The Broke Designer's Guide to Making Money Online

By on May 18, 2016 in Tutorials
The Broke Designer's Guide to Making Money Online

As the old song goes, money makes the world go ‘round. Even if you’re a full-time designer with a day job, it never hurts to have a little extra money in your pocket. Whether you’re saving for up for that end-of-year vacation or need to pay rent like, yesterday, these days there are a few options out there to help you earn money online. That’s why we’ve prepared the following handy guide. Take a read, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Show Off Your Skills

Got the skills to pay the bills? Then why not put them to good use by crafting a logo, coding a website, or helping out on one of the thousands of design jobs being advertised on sites like Upwork. These sites match creatives with customers who need help with tasks big and small, and then reward the designers with micropayments for completed jobs. And since these are global marketplaces, there are opportunities available 24/7 that will help you earn a little extra cash.

Sell Your Wares

Sites like the ones above are great if you’re looking to sell one-off designs at a small price. But if you’re looking to promote your designs to a large audience and get paid at the same time, a creative marketplace is an excellent place to show off your digital wares. Sites like Creative Market allow you to create products ranging from vector graphics, website templates and fonts, and sell them to people all around the world. The beauty of sites like this is that the customer base already exists. The Creative Market community is filled with creative types from all around the globe. There’s no need to go out hunting for clients or cold-calling prospects on the telephone and asking them if they need design help. The marketplace on these sites is ready and waiting for your work.

Take A Picture

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer, or just someone with a keen eye, there’s a wide range of sites out there that will let you sell your pictures online. Creative Market, allows photographers from around the world to sell photos in a large stock library.

Make Something

In this age of Photoshop, torrents and online streaming, it’s easy to forget that sometimes design can be a physical craft, too. While digital downloads are convenient, there’s nothing as satisfying as holding a beautiful paper print in your hands, or putting on a new, custom-made t-shirt from one of your favorite designers. To that end, there are a few sites out there that will help you get your physical products into the hands of customers. Etsy is a marketplace filled with people from all over the world creating and selling interesting furniture, stationery, jewelry, clothing and more, all with a handmade touch. If you're not interested in starting from scratch, Threadless, RedBubble and Zazzle allow you to upload your design onto t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, fridge magnets and much, much more. The only limit here is your imagination.

Start An Online Store

If you’re looking to create an established brand and earn money online, it’s never been easier to start up your own online store. While this can be an overwhelming exercise at first, this option is perfect if you want to take full control of the products or designs you’re selling online. WooCommerce (which works on top of WordPress) and Shopify are two of the market-leading platforms out there that can help you with every step of the e-commerce journey: including hosting, domain names, security certificates and more. These sites allow you to set up an online presence for your wares, digital or otherwise. And once again, a site like Creative Market is the perfect place to find an online shop theme or template for your brand. You'll find tons of Shopify and WooCommerce templates like the ones below:

Get Educated

While selling your creative products or services online can be an excellent opportunity, it’s wise to get as educated as you can about your rights and responsibilities as a designer. Always remember to represent yourself fairly online, and ensure that your talents are not exploited or ripped off. It’s important to note that some crowdsourcing sites like 99Designs (above) have attracted controversy, with critics arguing they unfairly lower customer’s price expectations. This is an important topic to consider, and we’ll leave it up for you to decide where you stand. It also makes sense to know what your legal rights are when selling a digital product in a marketplace. Some allow you to sell your product or service elsewhere, while some will demand exclusive rights. You’ll also need to consider shipping costs, taxes, and payment options. In any case, learn as much as you can about your options and rights before getting started, and consider it part of your design education.

Be Careful

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re trying to earn a bit of extra cash online, be on the lookout for scams or dodgy deals. If someone is claiming they can make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, or if an online opportunity doesn’t feel right, avoid it.

Your turn now!

So there you have it, a handy guide to making money online for designers. We won’t promise these tips will help you become a millionaire, but hopefully they’ll help thicken your wallet a little. Do you have any helpful hints for making money online you’d like to share? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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