Ok, PSA before we kick this off: We’re NOT here to encourage the side hustle. When we talk about diversifying your income, we’re talking about all the ways you can make money over time. In some of the methods we discuss, all it takes is one effort with ongoing monetary results. And with all of these methods, you’ll enhance your creative freelancing career through the power of learning…while enjoying supplemental income along the way. Let’s begin!
Publish your own books
With the invention of digital publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon and the rise of digital book publishers, it’s never been easier to write and self-publish your book online. But we’re not just talking about that gripping thriller you’ve been writing in your spare time. Places like Amazon and Moo make it possible for illustrators and graphic designers to use and license their artwork as journal covers, phone cases, and stationery.
Which brings us to…
Sell on-demand goods
Maybe you have a great idea for a tee-shirt, posters, mugs, wall clocks—whatever! There are plenty of places where you can sell these creative wares on the side. If creating patterns is your jam, Spoonflower is a place where graphic designers can upload designs to be printed on fabrics and wallpaper. And then there’s the drop-ship option. With print places like Society6 and Redbubble, you don’t even need to handle the assembly or shipping of wares! If you decide to go with any of these services, though, just be sure you look into any cuts that the company will take out of your earnings. These methods could be a great way to learn more about product design, too.
Don’t want to sell material goods?
Sell creative essentials
Some graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators might get more of a rush in making creative essentials for others to purchase. We’re talking typefaces, stock imagery, videos, and more. Selling your creations for a flat fee on places like Creative Market and Envato Elements are great ways to put your work out there, get noticed, and maybe even get hired for a special project. You’ll want to look at what’s missing in the space first and then create what’s needed (aka, avoid the over-saturated). Before long, these license fees can add up over time to a decent sum in your bank account. Plus, it’s work you do once and reap the benefits for in the long run, making this option low-risk for creators.
Teach your skills
If you’re someone who has had several years of experience doing something you love, why not teach what you know? YouTube is a free platform that is great for teaching, but there are other platforms like Skillshare, Udemy and Domestika that might be worth the time investment with a greater monetary return. From teaching how-to illustration videos to offering fail-proof marketing tricks, there’s definitely an audience for you. For a list of which learning platforms might be best, we’ve got an article for that. Once you gain an audience, you can also move to a close-knit community-funded platform like Patreon or become a part-time paid mentor for places like CareerFoundry.
Create NFTs and do one-off commissions
Maybe you’re not someone who’s in it for the long haul and prefers to create major works in smaller time frames. There’s an audience for you, too—and they sure do have some serious money to spend. NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) are like collectible trading cards of the digital art space. They’re one-of-a-kind pieces of art that are ownable and sellable within the cryptoverse. Creating an NFT seems to be a freeing experience when you consider the kinds of NFTs that are making bank. From cashing in on memes to more... silly things, artists with ridiculous ideas can win in this space. Offering traditional commissions are another option for visual artists. Let friends and family know you’re open to creating original artworks for a fee. They’ll tell two friends, and so on. Commissioned and licensed artwork is still very valuable, even though you may have to market yourself often
Become an affiliate for companies you love
Once you gain a following of devoted people, doing affiliate work might be another quick win for you. Approach companies you love, tell them you’d like to become an affiliate and receive a commission for helping to sell their products. You’ll want to pick only products you truly believe in and fit your niche audience so that all your marketing efforts are genuine. Obviously, this isn’t the option every creative person will choose. But if you’re a copywriter or marketer who can do these skills in their sleep, becoming an affiliate might be worth it.
Remember, the goal of diversifying your income should be fun, kinda easy, and enjoyable for you. But if, say, video creation is not your cup of tea, don’t bother with it. Start with what you love! If you’d like to take a quick course on any of these options, the fabulous illustrator Liz Kohler Brown has an excellent one on Skillshare.
And, of course, if you’re in need of a prime-time gig, we’ve got several for you to check out.
Looking to learn more about freelancing? We have you covered: