Making money through art and design

Just because you are artistic does not mean that your bank account should be overdrawn. Let’s paint the picture of how you can make more money with your creative flair.

Make money through your design skills

There are several opportunities available to you if you have graphic or web design skills. There is also plenty competition. You need the right strategy to get ahead of the pack. So how can you make money?

  • Showcase and promote your portfolio

You are able to showcase your designs on platforms like Dribbble and Behance. These online platforms are shop windows for your skills. Potential customers can browse your portfolio and connect with you if they like what they see. Be sure to keep your profiles up to date by updating them with your best and latest work.

Designers can only become “players” on Dribbble by invitation from existing “players”. So engage with other designers on the platform so they can invite you to play show and tell.

  • Enter design competitions

99designs and Crowdspring are online graphic design marketplaces and are built primarily around contests. At any time, there can be a couple of thousand contests open between these two platforms. To get started, you need to:

  • Sign up 
  • Find a contest that matches your skills
  • Read the brief
  • Create and submit a design; and 
  • Collaborate with the client.

You make money through winning a contest. Once you have formed a relationship with a client, you can continue working with clients using 1-to-1 Projects. Design work that you can do includes amongst other things:

  • Logo design
  • Brand identity
  • Website design
  • Packaging design
  • Clothing and merchandise design
  • Advertising design; and
  • Infographics

You need to be aware that you are far from guaranteed to earn an income from these contests. At times you may be contesting with hundreds of other designers. However, it is a great way to build a portfolio if you have little experience.

If you do win, payouts can be very large and you can begin building client relationships. On 99designs, you will be eligible for premium contests that only the best designers can apply for.

  • Match your designs with products is an online platform that allows you to create and upload your own designs. These designs will then be matched with specific products to be sold on CafePress. You get paid each time a product with one of your designs is sold.

Threadless is similar but has a slightly different model. The Threadless community scores each design and the best designs are printed and sold. New designs are chosen for print every week. If printed on a product, the product will carry your name, and this may help you become a trending known artists. They print on t-shirts and tons of other products. 

  •  Earn money $5 at a time

​Fiverr is a marketplace that lets you get paid for small gigs. You can design logos, draw portraits and other illustrations and so much more. You can upload up to 20 gigs that you are willing to do starting at $5. The words “starting at” are important. A basic gig such as designing a simple logo can be $5. You can then charge additional fees for things like extra fast delivery, more revisions and variations, for sending source files and more. Many designers on Fiverr offer package deals for around $50 or more.

  • Bid for work through Freelancing platforms

​​​​There are countless design and illustration projects submitted daily on, Upwork and similar freelancing platforms. You can bid for these projects and then form one on one relationships with these clients once they know that you are awesome.

  • Add your work to an  online marketplace

You can sell some of your artwork through platforms like Crated or even for certain simpler designs through many stock image libraries.

Sell artistic goods

Etsy is the world’s largest marketplace where people around the world connect to make, sell and buy unique goods. Etsy has over 1.5M active sellers and over 21M active buyers. You can set up your own store on Etsy to sell vintage or handmade items.

If you have some unique art that you have either created or that you own, you are able to sell it through platforms such as Artpal. You can sell your paintings, prints, photography, sculptures, handmade jewelry, crafts, & more. 

Share your creative knowledge

  • You can create an online video course through Udemy or similar learning platforms to share your design secrets. 
  • If you live in Europe, you can run an art workshop through Experitus
  • You can create design or art tutorials through Tuts+.
  • You could even write a design ebook through Kindle Direct Publishers or monetize a design blog.


Online platforms are brilliant for creating opportunities, especially when starting out as a designer. But, it is important to network offline too in your local community and with potential clients. Some designers prefer being able to do projects for many clients over time. Others make a really decent living by doing work for a handful of top, high paying clients. Choose the path you which to follow and build relationships that will help make this a reality.

Get out there and leave your creative mark on the world and make some cash.

Lady with make money
Get your own tailor-made list of 30 places to make money online Discover now