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There are two ways I’m able to make a living as a freelance graphic designer, and that’s what I’d like to share with you in this post.

1. Client Work

Last year client work made up about 61% of my annual income.

I design t-shirts – mainly for the music industry. That’s what I love doing most day-to-day. On occasion I also design logos, but designing merch is how I make the bulk of my income.

I brand myself entirely around being a freelance graphic designer who specializes in t-shirt design. If you go to my homepage, “t-shirt design” is the first words you’ll read.

I don’t design websites, I won’t design business cards, but I will design your t-shirts.

Because of this focus, and because it’s the only work I show in my portfolio, it’s how I’m able to attract those specific clients.

I work with clients from all over the world. Sometimes it’s with a merchandise company and sometimes I work directly with the band themselves.

On a typical project, I gather as much info as I can on what they need. Then I go to work on providing them the best design that I feel their audience will love and want to buy and wear.

Although majority of my time is spent on client work, it’s not always reliable, especially when I was first starting out. So this is why I have several other sources of income, which brings me to the second way I make money: passive income.

2. Passive Income

Passive income is what I make on the side of client work, which in most cases I make once, like a digital product, and earn sales on that from then on.

To give you an example, I have a shop on Creative Market. On there I sell resources for designers like texture packs and t-shirt mockups.

Those products were originality my own resources. I made those with the purpose to personally use them in my own freelance work.

However, I knew other designers could use these types of resources, so I packaged them up, and uploaded them on a platform where they could easily be found and purchased. Now every month, I earn money from those sales.

This same concept can be applied to courses, books, and physical products.

I also have a shop where I sell a few physical goods, but that doesn’t earn me much. It was a great way to gain experience in producing products and shipping them around the world. Though, if you’d love to get something made and hand-packaged by me, feel free to check it out! :)

Client work is my priority, and it will be for years to come. The side projects are a nice way to take a break from that – where I can challenge myself creatively in ways client work sometimes can’t.

It’s always interesting to here how creatives make their money, because there really are some creative ways to do it without it being soul-sucking.

Hopefully you found this post interesting, and maybe even a little motivating—Getting those juices flowing with how you can make some extra income with your creative skills.