This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclosure for more.

My secret to making steady money as a freelance designer

Table of ContentsUpdated Apr 03, 2015

We share tips for making money as a freelancer here at Millo all the time. They include:

But there’s one key to making steady money as a freelance designer that I fear I haven’t been very clear about.

It’s not that I’m trying to hide anything from you – I want you to be successful too! But it’s something that I have just kindof been doing all along and never really thought to talk with you about it.

So what’s my secret to making steady money as a freelance designer? I diversify my income.

Same ol’, same ol’

It’s really easy to fall into the same old routine as a freelance designer. You find a client. You work on a project. You get paid. And then you start all over again.

But if you want to make steady money as a freelance designer, you’ve got to think outside the box and find more ways to make some cash. And I mean lots of different ways.

A penny here, a penny there

I have actually gotten to the point where my side-ventures make me more money than actually doing design work. I make steady money from blogging (both here at Millo and for other bloggers who are willing to pay me), I make steady money from affiliate work, I make steady money from referring some clients to other designers, and I make steady money from many other little avenues of income.

And the little bit of cash I make from all of these different avenues (blog advertising, sponsored posts, paid writing, consulting, referrals, etc) bring in a significant amount of money each month.

Sure, I only make a little from each one of them every month. But since I have taken time to diversify, I have money coming in from many different places at once – and it adds up.

Don’t put your eggs all in one basket

See, here’s the trouble with relying solely on design projects as a source of income. What if your clients run out of money? What if you suddenly suffer a terrible accident and lose your site, or mobility in your fingers?

Heaven forbid any of these things ever happen to you, but what if?

If you only have one source of income and you lose the ability to milk that source of income, you’re in big trouble. You have zero chance at making steady income as a freelance designer.

How will you diversify your income today?

I’m giving you a challenge: Find a way to diversify your income and start making steady money as a freelance designer as soon as you can!

Don’t put it off. Don’t let it sit on your to-do list for months and months.

Find a way to diversify your income today and then share your decision with me in the comments of this post.

Good luck!

This post was originally published in 2011. It has been updated, revised, improved and reposted here for your enjoyment. Thank you.

Keep the conversation going...

Over 10,000 of us are having daily conversations over in our free Facebook group and we'd love to see you there. Join us!

Profile Image: Preston Lee

Written by Preston Lee

Editor at

Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more.

Preston's Articles

At Millo, we strive to publish only the best, most trustworthy and reliable content for freelancers. You can learn more by reviewing our editorial policy.

  1. Tom Miedema says:

    My art is geared towards truckdrivers. A specific group of drivers: Those who drive the “classic” showtruck/working class rigs. The demand is high and there are very few competitors in the business. You can count them on one hand, and their designers do just what they can to get by. For example, the latest addition of AI has a “trace” function… and these guys love it. Personally, I don’t use vecters in my work and I’ve done just fine.If I need to make a logo that is going to be blown up beyond 4000 to 5000 px, I will probably use it.

    My side jobs include personal training. I’m a certified nutritionist, physical therapist, geriatric trainer and I work in convalescent homes AT MY LEISURE!

    I also give guitar lessons. I’ve been playing, studying and teaching for over 30 years.

    I also have a Class A license with ALL endorsements, so…. when artwork is at the bottom of the priority list, training and guitar lessons will be also,… but trucking?


    I planned this years ago when I was in my 20’s knowing one day that I would need to have other careers that would make money if I ever got in a bind, or if i ever just needed a change.

    That’s my story….. and if you ask: “How did you ever get the time to master those other lines of work?”

    The answer is simple: “I made time”… and that my friends is where “sacrifice’ comes into play. When others were out partying, I was not… when others were sleeping, I was not… my priorities have always been fairly different from the masses.

    Today, there is enough demand for my type of art to go around, and for that I am thankful.

