Are you a graphic designer looking to earn in 2023?

This comprehensive guide will reveal numerous methods to generate income from your graphic design expertise.

In this guide, you will discover:

  • The potential for passive income
  • Selling digital products
  • Selling physical products
  • Offering graphic design services
  • Teaching and consulting
  • Other creative ideas

By the end of this guide, you will learn to maximize your graphic design skills for substantial income.

Let’s delve in!

The Potential for Passive Income in Graphic Design

The beauty of graphic design is that it allows for immense creativity and flexibility, including the opportunity for passive income.

If you aim to become a successful graphic designer, understanding these opportunities is crucial.

Passive income is income that requires little to no effort to earn and maintain.

In graphic design, this could involve creating digital assets or products that sell repeatedly over time, such as templates, fonts, or courses.

The initial effort you put into creating these assets can result in a steady stream of income down the line.

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    Selling Digital Products

    Let me put this right here:

    Your real, human skills in graphic design, would be in demand despite all the advancements we have in artificial intelligence.

    That’s because a lot of people and businesses want a real person behind the reigns. So don’t worry too much about AI for now…

    Let’s explore how you can leverage your skills to create various types of digital products:

    1. Selling stock designs

    By creating visually appealing, versatile, and customizable designs…

    You can offer valuable resources to businesses, marketers, and individuals who are in constant need of high-quality graphics for their projects.

    For example, you can sell your designs at Adobe Stock or Creative Market:

    Recent top sellers in Adobe Stock
    Recent top sellers in Adobe Stock

    When selling stock designs, several strategies can optimize your success:

    • Diverse portfolio: Create a broad portfolio with various themes and styles to attract a wide range of customers
    • Follow trends: Stay updated with the latest design trends to keep your work relevant and appealing
    • Offer customization: Provide designs with customizable elements to cater to the client’s specific needs

    Selling stock designs can start as a trickle but can grow into a steady stream of income as your portfolio expands.

    2. Creating and Selling Digital Art

    With the advent of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, the art world has seen a dramatic shift.

    Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have revolutionized digital art, offering artists a unique platform to monetize their work in unprecedented ways.

    Rarible and OpenSea are examples of places where you can sell digital art.

    Rarible: Aggregated NFT marketplace with rewards
    Rarible: Aggregated NFT marketplace with rewards

    Here are some strategies to succeed in the NFT art market:

    • Create unique art: Develop a distinct style to stand out in the competitive NFT market
    • Engage with the community: Participate actively in NFT communities to gain visibility and connect with potential buyers
    • Promote your work: Utilize social media and innovative tools to showcase your art and build a personal connection with your audience

    Creating and selling digital art as NFTs is a dynamic and exciting avenue for artists.

    3. Designing Digital Assets for Games

    The gaming industry’s growth and independent game development have led to rising demand for high-quality digital assets.

    Graphic designers can capitalize on this demand by selling game assets on platforms like Unity Asset Store or Unreal Engine Marketplace.

    Unreal Engine Publisher Portal
    Unreal Engine Publisher Portal

    Here are some tips:

    • Understand needs: Know what game developers require and align your designs with popular genres for better sales
    • Diversify portfolio: Offer a variety of assets to appeal to a broader customer base and increase revenue potential
    • Prioritize quality: Focus on creating high-quality assets with attention to detail, as quality matters more than quantity in the gaming industry

    Crafting digital assets for games merges your passion for design with the exciting world of gaming.

    4. Creating and Selling Fonts

    As a graphic designer, you have the power to shape words and sentences by creating unique fonts.

    Selling fonts online has emerged as a viable and profitable way to monetize your talent in type design.

    You can go to Monotype or Fontspring to sell your fonts:

    How to get started with selling fonts on Monotype
    How to get started with selling fonts on Monotype

    To succeed in the font marketplace, there are a few strategies you should consider:

    • Develop a unique style: Stand out with a distinct font style that reflects your brand and appeals to designers and businesses
    • Test and ensure functionality: Ensure your fonts are fully functional, legible, and compatible with popular design software
    • Offer font bundles: Increase value for customers by offering bundles with multiple font choices
    • Promote your work: Showcase your fonts on social media, websites, and design blogs using engaging visuals
    • Provide excellent customer service: Offer support, address queries, and provide installation guides and updates to enhance customer satisfaction

    Creating and selling fonts online can be both creatively fulfilling and financially rewarding.

    It’s a great opportunity to express your creative vision while providing value to other designers and businesses.

