Online Income with Art Tutorials : Live Off Your Art From Anywhere


Hey guys so I’m really exited about this post,

Since taking the leap as an independent digital artist and traveling around the world I have been working on generating as many streams of income as I can online. I’m proud to announce a new one that has recently been bringing in consistent monthly income and has a the ability to grow exponentially. In this post I introduce Online tutorials. Heres my story of why and how I got started and how you can to:


Why and how I started making online video tutorials

When I was working my day job back in Vancouver I began researching ways to make passive income online as an artist. It started becoming very apparent that one of the best ways was to teach others through virtual tutorials and courses.
I myself have been a student of these courses. Video and Gnomon School was basically what got me through my art school with a decent portfolio. I still kick myself for going to a brick and mortar art school instead of learning through these platforms as I’m still paying for that decision.

I finally decided to give it a go and create my own video tutorials but I had no idea where to start. 

At that time I had only created a few speed paintings which are really more entertaining than they were educational so I needed to bite the bullet and figure out how to break down my process into a simple layout that people could follow and most importantly learn from. This was really hard for me to get my head around so I began looking at what others were doing, (note: be careful with this because it can be daunting to see all the other stuff out there and can easily deter you from moving forwards, don’t let it). Once I started it became much easier to start breaking my ideas down into simpler steps.

The next question I had to ask myself was “ok now that I know I want to try this, what do I teach?”

At that point I had obtained 5 years of professional art education and close to 10 years experience in the visual effects industry. I figured the best place to start ( which I recommend for anyone else thinking about Pursuing this method of income) was at the beginning.

 Creating my first free tutorial

At the time I had a niece that was really into drawing but was a beginner and wanted to learn how to draw better. I decided this is where I would start and so I made a free YouTube video just for her on how I break down complex objects into simple shapes. I didn’t even have a tripod at the time to record myself drawing so most of the tutorial was a screen recording ( using QuickTime) of me drawing in Photoshop.
I also added a few pictures of myself  when the tutorial called for things like how to measure angles using a pencil ect. But the point I’m trying to get across was that it was a very basic tutorial. 
A few months later, when I was laid off, Jess and I were looking for new streams of income to help support our attempt at a more independent lifestyle I decided to get serious about the online tutorial idea and start applying to the virtual education industry.

Applying for Instructor Positions

All I had at the time was this single 10 minute drawing video, my skill set and the visual effects experience to work with. I went to sites like, Digital Tutors, Tuts Plus and I couldn’t believe how many other sites like these I was finding.
I began filling out the one page applications and attaching my YouTube link (of the basic drawing tutorial), my Linkedin profile, and my outdated art portfolio. The most important of these being the YouTube video as it shows that I could do the work.
It took a day to submit to around ten of these online tutorial sites, much faster than I thought it would take. I didn’t have any expectations to hear back from these places and went on with my business of promoting our children’s  book and working some small freelance jobs.  A couple of weeks later to my surprise I got lucky. I was contacted by several of the companies I had applied to.

Choosing the best company

I ended up going with Envato’s Tuts Plus for a few reasons. The first being that they paid pretty well, around 4 k for a 120 minute course, ( this recently was dropped to 3.5K for 90 minute courses.) Another reason was the company is fairly new so the opportunity for ongoing work was there, and finally the people were really helpful and willing to work with me to improve my tutorials. Since working with them I have improved significantly as I start to understand the industries quality standards, the expected turnaround time for a course, and the value of these tutorials. I recently had my first digital art course with them published check it out. 

My first published course

designing fantasy vehicles course with Brian lee

(click image to see the tutorial)


What you need to get started creating tutorials.

To get started all you really need is an idea, a computer, a screen recording software like QuickTime or Camtasia (there may even be other free ones out there I’m not aware of), and somewhat decent microphone. I use this one
Audio Technica AT2020

Audio Technica AT2020


Coming up with ideas

What I’ve learned up to this point is in order to turn around valuable courses in the least amount of time possible I need to come up with tutorial ideas that show what I do or what I would do for a specific job. For instance if you’re a graphic designer,  come up with a tutorial idea that records you doing a specific job that you might receive. A logo for a travel company for example.
 Although someone else may have created a logo tutorial or course of this yours would be unique and you would have the opportunity to out shine the other tutorials and still be after the same audience. Even if you’re creating another logo course with the same theme as the competition it’s still unique and copyright free because it’s your voice and your recordings.

You can do this

If you end up applying to places and don’t hear back don’t be discouraged. Theres a very good chance that it has nothing to do with your abilities as an artist or as a teacher. These companies can get very busy and just like the visual effects industry and other creative industries they have up times and down times when they’re not looking for new instructors.
If this happens don’t give up. Try again the following month and in-between the applications check out this website, Here you can post your own tutorials no matter who you are and they market for you plus they give you all the specs and guidelines that make for a quality course. If you’ve got quality content there’s no reason why you won’t do well here overtime, plus its passive income. Which means, instead of being paid one flat rate for one course, you will get paid anytime someone purchases the course until the end of time or until Udemy shuts down, which ever comes first. I plan to start uploading my own courses (on the side) here later this year and will be sure to follow-up with you guys on a “how to” for that so make sure to sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already.
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In closing

 I’ve learned that design tutorials have been and will continue to be in demand. As artists we have a huge opportunity to generate independent income through our experience.
Did you like this article? Are there any lingering questions you have about how to create your own profitable courses to sell on line?  Leave me a comment below. 

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