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In earlier articles, we have explained how to become a graphic designer and outlined the industries and careers that use vector graphics. But working as a full-time designer in a regular 9-5 job isn’t the only way to make money with vector art. There are plenty of paths to take to earn a living or just make some extra cash using your vector design skills.
Some vector artists pursue a full-time position with a brand or agency, but many become freelance designers. Working as a freelance graphic designer has many perks, including:
Freelance designing isn’t for everyone, though. It can be challenging for freelancers to find steady work, especially in the beginning stages of their careers. Fortunately, there are countless resources and services available to freelance vector artists. The following platforms can help you find projects and build relationships with clients.
Fiverr is an online freelance marketplace developed to connect freelancers to people looking for design services—jobs on Fiverr jobs range from simple design tasks to highly involved projects. For example, you’ll find everything from vector tracing to full website designs. Most Fiverr jobs are short-term “gigs,” but some offer the opportunity for repeat work.
Fiverr has a strong focus on design work, with hundreds of designated categories, including:
Upwork is another freelancing platform focused on connecting freelancers to potential clients. In recent years, the company’s model has shifted away from one-off jobs and short-term gigs and toward building long-term relationships between freelancers and businesses. Many companies turn to Upwork in hopes of finding a freelancer to connect with for ongoing support.
Both Upwork and Fiverr charge a 20% fee for every job a freelancer completes. While that fee may seem steep, these platforms make finding work a lot easier, so many freelancers find it worthwhile.
Like Fiverr and Upwork, Toptal bills itself as a network connecting businesses with freelance talent across a range of specialties, including:
Toptal requires freelancers to undergo a screening process to assess their skills and claims to accept only the top three percent of all applicants. Toptal bases its fee structure on charging businesses rather than freelancers, so designers can keep more of what they earn. This platform is an excellent option for designers looking for continued freelance work with clients instead of “one-off” projects.
While freelance graphic design often means creating images according to a client’s specific needs and requests, building a print-on-demand business allows for more creative freedom.
One of the top benefits of vector art is its scalability. You can print a vector design almost anywhere — and on any surface — without loss of quality. For those using print-on-demand services, this means uploading one file and applying it to dozens of products, including mugs, pillowcases, shower curtains, and paper products.
The other significant benefit of print-on-demand is that the seller doesn’t need to worry about production, keeping an inventory, or shipping to customers — the platform takes care of that for a reasonable fee.
Redbubble offers over 70 unique products on which to print your vector designs, and they ship worldwide. Artists selling their designs on Redbubble have control over pricing, and anti-piracy measures protect against art theft. Some unique product options on Redbubble include:
Like Redbubble, Society6 allows you to sell your art on various products. However, Society6 has an extensive range of home decor, wall art, and furniture, with a list of continuously expanding products. If you sell vector art through Society6, you can have it printed on things like:
Starting in 2000, Threadless launched as a t-shirt company and currently operates as an artists’ community and ecommerce platform. Despite its original business model focusing only on apparel, the company has since expanded to include other products like accessories and home decor items. Their commitment to sustainability, diversity, and inclusion and providing more opportunities for artists to sell their work are other value-adds.
In addition to appearing in their product listings, Threadless lets artists set up a custom storefront to feature their print-on-demand products. As with other platforms, sellers on Threadless have control over pricing to achieve fair profit margins.
If being a freelance graphic designer or selling your artwork with print-on-demand platforms doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to sell vector art. Across the web, there are many different stock image marketplaces — and not just for stock photos. Some sites are dedicated solely to vector stock images and illustrations, and vector artists can earn money by licensing their work on these sites.
Prominent stock image providers include Shutterstock, Creative Market, Vector Stock, iStockPhoto, Iconfinder, and others. Here’s how these sites work:
There are many options on the web for vector artists looking to monetize their skills outside of a typical full-time design job. Freelance graphic design platforms offer short-term and long-term opportunities to do design work for others. Print-on-demand and stock image platforms allow you to sell vector art on products or for licensing.
Even if creating vector art is just a hobby, and you’re not trying to make a full-time income with it, it’s worth looking into how you can make some extra money on the side.