    So put on your designer hat and start shaping the world, one letter at a time. 🙂

    5. Selling Web Templates

    Web templates are vital in today’s digital landscape.

    If you want to open your own template shop, it could be a lucrative venture.

    You can create and sell web templates on platforms like ThemeForest and TemplateMonster.

    Become an author and sell on TemplateMonster
    Become an author and sell on TemplateMonster

    Here are some tips:

    • Prioritize user experience: Create web templates that are visually pleasing and easy to navigate for a seamless user experience
    • Provide customization options: Make templates more appealing by offering adjustable colors, layouts, and design elements
    • Stay updated with design trends: Incorporate the latest web design trends to remain competitive and keep templates current and attractive

    By selling web templates, you’re providing a vital service while capitalizing on your design skills.

    👉 Related: How to Become a Web Designer Without a Degree (Full Guide)

    6. Designing and Selling Logos

    Every business needs a logo—it’s a crucial part of a brand’s identity.

    This need creates a lucrative market for skilled graphic designers.

    You can offer your logo design services on platforms like 99Designs and Upwork.

    Apply now as a designer on 99Designs
    Apply now as a designer on 99Designs

    Remember this if you want to succeed:

    • Showcase versatility: Display a diverse logo portfolio to attract a wide range of potential clients
    • Provide multiple revisions: Offer revisions to satisfy clients and potentially receive referrals
    • Stay updated with trends: Keep logos fresh and modern by staying informed about current design trends

    Selling Physical Products

    In today’s digital age, there’s no need to limit your creative aspirations to the screen.

    You can generate substantial revenue by selling physical products, either through print-on-demand services or in the form of physical art.

    Both these avenues provide the opportunity to make a name for yourself, showcase your talent, and connect with audiences that appreciate your unique designs.

    7. Print-on-Demand

    With the popularity of online shopping and increasing demand for unique, custom-made products…

    It’s a good time for graphic designers to dive into the print-on-demand market.

    Through platforms such as Printful and Redbubble:

    Sell custom print-on-demand merchs with Printful
    Sell custom print-on-demand merchs with Printful

    You can transform your digital designs into tangible items like t-shirts, mugs, and posters, and sell them worldwide.

    Here are some tips to help you succeed:

    • Find your niche: Identify unique themes that resonate with specific audiences to increase your chances of sales
    • Prioritize quality: Focus on producing high-quality designs over quantity to maintain a positive reputation
    • Market effectively: Utilize social media, email marketing, and SEO to increase visibility and attract potential customers

    By using print-on-demand services, you get to concentrate on what you love most — creating — while leaving the manufacturing, shipping, and customer service to the platform.

    8. Selling Physical Art

    Beyond digital designs and products, another lucrative option is transforming your graphic designs into physical pieces of art.

    Many designers have successfully made the transition and are selling their work in local galleries, at art shows, or on online platforms like Saatchi Art.

    Sell your art worldwide with Saatchi Art
    Sell your art worldwide with Saatchi Art

    Here’s how you can succeed in selling physical art:

    • Know your audience: Understand the preferences of potential buyers to create appealing artwork
    • Protect your work: Copyright your art to maintain control and prevent infringement
    • Network: Attend art events to meet buyers and fellow artists for potential collaborations and opportunities

    Selling physical art doesn’t just provide another income stream:

    It’s also a rewarding way to share your creativity with the world and establish a name in the artistic community.

    9. Creating and Selling Greeting Cards

    Greeting cards have been a staple of personal communication and celebration for centuries.

    In an era of increasing digital communication, the tactile and personal touch of a physical card remains appealing to many.

    If you’re a graphic designer with a flair for sentiment and celebration:

    How to sell on Etsy
    How to sell on Etsy

    Designing unique greeting cards and selling them in local stores or on online platforms like Etsy can be a rewarding and profitable venture.

    Here are some strategies to succeed in this arena:

    • Create for various occasions: Design cards for birthdays, weddings, holidays, and more to cater to a wide customer base
    • Offer personalized designs: Provide customizable options for customers to add personal messages or names, tapping into the trend of bespoke products
    • Prioritize quality: Use high-quality materials and printing processes to make your cards stand out and leave a lasting impression

    By creating greeting cards, you will not only be infusing your love for design with the joy of personal connection.

    But you will also be providing a product that brings joy to others on their special occasions.

    10. Book Cover Design

    The old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t hold much water in the publishing world.

    A book cover is a critical marketing tool that can make the difference between a potential reader picking up the book or passing it by.

