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15 Ways to Earn a Side Income

Creative Market March 31, 2021 · 6 min read

The freelance hustle is exciting and rewarding, but it can also be exhausting and nerve-racking. Some months you feel like you have a million opportunities come your way, while others it’s just silence. Establishing sources of side income are important — they makes those tough times easier and definitely relieve some stress.
We’ve put together a short list of ways you can earn a side income as a creative entrepreneur & freelancer.

1. Sell Physical Goods

Sell Physical Goods
Try selling homemade goods in a creative marketplace like Etsy or create your own shop through a service like Big Cartel. If you’re a pattern designer, you can apply your pattern to notebooks, t-shirts, or coffee mugs. If you’re a hand-letterer, you can calligraphy famous quotes or poems. Whether you’re a photographer, a writer or a crafter you can use your talents to make something someone will buy.

2. Teach a Skillshare Class

Teach a Skillshare Class
Teaching a class on Skillshare is one of the best ways to earn a side income. Skillshare teachers earn monthly revenue through student enrollments and referrals–which you can link to on your new blog. On average, Skillshare teachers earn $3,000 a year, and the top 100 teachers earn around $1,300 a month. Skillshare classes are just 10-25 minutes of video content that walk students through a specific skill or project, so creating a class is fairly easy. With Skillshare Teach Challenges, you can have your first class up and running by the end of the month!

3. Participate in Paid Surveys

Most of us quickly discard those email surveys we receive, but why not make a little money off of them? It’s not so tough to take a quick 5-10 minute survey, click a couple of boxes and give your opinion. Companies often compensate you for your time. Checkout Swagbucks if you’d like to get started.

4. Write an E-Book

Write an e-book
You’ve got killer writing skills, why not try writing an e-book? Your e-book could be a compilation of your blog posts, or you could write on current trends that you’re interested in. Like your blog, the e-book is also a great way to position you as a thought leader and add credibility to you as a freelancer. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform is a simple and easy way to make it happen.

5. Start a Blog or Write a Guest Post

Write a guest post
Starting a blog isn’t going to make you money right off the bat but it has a couple of benefits. First, you’ll be able to show that you are a thought leader in your specialty. Secondly, once you build a following and start generating traffic, you have the ability to earn revenue through ad-clicks. It’s easy and straightforward to start a blog on a platform like Tumblr or WordPress. If you’re one step ahead and already have a blog, you could try your hand at guest blogging on bigger sites. This is a great way to drive new traffic to your own blog or site and you have the potential to earn more revenue.

6. Be a Freelance Writer

If you’re already getting rolling on your blog or just like writing in general, you can earn income by selling your services to people looking for your services. Freelance or Upwork are great places to post your services.

7. Become an Affiliate Marketer

become an affiliate marketer
You’ve got traffic coming to your blog or site, you can use it to promote other goods or services and earn money as an affiliate marketer. As an affiliate, you can align yourself with products or services you love and support. This will allow you to write about your experience authentically in a way your fans expect from you. Then place promotions for that product or service on your site. It’s a best practice to be transparent with your readers that you will receive a cut for their click. There are many sites that offer affiliate programs, we recommend going to places you frequent to see if you can join.

8. Share Your Ideas

We know you’ve got some ideas, why not share them and earn a few bucks on the side? One cool platform is Namestation, where companies crowdsource naming suggestions. Contributors at the top can earn up to $300.

9. Share Your Apartment or Home

Get in on the sharing economy by making the most of your home/apartment when you’re not using it. Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO are all great options and can even help you pay for your own vacation when you’re away!

10. Share Your Art

You can share your art through different places like TurningArt, Threadless, and Creative Market. Turning Art is a new take on how and when people experience your artwork. Members try reproductions of your artwork in their home, and artists earn royalties each time their work is rented, or when prints or originals are sold through the site. Threadless is a place where artists from around the world submit designs, the Threadless community scores each design and the best of the best are printed and sold. New designs are chosen for print every week and the winning artists can profit handsomely for their designs, and in some cases, also take home big cash prizes from special themed design challenges. Finally, Creative Market is the best place to sell your digital design assets to a growing community of over two million members.

11. Share Your Expertise

You may not always think it, but we know you’ve got some expertise that people will find valuable. A site like PopExpert allows you to virtually connect with people looking for advice through 1-on-1 sessions for a fee.

12. Build an App

Got a great idea? Why not try building an app? It seems daunting, but there are tons of resources out there to help you get started. Checkout appmakr or Skillshare to learn from the ground up.

