40 Business Ideas for Creative People

A designer using a drawing tablet while surrounded by color swatches

Part of being an entrepreneur is being creative, but some may strive to make creativity their focal point. Are you interested in entering a market space that celebrates design, innovation, and expression?

From performing arts, to writing, to crafting, we have an excellent list of ideas to help you get started on your journey!


Grouped into five categories, these business ideas are perfect for potential entrepreneurs looking to exercise their right brain:

VISUAL ARTS

Adult Coloring Book Company

Adult Coloring Book Company Image

People who are highly creative and have a knack for artistic expression may enjoy, and be good at running, an adult coloring book company. Business owners often design coloring books themselves, at least until their business is well established, and creating a coloring book requires a considerable amount of artistic skill.

An adult coloring book company makes money by selling coloring books. Books can be sold either directly to customers (retail), or to stores and distributors (wholesale). With the recent explosion in the adult coloring book industry, there is excellent growth potential. Some small companies have had yearly profits in the six-figure range.

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Art Consulting Business

Art Consulting Business Image

This job is best for those with an artistic background. This includes practicing artists and those with a formal education in subjects such as art and art history. This provides the necessary background to understand how the art world and artists themselves function. Typically, art consultants make money by charging different fees for their different services. For instance, you may charge a flat fee for acquiring works of art for collectors, or you may negotiate a percentage fee in which you receive a certain percentage of its overall price

Obviously, the exact profit of this business depends on how many clients you have and how many works of art you help to sell for artists and procure for collectors. Your initial years will probably show smaller profits, but once you have a steady array of clients from whom you are getting ten to twenty percent commission per artistic work, it's easy to develop steady cash flow.

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Art Gallery

Art Gallery Business Image

The best art gallery manager is an artist themselves: someone who is aware of different modes and styles of art as well as its history and future trends. The manager should have a sense of individual style that the different works on display help accentuate, which helps the business stand out from its competition. The primary way that an art gallery makes money is by taking a percentage of artwork sales throughout the year.

The profit an art gallery can make is variable. Bloomberg reports that the average profit margin for this kind of business is 6.5%. Obviously, the amount of profit is tied to the amount of art sold and the price of that art. It's important to work out a fair price with the artist: they want to feel properly compensated for their materials used and hours spent, while you want to receive at least 50% of the sale. The amount that you can charge clients and customers is dictated by factors such as region, competition, and the artists themselves.

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Art Lessons Business

Art Lessons Business Image

This business is ideal for veteran, practicing artists. It is also educational in nature, so it is good for those who have formal or informal experience with being a teacher or teacher's assistant. Obviously, a business focusing on art lessons makes money by charging clients for the art lessons. The exact amount you charge will vary based on subject, lesson time, venue, and whether it is a completely private lesson or not.

Depending on your amount of clients, this can be a very profitable business. If you imagine a “standard workday” of teaching for eight hours and charging students a lower end of $50 an hour, then the job can easily net over $100,000 a year, with very little overhead and the ability to control your own hours and do what you love.

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Calligraphy Business

Calligraphy Business Image

This business is best for someone that is highly skilled in calligraphy. Since much of the business comes from designing things like wedding invitations, this job is also good for artists or those with an artistic vision. For both the event-planning and instructional aspects of the business, being a “people person” is very helpful.

The exact amount of profit your business can make will vary. Sources estimate that the average calligrapher makes about $50,000 a year. However, there are so many services you can offer (in terms of writing, teaching, or simply selling pre-made products online) that it is entirely possible for your own profit to be far greater than this.

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Caricature Business

Caricature Business Image

Artistically inclined individuals who possess the drive and tenacity to manage their own stable business would be best suited for this business venture. As a caricature business owner, you must be both creative and business savvy. Clients hire caricature artists either by the hour or per person. Fees also vary depending upon materials, such as black and white, color, and digital works.

