10 Side Gig Ideas for Designers to Make Extra Income
Finding a side gig isn’t always about the money.
As a designer, you are most likely a creative thinker who needs a frequent dose of inspiration to continue putting out your best work. Side hustles are often about giving yourself the opportunity to venture out into new lines of work that you are passionate about, while also making some extra money in the process.
If you feel like it’s time for a new challenge, consider these side gig ideas to shake up your creative routine.
1. Teach Online
Have you ever thought about sharing your knowledge with others? Online learning has ballooned into a massive industry, with more and more people happily paying for online education.
Creating an online course or hosting specialized webinars could turn out to be an easy and straightforward way to make some extra money. The most difficult part of this side hustle is creating the actual teaching material and preparing and filming the video classes. However, once that’s done and dusted, your online course will continue to generate money long after you move on to something else, making it an attractive passive income strategy.
Dansky and Daniel Scott are both instructors with Tuts+, and both also sell their own courses through other platforms.
If you’re interested in becoming a Tuts+ instructor, get in touch!
2. Run a Workshop
Face-to-face communication is far from being dead. If you are particularly knowledgeable about something, it’s worth thinking about running a hands-on workshop. Although this idea requires you to have a dedicated space or studio, you could also explore alternative options, such as using your local library or university. More and more people are augmenting their online learning, showing interest in attending live sessions and workshops to learn, meet and mingle.
Besides helping other progress, hosting a workshop can do wonders for your personal brand, boosting your credibility and attracting new business.
3. Write a Book
If you’re a visually driven person, you may not be a big fan of the written word. But no one can get your ideas and stories across better than you can, so mastering the skill of writing is as important as being best friends with Photoshop or InDesign.
Deciding to write a book doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself away in a wifi-free summer house (leave that stuff to novelists). Most of the time, an ebook is just a collection of high-quality, actionable articles—if you can write a blog post, you can certainly write a book.
The beauty of writing a design ebook is that it doesn’t have to be a literary triumph, but it should be packed with practical advice, examples and insights that will guide your readers closer to the outcome they want. If you have interesting case studies and real-life examples to share, publishing an ebook can be a totally profitable side hustle that delivers on two fronts:
generating a passive income
building your brand
4. Design and Sell WordPress Themes
You have likely come across some mind-blowing stories about designers making over seven figures selling their own WordPress themes. If they can, why not you? As creative (and proud) as designers are, they are also practical and tend to cut corners where possible—whether it means building off a base-theme or reusing elements created for other projects, the opportunity is there for you to take.
Tools like Elementor Pro 2.0 and marketplaces like ThemeForest can take your side hustle from an idea level to money in your bank account. The only thing you need to remember is that the more versatile your product portfolio, the more chances you’ll have to generate a constant stream of income.
5. Start Consulting
Nowadays, barely a single business can run without an online presence, which means the number of websites is still increasing exponentially, in turn making it extremely difficult for businesses to stand out. An effective, attention-grabbing website is a must-have, but many companies struggle to find the right design solution. Starting a consulting side gig could be a fairly easy and affordable idea, since you don’t need any upfront investment–only your knowledge and expertise.
6. Sell Merch
Do you think you have what it takes to become the next Johnny Cupcake? Or perhaps you just want to start your own line of merchandise with bespoke designs? Then the floor is yours. Starting a tee shirt business is not as complicated as it may seem. With so many dropshipping solutions, such as Printify or Threadless, at your fingertips, launching a successful clothing brand usually requires a strong creative flair, but little to no capital.
Many entrepreneurs use merchandise as a supplement to reinforce their brand and act as another revenue stream. Yolanda Gampp, for example, has an awesome YouTube channel where she bakes incredible cake masterpieces. Grab some merch.
Alec Steele has a YouTube channel where he demonstrates amazing blacksmithing (yes, blacksmithing) skills. Grab some merch.
Have I made my point? Take a look at this ebook for more in-depth advice and clever hacks about the apparel industry.
7. Try Freelancing
If you’re looking for a fast-track to financial freedom, freelancing may be just what you need. It’s a flexible side gig idea that doesn’t require you to commit to long-term projects and instead offers an opportunity to build your portfolio, expand your network and learn new skills. With the demand for freelance talent at its peak, this has never been a better time to test the waters and see if you can discover your niche. Freelance marketplaces like Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Fiverr are a good starting place to find your feet and get the projects rolling.
Everything from icons, to Photoshop effects, to audio and video files can be successfully sold online. If you’re not doing so yet, you’re potentially sitting on a pile of untapped income. Designers (whether self-employed, or within an agency or large firm) work to tight deadlines and often turn to marketplaces like Graphic River to purchase elements for their designs instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Browse your file library and see what you could put up for sale to make money on the side. Everything that can be downloaded, can be sold, so leverage existing work to ignite your digital sales.
9. Harness the Potential of Events
Harnessing industry events is perhaps a little less popular than what we’ve mentioned thus far, but it can still be a source of profit on the side. Whether you choose to rally behind a certain cause and use design to build and grow a community around it, or you decide to use events as a sales avenue for your merchandise, getting people together in one room usually has a positive effect on brand building, lead generation and ultimately, sales.
10. Start Blogging
If you enjoy writing, blogging could be the perfect side gig idea for you. You won’t necessarily become rich, but it’s a strategy that will contribute to increased traffic to your site and boost your brand awareness.
Start by submitting your top articles to some popular blogs to reach a wider audience and build up a track record of creating valuable content. Once you establish yourself as an authority, all sorts of writing opportunities will flow your way.
Those ten ideas should get you started in the world of side gigs! Let us know what other ideas you’ve explored, and share with us your successes and challenges in the comments.