    I feel at times that my pricing is too high for people to afford.. those who REALLY want work done because they’ve already seen my work. When word of mouth works better for you than social media…. you really have to think about compromise….. or not… and lose that “little money” which adds up quick if you do a bunch of little jobs.

    My two… or three…four??? (cents)

  2. This was very insightful! Thank you so much. Will definitely put this into use ASAP.

  3. Abu Monsur says:

    A real informative post, thanks a lot

    What are the high traffic marketplaces beside graphicriver?

  4. Zubair ahmed says:

    Hi prestondlee thanks for this post I am a loo designer can you please let me know the easy way to get the logo clients or graphic work I am web @ graphic designer have 3 to 4 year professional
    Experience please help waiting for your valuable response thanks

  5. I’m on mobile so I don’t see any dates on the article or on the comments but this was just on time for me to read today! I’ve been revamping my approach to not only freelance graphic design but to managing my income as a whole. My thinking was beginning to go along the lines of what you wrote about however for all the potential benefits, I also saw many potential problems, such as losing focus by bouncing around too many different places. I needed some reassurance that this “self-business model” could be successful and stable longterm, which you have confirmed! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  6. Numbers would be helpfull if you like people to model you. If i am about to take some strategy to work on i need to see how it worked for others. Like in fitness. Its nice to see the change in someone before taking their stategy. (sorry for poor english, still learning). So if you could show us some numbers, how much you make on diffrent sources the this could open our eyes and minds to your ideas. Now proof no followers. Thx for advice though.

  7. Austin Inman says:

    This is pretty informational , but I do have some questions. I recently turned 18 and am about to graduate high school, but I attend a technology center as well. I have been using Adobe products such as Photoshop quite a bit and as of right now I just need to study and get my certification for Adobe Photoshop. I have a real interest in making neat edits on photos. I plan to attend the technology center next year as well and get more experience. While attending school would it be possible for me to get my work out there to clients and maybe even businesses so that I could get paid? How would I go about doing this exactly? How much would I charge? If you would like, you can take a look at my Bechance Portfolio or e-mail me and I could send you some of my logos I have made and pictures I have edited.

  8. Bloom International says:

    Hi designers, our client based in Montreal, Canada, is looking to partner with business-wise designers.
    They manufacture cellphone cases & offer the best price & value on the web: $250 for 100 hard cases. Production is done within 5 days, shipping is free to USA & Canada and returns are accepted on opening orders.
    Where’s the business opportunity? Go check local stores: what you’ll find are boring, black or clear iPhone cases… Customers would love nice cases but retailers don’t know where to find them. Why? Because wholesalers carry the same low-cost, standardized cases that are massively produced in China. Why not choose Chinese companies: First, production is slow and they will ask for a minimum of 500-1000 cases per design; Second, you can’t find a trustworthy supplier as most will sell your designs; Third, none will accept returns. You can contact us at [email protected]. Remember that the investment is low, the profits are high and they can become huge.

  9. Ugo Daniels says:

    Personally I’ve made networking and joining in group discussions paramount and a great way to meet potential clients. You’d be surprised what people discuss about. Example: a friend invited me to an event totally unrelated to design work recently. There a group was discussing whether to get a customized unique wedding website for one of their friend that is about to get married. My friend introduced me as a web designer and front-end developer and there and then, i landed the job. It wasn’t much pay but the referrals from her and her friends made sure i design on average 4 wedding websites weekly, each comes at about 1500usd [domain renewable after 2 years]. Amazing is an understatement. I never thought about it till i went out and mixed up and it happened, like literally fell into my laps.

  10. Steve Mark says:

    This is very well written post and shares very good understanding to freelance designers. I completely agree with this. Keep sharing.

  11. Good read! I’ve definitely found that this is the only reason I have been able to stay a float as a full time freelancer. This applies in both the design world and in the music world. Its tough, but people like dealing with people who can multitask and help them grow in as many ways as possible.