Experienced caricature artist business owners indicate that artists with average speed and skill can bring in up to $600 per day. If you are able to work three events a week, at $600 per event, your business would generate a revenue of over $93,000. Subtract ongoing expenses from this figure and you have a significant profit, particularly for only working three days a week.

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Cartoon Service

Cartoon Service Business Image

You’ll charge a fee for your work. In the case of cartoonists who sell online, they might provide art to enliven blogs, newsletters or websites. You might sell your products on a per-cartoon basis or by a monthly or annual fee or even in bulk quantity discounts.

You'll find a general salary range for print cartoonists is estimated to be between $30,000 - $60,000 a year. Just remember, there are a lot of ways of determining earning potential because there are seemingly endless directions you can take your business.

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Illustration Business

Illustration Business image

Entrepreneurs in this field must have artistic talents and an entrepreneurial drive. This means that your skillset must encompass both the ability to continually find work, to complete it to your clients’ satisfaction, and to continually find new clients. You’ll charge a fee for your business that’s often based on your estimation of hours to complete the job. Some clients will let you quote an hourly rate, but most will want to hear a flat fee.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a mean annual wage for illustrators at about $57,410. BLS also lists Graphic Designers, a related field, at an annual mean wage of almost $48,000. Of course, your earnings will only be limited by the reputation you attain, the clients you attract and the work you put out.

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Makeup Artist Business

Makeup Artist Business Image

While not technically a visual arts field, those with artistic skills may find joy in transitioning to this line of work. Experience with makeup is a plus, while anyone with previous work experience in the cosmetic industry will be able to start their own business much easier. Primarily, a makeup artist makes money by charging fixed prices for a variety of different makeup services. You may also make money by selling makeup and makeup supplies.

The amount of profit you can make depends on the exact number of customers you have and the exact services they request. A makeup artist performing 49 or more makeovers a week, for instance, will have a six-figure salary before taxes, though realistically, it will take time to set up a regular stream of new and returning customers.

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Mural Painting Business

Mural Painting Business Image

Muralists should be talented artists who can (usually, but not always) work in oversized imagery. You should be able to sell yourself on the basis of your talent and portfolio. Mural artists generally charge in one of two ways for their work: by an hourly rate or by the square foot of painted space. Since you’ll have to give your client an estimated cost before starting the job, you shouldn’t charge by the hour unless you have the ability to accurately estimate the time commitment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gives a median pay rate of nearly $50,000 for crafts and fine artists, but this includes many other categories of artists besides muralists. Your earnings will be set by your reputation, the rates of competitors, your marketing zeal and ingenuity, and even such factors as your region’s climate if you primarily work outdoors.

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Pottery Business

Pottery Business Image

Pottery entrepreneurs must possess the creativity and drive to continuously seek out new avenues for displaying and selling your work. Pottery business owners earn their living off each piece they sell. Many choose to sell primarily to individual customers, while others have found success selling wholesale. Whichever route you take, pay close attention to your pricing model. Prices should include the cost of materials, as well as an hourly wage to ensure maximized profit.

Novice potters report annual earnings of just under $20,000, while master potters make an average of $47,500 annually. Most businesses take anywhere from 2-5 years to really get going.

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Photography Business

Photography Business Image

This business is great for people who have a creative eye, like flexible work schedules, and enjoy creating and editing photography of all kinds. Service-based photographers charge in one of three ways: package-pricing, event-pricing, or hourly-pricing. As a freelancer, depending on where you’re selling your final product, the price can range from a few cents per photo for a stock image site to several hundred dollars for a magazine or gallery.

The amount of clients you can have on a daily basis largely depends on the type of photography business you maintain. Wedding photographers can typically handle one wedding per day. Photographers for engagements or senior photos can serve as many as three clients per day, including time spent taking editing the photographs. If you photograph in a studio with clients coming to you, you can serve many more clients. Work may be seasonal depending on the current needs of the market.

