what prints can do to your business. It is the perfect way to make an original piece stretch so much further. I have already recorded a full podcast episode all about how you can go about taking photos of your art and turning them into a reproduction. You can find that episode here: “Episode 31. How to create and sell prints”


I also have a full 2+ hour Print Perfect course in the Artist Academy Membership. If you are one of my students just go check it out in your course vault. Print Perfect will will walk you step-by-step through how to create prints for your art business. It takes the mindless searching and headaches out of the printing process since I have already simplified it down for you. For everyone who does not have access to the Print Perfect course, just check out Episode 31 of the Artist Academy Podcast. It gives a pretty good overview of the printing process.


The main thing I want to talk about today segways from the last episode all about 3 tiered pricing. If you haven’t checked that one out, do it! I’m referring to the 3rd tier of my pricing system which is the lowest tier: $7 Print of the Month Club.

These $7 prints are my hot item this year! 

Basically a customer will sign up for the print of the month club and every month on the same day I’ll automatically charge their credit card through my website. (You can use stripe through your website to set this up as well.) Every month around the first of the month I’ll send out these 6x9 prints to everyone. My VA, Adriana, collects everyone's email and name and puts it into a document so all I have to do is print it on a shipping label sheet. Then I sit down with my fiance ryan who helps me package everything, I sign them all, put them into an envelope with a shipping label and stamp, and that’s it! We have quite the system down so it gets done in less than 1 hour.


Let’s break the pricing down: I order postcard style prints in bulk at the beginning of the year. I pay about $150 for 1000 prints which equals 15 cents per print. I get 10 different images printed, which is 100 prints per image. Really, I should’ve only printed 50 of each image but, hey, learn from my mistake and start small. 


Prints $150 for 1,000:

(Todd is great!)

Envelopes $34 for 500:

Labels $20 for 3,000: 

Stamps 0.50 each:

Manual Address Stamp $15:

In total, that's a little less than $1 per print at my cost. Not bad!


The stamp is the most costly thing in this whole system! I started offering these prints at $3/month, then $5, and now it’s $7 for anyone who signs up today. I don’t recommend starting at $3 but you do you!


I also send these out to my previous customers as a thank you and to keep that relationship warm so they are likely to buy from me again, and some do! Since the cost is only about $1 it’s no big loss to me, but that small gesture can mean a lot to a customer.


I also throw these in when I want to make a customer extra happy. Recently I had a few print orders that took a long time to get fulfilled. It just wasn’t a good situation until I emailed letting them know that I’d be throwing in a few extra prints to make up for the wait. They were thrilled!


I’ll also bring these out to sell at First Friday Art Walk downtown and it is my number 1 seller by far! $7 is a no brainer if someone likes your art, and people in Missouri are cheap! Including me, ha. I noticed at these First Friday art displays how everyone is always turning over my prints to read the back since I put art themed jokes on there. They seem to go over really well even though the jokes are really stupid like: “Where does a cow hang his paintings? In the mooooseum.” Haha


The next time I go to get these printed I’m definitely getting some with blank backs so I can write on them as a thank you card. 


Another way you can set up residual income is to license your art. Now, I have very little experience with this so I really don’t want to talk about it in depth because there is just so much I don’t know, but I had to bring it up. If you check out Maria Brophy she is the queen of art licensing and can walk you through this with her book Art Money Success. You can find her at


Licensing is basically where you create an image one time for it to then be reproduced on various items. You might work with a company to do this or someone might commission you to create something unique for them to then print (there’s that word again) on things like t-shirts or mugs or whathaveyou. You can set up a licensing contract that pays you for each time it’s printed. So if they sell 1000 t-shirts and you get paid a dollar every time one sells, you get $1000, etc.


Another residual income source is creating a book. I’m just going to skim over this topic because as someone who is currently writing a how to paint book, I can almost guarantee that I will never make back the hours I have spent creating this dang thing. Don’t do it to yourself unless you have an uncontrollable urge to create a book. It is so much work and you need to be dedicated! You have to sell a lot of books to make up for the hours it will take you to make it. I went into this process so completely naive but I’m finishing it dang it! I’ve made it this far and now I’m about to put this book out there and call it DONE. 

Let me know if these passive income systems help spark some ideas for your own art business! :) 



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