  12. Another comment- I’d love a post about these sites that you can earn money from artwork/creations on the side like Zazzle, istock, licensing, even downloadables on etsy and self published eBooks. Thanks!

  13. I’m curious what kind of referral arrangement you have in which you make money from it. I have gone back to work full time after having been freelance for a while and I am constantly referring people to other designers who are friends when I don’t have the bandwidth for a side project. I’ve always thought I could/should make money on these referrals but never was sure how to set it up. Thanks for your advice.

  14. Great post because I see that my idea(which is still in development) already work somewhere.

  15. Brennan Scott says:

    This post definitely got me thinking! It got the ball rolling to think of how I can create passive income and diversify my income. Currently I sell poster designs on Etsy and society6 but I would love to have more avenues to create passive revenue.

  16. I went freelance over a year ago partly to devote more time to my sidelines of experimenting with writing and designing children’s picture books. My professional work will hopefully fund a loss-leading self-published short print run to sell at school fairs. With luck – and if my work is any good! – I can build on this and hopefully turn a profit.

  17. I have been reading through some of the comments made about your article–and I have to say–dsr was hoping for a short cut. Preston, I believe that you may have written in another article”3-important keys to success”, that there are no short cuts. I remember there was a time that I had did just as you wrote about “diversification” and –Its funny–It does ring true. I have taught adult educations courses–Demonstrations for organizations–Entertainment venues–Murals–Portraits–and others–which provided me with stead income for me to return to school. I agree with your point Preston and qualify it in these terms: Artist must find a way to exercise their gifts by creating the opportunities to utilize them. Thanks for reminding me.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Very well-said. And you’re right. There are no shortcuts.

      I love what you said here. Basically: diversifying your income means you’re creating lots of opportunities for yourself. Definitely true!


  18. I like your posts Preston.
    I think it would be fun, since you have the attention of many through your following, to create that list of 100+. I would volunteer for the opportunity to be a case study.
    To see how your guidance works in other people’s lives. To present the challenge, through a person… and to check in (perhaps once per month) to see what actions have been taken and what has been/not been successful. I believe it would give great insights.

    There are so many offering up solutions to any given challenge and the seeming solutions, while they mean well… DO NOT FIT the condition. And then…. as the recipient of those ideas…. and not following them because they are not a right fit. THE GIVER of the idea feels…. rejected? Perhaps rejected is too strong a word.

    One of the many truths in the matter is… NOT putting all of your energy, skills, ideas in one basket and expecting it to sustain you. Times have changed and I think that there could be a great opportunity here to further this discussion on ideas + action = results kind of [sustain yourself as an artist/graphic designer/illustrator…..] conversation.

    How can we best utilize our precious time and energy in order to sustain ourselves and make a good living doing what we love?

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks for the comment! I love the direction you’re headed with this idea. Why don’t we chat more via email. you can catch me at preston at graphic design blender dot com. Thanks so much! Cheers.

  19. Jason Vassallo says:

    Great Article Preston!! I am a graphic designer/videographer and one alternative revenue driver for me that “works in the background” is selling stock footage. Whenever I am on location for a shoot, I will venture out and capture assorted b-roll of architecture, city-scapes, fountains etc. I log and capture all that extra footage, tag it and sell it on assorted sites like Revostock and Pond 5. It’s always a nice surprise getting an email that I have sold a couple of clips generating a little bit of extra revenue. Look for my footage under fishidesign at those sites.

    1. Brilliant! That is the way to create opportunity for yourself!

    2. Preston D Lee says:

      That’s seriously a great idea, Jason! Way to go!

  20. I think expanding yourself word of mouth is the hardest thing to do when you want to start anything, designing has payed a phone bill for me, I practice digital printing, screenpress & designing but how would someone go about being able to ensure the client or should i say lure them into your services?

    create a pitch?

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks for commenting. Not sure I fully understand the question. Are you wondering how to get your first clients? Or have you already crossed that bridge? Thanks!

