One of the biggest hurdles for illustrators is marketing and branding their works. The illustration is a very competitive job and also a price-sensitive field. To be a professional, one should think harder just to find a medium to make money. When offline has a more restrictive and limited market, going digital and online will be the next preferable solution.
Freelance illustrator is one of the ideas. However, securing a job online will not be an easy task either. There are tons and thousands of possibilities to make money online. If you can do it right, the chances are that you can earn up to $940,000+ per year, with the average number around $100k. But of course, it depends on how illustrators handle the opportunity.
Here Are Some Of The Ways You Can Try
1. Use Social Media and Personal Website
Social media is one of the best marketing for your illustrator online services. The thing about this idea is that you will need a verified and easy to reach contact. The number of social media keeps on rising. Thus you can use this opportunity to create a subtler online presence. In other words, staying active in your social media will help promote your works.
For illustrators that go digital, social media is crucial as a place to promote, share your job, and get some money. You can use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, DeviantArt, and many more. While they are also highly competitive, these online platforms are a good place to find many related gigs. Take Twitter as an example. You only need to do a quick search to find some works.
It works the same for Instagram, which provides an online platform that is highly preferred right now. The picture and video sharing platform can work the best as an illustrator portfolio. As you make it, you can start making money online by offering commission, illustrator online courses, or other offers. Deviantart is also a great place that is known for professional commissions.
If you take a look at the ranges of related illustrator commissions or works, most people are looking for character design. Cartoon version, anime-like drawing, professional layout design, or logo making can be your target as well. If you are serious about doing so and fully do it as a full-time freelancer, there is a chance that you can get enough online money per month.
Another good idea to promote and compile your work online is by creating your individual website. Most illustrators that go full digital choose a website to make more personal contact and portfolio media. You can upload many details of who you are, your work, your experience, and your creations. One thing for sure, you will give more information to your client.
Owning a website can be the most lucrative idea to make money, especially if you are going full-time as an online freelance illustrator. However, you will need to maintain your domain, market your work, and make sure it is visible in the searching machine. You got more control over your domain, which again demands you to learn more about SEO, marketing, and advertising.
2. Join Freelancer Gigs
There are always ways to make money online. If you are not ready to make your social media your portfolio or marketing device, then you can join some freelancer platform. It will be the best or the easiest thing to do as an illustrator. Such a platform provides you a place to meet potential buyers and also allows you to market your job.
In this case, online freelancer gigs under freelance marketplaces might help you improve your performance and opportunities to secure a deal. However, it can be a very competitive option as well. With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting all parts of the world, more illustrators and people are starting to look at this kind of platform to make money.
With that condition, then you will need to be smart in choosing the platform as well as building your brand identity. Some popular online sites can give an illustrator a lot of audiences. But unfortunately, some hardly give you a related job. It can be such a letdown for illustrators since the jobs are not related to drawing, illustration, or design.
In this case, you can raise the chance of securing a deal and get money from other platforms. At some point, it is even better if you can find one that is preferably designed only for illustrators or design-related online freelancers. Some of the job boards that can give you a more related deal are Behance, Smashing, Indeed, 99design, Dribble, Simply Hired, or Hire An Illustrator.
3. Selling Your Illustration
You can also make money by selling some of your illustrations, designs, or pictures. As an illustrator, the chances are that you will have more than enough unused projects. Some of it might even have been created due to boredom. Rather than putting it aside and forgotten, you can try selling it online. It is a cool way to make passive money while you are not doing anything.
The good thing about this idea is the range of possibilities. Some illustrator platforms such as GraphicRiver, Creative Market, and Envato Elements offer you a lot of opportunities to get some money. You can sell almost all kinds of masterpieces online. You can name it from character design, logo, icon pack, mascots, details, clip-arts, graphics, templates, and many more.
Yes, as an online illustrator, it means you can get much more income. However, there is an underline that you have to understand. Illustrators cannot sell anything on these platforms. While they offer such a wide array of artworks, they also work under a niche. This means you have to be smart in selling your artwork or get ripped when trying to make money.
The idea is you will get more money online if you know the correct niche. Find and take a look at what type of illustration is in trend. You can also take a look at what kind of vector, logo, design, or detail are currently in demand. As an illustrator, take a look at whether you can contribute, make some better designs, sell them, and make money online.
4. Offer Art Commission
Another money-making tip for beginning illustrators mostly comes from the art commission. In DeviantArt, Instagram, or any kind of artwork platform, you will find some people offering their audience for customized service. The offer itself can range from many illustrator designs and artworks, such as illustration, design, to caricature.
If you are interested in offering your service, you can join popular artwork communities such as DeviantArt. This community for artists offers some ways for illustrators to make money. Clients can pay the artist with the online platform's points or real money. It is also a great place to showcase your works and portfolio. It might be a little bit of competition, but there are always possibilities to get orders.
It is not always Deviantart; you can also use other illustrator dedicated platforms to connect with your client. You can try social media, freelance marketplace, online marketplace, or personal website. The idea is to make clients come to you and ask you for illustration or design. You will discuss the details, including the price and project. After that, you will make money when it's done.
Some of the highly relatable online platforms that provide good opportunities for illustrators include ArtFinder, ArtCorgi, and Artist&Clients. Those platforms offer you portfolio-like media that help you showcase your work and wait for clients. The mechanism is pretty different with freelance gigs, which circulate under illustrator promotion strategy and clients order.