13. Sell Old Items

eBay may not be the rage it once was, but it’s still an amazing place to sell your old stuff. Checkout some of the top selling items and you could turn your old stuff into a side income stream.

14. Peer-to-Peer Lending

This one doesn’t require your creative skills, but it could help the money you have made do more for you. Places like Lending Club and Prosper connects people who want to borrow money with investors (like you) who want to make returns.

15. Sign Up For Usability Tests or Focus Groups

Sign up for focus groups
Some startups post ads for user interviews and feedback sessions on Craigslist. By signing up you can test fellow entrepreneurs and creatives products or services and provide them valuable feedback. You can also sign up on sites like UserTesting to get paid for testing a new app or website.

About the Author: Scott Sullivan is the Partnerships Manager at Skillshare. He spends his time talking with talented people about the awesomeness of teaching & sharing their skills.

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  • Anonymous
    Nice! Thank You for post 6 years ago
  • Hi there, I wanted to leave a slight correction to #1. You wrote, "If you're a hand-letterer, you can calligraphy famous quotes or poems." First of all, hand letterers don't calligraphy. They letter. The two are very different. Additionally, Calligraphers don't even "calligraphy," they calligraph. Calligraphy is a noun, calligraph is a verb. Calligraphers calligraph calligraphy. Finally, it is copyright infringement to profit off of many quotes, song lyrics, poems, etc. Sites such as Etsy monitor your content and either they, or the people who represent whoever's words you have used, will demand you take it down and could press legal action. 6 years ago
  • #15 has a broken link leading to UserTesting. 6 years ago
  • Alyson there are plenty of public domain quotes and texts people can use to make hand-lettered posters. Additionally, short phrases (which make up the majority of these posters) cannot be copyrighted, they can only be trademarked: copyright dot gov/circs/circ34.pdf "Copyright law does not protect names, titles, or short phrases or expressions. Even if a name, title, or short phrase is novel or distinctive or lends itself to a play on words, it cannot be protected by copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office cannot register claims to exclusive rights in brief combinations of words such as: • Names of products or services • Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the names of performing groups) • Pseudonyms of individuals (including pen or stage names) • Titles of works • Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions • Listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas. When a recipe or formula is accompanied by an explanation or directions, the text directions may be copyrightable, but the recipe or formula itself remains uncopyrightable." Most hand-letterers on Etsy are just ripping each other off anyway, and certainly most are not in a position to trademark Live Laugh Love or whatever the current pinterest passion is. Registering and aggressively protecting your trademark (which is required to keep your trademark) is an expensive process and it can frequently bite the creator in the butt if they try to take ownership of something they didn't create. See Cafe Hon in New Jersey for example; the owner tried to claim ownership of a short phrase and it nearly put her out of business by souring her reputation within the entire community. What hand-letterer is going to have the lack of foresight to think they created and own "Make your own luck!" or "Give thanks!" or "My house is a hot mess" or whatever? Trying to fight other hand-letter sellers of $10 digital files is a waste of time and energy. If someone made a hand-lettered poster of the words "Shake shake shake" then maybe Taylor Swift's legal team would have the resources to possibly try to make a case of copyright infringement if they can prove a connection, but the idea that Etsy is going to go around policing the thousands of pinterest artists who stick "Live your dreams!" in gold ink on a white background is inaccurate. Etsy is a private website and can delete any listing it wants, but no court of law is going to arbitrate in a claimant's favor in a petty squabble between two "hand-letterer" freelancing 20-somethings who don't even make $200 a month selling generic "Reach for the Stars" posters. Using legal loopholes to get an advantage over your competition in the hand-lettering market is not going to work for the average small-time designer. Your best bet to get ahead is to offer original products and excellent customer service with smart social media campaigns. 6 years ago
  • You can copyright a hand-lettered work of art if it's unique enough and not just some random script font-ish text on a white background (i.e. it needs to look more like an illustration and less like someone slapped a pretty font on a piece of paper that says "Trust god!"), but good luck trying to win a legal battle against some other etsy seller because you feel like they "stole" your phrase. It's not going to be good for your reputation, it's bad karma, and it's ultimately bad for business. You do you (TM (R) (C) 2016) and if you do it well enough and with enough passion, success will follow. Don't worry about the imitators. 6 years ago
  • Thanks for sharing a great post. I personally think teaching is best way for side earn. I work for a company and also teaches children as it is fun :) 6 years ago
  • Great post : 6 years ago
  • Excellent tips and ideas! 4 years ago