I'm not saying that everyone needs to be an artist – but I think we could all benefit from a bit more creativity in our lives.
It's now been a little over a year since I first started using DALL-E, but I'm still quite blown away with every impressive piece it comes up with (not every generation, but most of them).
Now that DALL-E can go beyond generating images constrained to a 1024x1024 frame, I believe the door for monetization has opened. I've never been the biggest fan of turning every little hobby you do into a money-making venture, but there's nothing wrong with making a bit of cash on the side – especially if it's through something you're passionate about.
Can I Sell Art Made with DALL-E?
Can I Sell DALL-E Images?
How to Make Money with DALL-E
I've been brainstorming ways to make money with DALL-E for a few weeks now and I think the best method would be to create a website or online store that sells art made with the AI (or sell on a store like Etsy or Redbubble).
This could range from simple prints to more elaborate pieces framed and matted. It sounds simple, but art is not something developed overnight and it takes a lot of time to create quality pieces. Once you have your niche design concept down, you can go through the rest of the process of selling (Shopify, SEO, ads, etc) at your own pace.
Let's dive a bit further – Starting a business generally has pretty high overhead costs, but with DALL-E and current tech possibilities you can keep your startup costs to a minimum. All you need is either a WordPress Website or a Shopify store.
If you want more control over your site and don't mind a bit of a learning curve, go the WordPress route with a builder like Breakdance. If you want a simpler platform with slightly higher fees, go with Shopify.
I'm not here to debate which is better, that's a matter of preference and skills. My main point is that with DALL-E you can start selling your art without breaking the bank.
If you don't even want to setup an entire business store, throw these up on sites like Etsy and see how they do! This is most likely what I would suggest to anyone looking to start selling AI-generated artwork. You could also do this without owning a single piece of inventory.
The only other major cost you'll encounter is printing (if you want to hold product – which I don't recommend until you see some traction). This could be done at home if you have a high quality & large enough printer and want to bootstrap, but luckily you could avoid this with Print on Demand (POD).
You would only be able to print poster designs from a general printer at home, so if you're aiming on making t-shirts & mugs, you're most likely going to need to use a POD service.
Personally, I don't want the hassle of doing almost anything other than sitting on my computer and making some cool art, so I'll opt to use a POD tool until I actually see sales start to come in. Focus on making your first dollar – worry about everything else later.
Print On Demand for AI Art
If you're looking to fulfill print orders (print and ship to your customers directly) I would highly recommend setting up a Shopify store (if you want to drive traffic to your site) or just doing something on Etsy (which already has a market).
Your digital costs are close to nothing besides the price for each poster to print and ship due to POD. This also gives you control over poster and frame quality.
If you want to take the laziest but most cost-efficient approach to selling digital art, you should use a print-on-demand service. These services will handle all of the printing, shipping, and customer service for you.
The only thing you need to worry about is promoting your products and making sales (again, unless you're on a popular marketplace like Etsy). Your margins will be lower but you can start as soon as your art is designed.
Both Shopify, Etsy and WordPress offer print-on-demand services. I would recommend using a print-on-demand service like Printful to automate the printing and shipping process. They have an awesome integration with WooCommerce that makes it super simple to set up (with WordPress).
If you prefer Shopify, Printful has an app that you can install. We've created POD shops with both WordPress and Shopify but think each serves its own purpose. 5x7 Poster prints start at around $5, allowing you to markup prints by 100% and still make a fairly good profit per order.
- You already have an audience on a platform
- Super easy to integrate
- You don't have too much flexibility over branding, marketing, etc.
- Easily purchase & configure a website theme
- Better for those unfamiliar with web development (and just want to sell)
- Great help & support options
- Fully customize your website/shop theme
- Complete purchase/eCommerce access with WooCommerce
- Lack of direct support for sales
We're not currently creating stores to sell AI art but I wanted to see how long it would take me to mock up a poster design. With a little bit of prompt manipulation, I was able to generate a few posters for various cities and throw them on poster mockups:
I'd say this whole brainstorming & design session took me about 2 hours. I honestly love these results and I think there's a market for them. I'd buy them (but yes, I know I'm not my own target. That'd be nice though.)
If we were to continue down this path, I would spend more time on design and work with a dedicated marketing partner to split responsibilities.
Selling Your Prompt Engineering Skills
If you're not looking to create full stores with art but you have an eye for prompt design, you can brand yourself as a prompt engineer.
Prompt engineering is a very new concept, but it's based on the idea that you can take a prompt or idea from someone and quickly turn it into a DALL-E, Midjourney, or other artificial intelligence design.
For example, let's say you want to get into designing wedding invitations. You could start by finding popular wedding invitation designs on Pinterest or Google and then recreating similar color styles and structures with DALL-E.
Once you have a strong portfolio, you can start offering your services to couples who are looking for unique and custom wedding invitations.
This is a great option if you're not looking to commit to a lot of art upfront but still want to make money with DALL-E designs. As you begin to create and play around with different prompt descriptions, you'll get better and fine-tuning the images you want to be made.
This bundles quite well with graphic design skills allowing you to bootstrap and freelance custom designs. A great prompt engineer combined with some photoshop and illustration skills can produce a moderate graphic designer.
So, What's Next?
Personally, I don't yet believe we're at the point where AI image services can fully compete with professional human graphic designers. But, if you're starting out and trying to build a portfolio or make some extra cash, this could totally be a viable option for you – just find yourself a really niche market. I doubt you'll stand out trying to sell basketball posters.
Nothing of importance and sustainability comes quickly, but bootstrapping and stitching several technological services together can create unique opportunities for those with a vision. I'm sure thousands are already making money by doing something similar to this. I'm going to start my own little site soon & get back with the results.
I think the key to making money with AI is to find a way to monetize it without sacrificing your art or creativity (unless you're completely in it for the money). The approach you take is up to you, but I believe there are opportunities for everyone. Whether you just learned what AI is or you've been using one of these AI-art generators for months, there's a way for you to make money with your creativity. Figure out your speciality and rock with it.
What are your thoughts? Have you found a way to monetize your DALL-E art? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below! Best of luck with starting your next side hustle!