How To Start A Graphic Design Side Hustle

In today’s fast-paced digital world, a graphic design side hustle can be the perfect way to flex your creative muscles and earn extra income. With businesses seeking eye-catching visuals for their online presence, there has never been a better time to capitalize on this high-demand skill set.

Even without formal education or years of experience, you can harness your passion for design and start exploring the plethora of lucrative opportunities available online.

So dive into our comprehensive guide where we reveal tips, tools, and resources that will help transform your hobby into a profitable venture while keeping up with the demands of your full-time job.

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How To Start A Graphic Design Side Hustle 7

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What is a Graphic Design Side Hustle?

A graphic designer communicates ideas that inspire and captivate consumers by creating visual concepts, either using computer software or by hand.

As a designer, your job is to develop the overall layout and production design for applications such as magazines, advertisements, book covers, websites, apps, logos, and brochures.

Graphic Design Side Hustle

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of graphic designer jobs is expected to grow with thousands of openings projected every year. Therefore, there is a demand for graphic designers, making it a viable side hustle you should consider.

Given the demand and the nature of the job, a graphic design side hustle is one of the highest paying digital side hustle jobs.

In this piece, we will take a look at what it takes to start a side hustle in graphic design, the opportunities that are available, the benefits of becoming a graphic designer, and the challenges you will have to overcome to succeed.

What are The Requirements of Becoming a Professional Graphic Designer?

To become a professional graphic designer, you can either have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design (or a related field) or have mastered the skillset without a formal degree. Whichever route you take, you must have a portfolio that demonstrates your creativity and originality.

To start a graphic design side hustle, here are the boxes you need to tick:

Master Design Principles and Elements

You have to master the fundamentals of graphic design to start a successful side hustle in this field. The core design principles are balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, white space, rhythm, unity and variety.

These components come together to create aesthetically pleasing visuals that are both functional and engaging. For instance, balance refers to the equal distribution of visual weight within a composition – it can be achieved through symmetry or asymmetry.

In addition to these principles, a proficient graphic designer should be well-versed in working with various design elements such as line, shape, form, space, color and texture.

using bold lines can direct focus towards specific parts of an image;

These building blocks help bring designs to life by adding depth and dimensionality. For example: using bold lines can direct focus towards specific parts of an image; meanwhile strategically placed shapes have the power to evoke emotions or convey particular messages related with their symbolism.

Understand Color Theory

Color theory plays an essential role in graphic design, as it helps designers understand the psychological impact of various colors on human emotions and perceptions.

For example, consider a designer working on branding materials for a small business aiming to project trustworthiness and stability. Armed with knowledge about color theory’s principles – particularly regarding primary colors like blue symbolizing trust and strength – they might select hues within this family while avoiding overly aggressive reds or yellows.

Color theory plays an essential role in graphic design

Additionally, understanding complementary and analogous colors allows creators to build harmonious design templates that not only meet clients’ needs but also make their work stand out among competitors.

Know How to Use Design Tools and Software

Graphic design is an ever-evolving field, and having the right tools and software at your disposal and knowing how to use them is crucial for success in your side hustle. Here are some essential ones you may need to know how to use to create stunning designs:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud: This comprehensive software package includes essential design tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more.
  • Canva: A user-friendly graphic design platform with a vast library of templates, fonts, and images. Great for beginners and professionals alike.
  • Procreate: A powerful digital illustration app for iPad users, ideal for creating detailed illustrations and designs.
  • Sketch: A vector-based design tool used by many UI/UX designers to create web and mobile interfaces.
  • Adobe Lightroom: A popular photo editing software that allows you to create custom presets for consistent looks across your photography portfolio.
  • Affinity Designer: An alternative to Adobe Illustrator, this vector graphic design software offers similar functionality at a lower cost.
  • Gravit Designer: Another budget-friendly option for vector graphics creation, suitable for beginners or those on a tight budget.
  • InVision Studio: A collaborative design tool to streamline the workflow of UI/UX designers working with a team or clients.
  • Figma: A cloud-based interface design tool popular among collaborative teams due to its real-time editing capabilities.

Knowing how to use some of these tools at a high level will not only support your growing expertise but also set you apart in the competitive landscape of graphic design side hustles.

You can master more than one of them to attract a wider variety clients who value high-quality work while allowing you to deliver outstanding results consistently.

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Online Side Hustle Ideas For Graphic Designers

There are many opportunities for graphic designers to make money online. Here is a selection of online side hustle ideas to explore:

Sell Lightroom Presets

One online side hustle idea for graphic designers is creating and selling Lightroom presets. Lightroom presets are pre-set adjustments to photos that can be applied with just one click, making editing easier and more efficient.

a side hustle idea for graphic designers is creating and selling Lightroom presets

A graphic designer can create their own unique presets by playing around with different filters, colors, and tonal adjustments until they find a combination that works well together.

Once created, these presets can be sold on websites like Etsy or Creative Market as digital downloads for photographers who want to quickly edit their photos without spending too much time in the editing process.

