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3 Steps to Create and Sell AI-Generated Midjourney Art to Earn Passive Income

The art landscape has changed so much in the last year. Apps like Midjourney is an equalizer in unlocking your creative potential and turning them into profit. This article will tell you all you need to know about earning money with Midjourney passively.
Updated November 30, 2023
a robot making money with art, generated with midjourney
a robot making money with art, generated with midjourney

Just as the education industry changed when ChatGPT gained popularity, the world of art was shaken to its core when Midjourney and DALL-E entered the scene. There’s been a lot of debate on whether or not this technology is good or bad, especially for artists.

However, I just see it as a way to level the playing field. Regardless, real art will always stand out no matter how good AI gets. AI art is just another expressive medium.

I mean I wouldn’t say I’m an artist myself – even with hundreds of hours on Midjourney.

What I’m saying is that everyone now has the opportunity to make what’s in their imagination real — and whatever’s real can fetch you money.

Over the next few minutes, I’ll be sharing how you can create and sell Midjourney art to make money passively. I’ll be going through things step-by-step, offering alternative options, and giving you the tools you’ll need to make this a reality. It's not hard, but it takes a lot of time. So be warned!

Earning Money with Midjourney Using Print on Demand

Let’s face it. You’re unlikely to get money by selling AI-generated art directly. So, be creative and pivot towards something where profits are guaranteed. My pick would be print-on-demand.

With its surging popularity, it has emerged as one of the most lucrative business opportunities for Midjourney in today's market. The best thing about this is that, unlike traditional shops, you don’t need to have an inventory at all since everything will be printed....... well, on demand. Your margins are smaller but there's virtually no risk. Validate your idea then figure out how to make more money when you see people are interested.

There are many print-on-demand platforms out there, but for this tutorial, I’ll be using Etsy because of its large and loyal user base. So now, let’s begin with…

Step #1: Find Your Niche

Do you want to be a clothing store or do you want to create mugs? Or maybe you want to create designs for common house fixtures like pillows or bed sheets?

Whatever the case is, this is the point when you have to decide and commit. One of the biggest mistakes a starting entrepreneur can make is doing too much. It’s better to niche down now than tanking your shop’s reputation when you have trouble fulfilling orders later. 

My suggestion? Go with clothing. Sure, the competition is tough, but everyone needs them and printed tees are still high in demand. You can get more sales in stickers but honestly, it’s hardly worth it because it’s waaaay cheaper. For example, let’s check a random printed tee at Etsy and do the math.

This shirt starts at $14.66 and has 21,373 reviews. Not counting the people who bought it and didn’t leave the review, that’s still a minimum revenue of more than $310,000. Yep, that’s just from one shirt.

Step #2: Automate Your Prompts with ChatGPT

This is where “passive” comes in. Well, sort of.

It may seem easy, but constantly thinking of new Midjourney prompts for tee shirt designs can be exhausting. At some point, you’ll be running out of ideas but that’s where ChatGPT comes in handy. But here’s the problem when you ask it about Midjourney prompts:

Due to its knowledge cutoff, ChatGPT doesn’t know Midjourney yet. This may change in the future but, for now, you’ll have to make do with this prompt:

Hey GPT, can you give me prompts based on this strict formula?

“[Subject of the image], [Artwork style], [Artwork mood], [Artwork lighting], vector, in the style of t-shirt design graphic, contour, clean background”

Don’t change anything that isn’t inside the brackets. The prompt must have cohesion because it’s for an image generative AI. Don’t reference any line of the original formula in the new prompts. Got that?