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Woodworking Business

Woodworking Business Image

Anyone who is detail-oriented, decent at math and skilled with their hands may be well-suited for running a woodworking business. These skills are necessary when carving wood and building products. A woodworking business makes money by producing and selling wood products. These products may be furniture or smaller items, like jewelry boxes, smartphone holders, manual coffee grinders, cutting boards or wooden beer mugs.

How much wood products are sold for varies a lot. Even the same types of wood products might be sold for vastly different prices, depending on how they’re made and where they’re sold. When deciding how to price their wood products, business owners should consider the cost of materials, their desired hourly wage and any selling expenses (e.g. shipping to a store).

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Carpentry Business

Carpentry Business Image

A carpentry business is ideal for those who enjoy working with their hands and building things. These businesses make money by charging customers for the time, skill, materials and labor required to complete various types of building projects. Prices are calculated according to the level of skill and experience required as well as the quality of the materials.

An experienced self-employed carpenter with highly specialized skills can earn as much as $50.00 per hour or $104,000 per year.

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CRAFTS

Candle Making Business

Candle Making Business Image

Although considered to be commodity items, candles can become their own art form with the right creative touch. Potential entrepreneurs should experiment with scents, colors and molds to create something with a unique appeal and worthy of premium pricing.

Profit margins of 50% or higher are very possible. Cost of materials is not particularly high, but make sure you can fully invest the time required to make your business profitable. Candlemaking is a very general field, so create differentiation through the kinds of candles you sell (pillar, floating, votive, tea, etc.), or through the quality of your offering.

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Craft Store

Craft Store Image

Entrepreneurs that are interested in supplying for multiple art forms might consider starting their own craft store. Craft stores typically make money by buying craft supplies in bulk at wholesale prices and reselling them at a profit. Another, less common way this type of business makes money is by designing and creating original arts and crafts products. Some stores also offer classes in sewing or quilting.

The profits from craft store businesses vary widely, depending on the cost of materials and pricing. Large chains can make upwards of a billion dollars in profits yearly, and while your store will make significantly less than this, it does indicate that there is a very profitable market for craft supplies.

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Quilt Business

Quilt Business Image

For individuals who enjoy sewing or seamstress work, have some artistic talent, or have an eye for patterning and organizing ideas into a tangible object, quilting can be the perfect career. Customer special orders and existing quilt repairs will occupy a large amount of the working time and, subsequently, will dominate the revenue stream.

Most quilts sell for a minimum of $350. If you are able to produce two quilts a week, this will generate a revenue of almost $37,000 (ongoing expenses not included). If you are able to produce two quilts at $500 a piece, your revenue jumps to over $50,000. Many long-time quilters report creating up to ten quilts in any given week.

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Sewing Business

Sewing Business Image

People who enjoy creating fashion and helping people achieve the confidence that comes with looking their best. Many fashions are not ideal for all body types and sizes, and sewing businesses provide an alternative for people who do not conform to existing rigid size measurements.

A small single-person sewing business can earn an annual income ranging from between $18,000 and $67,000, depending upon experience, location, and the type of equipment the business owns. With one or more employees, a sewing business can earn much more, and some become successful enough to provide enough to provide franchise opportunities.

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Etsy Entrepreneur Business

Etsy Entrepreneur Business Image

Anyone who enjoys making handmade goods or finding vintage items might enjoy running an Etsy entrepreneur business. This is a great outlet for artists of all kinds looking to sell their works.

An Etsy entrepreneur business makes money by selling handmade or vintage goods. Most businesses sell only to customers, but Etsy has a platform for launching into wholesale. How much Etsy entrepreneur businesses make varies. Some businesses have only a couple of sales per month or even per year. Others have hundreds of sales each day. The most successful businesses bring in well over six figures a year.

