3 digital side hustles (including NFTs) for creatives to build a business

By Arianna O’Dell

May 27, 2021

With advances in technologies, come novel opportunities for creatives to monetize their art. From the booming NFT market to the bustling world of e-commerce, many artists are finding lucrative ways to monetize their art in the digital realm. Whether you’re a painter or a musician, there are numerous online channels that can help you make a living doing what you love. Here are the ways top creatives are doing that around the web.

Turn your art into NFTs

You might be asking, “Wtf is an NFT?” Non-fungible tokens have recently seen a sudden influx in popularity, and they’re a novel way for artists to make money; it’s the next step in our tech-heavy marketplace. You may have heard about the Jack Dorsey’s first tweet selling for almost $3 million or the Nyan cat GIF selling for over half a million.

Digital performance artists, like the Twitter-popular Bored Elon Musk (who collaborates with the author) have sold hundreds of thousands worth of digital art. The artist tells Fast Company that “NFTs and the broader digitization of content has made it far easier for artists to monetize their brand, control authenticity, and actually benefit from after-market sales. The gatekeeper between artists and customers is no longer middlemen like galleries or agencies, but rather the time and patience required to learn this technology, and that is a far easier gate to pass through.”

Using design, animation, and sound, BEM sells his art, alongside his collaborators, to the highest bidders. He’s an example of how artists (especially those with a following) can use NFTs to monetize their art for the digital age, but it can also help build your following as an artist.

Some NFT platforms even allow you to set a “creator share” royalty (ranging between 10%–30%) on a piece. so every time you make a sale to a new buyer, you get a percentage of the purchase price. As you build your name and gain recognition and your work increases in value and desirability, you can still collect royalties down the road.

“The NFT space is still in its early days, which offers a tremendous opportunity for creatives to innovate, experiment, and capture the first mover advantage,” says Masha Vyazemskya, head of communication at Rarible, an NFT platform. “Marketplaces offer a variety of tools for artists to realise their creative potential: multiple file formats (animation, video, music, and more), different types of auctions, unlockable content to gamify the experience and to incentivise buyers, and much more. It’s fun, and very community-driven.”

To get started, take a look at the artists profiting on Rarible, Foundation, OpenSea, and NiftyGate. From there, you can start testing the waters yourself.


Streaming options are available everywhere, and these options allow for unprecedented access for fans and artists alike, creating new avenues of income. If you have an internet connection, you have the ability to live stream content. You can also use dedicated live-streaming services like Twitch, TikTok, OnlyFans, and more to promote and display your creative endeavors in myriad ways (and profit). Musicians, writers, gamers, and visual artists are adapting their craft with everything from painting to pole dancing and use streaming to monetize their endeavors. They share thoughts, processes, projects, frustrations, joys, and successes with live audiences — simply allowing access to their day-to-day lives as artists.

Patrick Tsao, CEO of Musaic, explains, “Today, musicians can capitalize from allowing access to their creative process. A great example is Sereda, she is making $4,500 a month from followers on her Twitch songwriting sessions. She is adding a new source of income by streaming her day to day.” There are a multitude of new and exciting outlets for artists, and there’s a high likelihood that you’re already signed up for one of those outlets.

And if you’re shy on camera? You can also monetize in the form of audio books and music releases. I have been able to make money from my music through streaming services like Spotify and digitally selling my work online to others. Many musicians are using platforms like Fiverr and SoundBetter to lucratively sell their audiowork.


If you have a knack for the written word, e-books offer a way for you to monetize your work. According to the Association of American Publishers, 2020 saw over a 15% increase in ebook sales, eclipsing a billion dollars over the course of the year, and those numbers are anticipated to maintain for the near future. Self-publishing platforms like Substack, allows writers to get a larger cut of the proceeds from their digital sales as well.

Jordan French, president of Grit Daily News, an outlet focused on brands and startups suggests, “To get started monetizing your writing craft, you should determine your audience. Perhaps counterintuitively, the narrower the better. Focusing on a specific footprint makes it far easier to be a ‘known quantity’ to those who want to market.” This will help you determine the best way and where to market your work.

Further, the more specific and narrow you make your market, the better chance you have of making an Amazon “Top 10 Bestseller” list, increasing your e-books visibility. Moreover, through Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can self-publish your manuscript and sell your ebook without having an ISBN, also creating a source of passive income.

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