Photo Mock-Ups

Another online side hustle idea for graphic designers is creating photo mock-ups. These are highly sought-after by small business owners, bloggers, and website owners who want to showcase their products or services in a professional way.

Provided with these graphics as digital files, entrepreneurs can visualize their brand’s merchandise without actually producing them. This is where a designer comes in handy: they create photo mock-ups using tools like Adobe Photoshop and Canva that make clients’ vision come to life.

Sell High-Resolution Stock Photos

One way for graphic designers to make extra cash is by selling high-resolution stock photography. Graphic designers possess a keen eye for good photos and can take advantage of this skill set to create a side hustle.

They can sell their own original images or curate collections that fit specific niches or themes, such as travel, food, nature, or abstract concepts.

Popular websites like Shutterstock, iStockphoto, and Adobe Stock provide platforms where designers can upload and license their photographs for others to use in publications or online content.

Design Social Media Graphics For Businesses

Social media is a vital part of marketing for businesses, big and small. Many individuals need help creating eye-catching graphics for their social media pages or promotions.

As a graphic designer, you can offer your services by designing custom graphics for these clients as part of your side hustle.

Sell Graphic Design Templates

Graphic design templates are a great way for graphic designers to earn passive income. Templates allow designers to create designs that can be sold multiple times, without having to customize each design for individual clients. These types of templates include business cards, flyers, and more.

Start a YouTube channel

People who are learning to design always turn to YouTube for tutorials on how to get started. They like it because it’s free.

If you are great at an aspect of graphic design, you should start a YouTube channel where you teach people how it is done. When your channel grows to the required size, you will start making money from ads.

Sell printables on Etsy

You can sell your art prints on Etsy and other platforms. The great thing about this is that you only design it once and sell it many times over making it a source of passive income.

Start a graphic design blog

You can start a graphic design blog where you write about your work and new trends in the industry. A blog, just like a YouTube channel, takes time to become popular enough to monetize.

However, once you have an audience, you can leverage that to sell your designs and make money through affiliate marketing and ads.

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Tools and Platforms For Graphic Designers

To run a graphic design side hustle, you need certain tools and online platforms to do your work, find jobs, sell digital products, and network with clients and other creatives. Let’s take a look at a few you should be familiar with as a graphic designer:

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud is a powerful set of tools that many graphic designers use to create their designs. It includes programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, just to mention a few which are essential for creating professional-looking graphics, logos, and layouts.

Adobe Creative Cloud

With Adobe Creative Cloud, designers have access to a range of features that allow them to create stunning visuals with ease.

For example, in Photoshop, you can manipulate images by adjusting the colors or removing backgrounds. Meanwhile, in Illustrator, you can create vector graphics that are scalable without losing quality.


Canva is a popular graphic design tool that allows designers with minimal experience to create stunning designs effortlessly. With a library of over one million templates and graphics, Canva provides its users with everything they need to design professionally at an affordable price.

Canva is a popular graphic design tool

The platform offers features like drag-and-drop editor, customizable templates for social media graphics, presentations, logos, brochures, and much more.

Whether you’re designing for personal or professional purposes as a side hustle or starting your own business as a freelance graphic designer, Canva can help you deliver high-quality work quickly and easily without breaking the bank.

Creative Market and Etsy

One successful example of graphic design template market is Creative Market.

graphic design template market called Creative Market

The platform has over five million users and sells everything from fonts to WordPress themes.

Creative Market sells everything from fonts to WordPress themes

Graphic designers can also sell their own designs directly on a personal website or on other platforms like Etsy.


Fiverr is a great platform for graphic designers to find freelance work and make extra money. It allows freelancers to offer their skills in various fields, including graphic design, at competitive rates.

Graphic designers can showcase their services with compelling portfolios and descriptions, and clients can browse through the listings to find the right fit for their project needs.


Upwork is a popular online platform that connects freelancers with clients seeking their services. Graphic designers can use Upwork to find freelance jobs and grow their side hustle business.

The platform offers a range of design projects, including logo design, website creation, and social media graphics. Freelance graphic designers can easily set up a profile on the site, highlight their skills and past work experience, and apply for available jobs.

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Why Graphic Design is a Great Side Hustle

Graphic design is a great side hustle for these reasons:

There is a High Demand for Design Skills

Graphic design services are in high demand as businesses and individuals seek to improve not only their online presence but how they look to prospective customers.

With the rise of e-commerce, social media, and digital marketing, companies need eye-catching graphics to showcase their products or services. On top of that, small business owners and entrepreneurs require professional logos and branding that stand out from competitors. They turn to professional graphic designers for those services.

Graphic designers can also offer website design services for those looking to enhance their online presence with professional websites.

The bottom line is, there are graphic design jobs if you are good enough.

You Can Make a lot of Money

One of the biggest advantages of pursuing graphic design as a side hustle is its potential to make you a lot of money.

