It’s wise for graphic designers to have a few different sources of income. It’s a profession well-suited to freelancing, and requires skillful use of time management. If you have a little extra time in your week, consider setting up your own website and shop, or take advantage of one of these 10 sites to make a little extra dough on the side.
1. Creative Market
Creative Market is a way for designers to create and sell digital files like templates, illustrations, logos and web design. The artist sets their own price, and keeps 70 percent of each sale. Unlike some other sites, Creative Market has no exclusivity limitations, meaning products can appear on another platform with no penalty. If the designer becomes a partner and refers a customer, they get an extra 10 percent commission.
Creative Market has over 200,000 products listed on their site, so visibility can be hard to achieve. In order to really stand out and make some money, a seller has to aggressively promote themselves, and join groups to have a better chance of being featured by Creative Market.
Envato is similar to Creative Market, but has more technical product categories: website themes, code, video, audio, graphics, photo, 3D models and flash. From a buyer’s perspective, Envato has gotten some flak for their sellers not creating functioning WordPress themes. However, in the graphic design section, what you see is what you get — so buyers are less likely to be misled by something that looks flashy that doesn’t work.
To create and sell graphics, sellers must get their files and design approved by Envato. Sellers set the price, and Envato adds their own fee. Sellers earn their item price, minus 55 percent if they’re non-exclusive to Envato. The fee drops to 12.5-37.5 percent if the seller is exclusive.
Fiverr is notable for cheap, cheap prices. There’s a huge variety of products offered on Fiverr, and not much is priced above $5, meaning the payout for designers is small. However, it’s free to join, and percentage-wise, sellers keep 80 percent of each transaction — so there’s a $4 profit for each sale.
So there isn’t a huge payoff for selling on Fiverr, but the site is well-known, and if sellers are savvy they can make a decent amount of money for little effort. If, for example, designers want to sell a logo, they can create a template. By creating a vague symbol and a free-for-commercial-use typeface, a designer could simply tweak the colors and the name of the company for each client. The client isn’t getting a truly unique logo — but they’re also only paying $5 for it.
Inkd is a site for professional-quality materials — business cards, brochures, letterheads and envelopes all feature on the site. An account is free to create, and the Inkd team has to approve your design before it is available to sell. The designer gets 20 percent of the total retail sale, minus tax. Right now, there’s no exclusivity limitation, but in the future an exclusive option will become available, netting designers a better share of the revenue. Most products on Inkd run around $30, so a design would only net designers around $6 per sale.
Society6 is one of the better-known platforms for artists to sell their work. At Society6, sellers create one design that can be printed across multiple platforms like phone cases, T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, tapestries and art prints. The nice thing about this setup is that it’s not very labor-intensive for the seller; Society6 takes care of the printing and shipping. Plus, artists retain the rights to their artwork.
That said, the profit margin is low: excluding art prints, Society6 sets a base price for the item, and most objects only net between $1-3. Art print pricing is decided by the seller. It’s a low effort shop with low profit per item, but it’s possible to make good money if the designer is willing to market themselves aggressively.
Similar to Society6, Redbubble is another way for artists to let an outside company handle printing and shipping for them. Sellers also retain ownership of their work, and can sell objects like T-shirts, stickers, prints, cases/skins, tote bags, mugs and more. And the pricing model is similar to Society6 too; Redbubble sets a base price, the artist adds their markup, which is their profit.
A neat feature of Redbubble is that there are volume and artist discounts, so if an artist wanted 20 of their own print, they only pay the base price (no artist markup), plus 20-30 percent off.
Etsy is the craft giant wildly popular with both artists and sellers. It’s well-known, so there’s a lot of competition, but it’s also likely to be the first place a customer looks for an eclectic item. It costs $0.20/month to list a product on Etsy for four months, or until it sells. Etsy gets a 3.5 percent cut on every sale, which isn’t much. However, it’s pretty labor-intensive; unlike Society6 and Redbubble, sellers have to provide and ship all the materials themselves. There’s a lot of work involved with an Esty shop, but some people are able to turn it into their full-time job.
Threadless is full of quirky T-shirts that can’t be found anywhere else. They also sell art prints, phone cases, and other apparel items like hoodies and tanks. To make money with Threadless, artists enter into a contest. The contests have fun themes like “Front and Back” for a design that prints on both sides of a shirt, and ”#TBTee” for throwback designs. Winners of these contests get a $2000 prize if their design is chosen, and extra $500 if it gets reprinted, and Bestee award winners could get up to $22,500. Threadless gets a non-exclusive right to print the design.
In order to make money on Threadless, artists should have a slam-dunk idea for an illustration or saying. The payoff is great, but mediocre designs won’t get anywhere. And since the prize is a flat fee, if a design sells amazingly but doesn’t win a Bestee, the $2000 is all sellers receive, not a proportion of the sales.
At Skillshare, professionals teach students a specific skill. There are all kinds of categories, like simple illustration, DIY and calligraphy. In order to set up a course, teachers have to apply, and not everyone is accepted. The minimum requirement is 45 minutes of lessons broken into 4-9 minute videos. After the videos are complete, there’s no extra work for teachers like grading homework. When a teacher enrolls 25 students in their class, they start to earn royalties.
Skillshare instructors get a percentage of revenue each month, as explained on their site: “50 percent of monthly Membership revenue goes to teachers. For example, if you had 5% of enrollments in a month, you’d get 5% of the Membership dollars set aside that month.” And if a teacher’s student stays enrolled after their free trial expires, teachers get between $10-$25. It’s a good amount of effort to set up, but since there are no assignments to grade, it’s a nice back-burner way to make extra money.
Similar to Skillshare, Udemy is a way for skilled professionals to make money. There’s no application like with Skillshare, and the minimum requirement is only 30 minutes of work, 60 percent of which must be video. There’s no cost to set up a shop, and users can make classes free or set their price. Most classes run under $50.
There are two ways to make money with Udemy, and it depends on how teachers want to promote their class. If the instructor does the promotion by making coupons for classes, the students who use the coupon becomes the instructor’s students and the instructor gets 100 percent of the revenue, minus a 3 percent fee. For teachers that don’t want to spend the time promoting it themselves, Udemy will do the promoting and marketing and the instructor gets a 50 percent revenue share.