4 Ways to Turn your Gouache or Watercolor Hobby into a Successful Side Hustle

Channeling your creative energy into learning a new skill — such as watercolor or gouache painting — often begins as a mere passion project. You’re intrigued by the art, inspired by others’ creations, and are interested in learning the technique and putting your own spin on it. Over time, though, as you improve,  it’s common to come to the realization that what started as a hobby might actually be a viable source of income.

If you’re a deft hobbyist with a dream of turning a profit on something you enjoy — stay tuned. Below, we’re exploring a handful of ways you can make money by catapulting your creative talent into a legit side hustle.

Watercolor by Skillshare teacher Zaneena Nabeel for her class,    Watercolor Seascapes : Everything you Need to Know About Painting Water & Reflections

Watercolor by Skillshare teacher Zaneena Nabeel for her class, Watercolor Seascapes : Everything you Need to Know About Painting Water & Reflections

Offer Small Work Commissions

If you want to test the water, start by taking small work commissions that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. Small-scale commissions can range from watercolor logos for small businesses to one-of-a-kind wedding or shower invitations to art pieces. You can advertise your services locally and through social media, or rely on established platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Artfinder, or Etsy to help you connect with new clients and streamline the commission process.

Sell Prints, Cards, Invitations, and Products

As an alternative (or supplement) to commissioned works, consider selling the watercolor or gouache artwork you’ve already created as a digital print or e-commerce product. Over time, this option ultimately requires less work since you’ll simply need to print your product versus creating it from scratch. Gift prints, wall prints, pre-made invitations, t-shirts, bags, and calendars are easy sells, especially if your work stands out. You can create your own website, sell via social media, or use platforms such as Society6, Etsy, BigCartel, and Zazzle to help you reach new customers.

Watercolor by Skillshare student Rafaela L for Top Teacher Louise De Masi’s class ,     Master Watercolour Techniques: Paint a Watercolour Chrysanthemum Painting onto a Board

Watercolor by Skillshare student Rafaela L for Top Teacher Louise De Masi’s class, Master Watercolour Techniques: Paint a Watercolour Chrysanthemum Painting onto a Board

Sell Unique Art Pieces and Prints at Fairs

Those who already have a growing arsenal of watercolor and gouache art collecting dust may find this hobby-turned-side hustle option the most appealing. All you need to do is research local art fairs, apply for a booth, and set up shop on the day of. The art fair does all the hard work of pulling in a crowd and, even if you don’t sell a lot of pieces on the actual fair day, it’s great for exposure. We recommend bringing a mix of high and low-cost pieces to appeal to all budgets, and to have business cards at the ready.

Become a Watercolor or Gouache Teacher at Skillshare

Becoming a teacher on Skillshare allows you to dive into your passion of creating watercolor and gouache art, teach a unique skill set on a global platform, and make real cash on the side. Once you’ve published an arsenal of high-quality videos — which can be filmed comfortably in your home — that income becomes passive. You can learn more about the process here.

Gouache illustration by Skillshare student Gudlaug T ., who created the work for  Sara Boccaccini Meadows’ Skillshare Originals class,  Botanical Illustration: Paint a Colorful Garden with Watercolor and Gouache

Gouache illustration by Skillshare student Gudlaug T., who created the work for Sara Boccaccini Meadows’ Skillshare Originals class, Botanical Illustration: Paint a Colorful Garden with Watercolor and Gouache

If you’re ready to turn your gouache or watercolor painting hobby into a successful side hustle, use this list as guidance but also don’t be afraid to get creative in other ways. However you ultimately decide to turn your hobby into a side hustle, remember that steady patience is key as you build awareness around your artwork.


If you’re ready to learn more about watercolor, gouache, or starting your own small business, Skillshare’s got you covered. Find the class you’re looking for here.

 

Cover image by Artist, Illustrator and Skillshare Originals teacher Carolyn Wiedeman