Whether you work as a freelancer full-time or are just starting your creative career, there’s nothing more important than ensuring you have enough money to pay the bills.
These days creatives aren’t relying on just one source of revenue, but using multiple sources of revenue to sustain consistent income month over month. If you’re an artist or other creative professional who’s ever wondered how to generate multiple streams of income, this guide is for you.
Why Diversifying Your Income Streams Is Smart
Most personal finance experts advocate diversifying your income stream. And it makes sense: If you only have one income stream, and it dries up for any reason—for example, if you’re a salaried employee for a company and you get laid off—you’re going to be financially strapped. But if you diversify your income and are making money from a variety of different sources, such as freelance work, a part-time job, an online course you teach, and a vacation property you rent out, you’ll have plenty of income coming in, even if one of those sources is no longer available.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made diversifying income streams even more important. Many photographers, for example, found that their business evaporated overnight—especially if they specialized in events like weddings or corporate conferences. But those professionals who had multiple sources of income—such as teaching photography classes, retouching photos, or selling their snapshots on stock photography sites, still had some cash coming in even though in-person get-togethers were impossible.
Ideas for Side Income
So how do you diversify income streams? It’s all about finding additional ways to make income beyond your primary work. Side income can be either “active”—trading your time, product, or service, for money—or “passive,” which is often referred to as making money while you sleep. (Example: Creating an online course. You create it once, but people purchase it—and you make revenue—for years to come without lifting another finger.)
Below you’ll find ideas for both active and passive income. Ideally, when you’re determining how to diversify your income, you’ll have a mix of both.
Sell Your Art
Whether you’re a painter, photographer, cartoonist, or designer, there are countless options for selling your art. In the active income category are direct-to-consumer sites like Etsy; while sites like Society6 are passive-income vehicles that allow you to submit your art and license it to be printed on all kinds of products.
Be a Gigger
Many artists supplement their income by driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering food for Postmates or DoorDash, or completing tasks for sites like TaskRabbit. While these might not seem directly related to your creative career, they’re great ways to meet a variety of new people and even network. You never know who your next customer could be!
Rent a Room
Real estate is a common way people diversify their income. But if you’re not in a position to purchase an investment property at the moment, that’s OK. Many creatives make some additional income by renting out their place (or even just a room) on short-term on sites like Airbnb.
Sell Clothes or Household Items
If you’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle recently, consider selling some of the things you’ve parted with to create additional sources of income. Clothes can be resold on sites like Poshmark or ThredUp, and eBay and Facebook Marketplace are great places to start with household items.
Pick up Gigs on Fiverr or Upwork
This is a great option for creatives looking to diversify income: Calligraphers can do quick projects like whipping up logos or hand-lettering business names, and many photographers make extra cash by editing photos. If you’re a graphic designer with extra time on your hands, consider participating in a design contest on 99Designs.
Start a Blog
Even if writing isn’t your primary career, there are great reasons to start a blog: You can connect with your audience, share your expertise, and even earn a few bucks through advertising deals or affiliate partnerships. It’s not the quickest way to increase your income, but if you put time and effort into it, it can pay dividends over time.
Creating or Teaching Course
Whether you teach in-person painting workshops, give guitar lessons to teens, or create an online course to share your knowledge, teaching is a common side hustle for creatives that can provide several new sources of income. So common, in fact, that we’re sharing more about it below.
Teachers on Skillshare earn income by creating classes once and earning every time their class is watched, establishing a solid stream of monthly revenue. If you’re wondering how to diversify your income, get inspired by these awesome examples of teachers who use Skillshare to diversify their income pie.
“Skillshare, my licensed work, in-person workshops, and my Etsy shop make up my monthly income. As an independent artist, it’s important to have different sources contribute to your income pie. That way, if you’re not making a lot of sales one month, your other income channels can kick in and ensure you’ll still make the money you need.”
“To be in the arts, you have to be an octopus. You have to have eight tentacles in eight different projects to sustain a consistent source of revenue every month. Right now Skillshare is my main source of income and that’s really exciting. Within the art world, things can be unreliable since you can’t predict market interest and general trends, which makes earnings less predictable and consistent. But teaching has proven to be reliable since there will always be in an interest in learning.”
“As an illustrator I feel very lucky to have multiple income streams. Being self employed my whole career, and a mother I rely on passive income as an important resource to support my young family’s needs. Although I have only been teaching on Skillshare since August 2016 the income I receive is steady and dependable, something that can be tricky to cultivate in this industry. Teaching fits in with my lifestyle and gives me the freedom to pursue other creative outlets. It is truly a fulfilling win/win situation.”
Earn Money and Inspire Creativity
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