  21. Anthony Polanco says:

    This article is great. The ‘Skint’ complaint is because people are too lazy to pursue these ideas on their own, they want a layup. They want you to tell them exactly what to type in, and preferably just send them some money to their paypal afterwards.
    I’m not a graphic designer – but I am self-employed as a music artist, a hairstylist, and I do a fair bit of freelance writing. I learned while spending a heavy amount of time busking (street performing) that while you can make a sinful amount of money sometimes, you can also catch the flu and not be able to ‘work’ for two weeks.
    Diversifying your income as a self-employed creative is not only vital, but easy and fun – if you’re willing to work at it.
    Thank you for this post! Very encouraging content.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks so much for the comment. I’m glad the content is encouraging to you. I wish you the best of luck as you continue to build. 🙂 Cheers.

  22. Hi all, great input. Do you love design? Well passion is power…stick with it…live it, talk about it wherever, add to it, like: email marketing (create adverts for companies, business card designs, logo designs – AAA logo maker…Wordpress surveys and polls on yr blog. Set up a community website and put useful affiliate links and get paid commission, eg. Rent a car, health products, gym, accommodation guest houses, hotels, etc.

    Resell created templates online. Start a business listing site free and paid listings. Do a review site and get paid by restaurants, hotels, etc to boost their exposure, ie first page placement at the top. Get money back from sending print jobs to printing companies. Sign up with Adwords and promote your design services…go past a school or high traffic area and ask to put your design services sign up and pay the school or residential home owners a small instalment per month…make it a win win deal.

    Do referrals whereby people that promote and get you design business will get paid…be honest and pay the guys even if they didn’t know that their referral gave you business…remember the law of the universe knows to give back:)

    P.s I think Preston has long since left or moved on from this post…but left a great legacy…thanks to all of you!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Dean, Thanks for helping keep the conversation alive! I wish I had time to respond to all the comments on all of our 500+ blog posts. I appreciate the extra help and keep up the amazing work, everyone!

  23. Jesus Lopez says:

    Great post Preston!

    The information was very helpful and I appreciate you sharing this 🙂 As Designers, we have endless opportunities and sources for earning extra income. I’m a newbie when it comes to earning extra money online ; my day job and freelance keep me busy but when I get some good personal work done I like to turn them into something I can sell on

    Thank you again for your wise words. It’s always great reading your blogs!

  24. Wes/Akaris says:

    I’m completely new to this. Have a small portfolio, and not allot of cash to begin with. I’m a good designer, though I lack the idea’s required to really make money at this, working on a few sites like zazzle and what not putting designs on products to sell. Want to know if there is more that I can do so if you can help would be amazing.

    1. Dominique Calero says:

      @Wes as a freelancer myself I generate other income from also reselling marketing products that my clients need. I diversified by business by not just selling design but selling marketing solutions which include print, promo products and even trade show accessories like banners, displays etc. Hope that gives you some ideas..and good luck!

  25. Hello,
    I am freelance Graphic/UI Web Designer. My freelancing is not as static as I expecting need some tips and guides from you guys.Hope to get something useful & helpful


  26. Preston, I’m with the positive commenters. This is a good post and when you talk about “My secret…” to me that means you’re talking about what works for YOU, which may not necessarily work for everybody else and their sister. Everyone is different, so yeah, put your brains to work to get some creative ideas on what could work for you, negative folks!
    Still, it’s good to have a balance in the comments, because I learn from that too 🙂

    Best thing about this post for me? To know that I’m not alone, trying to make money in different ways, while having a (full-time) job. I’m a translator, virtual assistant, customize WordPress sites, use Adsense, affiliate links, sell on eBay, etc. (Don’t ask where I find time, LOL). I thought I was crazy to try it all, but your post reinforces the idea NOT to depend on one source of income. So I’m on the right track, and not crazy at all 🙂 Thanks again!