Here are some examples of the prompts that ChatGPT made, along with its Midjourney artwork equivalents:

Prompt: Savory Ramen Noodles, Pop Art, Energetic, Bold Colors, vector, in the style of t-shirt design graphic, contour, clean background

Prompt: Dreamy Outer Space, Surrealism, Ethereal, Galactic Glow, vector, in the style of t-shirt design graphic, contour, clean background

Prompt: Magical Tavern Interior, Fantasy Illustration, Cozy, Warm Hearth Glow, vector, in the style of t-shirt design graphic, contour, clean background

Prompt: Majestic Mount Fuji, Ukiyo-e, Tranquil, Moonlit Night, vector, in the style of t-shirt design graphic, contour, clean background

Step #3: Look For A Good Print-On-Demand Service

Next, you’ll need a service that can print your shirts and I highly recommend Printify for that. With this platform, all you need to worry about is ideation and design, and they’ll handle the rest. What’s more is that it has a pretty generous free tier, with the power to design however many you want for five stores.

Now, let me show you how easy it is to design with Printify once it's linked with Etsy.

All you need to do is make an account and then connect your Etsy page. Once you’re in, select what type of product you’re planning to sell. I’m going to choose a plain shirt for this tutorial.

After that, select “Start Designing” and you’re good to go. From there, simply upload the image you generate with Midjourney and tweak slightly until you get the design you want. Here’s what my ramen design looks like when put on a shirt:

C’mon. That looks pretty amazing, right? That’s the beauty of ChatGPT, Midjourney, Etsy, and Printify. Together, they make one hell of a team.

All you need to do now is press “Save Product” and your new shirt design should now appear on your Etsy page. Now, just wait until customers take notice of you and buy your designs.

Optional Step: Get Someone To Run Your Business

If you really want to make this fully passive, you should also hire someone to run your Etsy shop. This frees you up from ever having to deal with handling orders and creating new designs. However, I recommend this only when you’re making consistent profit. Otherwise, you might be stuck with someone you can’t pay, and neither of you wants that.

Because of exchange rates, it’s more cost-effective to hire overseas virtual assistants for this work. You can easily find them on Upwork, Fiverr, OnlineJobs, or reputable VA agencies. Just make sure that:

  • You treat them with respect.
  • You pay them for the value they bring.
  • You’re clear with instructions and supportive.
  • You onboard them properly and tell them what to expect.

This is more of a personal note, but let me say that don’t be one of those people who exploit workers from other countries with low pay. As someone from the Philippines, I’ve seen people offer to pay $2 per hour for VA work because they can get away with it. Like I said above, pay for their value. Yes, we're cheaper, but you don’t deserve to be paid peanuts.

Alternative Ways of Making Money Passively with Midjourney

Besides print-on-demand, there are other ways of earning with Midjourney passively but some of them take a lot of work. Here are a couple of ideas that you might be interested in:

  • Stock Photos. In hindsight, it’s easy to sell your Midjourney artwork as stock photos but some sites have started banning AI art altogether. This creates an oversaturation of AI artwork on sites that do allow them like Adobe stock.
  • Midjourney Courses. You can also sell your Midjourney expertise as a course on Udemy or your personal websites, but this takes a lot of work including establishing your reputation as a Midjourney expert, marketing your course, and creating the content.
  • Promptbooks. You could sell your prompts as part of a promptbook but this means subscribing to a higher tier of Midjourney to generate as much artwork as possible. You also have to take into account the trial-and-error process and curating your work.

The Bottom Line

Oh, before I forget, there’s one more thing you have to do:

Temper your expectations.

You may see Midjourney as a shortcut, but let’s face it, it’s accessible to everyone. That just means you have lots of competitors who are likely just as good as you, if not better. Failures will come and you must face them with persistence.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever make money with this method unless you work really hard on setting it up and ensuring that you have the proper marketing in place. AI creativity can only take you so far, it’s exposure that would actually get you over the line. 

Once you understand that, congratulations! You are now an entrepreneur. I wish you all the luck because, in this AI-driven world, you’re gonna need every bit of it.

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Written by John Angelo Yap
Hi, I'm Angelo. I'm currently an undergraduate student studying Software Engineering. Now, you might be wondering, what is a computer science student doing writing for Gold Penguin? I took up studying computer science because it was practical and because I was good at it. But, if I had the chance, I'd be writing for a career. Building worlds and adjectivizing nouns for no other reason other than they sound good. And that's why I'm here.
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