How to Make Money Online As a Designer

How to Make Money Online As a Designer

Wondering how to make money online as a designer? Here are 5 suggestions for realistic online income jobs for designers.

In this post, I’ll present some of the ways you can earn an income remotely. These are the ones that I find most interesting for someone with my profile (UX/UI Designer and front-end development), or similar. At the end of this post, I have also added an additional list of online-jobs for unrelated fields.

One important thing to note is that all of these incomes require some sort of skill or at least time dedicated to building it. So these aren’t any get-rich-in-5-min schemes but actual careers you can work on and that could become your full-time job. That’s also what makes these incomes realistic.

Ways to Make Money Online as a Designer

  1. Freelance Designer (UX/UI and Graphic Design)
  2. Creating landing pages/business websites for companies (UX & Front-End)
  3. YouTuber
  4. Course Creator
  5. Digital Products

1. Freelance Designer – UX/UI & Graphic Design

The first way to make money online as a designer is to freelance. Many designers work as freelance designers today and have become very successful. It’s a job fully possible to do remotely either for longer periods (6 months – years) or one-time projects. There’s a lot of companies that require basic graphic design services: making infographics, banners, and brochures for events for example.

I’ve reached out to a few freelance designers and they all say that the hardest part is when they were just starting out. The difficult part is to build a reliable and high-quality client base.

There are sites like Upwork and Fiverr but most freelancers don’t recommend these sites because “it’s a race to the bottom”. Most companies who buy services from these sites are often not your ideal clients (unless you live in a poorer country, then the pay could be considered good). If you live in a rich country the pay from these clients probably will be much less than what you’d earn from employment.

What you could do instead, and which is the most common advice I’ve gotten is to utilize your real-life connections and the people you know and meet. Tell people what services you offer and spread the word.

2. Creating Landing Pages/Business websites (UX & Front-End)

Surprisingly, many established businesses don’t have a website today. Perhaps they didn’t need one when they were first founded or haven’t had the time or knowledge to create one. But in 2019 not having a website could harm your business and really hinder a company’s reach to a larger customer base. How many of us don’t look up a company on Google first before committing?

This particular niche has been proven to work and the most common method to get clients is to cold-call (or email) already established businesses that are making money. These are companies that can afford to pay an adequate salary for someone to do the job and are most likely serious ones. People I’ve read about that do this have used WordPress templates that they modify to create professional websites in just a few hours and they get paid well to do it.

So the method of reaching out is to cold-call or email businesses or go to meetups where you can pitch your services. Another important thing to have (at least before you get a solid client base) is a portfolio where you show off your earlier work as proof that you aren’t a scam. With time you’ll probably get work even without a portfolio through word-of-mouth.

3. YouTuber

Everyone knows that YouTubers can make a lot of money by creating good content.

Entrepreneurial YouTubers don’t just make money with Adsense but also sell targeted products to their audience (and niche). There are for example a lot of YouTubers who talk and teach about marketing and sell their courses on marketing to their audience.

It takes a lot of effort and time to become a successful youtube/content creator; coming up with many great ideas, to film and edit the clips, and to post regularly. But even after that, you have to work on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and marketing to be able to reach more people.

Some of the ways to earn money and utilize YouTube:

  • Display Ads
  • Sell your own products to your viewers
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Drive traffic from youtube to a website/blog

4. Course Creator

One of the best uses of the internet is to use it as an educational ground, a place to learn new things. This includes buying online courses to further educate yourself without taking classes at university. People are earning a living today by creating digital courses about almost anything; knitting, painting, programming, marketing, AI and etc. I, for example, am learning React through an online programming course right now.

If you have knowledge and skills in a specific area you could definitely create your own course too. One popular way to create a course is to walk the student through the process of building something. For example, if you want to teach painting you could make a course on painting where you paint something from start to finish and talk about all the techniques at each step of the process.

The content of the course is of course highly important but marketing maybe even more important. How you brand yourself and the course and how good you are at reaching out to people who would buy your course may make or break your success.

5. Digital Products

This is the most appealing income source for me personally (Nr. 3 & 4 could fit in here as well). The reason I like this the most is because I don’t want to exchange hours of my life for money. When creating digital products and selling them you’re not selling time for money anymore. You could create a product once and then sell it X times. You could also branch out from your first product to other related ones and expand your brand.

Examples of Digital Products that you can sell:

  • Digital Printable (Using e.g. Etsy or Shopify)
  • Mobile Apps (In-App Ads, affiliate marketing, in-app buys (like coins in a game), subscriptions, or one-time payment for the app)
  • Software (Doesn’t have to be something like google. Could be an automation tool for posting on social media’s or something that connects other people)
  • Online Courses
  • YouTube videos (Adsense)
  • Blog/Website (Ads)

Other Ways To Make Money Online as a Designer

There is of course an endless list of possible ways to make money online as a designer. Some are less tied to design but could still be considered and these are:

  • Social Media Manager
    (Most tech-savvy young people can do this. Especially if you have an intuition for trends and knowledge in photo editing and copywriting.)
  • Marketing consultant
    (If you have skills and knowledge in marketing you could offer services to help companies with their marketing)
  • Ad Manager
    (Working with optimizing ads: Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc. Important to know how to use analytics to track results and improve.)
  • SEO consultant
    (If you have skills and knowledge in optimizing the content on Search Engines like Google that could be very valuable since a lot of marketing today is about being seen and noticed on the internet.)
  • Video Editor & Motion Design
    (For Companies, YouTubers, Schools, etc.)
  • Translator
    (Do you know two or more languages fluently? Great! Then this could be for you).
  • Transcriber
  • Teaching English Online
    (Apparently, this is a really common job. For example, teaching English to people in China.)
  • Sell things on Etsy
  • Influencer w/ sponsorships and Affiliate Marketing
  • Copywriter
    (The better you are at it the more you can earn)
  • Photo Editor
  • Virtual Assistant
  • There are extremely many examples of people earning good money through all of these different jobs so it’s definitely reachable and realistic.

If you start out without any experience

A lot of people are afraid to try these out since they don’t have any experience yet but it’s important to remember that no one has any experience before they start. There’s an endless amount of information and resources on the internet today, free to use. You never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.

If you are uncomfortable charging for a service you’re not an expert in yet, you could always start by charging at a discount until you’ve gained enough experience. But if your clients are happy with your work you shouldn’t be afraid to charge a fair price for your time and skills either.

Think about this!

If you decide to try these jobs out I also just want to give you a heads up to think about and plan around different regulations regarding taxes and VAT. Some countries may require you to register as a company if you work like this (for example here in Sweden). That’s just something to keep in mind.

A tip for people living in Sweden who wants to do these types of “freelance/consultant” work is that there are services like frilansfinans and coolcompany that can help you with the billing and paying the right taxes on your income so that you don’t need to worry about it. Similar companies probably exist in most other countries too.

Now you know multiple ways to make money online as a designer! Good luch.

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Wendy Zhou

UX/UI designer from Sweden. I write about design, tech, side projects, personal finance and cyberpunk. Contact:

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