  27. Glen D. Berry says:

    I really like the idea of multiple streams of passive income. I’ve sold some of my photography through stock photo agencies. I’m currently working on producing some stock audio recordings, to market through stock audio companies. I’m keenly interested in finding many more passive income sources. Diversity is a great asset!

    Say, I noticed that this blog is using my initials for its name. I don’t suppose I could talk you into paying me royalties for that little privilege? 😉

  28. Cocoa La' Femme says:

    You are right Preston, it’s a must to have more than one income. As long as all roads lead to Rome ( my bank account). I also design accessories. I love merging designing with fashion. @Preston, could you explain how buying domain names and reselling them works. Thanks Happy New Year

  29. i wouldnt ever advise anyone to become a web designer. one of the worste career fields around. everyone and their dog offers cheap web design everywhere these days.

  30. i’m using designcrowd and graphicriver (evanto)

  31. Yikes, Preston, lots of negative vibes coming at you from the comment section… I personally think the title was fine, and the content useful, although I was expecting more but I think that would actually be spoon-feeding.
    Anyway, I just wanted to ask how you go about getting to guest post on other blogs? Do you approach bloggers with your ideas or concepts of what you’d like to bring to their blogs? Have they all approached you? I have approached a few sites in the past and got no response, so I’d like some advice on how you go about getting them to take you on and pay you.

    Thanks for a great site!

  32. Sound advice for anyone, web designer or not. Gone are the days when you could rely on your employer (LONG gone) no matter if you’re a consultant or salaried at whatever you do. Always be looking for little jobs and opportunities. I know of really no one that I would consider wealthy that has 1 job, and that’s it. Side investments in real estate and consulting gigs can pay off. Look down the road, not only for the short term and plant seeds if you’re young.
    Coincidentally, I just published a post on a site of mine explaining how to become an Amazon affiliate for beginners (–probably too elementary for this crowd, but a penny here and a penny there all adds up, and a year from now you’ll wish you had started today.

  33. There are a lot of ways for designers (and anyone else) to make extra $$. A good designer is creative. So be creative. Look at coming up with ideas to make money as a design project.

  34. Your article just got right in. My income depend mostly on ONE client, although I have started to diversify.
    If something goes wrong, if my client has an accident, it all goes down the drain. I have known that for years
    Hope to open a webshop, and I am also doing a site for graphic freelancers for job seeking, news and offers.
    Thanks for reminding me

  35. Hi there! I just recently graduated with my Associates Degree in Graphic Arts, and I’m good with the Adobe Creative Suite programs (i.e. Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), is there anything I can to make money until I do land a “dream” job. I’m thinking about designing letter-headers, bumper stickers, and maybe do resumes for people who don’t have time to do them. Is there anything you can suggest?

  36. Johan S-z says:

    Hi there! I have worked as a graphic designer for almost 25 years in Sweden, and seen it all! 15 years ago we decided to move north to my wife’s hometown, away from my rather big job market in Stockholm. I new it would be hard to get a good job, and well, after 3 jobs as art director lost due to lack of clients at the agencies I worked at, I popped out on the unemployed market, no jobs as a designer to get anywhere due to a small town with small opportunities. So, I drive a taxi, to be able to pay my share of the household (got two kids), and the rest of my time goes to my work as a graphic designer at freelance bases. But then Sweden is an expensive place to live in, and having a family you need to do what has to be done to keep the money coming! I really wish I can live of my design in the near future again, and I work hard for that.

  37. Shop Girl says:

    Preston this was a great post. Too bad some folks didn’t “get it.” Losing my job 3 months ago opened my eyes that you really shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. I believe I read about diversifying your income in The Millionaire Next Door. I think diversifying keeps you well rounded with money in your pockets.

    I’m a crafty person. In addition to my budding design business have a ribbon shop on etsy. While that’s not passive it allows me diversity in my workday. Also another income stream I’m looking into is becoming a fitness instructor. While its not passive it allows me to get away from my desk, get out of the house, and get some exercise. I guess it would be considered passive if I created exercise videos and sold them on my site.

