How to earn money from design

How to earn money from design

How to earn money from design

Recently I tried to find out the ways where usual graphic, web or UI/UX designer can earn money from design. There are few ways : work at the studio, freelance or having your private business (design studio).

Earn money from design: work at studio.

Advantages. If you are a beginner in design I advise you to start your experience at studio. You just left your education and got a lot of theoretical knowledge. Of course without communicating with other more experienced designers your education as a designer will be slower. While working at studio you will find out a lot of routine work which will help you in future when you have your own projects. You will study how to make this work done automatically fast:

– Use hotkeys at your Photoshop or Illustrator programs.

– Use custom shapes, icons, brushes, swatches, grids.

– Make a list of fonts which you usually use and the list of fonts which you use in different styles of your design.

-Make your own color palette for different design.

-Do not forget about PSD mockups.

All these things will safe at least 30% of your working time. In this part of your work you will be like a robot. But it will help you in future.

Some studios also have some useful presents: coffee brakes, kitchen talks with your fellow workers, bright celebrations of different holidays, free meals, etc. It depends on the status of studio you are working at. If it is a large company as Google you will be pleasantly surprised even by the office designs: they have to make their workers inspired by new wonderful ideas.

Disadvantages. As far as working at studio is sometimes a routine you might want to have more freedom someday. Besides it is hard to do plans, to communicate with boss or do what they tell you to do though you have another point of view. Some people do not like to be leaded by someone – that is moral side of this topic.


Another disadvantage is constant salary. As far as you understand you can earn more working outside the studio in freelance. From the other side your salary is constant that is why you understand every month you have some amount of money which you can spend and you are sure in this sum.

Earn money from design: freelance work.

Advantages. Now are free! Free from anyone who leaded you and told you what to do, when to come to work, what tasks to do etc. You can earn from design as much as you want if you are smart enough. Also now after studio you have enough experience. But still you do not understand you have other problems to solve.

Disadvantages. You have to find clients. That is why I advise you to find clients while working at studio because first few months on freelance will be difficult. You have free time but you have to manage it right otherwise it will be not profitable. So you have to study how to make MORE money from design in LESS period of time. The more unusual ways you will find the more successful you will be. Use special programs for your time and money management. They will help you not to forget about your tasks, clients and manage your budget. Freelancers usually use Toggl, Tick, Harvest, Cashboard, Paymo. You can search more convenient in Google if you want.

Another problem is the place you are working. You must organize your working place comfortable. If you are working at home ask your relatives to not disturb you while working, for example your working hours are from 10 AM to 6PM, every 2 hours make a 15 minutes break, and one hour for dinner and going out for a fresh air (or sport gym). Otherwise soon you will have problems with health and you will spend all the money you earned for health rehabilitation. Also sometimes you can work at the café or in the park. Leave at least one weekend for your family and yourself.

Ways to earn money in freelance.

There are a lot of ways for active and passive income for designer freelancer. So lets find out what are the ways where freelancer can earn money from design.

  1. Freelancer websites.

    That is you do design and earn money from design. Nothing special. In my next articles I will tell you some secrets of how to have more clients of these kind of sites. The most popular websites for freelancer are:

  1. Creative marketplaces.

    Here is the list of sites where you can place your designs and get money for every purchase of it:

  • Creative Market
  • Graphic River
  • ThemeForest
  • Activeden
  • Audio Jungle
  • Videohive
  • Photodune
  • Fiverr

You have to spend a few months to make designs of logos or icons, or any kind of .psd mockups and then only get passive income. I think it is a good way to earn money from design. But the design must be in good quality. So you have to work a little bit harder. The work is for tired from every day work professionals.

  1. Start your own Tshirt store.

You can get hundreds and thousands of Free Shopify Templates for use on your Business website. You can upload your products on Shopify, enter payment information (mostly PayPal) and start to earn money from design.

  1. Sell your own prints.

If you are a good illustrator and you like to create wallpaper patters, canvas prints, cups & mugs, stationary or other illustrated work then here is the list of services which will help you to earn money from design:

  1. Start selling your articles.

If you are a good writer and content manager and you are able to tell people about things you do well (I mean design) then you have to share your experience. Describe the way you do some super awesome set of icons and offer it to any design magazine. Or you have some experience in graphic design – then share it. Remember there are always some beginners in this kind of occupation who do not know anything, even Photoshop tools so your advices may be very useful for them.

  1. Open your video channel in YouTube.

It is an obvious way to earn money from design and get new clients. All you have to do is to register as a YouTube Partner and make a video for your craft in the theme you are a specialist whether it is Photoshop or Digital Art, Photography, Arts&Crafts, Leather Making or Web Design. Everything what is interesting for other designers.

  1. Market your name.

You know that good design helps people and companies to earn more money from their service. So designers are marketers also. They present the service of their clients. I advise you to make a PR of your name as a brand and earn money. Open Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. accounts and start to show your works there and make friends with people. Communicate, write posts, share your thoughts, be interesting to yourself and other people will like you. If you are an interesting personality people will notice you, your work and will order your design.

  1. Become a speaker.

At the end when you are talented, you earn a lot in design and do not spend a lot of time for your job, your name is famous at least at the Internet you have to earn money from design by speaking and sharing your thoughts with people on special courses and seminars for designers. Your name will make money for you. Remember Luke Wroblewski, he is a cool guy, his jokes are awesome, he has a professional view on design and he likes to share it with other designers. His conversations are worth watching.


You can earn as much as you want, even $10.000 -$20.000 a month.

Earn money from design: private design studio.

Advantages. You are a boss. These ways let you to make real your ambitions in career. You can work with really large companies, hire a lot of people and earn money from design, much more money than on freelance. Though as for me this part of earning has more disadvantages.

Disadvantages. You are always busy, no time for family, a lot of responsibilities (people you are hiring, taxes you have to pay, rental payments etc). You will lose your sleep thinking about all these problems. But it is your choice.


Unlimited. Minus salaries, minus taxes, minus all expenses.

So guys I think I told you almost everything I knew about the ways how to earn money from design. Hope this article will be useful for you and bring you a lot of money.

Written by Julia Bondarenko.

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