    If you’re a graphic designer with a knack for creating visually captivating and story-relevant designs, consider offering your skills to publishers and authors.

    You can find job posts like this on Upwork and other freelancing platforms:

    Upwork job post looking for a KDP cover artist
    Upwork job post looking for a KDP cover artist

    Here are a few tips for succeeding in book cover design:

    • Understand genre conventions: Design covers that reflect the genre’s visual language for instant reader recognition
    • Convey the story: Create covers that offer a glimpse into the book’s essence, engaging readers’ curiosity
    • Provide multiple formats: Offer designs for hardcover, paperback, and e-books to cater to diverse publishing needs

    🔊 Opinion:

    Unfortunately, the pay may not be as big in the beginning. I believe though that you can negotiate for a higher rate especially when a book with your cover design hits the top shelves.

    Selling Graphic Design Services

    To succeed in the competitive world of graphic design, it’s critical to position your services strategically and market yourself effectively.

    One avenue to consider is various job boards, which regularly post graphic design jobs and can help you secure work.

    Whether you’re freelancing or running your own agency, selling graphic design services can be a rewarding, creative, and potentially profitable endeavor.

    Here’s how you can excel in both fields.

    11. Freelancing

    As a freelancer, you’re a one-person operation, taking on projects that suit your skill set and interests.

    One popular service you could offer is to design social media graphics or even graphics for a website or blog.

    Freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer offer easy access to potential clients, simplifying the process of selling your services.

    Upwork: The world's work marketplace
    Upwork: The world’s work marketplace

    Here’s how you can excel as a freelance graphic designer:

    • Build a strong profile: Showcase your best works and skills to create a professional and engaging online portfolio
    • Set competitive rates: Research market rates and adjust your prices based on your skills and experience
    • Prioritize communication: Maintain regular and clear communication with clients to ensure satisfaction and potential repeat business

    The beauty of freelancing is its flexibility.

    You get to choose the projects you work on, the clients you work with, and the hours you work.

    It allows you to express your creativity while honing your entrepreneurial skills.

    👉 Related: How to Be a Freelancer: The Beginner’s Guide

    12. Starting a Graphic Design Agency

    Starting your own graphic design agency is a big step up from freelancing.

    It requires more responsibility, more resources, and a broader skill set, but it can also lead to greater financial rewards and the satisfaction of leading a team.

    Here’s how to get started:

    • Build a solid team: Recruit talented and dedicated designers who share your vision and work ethic
    • Offer a range of services: Provide a comprehensive set of design services to become a one-stop shop for clients
    • Market your agency: Utilize social media, SEO, and content marketing to increase visibility and engage with your audience

    Running an agency requires a keen understanding of the graphic design industry, solid business acumen, and the ability to lead a team.

    But the challenges can be worth it.

    🔊 Opinion:

    As an agency owner, you can shape the direction of your business, work on larger and more exciting projects. But take note that you need to pick your team members properly and everyone has the same work ethic as you.

    13. Contracting with Local Businesses

    Working with local businesses can provide a reliable income stream, boost your professional reputation, and help you contribute positively to your community.

    It’s a great way to build a strong, local client base.

    For example, when I still offered design services, I landed a small gig from a local business:

    Urgent design need from a local business
    Urgent design need from a local business

    Here’s how to successfully offer your graphic design services to local businesses:

    • Understand local needs: Tailor your services to meet the unique tastes and cultures of your local market
    • Network: Build relationships and find potential clients by participating in local business events and activities
    • Offer comprehensive packages: Simplify the design process for local businesses by providing all-in-one design packages

    Contracting with local businesses not only helps stimulate the local economy.

    But it can also establish you as a trusted resource in your community.

    🔊 Opinion:

    From experience, the pay here can be much smaller than for international clients/businesses. However, this is a good avenue for building a portfolio and strong positive feedback that you can use to promote your services.

    Teaching and Consulting

    Did you reach a certain level of mastery in graphic design?

    Do you have a passion for sharing your knowledge with others?

    Teaching and consulting can be an excellent way to monetize your skills and can be personally satisfying and financially rewarding.

    Let’s explore how you can venture into teaching and creating design tutorials.

    14. Teaching Graphic Design

    Teaching graphic design can help you impart your expertise, inspire budding designers, and contribute to the development of the field.

    You can offer classes through established online platforms like Skillshare or you could conduct courses through your own website.