    Once again I really enjoyed this post and I enjoy reading your blog.

    1. April Greer says:

      Shop Girl,

      I’m a referee/umpire for youth sports and high schools – I love it because it gets me away from my desk and moving/getting exercise, too! (It’s not passive, either.)


  38. Sorry, did I miss something here? Your article title is “My secret to making steady money as a freelance designer”, but youMy secret to making steady money as a freelance designer haven’t actually given any specifics?

    You’ve just sort of alluded to something people could do?

    Maybe the content of the article should be summarised thus “think of a grabby blog post title, waffle a bit, get sycophantic readers to provide real content for you”? I think that’s the real secret!

    @dsr – I’m with you mate – this is tosh!
    @adam – you too mate, you+nail+hit+head.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Hey ian,
      Sorry if you missed it, but my point is bolded above. Check it out and read a little slower. I’m sure you’ll get it. Good luck!!

  39. I’ve been a web designer for 8 years and I can assure you that there is no money in web design unless you are employed full time by a company making a salary. Web design is joke. Nobody pays real money anymore for web design. They just go to any of the big template shops and pay $60 for a design then have them customize it… or hire some college kid for 100 bucks to build a site.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Sorry you’ve had some bad luck. I still make pretty good money as a web designer. I think it’s all in how you market it!

      1. Brent Galloway says:

        I agree with you, Preston. Freelancing as a web designer isn’t a joke, it’s just a lot of work. I know so many amazing freelance designers that make just as much not if more than a salary paying job. You need to have a high quality portfolio and the right marketing strategy for yourself. If you complain and don’t work towards your own goals, then you’re absolutely going to fail. It just takes a lot of time! That full-time position didn’t pop out of no where, that company had to start from nothing and take the time to build. Just like you do, as a freelance designer.

    2. Good post.. I agree that it’s one of those topics that we as designers hear frequently but it is so reassuring to read through the comments and see how alike most of us are in our drive to succeed as not only artists but also as entrepreneurs. The secret to making more money is simple.. It’s motivation and perseverance. We should always be moving forward and diversifing our pallet of oppertunities because that’s the best way to grow.

  40. Karleigh Potemry says:

    I think the article was just fine, it was short and to the point. Everyone is different and excels in different areas, so how can one expect you to tell them what to do for a stream of extra income? If they can’t figure that out for themselves…. well, it makes me question how creative they really are.

    Myself, I’m still in the process of figuring out how to build my client base but I am always thinking of ways to bring in extra income. My current way is by making and selling gourmet cake balls (a 2-3 bite sized ball of cake, flavorings, frosting and chocolate in the shape of a ball)…. they are absolutely amazing!

    This is my first time on this site and I have found a few great articles to help me with my freelance design business, Spotted Banana Creative Studio. I look forward to all the future posts!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks, Karleigh! I hope to see you in the comments in the future!

  41. Brent Galloway says:

    I think this post was great! It’s kind of a “duh” subject, haha. Some people are complaining because you don’t give out specifics, but I find it motivating to have to be creative and find out what can work best for me as a designer.

    It’s been difficult lately. Putting out $10k websites for $2500… And no passive income. It’s hard, but I do need to take the time NOW to find other ways to bring in money and not put it off. Simple, but awesome post. Thanks!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Totally agree. I guess I could have written a long list post of 100 ideas, but I’m sure some people would complain about a list post too. Can’t please them all. If people wanted to get something out of this, they did.

  42. Actually your vague ideas could be summarized thusly, ‘do other stuff besides be a designer’, which is kind of, duh. Nice google traffic driving story title, though!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Sorry you feel that way. My real message here is to diversify your income as a designer. Good luck!