5. Provide Posters And Prints
Make money online is not always in digital form. Selling posters and their prints is a very easy money maker opportunity that every illustrator should consider. This idea highly relates to how you provide different services other than your illustration or design. It is also a great way to reuse and distribute your awesome artwork.
It works by showcasing your artwork, then offering it in a printed version for money. You will print the design, sell it to your client, and send the physical product. The plus point of this idea is that you can sell posters and also promote your artwork at the same time. It wasn't a new method anyway. Many illustrators do the same idea to make money through online platforms.
However, doing it online can take quite a lot of effort. The truth is you need to have a reputation beforehand. If you want to be a full-time online freelance illustrator, you can start by promoting your work. Post as many as possible and make sure you have a brand identity that attracts an audience. You can do it together along with your commission or poster offer.
Start from some highly recommended illustrator platforms such as DeviantArt, Printful, or Society6. The two latter platforms will help you handle all the printing and shipping processes. Of course, it will help you make money as well as guarantee your service quality. In this kind of platform, you only need to upload your illustrator works, and you will get some money for every online transaction.
6. Try To Sell T-Shirt Design
Work the same as the previous point; you can also sell your work under T-shirt products. One thing that makes this idea brilliant is the possibilities. If you can or are capable of doing the printing process, then do so. Use your illustration as the print, so you can make money online without worrying about copyright. It works the same as illustrators selling posters.
It is not limited to t-shirts whatsoever. You can also create many more product illustrations. As an illustrator, you can expand your expertise for some media, such as phone cases, mugs, decoration, or character design. With that in mind, you will get more opportunities to make more money online. But, how if you don't know anything about printing and production?
You can do this idea by joining some platform that handles all of the heavy work. Take a look at Design by Human, RedBubble, or Printful. Those platforms allow illustrators to make T-shirt designs, upload them online, and make money. You only need to upload the art, and the platform will use the design to make mugs, T-shirts, or phone chases.
They will help promote your artwork. You don't need to touch any printing process or heavy works such as shipping. The idea works by giving you a percentage of money for each sale. It works as one of the best and easiest ways for illustrators to make money online. When you have some cool and appropriate illustration, then you can wait for the passive income.
7. Make Illustration Online Course
Online courses are getting more trending during the pandemic. As people start to look for long-distance education, you can also do the same as an illustrator. The primary key is by providing some beneficial course for everyone and getting some money from it. It is even possible to make more money by doing this idea than other strategies.
Online courses make money by some possibilities. You can do it as simply as recording a screencast that shows your drawing process. Make sure you give some explanation and details, so people will learn it. If you do it right and attract attention, people will pay some money to watch your session. Some professional illustrators have had this idea for a long time.
If you take a look at this idea, you can tell that the opportunities are quite high. However, you also need to make sure you know the niche and have a good reputation. Pro illustrators can make thousands of dollars online by doing so in Skillshare or Udemy. Some of them even offer complete course details in the form of books or physical copies for extra money.
8. Get Your Hand In illustrator Competitions
The next challenge for illustrators that want to make money online is by joining a competition. From Time to time, you can find contests that are open for everyone. It mostly comes from clients that are looking for the best illustrations in exchange for money. They tend to give quite a lot of rewards in the form of money and awards.
Unfortunately, this kind of idea also comes with a negative side. It can be very hard and also not beneficial for full-time freelancers. However, it can be such a fun challenge for a beginner illustrator. You can gain some experience, improve your skills, promote your design, build a reputation, and have a chance to win some money online.
If you are interested in joining some competition in this kind of idea, take a look at some online platforms. The famous one is 99designs, but you can also check the Design Contest, Graphic Competitions, and freelancer Contest. If you get the first win in the contest, you make not only money but also the privilege to brag about your achievement.
9. Expand Your Expertise To Hand Lettering
Illustrators need to know the bandwagon and trend. Even though it is not good to stay with the same ideas, you can learn something new from such a trend. Take a look at the popularity of hand lettering. Since it is popular, make sure you get your hand in this kind of artwork. As you know-how, you will get the chance to turn it into an online money-making object.
Hand lettering itself opens more or expands your design proficiencies. Use it for varying tasks to make more portfolios and your services. It can be typography, wedding invitation, greeting card, logotype, signage, to murals. Share it and market it online, and so you got another product to make money from. At the same time, it also helps you build your illustrator's reputation.
10. Develop And Sell Your Font
As you learn hand lettering, you are bound to make a lot of unique typefaces. In this part, you can use it as a perfect chance to make money online. Other than selling your hand lettering design, you can also sell your font on online websites. Surprisingly, this kind of business can give illustrators quite a lot of money, especially for the cool-looking ones.
One thing for sure, creating fonts is not something easy to do. You will need some technical knowledge. Since you already know how to make hand lettering, this process might not be a burden. Illustrators that are ready with font-making business mostly sell their creation at online font marketplaces such as Creative Market, MyFonts, or Envato elements.
The good thing about creating fonts and using the said platform is the long-term marketplace. You only need to upload your creation on the platform. They will help you promote and take care of the sales. When people buy the font, you will get some money from it. That is why illustrators should consider this sweet way to make money online.
Those are all of the possible ways to make money online. You have to understand that going digital and online means you will work as a freelancer. High a chance; you have to be prepared for every opportunity and be smart in marketing your work. Use your social media and website. Take every opportunity to sell your product, so you can survive as a professional illustrator.