    Why teach on Skillshare
    Why teach on Skillshare

    Here’s how to get started:

    • Develop a comprehensive curriculum: Cover essential graphic design concepts and include practical exercises for hands-on experience
    • Be patient and supportive: Provide clear and supportive feedback to build students’ confidence and skills
    • Stay updated: Keep up with the latest design trends and tools for relevant instruction and personal growth

    💡 Tip:

    Speaking of Skillshare, if you’re looking for a cheaper method to learn skills by watching videos, I highly recommend getting a plan with Skillshare and using coupons to bring down the price even lower.

    15. Creating Graphic Design Tutorials

    If you prefer a more flexible way of teaching, creating graphic design tutorials can be an excellent option.

    You can focus on a range of topics, from basics like software used to more advanced subjects like implementing design principles and mastering particular styles.

    Check out blogs like Onextrapixel for inspiration:

    The Onextrapixel blog
    The Onextrapixel blog

    Here’s how to create effective tutorials:

    • Plan clear content: Outline objectives and structure for easy-to-follow tutorials
    • Engage your audience: Use anecdotes and real-life examples to make tutorials enjoyable and interactive
    • Provide supplementary materials: Enhance value with cheat sheets, templates, exercises, or reading lists for future reference

    Creating tutorials not only helps others learn and grow their design skills but also establishes you as an expert in the field.

    💡 Tip:

    If you want to create a website for your blog, I highly recommend checking out Wordify to host your website. You don’t have to get a paid plan right away as they offer free dev sites to test their platform (you can even finish your website with the free plan).

    16. Graphic Design Consulting

    With years of experience under your belt, offering consulting services in the field of graphic design could be a lucrative and rewarding career path.

    Your expertise can assist businesses in improving their visual branding strategy, evaluating their current designs, and adopting industry best practices.

    If you want to build authority and then sell your consulting services, LinkedIn is a good place to start:

    LinkedIn: Welcome to your professional community
    LinkedIn: Welcome to your professional community

    Here’s how to excel as a graphic design consultant:

    • Understand the business: Comprehend each business’s unique needs and objectives for tailored advice
    • Communicate clearly: Use visual examples to bridge the gap between creative ideas and business understanding
    • Stay updated: Keep up with the latest trends and tools to offer cutting-edge design solutions

    Graphic design consulting is a great way to leverage your expertise, helping businesses enhance their visual identity and effectiveness.

    It positions you as a trusted advisor in the field.

    17. Writing a Graphic Design Book or eBook

    Penning a book or eBook is a fantastic way to share your wisdom and experience.

    It provides an opportunity to delve deep into topics that matter to you, from design fundamentals to software tutorials, industry insights, and career guidance.

    Kindle direct publishing is a good place to start:

    Publish a new title through KDP
    Publish a new title through KDP

    Here’s how to approach it:

    • Choose a resonating topic: Select a topic you’re knowledgeable about and that interests your target audience
    • Organize the content: Plan a logical structure with clear sections or chapters for easy understanding
    • Promote the book: Use social media, websites, and other methods to reach your audience. Consider book launch events and collaborations with influencers

    Writing a book not only establishes you as an expert in graphic design but also serves as a passive income stream, generating earnings long after the writing process is complete.

    18. Speaking at Conferences or Webinars

    Public speaking at industry events, conferences, or webinars can significantly boost your reputation as a thought leader in the graphic design world.

    Platforms like Sessionize can help you create a speaker profile and submit session proposals for various conferences:

    Sessionize: Call for Papers, Schedule and Speaker Management Software
    Sessionize: Call for Papers, Schedule and Speaker Management Software

    Here’s how to make the most of speaking engagements:

    • Choose a passionate topic: Pick a topic you’re knowledgeable about and passionate about for an impactful and enjoyable talk
    • Engage the audience: Use storytelling, real-world examples, and interactive elements to captivate and make your presentation memorable
    • Network: Take advantage of speaking engagements to connect with professionals, potential clients, and students for future opportunities

    Speaking at industry events not only elevates your reputation but also allows you to share your unique ideas and insights on a broader stage.

    It’s an invaluable way to give back to the design community while enhancing your professional standing.

    Other Ideas

    Here are some other ideas that I have that can help you make money as a graphic designer:

    19. Creating a Graphic Design Blog or Vlog

    Starting a blog or vlog dedicated to graphic design is not only an enjoyable endeavor but can also become a profitable venture.

    This can be particularly valuable for professional graphic designers to share their knowledge and expertise.

    These platforms allow you to express your ideas, display your portfolio, provide tutorials, and critique various design tools.