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LITERATURE & WRITING

Children's Book Business

Children's Book Business Image

Entrepreneurs who have written or are planning to write their own children’s book(s) might consider starting their own children's book business. Some business owners first try to publish their stories through traditional publishers, and others go directly into self-publishing. Kids are surprisingly not the target market for children’s books. Instead, it’s parents, schools, and libraries -- as they’re the ones who actually purchase books.

With a successful title, a children's book business can bring in six-figure revenues. While these stories are typically sold as hardcover or paperback books, entrepreneurs might also consider adding ebooks to their repertoire to maximize revenue.

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Freelance Writing Business

Freelance Writing Business Image

Individuals with an affinity for the written word, are voracious readers, enjoy expressing themselves, and have a way with words should give consideration to working as a freelance writer. Freelance writers must meet tight deadlines, satisfy clients' nuanced demands, and create captivating content. Expect to research a variety of topics as well as work in different writing tones.

A freelance writer can make upwards of $20,000 or more in their first year. Stick with the business and you can earn $30,000 or more in subsequent years. Continue to add clients and you might reach the $50,000 mark or higher after several years of hard work.

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Online Magazine

Online Magazine Image

Writers with a knack for creating niche content can find themselves in a good position to start their own online magazine. Successful online magazine publishers have a skill set that includes the talents of a writer, editor, web developer, webmaster, advertising salesperson, and business person.

Most online magazines provide free content. Revenue is generated through advertising. Ad programs like Google AdSense will pay you on a per-click basis for ads that you allow to be hosted on your digital real estate. Therefore, your profit will mainly depend on the amount of ad revenue you receive. As you grow, you might also have to consider hiring designers, editors, and artists.

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Screenwriting Business

Screenwriting Business Image

Entrepreneurs with a love for both film and writing might consider delving into screenwriting. This business is excellent for someone who understands how a movie comes together on the big screen. They should love to put their own creative twist on stories, whether they're new and bold or a tale as old as time. Screenwriters need to understand what audiences are looking for, and how to merge their creative vision with public demand.

Most screenwriters start out making little, or by selling their work based on eventual sales. However, top screenplays that attract millions of movie-goers can draw huge numbers. Since upstart costs and ongoing expenses are so small, screenwriters make extreme profits. For the top sellers in Hollywood, they may be able to make up to four million a year or so.

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Young Adult Book Business

Young Adult Book Business Image

Young adult books are targeted toward adolescents. Entrepreneurs who want to get into this booming market should have a love for literature as well as an eye for engaging, teen-appropriate content. They should have active imaginations and appreciate interesting or unusual characters. Even if you're not planning to do the actual writing yourself, you'll need to be able to spot those who can.

Profit margins can vary based on the materials of the book, the advance of the author, and the promotion strategy for the book. The profits can be unlimited for a young adult book business if they score a must-have book like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. However, most authors and publishers will see more modest returns on each printing.

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DESIGN

3D Printing Design Business

3D Printing Design Business Image

Artisitic entrepreneurs who have created physical works (such as statues and carvings) before may find success in the world of 3D printing. Arguably, the most important part of this job is being able to take a good idea and use a combination of software and artistic skill to make it into a reality. A 3D printing business makes money by printing and delivering 3D versions of shapes and objects to customers. You may also make money by taking design requests from customers who cannot find the shapes they want printed anywhere else.

The exact amount of profit you can make is difficult to determine. Regardless, your actual profit is like that of any other specialty shop: if you find the right combination of diverse products, niche markets, and relevant advertising, and the sky is the limit on your profit.

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Clothing Line

Clothing Line Image

Clothing line founders have an artistic vision and see clothing as their medium. They see clothing as a way to allow others to tap into their own expressive selves. For most profitable clothing lines, this means creating thousands of the same shirt, pair of jeans, or socks through a mass manufacturing process. The elite boutiques found in Hollywood or in Paris cater to a very select clientele who eagerly pay a premium for their unique fashions.

