Take your creative talents into your own hands and use that to make extra money as a graphic designer.
Not only are we going to give you a whole list of ideas to spark your inspiration in creating some extra income on the side with graphic design.
We are also going to provide you some real examples of other creatives and graphic designers who are using these ideas successfully to drive extra revenue for themselves and their families.
Seeing other people using these ideas can make it feel more real and obtainable, sparking you into action to start generating that first dollar from another revenue source.
So get creative - it shouldn’t be hard for a creative mastermind like yourself, and start putting these ideas to use.
1. Sell Merchandise With Your Designs On Them
Do you have a portfolio of your own original graphic designs?
It easier than ever to put those designs onto merchandise and take a share of the profits from the sales with minimal effort.
The third party suppliers handle the physical merchandise such as t-shirt, mugs, hats, hoodies and much more, a better lemonade stand has listed off 75 print on demand products if you are struggling for ideas.
They also look after the printing, shipping and handle the payments, meaning all you need to do is upload your designs, promote it to your audiences cash in on the profits generated with no risk of unsold stock, warehousing and all the other headaches that come with managing merchandise.
It’s big business, so much so that amazon dedicated a whole arm of their business to it called Amazon Merch. Take your chance and make a few extra dollars from these third party providers.
Not sure where to start?
18 print on demand marketplaces to get you started
- PrintShop by DesignHill
2. Graphic Design Freelancing
If creating designs for other people is what you want to continue to do, make yourself available as a freelancer.
Top freelancing sites for graphic designs
The jobs can vary in price and it can sometimes even feel like you are getting no reward for effort but if you find the right niche and get some momentum it can be very profitable.
Following on from the merchandise option this seller on Fiverr has decided that he is just going to create t-shirt designs for other people and sell the designs at a very reasonable price. He found a niche and ran with it.
3. Teach Others Your Design Skills
If you have an amazing skill as a designer and can teach, teaching others can be very lucrative in the right market in online graphic design courses.
First you need to decide whether you want to put up a few tutorials as a hobby or go all in and have a real go at building a information business around your design skills.
The reason you need to decide is because where you host your course will determine what platforms you put these tutorials on.
If you are just wanting to create some resources as a hobby or a way to get extra exposure you want to target the low costs and even free learning platforms (if you can monetize the free platforms with ad revenue) for your potential customers
Low cost websites to sell your course
If you are looking to sell your course at a much higher price point you will need to look at other options to host your course that come with a larger price tag.
4. Sell Product Decals
Product decals such as stickers or any transfers in general to personalise a customers product are becoming big business.
Mobile phone users, laptop top users, car owners and many more are looking for ways to add some personality to their products and if you are able to tap into a passionate niche of consumers it can be very profitable for a graphic designer
For inspiration Etsy.com is the creative marketplace where many decal providers start their journey into the lucrative business.
A basic search of iphone decal should be more than enough to spark your motivation and get you started.
Many of the creative marketplaces listed above let you to design and drop ship your sticker designs.
5. Design and Sell Custom Made Fonts
Brands looking for original fonts and typefaces are growing as the look to separate themselves with a font that aligns with their brand perfectly.
Typography is a very unique design skill but can you make money by selling your own fonts?
The simple answer is yes but first of all you need to find a foundry that meets your needs. A foundry is basically a marketplace that allows you to sell your fonts.
A list of places to sell your fonts
All these sites take a cut of the sale but provide you with an audience that is looking to buy your fonts.
Want to sell your fonts yourself?
It’s a much tougher road but take some inspiration from Jeremy Tankard who has done a fantastic job selling his own fonts.
6. Design and Sell Digital Books
Graphic design skills work in well with comic books but more recently colouring books have exploded in popularity as artist Jenean Morrison found out when she made $329,000 USD in royalties from Amazon in one year selling her colouring books on Amazons self-publishing platform.
To market these books well it would definitely help to have an existing audience to sell to but finding the right niche and building an audience around that niche that are interested in those books could be a great side income.
7. Sell Prints of Your Designs or Digital Art
If you watch a lot of speed art and follow a lot of graphic designers on Youtube, some of their work is amazing.
Have you ever wished you could just purchase that piece of digital art there and then?
Surprisingly a lot of graphic designers or even digital artists don’t have this option available to their followers to purchase their work.
Lloyd Coenen has done a fantastic job with creating original art work and selling the originals but a lot of the time he will produce a print version of that artwork for his audience to purchase.
It is genius, he creates the original once then sells reproduction prints at a fraction of the cost and has his printer ship them directly to his customers.
So what are some examples where this would work really well for graphic designers?
Check out Chris from CK Creative a graphic designers doing some amazing work on Youtube
In this Youtube video Chris created a piece of digital art of a tram in Melbourne that I would have been happy to purchase, not just for the art but the awesome story that was behind it.
It can be a passive revenue stream, you design the print once and you continue to sell it while you sleep.
From what we know Chris is in the process of developing a website to sell his work, we will update it here when it's available.
8. Create Digital Document Templates
Templates sell fast especially at the moment with a lot of people updating their resumes. There are always free alternatives but people looking for that professional touch are always willing to pay for quality work. Whether it be a resume template, word template, eBook cover design template or many other things.
The top marketplaces for resume templates
Templates are again one of those things you can design once, upload to a marketplace and make some passive income from your designs.