Businesses are willing to pay a top dollar to skilled graphic designers who can create eye-catching visuals that effectively communicate their message and make them stand out at a time when online presence and branding are king.

Flexibility to Work on Your Own Terms

One of the main advantages of pursuing graphic design as a side hustle is the flexibility it offers. If you start a freelance graphic design business, you get to decide when and where you work based on your schedule and preferences.

This means that if you have a full-time job or other responsibilities, you can still take on projects without disrupting your routine. You can also choose which clients to work with and what type of projects to tackle, allowing you to hone your skills in areas that interest you the most.

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6 Tips For Starting A Successful Graphic Design Side Hustle

If you want to start and run a successful graphic design side hustle, here are 6 tips to help you out:

Develop and Sharpen Your Skills

To start a successful graphic design side hustle, develop and sharpen your skills. Whether you’re a self-taught graphic designer or have formal training, there’s always room for improvement in this constantly evolving field.

Take advantage of online courses and tutorials to learn new techniques and stay up-to-date with the latest trends.

Another way to improve your skills is by seeking feedback from other professionals in the industry. Join design communities on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook where you can connect with fellow designers and get constructive criticism on your work.

Build An Online Presence

Building an online presence is crucial for any graphic designer looking to start a successful side hustle. Creating a website and joining social media platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter, can help showcase your work and attract potential clients.

Social media is a powerful tool for any graphic designer looking to promote their side hustle. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook allow you to showcase your work and attract potential clients.

One great way to utilize social media for promotion is by creating eye-catching graphics specifically tailored for each platform. For example, Instagram is a visual platform, so share high-quality images of your work along with relevant hashtags that potential clients may search for. On Pinterest, create boards showcasing different styles or niches within graphic design that you specialize in.

When on social media, keep your profile up-to-date with fresh content and engaging posts that portray your unique style and skills.

In addition to social media accounts, you will need a professional website to showcase your portfolio, highlight your skills and services, and attract potential clients.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – platforms like WordPress make it easy to create a professional-looking site without any coding experience. Focus on creating a clean, visually appealing theme that showcases your work and aligns with your branding.

Don’t underestimate the power of social proof – include testimonials from satisfied clients to help build trust with potential customers and generate more business opportunities.

Network With Potential Clients

Networking is crucial for any successful graphic design side hustle. Reach out to your friends and family, especially when you are starting out to let them know what you’re doing, and see if they or anyone they know needs design work done.

Networking With Other Creatives

Networking with other creatives is a crucial part of starting and growing a successful graphic design side hustle. Connect with other designers through social media platforms, online forums, and local meetups who will provide valuable insights into the industry and potential job opportunities.

One way to network effectively as a graphic designer is by joining design communities such as Behance or Dribbble where you can showcase your portfolio, exchange ideas, and get feedback from like-minded individuals.

Another option is attending design conferences or workshops where you can meet other designers face-to-face and learn about the latest trends in the industry.

Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

One of the keys to success in any side hustle, including graphic design, is setting realistic goals and expectations. When starting out, it can be tempting to take on too much work or charge too little for your services in order to build up a client base quickly.

However, this approach can backfire if you end up burning out or feeling resentful towards clients who are paying you less than your time is worth. Instead, take the time to set clear boundaries around how many projects you’re willing to take on at once and what your rates will be.

Communicate Effectively With Clients

It is essential when pursuing a graphic design side hustle to have excellent communication skills.

Effective communication with clients is crucial as it helps build strong relationships that lead to repeat business and referrals. You’ll want to maintain open lines of communication by responding in a timely manner to emails or calls from clients.

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How to Balance Your Full-time Job and a Graphic Design Side Hustle

Balancing a full-time job and side hustle can be challenging, but with the right strategies in place, it is definitely achievable. The key is to manage your time effectively, set realistic goals and priorities, and communicate clearly with clients.

You can start by setting specific hours dedicated to your side hustle each week or finding pockets of time during lunch breaks or evenings.

You should endeavor to focus on projects that align with both your interests and skills. This way you will be more motivated to put in the extra effort required to complete them successfully.

Remember that building a successful graphic design side hustle takes time, patience, and hard work but it pays off in the end! Many successful freelance graphic designers have turned their hobby into a profitable career while holding down a full-time job.


In conclusion, graphic design is a great side hustle for those looking to make some extra cash while utilizing their creative skills. With high demand and the potential to earn a significant income, there are plenty of opportunities available online for graphic designers to make money.

By sharpening your skills, building an online presence and networking with potential clients through various platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork, you can turn your passion for design into a profitable business.

Before you leave

If you’re tired of scams and want a real solution for making money online check out my no.1 recommendation.

It’s helped me earn over $300,000 in the last 12 months alone:

Go here to see my no.1 recommendation for making money online

(This is a 100% free training)

How To Start A Graphic Design Side Hustle 7

David Fortune has been the editor since 2019. He is an expert at writing content on stock advisory services, side hustles, reviewing online business opportunities and many more topics. You can learn more about David on our about us page.

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