Your pair of pants sold to a large national retailer may see a profit of one or two dollars per unit. The tailored suit sold on Fifth Avenue will profit a thousand dollars. You may sell a thousand pairs of the $2 pants, but only twenty of the suit. In both cases, volume will determine your final profit.

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Graphic Design Business

Graphic Design Business Image

Entrepreneurs interested in graphic design are typically artistically minded people. They are adept at managing the aesthetics of the way their business and organizational clients address their various markets, communicating creative ideas and executing design decisions independently or through employees or vendors. Graphic design studio owners charge their clients an hourly rate or bill by a flat fee based on their hourly rate. If there are ongoing assignments they might negotiate a monthly retainer.

Experts say that a graphic design studio must make at least a 15% profit margin and that a preferred rate is 50% or higher. That’s based on the rate you’ll charge your clients minus the out-of-pocket costs to get the job done: your employees’ hourly rate or the costs of hiring freelancers to complete the job.

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Shoe Line

Shoe Line Image

An entrepreneur who starts a shoe line will be able to match their ideas to the current public taste. They’ll also have an inherent love of shoes, as well as a sense of how to create footwear to fit a variety of types of feet/body types. Shoe lines have a profit margin on each pair sold. Each designer will set their own profit margin based on the cost of production and the demand of their designs.

The average profits for a shoe line is about 40%, so the profit margins are extremely enticing to newcomers. Should you sell 200 pairs at $400, you would make approximately $40,000 in profit a year.

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Sunglasses Line

Sunglasses Line Image

Sunglasses are as much about fashion as they are about protection from UV rays. An ideal owner will create a unique look that still manages to fit the popular trends of the day. They should also have a certain amount of people skills, as they may need to network with manufacturers and distributors.

Sunglasses famously have some of the best profit margins a business owner could hope for. The more popular and rare a particular product is, the higher the profit margin can go. Top sunglasses can be sold for $400,000 or more, though the average line sells for between $100 and $300.

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Web Design Business

Web Design Business Image

If you’re a technological innovator, who’s ready to begin building towards success, web design is a tremendous industry. As a web design business owner, it’s critical to possess determination, meticulousness, and creativity. Your web design business will generate revenue through each website designed and/or service provided.

Your fees depend upon the specifics of the project and your client’s individual needs. Projects can range anywhere from $3,500 to over $40,000. The average profit of a freelance web designer is almost $75,000 annually. Imagine the possibilities if you had a team of talent and were able to offer a diverse set of services.

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Interior Design Business

Interior Design Business Image

Intuitive entrepreneurs with an in-depth understanding of color usage, textures, furniture styles, artwork, lighting, fashion trends, eco-materials, and indoor plants may find themselves well-suited to interior design. You must align your own view of what the interior space will be made to look like with the client’s preferences and needs, so that you are both satisfied with the results.

The total profit depends on the number of interior designers working for the firm and that there is enough work to keep them all busy. Top interior designer firms are able to charge clients millions of dollars in fees, while some firms couple with architecture firms to provide additional revenue.

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PERFORMING ARTS

Film Production Company

Film Production Company Business

Film buffs with experience in digital production and storytelling can be well-equipped to start their own film production company. Films make money in different ways, depending on the form of distribution. This can include box office sales, the sale of individual DVDs, sales to streaming services, and even product placements and merchandising of your film.

Profits are highly variable depending on your area of specialty, location, talent, reputation and other factors. To make space for your company in this industry, you will need to start small and find reliable local clients who value the quality of your work. By slowly building up your portfolio and finding your unique niche in the market, your company could reasonably bring in $50,000-$100,000 in annual profits.

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Acting Classes Business

Acting Classes Business Image

Entrepreneurs with ties to the entertainment industry can put their skillset to work running acting classes. Depending on your area of expertise, you can offer classes in film acting, commercial acting, or even both. Your reputation in the acting community and how you promote your credentials will be critical to your success.

