Generate Additional Income with your Graphic Design Skills

by Doug Farrick

So, you have graphic design skills, through your present freelance position or as a graphic design employee or maybe you just want to investigate some additional ways to generate income through design. Ok, here we go...

1. Design Tee Shirts - I don't have to tell you how big of a market this is, do I? (just check out Start by buying a few "blank" tee shirts to get a feel for your end product. You can get a short run at your local tee- shirt printer or you can apply iron-on tranfers (based on your designs) or do more of a hand-made thing and use bleach, fabric markers, sharpies, embroidery, etc. Sell at local art fairs, summer events/festivals or online.

2. Create a your own products - you probably have all sorts of graphics you designed on your system somewhere. Why not take the time to put them on backpacks, tote-bags, umbrellas, dinner plates then give some away to friends, find out which ones get the most response. Sell on Ebay, flea markets, street fairs, etc.

3. Design a line of note cards - a note card is a flat or folded card with no pre-printed greeting. You can create these very cheaply and with all kinds of creative possibilities. Idea: choose a theme (holidays, sports, birds, children, environment, puppies, etc.) or create a variety of designs. Sell to local shops and online.

4. License your work - whether you work as an illustrator, graphic designer, cartoonist, there are many possible types of products that may be used to exploit your particular artistic product. These can include accessories, apparel, domestics, gifts, stationary/greeting cards/paper products, publishing (calendars, post-cards, posters) We will be covering this in a number of upcoming articles.

For now you can investigate these resources: The North American Licensing Industry Buyers Guide, The licensing Letter and the Licensing Industry Merchandiser's Association (LIMA)

5. Design a font - why not design a cool font, sell it and receive up to 65% of the selling price. has an excellent program to investigate. Check it out at:

6. Create a How-to DVD of your unique skills - think about a way to document your unique design skills. Say, for example, you are a package designer - wouldn't it be nice if others who wanted to become a package designer have a DVD of a day in your studio and all the unique challenges you face daily? I know I would. Either hire someone to shoot the DVD or do it yourself (if you have the skills)

7. Create your own design templates - who says the design market is oversaturated with templates! Try creating postcard templates, newsletter templates, rackcards, invitations, etc. etc. You can really have fun brainstorming the possibilities. Or design templates for a particular industry - ie; medical industry, education, banking, sports. Anway, you can save people time will be beneficial. Trust me, templatizing has only just begun. Package and sell directly to an industry or set up a simple web site.

8. Publish a How-to book(s) - today, more than ever, there is a strong need demand for how-to books and guides. Some ideas for titles include, "How to master the secrets of adjustment layers in Photoshop in 15 minutes (or less)!, "How to become a more productive designer with these secret tools," Draw from your own unique experience. You have the tools to design one - now just write it. Can be 10 pages or 250 pages.

9. Create "limited edition" prints - What piece of yours would look best via an edition? Or design a specific theme for an edition. It can be done via lithograph or a serigraph or silkscreen. Approach galleries and publishers (there are more of these around than you realize) Keep in mind, you have to do your research up front but if you do, you could be in for some nice royalties.

10. Get others to work for you - we all know a lot of design is repetitive, production type work. Just have others do this work, mark it up for the client, while you concentrate on the more creative, higher paying gigs. More work means more money. Be smart with your time and scheduling Go to places like or to find the help you need.