    Here is a good example of a YouTube channel that does this:

    Channel videos page of the Tutvid channel
    Channel videos page of the Tutvid channel

    As you cultivate and grow your audience, monetization opportunities such as ad revenue and sponsorships become viable.

    Got some tips if you want to go this route:

    • Create engaging content: Regularly share unique and valuable articles or videos on various graphic design topics.
    • Promote your blog or vlog: Use SEO and social media to reach a wider audience and share snippets of your content.
    • Engage with your audience: Foster a sense of community by responding to comments, seeking opinions, and facilitating discussions.

    By starting a blog or vlog, you create an online platform where your creativity, expertise, and passion for graphic design can shine.

    20. Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing offers an opportunity to generate passive income by promoting products or services and earning a commission on sales made through your referrals.

    This is often a route taken by successful graphic designers who want to share the tools and products that have helped them succeed.

    This might depend a little on where you’re from — but if you’re from the Philippines, TikTok is a good place to go:

    Discover videos related to graphic design on TikTok
    Discover videos related to graphic design on TikTok

    As a graphic designer, you could endorse design software, online courses, stock image sites, or any other resources that you find invaluable.

    Here are some tips:

    • Choose relevant products: Promote products that align with your audience’s needs and interests
    • Be honest: Provide sincere reviews based on your authentic experience with the products
    • Disclose affiliations: Clearly state your commissions from promoted products for transparency and trust

    Incorporating affiliate marketing into your monetization strategy can be an effective way to earn income while providing value to your audience.

    💡 Tip:

    You can combine affiliate marketing with blogging and vlogging to reach more people. Many bloggers and YouTubers do this to complement the income they get from ads.

    21. Participating in Design Competitions

    Participating in design competitions presents an exciting challenge and a chance to earn substantial cash prizes.

    Numerous organizations and websites host regular competitions, inviting talents to showcase their creativity in different categories.

    DesignCrowd and Designhill are good examples:

    Examples of graphic design contests
    Examples of graphic design contests

    Here are some tips:

    • Read the brief carefully: Understand the competition requirements before starting your design
    • Give it your best: Push your creative boundaries to create something exceptional
    • Take feedback positively: Learn from feedback, whether you win or not, to improve your skills

    Participation in design competitions can be a stepping stone to better opportunities.

    You not only gain exposure and enhance your portfolio but also stand a chance to win cash prizes and gain recognition in the design community.

    22. Licensing Artwork

    Licensing your artwork allows your designs to come alive on various products while you earn royalties.

    You can use websites like Wild Apple and Mosaic Licensing for this:

    Fine art publisher and licensor
    Fine art publisher and licensor

    Companies interested in your work will pay you a royalty for each product sold featuring your design.

    • Understand the terms: Fully grasp the licensing agreement, including royalties and usage rights, before agreeing
    • Protect your rights: Register your designs with the copyright office to safeguard your work
    • Promote licensed products: Encourage followers to buy products with your designs through social media and your website

    Licensing your artwork can offer a consistent stream of passive income while granting you the thrill of seeing your designs on various products in the market.

    23. Creating and Selling Design Software

    If you possess the trifecta of graphic design, programming skills, and an entrepreneurial spirit, creating and selling your own design tools or plugins can be an excellent venture.

    Who knows? You might create the next Canva…

    Canva: A free design tool
    Canva: A free design tool

    These could be anything from simple design templates to intricate software for 3D modeling or animation.

    • Identify a need: Address a specific designer’s need by researching market gaps
    • Test thoroughly: Ensure user-friendliness and reliability through extensive testing before launch
    • Promote your tool: Use your website and social media to increase visibility and attract customers

    Creating and selling design tools provides you with an avenue to solve issues and create an additional source of income while solidifying your status as an innovator in the field.

    Success in the Field of Graphic Design

    Success in the field of graphic design may not happen overnight.

    But with patience, perseverance, and strategic planning, you can make a name for yourself.

    From freelancing and selling design products to sharing knowledge and networking, there are countless opportunities to succeed and make a significant impact.

    So, keep honing your skills, stay curious, and continue creating — your graphic design journey is just beginning.

    If you have some questions or experiences you want to share, please do so in the comment section below.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are common questions and their answers related to making money as a graphic designer:


    Alan is the founder of Work Pajama and other sites by Content Growers. When he's not writing here, he's busy helping clients generate more qualified leads and increase sales by educating readers with strategic content and writing blogs.

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