6 Ways to Make Money Using Your Design Skills

You don’t need to be a professional designer to start working—but if you’re motivated enough, you can make money from your skills while you’re still in school!

Doing graphic design or photography is a fun and creative hobby, but it can also be a way to fundraise or make money for yourself.

You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer with ten years of experience to start making money from your skills. In fact, completing projects for freelance clients or members of your community can be a great way to get more practice, improve your craft, and build a portfolio of previous work. Whether you’re working alone or with a whole staff of other creative friends, here are a few ideas to inspire your fundraising.

  1. Take senior portraits and family portraits.
    Everybody loves getting professional photos taken—especially if the prices are reasonable. If you’re a photographer, you can offer different services depending on the time of year. If it’s late fall or winter, family photoshoots for holiday cards are popular. Senior portraits and graduation pictures are popular in the spring. Weddings and engagements happen year-round. And even if there’s no reason to be taking pictures, you can still offer to snap some high-quality pictures of your friends if they’re willing to chip in a few dollars a bit for your time and effort.

    Image
    Photoshoots can make you a lot of money, but they’re also really fun!

    With professional photos, the difference is often in the editing. Make sure you spend the extra time to adjust lighting, cropping, and tone in software like Adobe Lightroom. There’s even an app version of Lightroom that can help you move photos from your computer to your phone to your clients within seconds! (Never used it? Learn how to quickly flag and label images here.)
  2. Offer your services to local businesses who might need them.
    You don’t have to wait for clients to reach out to you—make some phone calls or send some emails to small companies in your area! Offer to design t-shirts for the local running store. Redesign the menu of a restaurant. Create custom stickers or magnets for a thrift shop. Design merchandise for smaller bands. You’ll probably hear a lot of businesses say no, but you’d be surprised how many local companies are looking for design work, especially if the prices are reasonable!

    Image Does your local coffee shop want some customized stickers?
  3. Upload your designs to an online manufacturer.
    One of the easiest ways to make money from design is to upload your designs to an online manufacturer like RedBubble. All you have to do is add a high-resolution graphic to the site and anyone in the world can order it on a variety of products, from stickers to t-shirts to tote bags and even leggings. Without doing any of the printing or shipping, you still make money from people buying your designs. Sure, it’s a very small percentage, but it adds up over time!

    To maximize your earnings, design stickers or shirts that you think would sell well. Making merchandise for a particular band, university, television show, or subculture is always a good idea—just make sure not to stick to original designs, since using brand-official words or images will have your designs taken down for violating copyright.
  4. Build websites or blogs for people—and yourself!
    It’s more common than ever before for people to start their own personal brands and websites. If you know anyone with an idea for a blog, offer to help build their site. Having a design background can make your input on this process invaluable, since you can help create a color palette and choose fonts that fit well together!

    Image Your design expertise is incredibly valuable for anyone trying to grow a personal blog.

    You don’t need to have coding experience, since Adobe Portfoliois included in Creative Cloud, that offers incredible templates for free. You are in luck if you graduate in 2020. Adobe Portfolio is free for a year!

    If you want to keep working with clients, consider setting up your own portfolio website! You can keep an online log of previous projects you’ve done, which will be helpful for getting more work in the future. For more information on how to create a portfolio, see this video tutorial.
  5. Offer to design resumes.
    One of the most challenging parts of applying to jobs is creating a well-designed resume, which can be especially daunting for people outside the design field! If you trust your abilities in resume design, it can be very profitable to offer these services to your friends and classmates. Determine a set rate for each one—like $15 per resume. You might be able to charge more if you have a background in writing and can make helpful edits to the content as well!

    Image You can find plenty of resume design ideas online, if you need inspiration.

    Want to brush up on your skills first? See a resume-building tutorial here.
  6. Create vector art illustrations of your friends
    A great way to fundraise is to offer to draw vector illustrations of friends, family, or social media followers! All you have to do is post that you’re “taking commissions” on your Instagram story, Facebook page, or any social media platform. Then, show a couple examples of previous illustrations and wait for the requests to pour in! This tutorial offers an easy method for creating modern, stylish artwork like the images shown below.

    Image Images like this might take a lot of time, but they’re so unique that clients will pay for it!

Hopefully this article inspired you and your design friends to start making money from your talents! And if you want to make it official, learn how to make your own business cards here.

Are you a current student? See how you can save up to 60%.