  43. There is no money in web design.. web design is a joke industry.. no one pays real money anymore to have a site designed. They just go to places like template monster and buy a site for $60

    1. I completely disagree with this statement. I make very good income with website design. You just have to attract the clients that want a very well designed and “custom” website. You can’t get totally custom from a template (not without a designer’s help at least. Not unless you know how to recode) and there are plenty of people out there that still want that and frown on templates. I also make great income customizing WordPress sites! The work is out there, you just have to pursue it, produce great work and you will get referred to their other friends that want the same thing.

  44. Sarah Grant says:

    I really liked this article for a couple of reasons. It helped me not to feel like I was the only designer who also does non-design related work. (I’m currently waitressing part-time.) This article also helped motivate me to come up with other ideas to diversify my income, maybe not a blog or paid writing, but SOMETHING. Thanks 🙂

  45. plz i need ur help am in a state where there is no mush money an am a graphic designer what can i do.

  46. I have been looking for a way to make income all my life. I started a blog to get a following, but that has not exactly panned out yet.

    I sell on etsy and on ebay and that is not awful but I cannot live on it, and I work as a restorator for an antique lighting store. That one used to be a real job and now it is less so. I need about 3 more jobs and then I might be getting somewhere.

    Thanks for asking.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      The idea is also not just to keep adding more work to your plate, but to find passive income streams that will help you make more money without putting in more hours. Good luck!

  47. Phil Yarnall says:

    Hey there…. I run my own studio designing for the music industry and I agree that finding passive income to supplement your income is the way to go. One way I’ve had some success, is through Art Licensing. For those not familiar with this, It’s creating artwork & designs and then putting deals together with manufacturers that want these designs on their products. You usually get an advance up front and royalties on the products sold. This does take a bit of time to get rolling, and There are trade shows to attend as well (LICENSING SHOW in Vegas and the SURTEX show in NYC) which are not too cheap. But if business is slow, and you have time to create new lines of art, it can be a very cool area to pursue. I actually get some pretty nice royalty checks from designs for kids school folders and cell phone case graphics.

    There are a few sites out there with alot more info on this topic if you’re interested. (

    Good luck out there…

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @Phil Yarnall,
      Great addition, Phil. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Tom Goddu says:

    I recently toured 6 industrial design offices with my nephew; I’m a longtime freelance designer and he’s a freshman in ID at Syracuse. Much of what I saw bears out in this article, only more so. Design consulting is basically not a viable business model right now for many companies of all sizes, for a variety of reasons.
    The industrial design offices we visited have leaned hard on their affiliated services, such as engineering, manufacturing partners, other design disciplines, and spec projects. Spouses with benefits figured large!
    Recurring themes were diversifying their service offerings, selling up to old relationships and cultivation of symbiotic relationships, building bridges to China, and limiting spec devotions to 10% of working hours.
    My spec efforts include a travel comfort invention, a fundraising system for farmer’s markets (plantacarrot on youtube), a new decking system, and a security system for protecting copper plumbing in HUD foreclosure properties.
    Shameless self promotion: visit my website and let’s talk about how I can boost your product line’s orbit.

  49. Outsourcing says:

    I take Up your Challenge !! 😉
    Thankx so much for the Heads up . I was solely Dependent on my freelancing work for the inflow of Money, But you are Completely right in saying to not to keep all my eggs in the same basket.. i am trying to diversify my income.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks for taking the challenge! How do you plan to diversify? I’d love to hear.

  50. Omar Muhammad says:

    So Preston, what’s a designer got to do to get a referral from you?

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @Omar Muhammad,
      Not sure what you mean, Muhammad, but I’d be happy to help you however I can. Why don’t you shoot me an email?

      I look forward to it!

  51. So this isn’t really a blog about making money as a designer, more about making money with other projects and working as a designer on the side!

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      I guess it depends on how you look at it. Just because I make money from my design blog, does that mean I’m not a designer? I would say no. I guess what the post is really about is adding to your repertoire of work as a designer.