9. Design Wedding Kits
The Wedding industry is the one industry where budgets seem to be never ending. There are so many different little graphic designs you can do for a wedding including
- thank you cards
- wedding signs
- seating charts
- menu cards
- RSVP cards
- save the date cards
- name cards
You can do one think or create a whole bundle the options are endless.
Stephanie from The Daydream Creative is a perfect example of a graphic designer who does this really well both on her own site and on Etsy.
Want to size up the competition in this niche?
Etsy is the best place to start looking at what’s already out there
10. Creating An Audience On Youtube With Graphic Design
Creating a Youtube channel is not something that is going to make you money overnight.
It’s a long process that involves consistency with good content and before you can even monetize your channel through ads you need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time.
Looking at the graphic design community and two Youtube channels that are doing really well are Will Paterson and Spoon Graphics have both grown audiences of over 250,000 subscribers and top the list of Feedspots top Graphic Design channels
There are a lot of different ways you can create content for your graphic design focused youtube channel
- Speed Design
- Live Streams
CK Creative who was mentioned earlier is a great Youtuber to follow because he adds a lot of variety in his channel and is in the process of building his own audiences so you can take some tips away from how he grows his own community.
11. Sell Your Graphic Designs
We’ve had a look at some website that can act as marketplaces for you to dropship your designs on merchandise, but what about some places where you can just sell your designs outright?
The best places to sell your design work online
- Art Web
- Creative Market
- Design Cuts
- Not On The High Street
- Society 6
- Graphic River
Why so many options?
Graphic designers put importance on difference things, what is a sites commission rate? Can they drop ship? Are they generating large amounts of traffic to their marketplace or will I need to do my own marketing?
There are a lot of things to consider but having a list of marketplaces to research is a good place to get started.
12. Create a Blog & Gallery
Create a blog around graphic design, another creative avenue but like creating a Youtube channel writing a blog takes a lot of work and consistency but if you are in it for the long haul then it’s better to just start now than to wait another 6 months, which then becomes another year. Just start today writing something related to the space.
It's very similar to how this blog started, we were just finding tips and tricks people could use to make money or save money and now here we are.
David Airey has done exactly this and has multiple blogs and galleries in the Graphic Design space including his personal blog, Logo Design Love and Identity Designed all the sites are very similar but cover different aspects of his design interests.
Blogs are typically monetized by sponsors, display ads, partnerships and affiliate commissions. There more to come on affiliate commissions later in this article.
13. Create Ad Graphics for Agencies
This can be done in a variety of ways, you can reach out to digital marketing agencies directly or post in digital marketing groups on Facebook to see if anyone is looking for a graphic designer to create advertising images.
Jeff Minnichbach did this extremely well and now is featured in some of the largest Facebook Ads group as a partner.
He started off doing all the design work himself creating some great templates and engaging ad design before he got so much work that he had to grow his team.
He went from a personal branded operation to operating under the No Limit Creatives brand services hundreds of clients.
He does very little of the design work himself now, if any, as he has built the systems and team to be able to complete the graphic design work for clients under a monthly subscription model.
14. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing may be a foreign concept to many graphic designers, what is affiliate marketing and how would a graphic designer use affiliate marketing?
Many of the marketplaces and sites in this very blog have affiliate programs you can sign up to. When you sign up to those affiliate programs you can make recommendations to your audience on different things like suppliers, marketplaces and even graphic design tools and you get a commission if they sign up or purchase what you were promoting through your affiliate link.
Always search the footer links for affiliate opportunities if you're not sure if they offer one or not.
This will be one of the only examples not related to Graphic Design but one of the most famous affiliate sites is an amazon affiliate site This Is Why Im Broke that finds unique and different products, lists them on a site and drives traffic to the people selling those items for a commission.
You can take a proven model and alter it to fit in with the graphic design world whether it be tools, resource lists, courses, marketplaces… anything you can imagine.
Sites like DesignHill offer a 30% sales on every logo maker sale made and many other sites will offer similar commissions in the graphic design space.
Imagine finding a great tool you use in your own graphic designs for around $100.
You find out they have an affiliate program of 30% commissions so you write up a review and view of how you're using the tool and send it out to your audience.
Lets say you have a super small audience of 100 people and only 3 people end up buying the tool, from those 3 sales you would make $90 in commissions.
It's easy to see with a large audience how profitable affiliate marketing can be.
Start by researching all the tools you use in your own graphic design and even the technology you use and find affiliate programs for those items.
The best recommendations are always the ones you are using and not just recommending because of the commission you receive.
Be authentic and offer value with your recommendations and you will build a lot of trust with your audience.
15. Create Your Own Design Agency
Have you ever worked in an agency and thought you could do a better job? Or just tired of doing all the hard work for your boss to get all the financial benefits?
Starting your own agency is definitely not easy but like everything it involves getting started and building gradually.
Just like Jeff Minnichbach did when he was starting out creating graphics for advertisers before growing the business into a full agency.
Find something to specialise in, don’t be the digital agency that provides everything for everyone, get known for one thing and grow from there.
Creating an agency involves a lot more than just design skills it requires you to become a business owner and not just a freelancer.
This option is not for everyone but if you feel like it is a good fit then it’s definitely worth considering it.
There you go, 15 ideas for you to use or at least get the creative juices following to make some extra money on the side as a graphic designer or even making the leap into your own design agency.
We honestly hope this help some graphic designs that might be stuck or really needing the extra money to make life a little easier.