The profit you might make is highly variable, depending on your location, industry reputation, and many other factors. It will also depend on the classes and services offered and your ability to sell your services and grow your business.

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Ballroom Dance Lessons Business

Ballroom Dance Lessons Business Image

This business is good for entrepreneurs that have experience and knowledge of ballroom dancing, both competitive and social, and have access to a commercial space, preferably with hardwood floors. A person without the necessary experience to teach but who has a strong interest in dance could hire a few well-trained professionals to give the classes.

Due to the popularity of shows like Dancing with the Stars, ballroom dance classes are more popular than ever. For example, let's say you have a total of 200 students paying $150 per month, or $30,000. Deducting regular expenses, it is possible to generate a 10-20% profit.

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Dance Studio

Dance Studio Image

Entrepreneurs that want to cater to a larger dance audience and have access to a commercial space might consider opening a dance studio. A passion for and knowledge of dance is helpful, but not necessary because the studio owner doesn’t necessarily have to be the instructor, but can hire or lease space to one or more instructors.

Dance studio’s rates usually vary with when instructors want to use the space. During peak times, rooms may go for $100 an hour or more. On off-peak hours, fees may be closer to $20 to $30 per hour. These expenses are usually charged per-room, so a studio that has several classrooms can multiply its income by the number of rooms available.

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Entertainment Business

Entertainment Business Image

People with an affinity for all kinds of live performances should look into entertainment businesses. The entrepreneur who chooses this business must either love to be in the spotlight or have a knack for spotting people with talent. Owners and employees should have an inherent love of entertaining to thrive. If the owner is the performer, they should be willing to work on their craft constantly and change it according to audience expectations as time goes by.

Because ongoing expenses are so little, most of the money made by an entertainment company will be pure profit. A person with a two-hour act making $45 an hour for their services would need to work 20 shows a week to make around $93,000 a year.

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Aerial Arts Studio

Aerial Arts Studio Image

An aerial art studio teaches students to do acrobatic movements and dancing in the air. In addition to athletic ability, interested business owners need to understand the basics of running a profitable business. While long hours aren't typical, flexibility in scheduling is. Most students will have to come either before or after work or on the weekends. So, a business owner has to be willing to train students during "off-peak" times of the day.

Profit for a studio depends on your hourly rate or flat fee program and where your studio is. You may achieve a 10% profit margin, but many studios operate on much thinner margins.

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Jingle Company

Jingle Company Image

Jingles are catchy, typically commercial songs that help to promote a product. A company focusing on these pieces is ideal for musically creative people who enjoy using their talents to promote business ventures. Depending on the terms of the contract, jingle company owners can make money by earning royalties on original music that is used on television shows or during other theatrical performances.

Musical composers make an average of $44,000 per year, while writers make an average of $60,000. Jingle writers usually combine both talents and work closely with advertising agencies. Digital advertising for smartphones has become a lucrative new market. In 2011, one digital advertising company sold for $62.5 million.

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Music Lessons Business

Music Lessons Business Image

Entrepreneurs with acute musical talent can find success in providing music lessons to others. Music teachers in schools and band members are especially qualified, as they both have credentials and connections to people who love music. People don’t have to be a music teacher or in a band to start a music lessons business, though.

Even a part-time music lessons business can generate significant revenue. An instructor who offers private lessons for 20 hours a week could earn between $600 and $1200 each week if they charged $30 to $60 per hour. Because the ongoing expenses are low, the vast majority of this is profit.

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Theatre Company

Theatre Company Image

Thespian entrepreneurs with a keen sense of business may be well-suited for running a theatre company. A love for theatre is necessary because starting a theatre company is hard work and frequently doesn’t return a profit for several years. Being well-versed in running a business helps keep a company financially viable.

Revenue for theatre companies tends to come from ticket sales, donations, grants, and merchandise sales. The National Endowment for the Arts found that most theatres brought in between $800,000 and $1 million annually. This revenue included all funding sources.

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