    2. Integraphix says:

      @Si, Exactly Si. Title should be changed for a more accurate read! “Part-time jobs to get you through.” Of which I entirely agree with.

      //Beth @ the Phoenix Marketing Agency

      1. Preston D Lee says:

        I’m afraid you both misunderstood. All of my diverse income still stems from design. I blog about design, I consult designers. Just because my other projects don’t involve me aligning elements and choosing fonts, doesn’t mean I’m not working as a designer, right. What do you think?

  52. Jared Mysko says:

    My situation is a little different… I’ve been there and done that. Had to pull over and actually take a hiatus because my site was too popular (without the education). Now I’m just building a database of content for the years ahead after getting some professional training. AdSense is starting to come around again using different methods without a web server. Still, there is a lot of problems yet with the way advertising money is being distributed. IMHO, TV ads should be worthless compared to YouTube ads which have REAL numbers. View counts are the most important factor when broadcasting your content.

  53. i liked this article, a venture to generate passive income will help me alot, however the venture is my choice and which ever direction i want to give that, it is for me to find out. cant ask more from an article!


    1. Preston D Lee says:

      I appreciate the kind words. A few people thought it was vague, but you understood the point of the article. Find something that works for you. The tips I use to diversify my income may not work for you and vice versa. The idea is just to diversify. Best of luck!!

  54. I’m thinking to make a side business too beside my steady income using my design skills. Hopefully it will work out slow but sure. Thanks for the article though.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Best of luck to you! Let us know how it goes.

  55. I agree some more info would help.. all you mention is you do “side ventures” but not how those actually make money. For example I run on the side using cafepress.. and it brings in a few dollars a month. some months better than others..

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Thanks for the constructive criticism. Maybe this little infographic will help. Here’s how I make money as a freelance designer:

  56. This “article” is pretty skint on usable information. Not really worth anyone’s time, is it?

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      Your comment is a little ‘skint’ on usable information as well. How would you suggest I make this post better. I would love some constructive criticism.


      1. I think what he means is you didn’t actually “list” any ideas for us to do as side ventures. Listing GOOD ones vs. BAD ideas (like zazzle) would be most helpful! Thanks Preston. 🙂

  57. Frank Suyker says:

    Can you give a ballpark figure on what you earn on each of those different venues?

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @Frank Suyker,
      Frank, I make enough to buy groceries for me and my family and pay a portion of our rent each month.

  58. Theresa Sheridan says:

    And here I thought you were going to give me a get-rich-quick idea! Silly me.
    I have a couple of passive income products, but they haven’t really taken off yet, and I’m working on more, but it’s a slow process. Like you, I’m hoping that generating several smaller streams of income will eventually add up.

    1. Preston D Lee says:

      @Theresa Sheridan,
      If you don’t mind my asking, what are the sources of passive income you currently use? Are they working well for you?

      1. Theresa Sheridan says:

        @Preston D Lee, I resell domain names and hosting accounts, mostly to my clients at the moment. I also have some things on Zazzle, and I have an eBook about SEO. The products on Zazzle don’t do much, but I don’t work at promoting them because I’m just too busy. The eBook is starting to do a little better, but the domain names and hosting do the best at this point. It’s just so hard to promote everything at once, and still promote my design services as well. Oh and school. Oh and the part time job I still have for the time being. Can we say burn the candle at both ends?

        1. David Rouri says:

          You won’t make money on sites like zazzle or other sites. Any digital is not worth money because it can be reproduced to other people for free and it has no physical property that can pass from one person to the next. The best advice is to take up oil painting and paint on canvas. If you work doesn’t sell in oil paint it means you need to practice more. You will have to sell your artwork locally and go to public auctions, galleries for artwork sales. You can create actual 3D signs made of plastic, metal, etc..or even letter fonts which alot of businesses are more interested in than just a digital copy and you’re giving them the final product. Nothing digital will sell unless you are a big corporate.