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How to Make Extra Money as a Graphic Designer

Here’s some tips to adding some extra income to your designer day job.

How To Make Extra Money as a Graphic Designer - Actually blog article banner image
Being employed 9-5 isn’t the end all to your income as a graphic designer. In fact, once you take a chance you’ll see how easy it is to earn an income outside of your full-time role. But with that said, don’t jeopardize your full-time position moonlighting by answering calls or sending emails on your employer’s dime, especially if you financially depend on that job.

Create an Etsy Store

Sell your swag online with an Etsy store. Why Etsy? Because Etsy has traffic you don’t have and Etsy has lots of it. So, if you have loads of time to generate web traffic to your site, it’s probably best to start out with an Etsy site and build up a customer base. Setting up an Etsy shop is easy enough to do with these instructions on how to get started:

  • Figure out what you want to sell – posters, gift cards, invitation templates and cell phone covers are some ideas.
  • Set-up a PayPal account. There are other ways to accept payment but PayPal is universally accepted and most shoppers will be comfortable handing over credit card info through PayPal.
  • Think of a name for your Etsy store (one you’ll like tomorrow) and design a banner for it. Be prepared to write descriptions for your products, including pricing (this might require some competitive research) and do a photoshoot.

Freelance

It’s easy to freelance, really! All you’ll need is a handful of business cards, one or two key contacts in town to toss your name around to small and medium sized businesses. You’ll also need a website with portfolio examples and a professional email address. Figure out your rate, (graphic designer rates range from $40 – $75 per hour) be willing to negotiate your rate and wait for the work to come rolling in!

Write an eBook

Writing an eBook is another great way to pull in some extra cash, and will cost you next nothing to produce since you can design and lay it out. But you’ll need put some energy in research to determine where you want to distribute (Sony Reader Store, Kobo, the iBookstore) the eBook, then design the book for the store and device. If you plan on selling it directly from your website, you’ll want consider publishing content on a regular basis to keep traffic flowing.

Design a WordPress Template

WordPress templates are awesome and we totally advocate them at Actually. Custom design can be costly and a template can be mighty impressive to sell a new product or service. Now just think if you were selling a WordPress theme at $50 bucks a pop and you sold 30, 100 or 1000 copies of it? Well I’ll let you do the math.

Teach, Coach or Offer Seminars

Teaching is another great way to pull in some extra cash while gaining experience speaking to a group, managing projects all while instructing good practices in design. Teaching is great because it gives you the opportunity to inform students (your new competition and colleagues) best practices and standards in the industry. The same goes for coaching and offering seminars – you’re contributing to the industry in a positive and fundamental way.

Tell us about how you earn extra money as a graphic designer. Is there anything we left out? Leave your comments below!

  1. I work at a printing company and have a couple friends who do freelance graphic design. One way they’ve made extra money is by essentially playing middle man for their clients’ printing needs — printing with us and up-charging their clients. Of course this isn’t an option if you’re just going to print it off at Staples, because the price is already so high your clients have no reason to pay you to do it. The key to this scheme is knowledge — namely, knowing where to get printing much cheaper than your customers. Our company, Docucopies.com, undercuts printing prices from big chain companies to the tune of 500%. With a margin like that, you can still entice your clients with prices cheaper than they would get at Kinko’s or Staples yet still make a profit for yourself.

    Another approach to this would be as an affiliate, which is something we started offering a couple years ago via Commission Junction. The designer would put a special link on their website and any orders that come in through that link earns them cash back or store credit.

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