How to Make Your First $100 in Side Income Within 50 Days as a Designer
It took me 54 days. Here’s how you can do it in less.
I’ve been on Medium for well over two years now. Yet, I only started writing via the Medium Partner Program a short while ago. For the first two years, I only wrote free stories.
That changed somewhere in July of this year. I decided that I wanted to start working on a side project to increase my income from my day job. This side project would include writing for Medium but wouldn’t be limited to that. As a designer, you can offer so much more.
Close to two months later, 54 days to be exact, I made my first $100 in side project income using my design skills and experience. I’m hoping to increase this number, of course. $100 in two months isn’t really life changing. However, that is for another story.
This post is about what I did, where I came from, and actionable steps you can take yourself. It took me 54 days to get to my first $100 in side income. Here’s how you can do it sooner.
Day one. A fresh start. Image by the author.
1. Pick something you know you’re good at
As a designer, you have a diverse set of skills. These include visual design, UX design, maybe icon or logo design, and many profitable soft skills like consultancy and advice.
There’s a lot you can do to get a side project started. It doesn’t have to be something new. Maybe you have some old design work that didn’t make it to the final product or that wasn’t picked up by your client.
That doesn’t mean your design is of low quality. Your designs can still be of value to others. You can turn them into icon sets, print-on-demand designs, or merchandise.
This is the product-approach. You could also go for the service-approach. What this means is that you will provide services like consultancy, career advice, coaching, or portfolio reviews to other designers. This is a more time-consuming way of building a side project that will provide an income later.
You have to build a personal brand and trust so that people will pay for your services.
Consider the previously mentioned designs and skills as ‘income streams’. They all have the potential to create an extra stream of income for you in time.
2. Try at least three possible streams of income
Now that you’ve picked something you’re good at it is time to create actual products and test how they perform.
It is important that you pick at least three different types of products. By trying multiple products at once you can see if any of those products perform. You could have some bad luck and get your first success only after two or three tries. By doing more at once you limit the time it will take. If you did that one by one, you would need more time to get actual side income.
For me, I started with creating print-on-demand designs, icon sets, and writing on Medium via the Medium Partner Program. I had many drafts and declined designs still lying around.
In addition, also created my own website where I wanted to share other types of design content. My goal here is to provide products and services, but that is something that is still a long time away. It is more of an end game plan. That’s four different streams I was going to try at the same time.
Day one. Analyse what works. Image by the author.
3. Focus on the stream that works
Once you’ve worked on a few of your ideas you are going to see how well they perform. Allow your products about 30 days of your time before judging their performance.
In most cases, you will see one of your ideas either perform well or show promising signs that it will start to perform well in the future. This is the idea to focus on.
If you had to divide the time you had, spend 80% of your time on the idea that generates the most money and spend 20% on new ideas. This means that you will have to further build your well-performing idea.
In my case, writing on Medium and designing my own website proved to be the ideas with the most potential. 95% of my first $100 came via Medium and 5% came via my website.
I did not get any results with my icon sets as it took a long time to create a complete set that was accepted and distributed within online marketplaces. The same was the case with my print-on-demand design work. Mainly the process of getting your work accepted was very time consuming.
Because of this, I decided to bring down the number of ideas I was working on from 4 to 2 ideas.
4. Grow other ideas
Now that some of your ideas start to perform a bit it is time for you to go into the next phase of your project.
By now, you have one or two main ideas that are earning you some money. Focus 80% of your time on growing these main ideas into money-making ideas.
Spend 20% of the time you have on developing other ideas. From a personal finance perspective, it is better to have more income streams in place. Just imagine what happens if your one and only income disappears.
Having more than one stream of income not only provides you with extra income but also gives you peace of mind in case of financial difficulties.
I made my first $100 dollars in 54 days with 95% of that money coming from one stream. Since then, a second stream has grown to 8%. This means that I have two money-earning income streams. I still want to achieve more of a 50/50 balance.
I now have two side income streams in place; Medium and my website. I’m looking to add products into the mix by the end of the year.
Day 54. Looking to the future. Image by the author.
Looking to the future
Creating side projects that earn life-changing money takes a lot of time and effort. It is by no means a get-rich-quick type of play.
The biggest challenge is to stay motivated during the early months of your project. It took me 54 days to get my first $100 and less than another 30 days to get my second $100. Just imagine what will happen if you can keep this up for another 6, 12, or 24 months.
Start by finding your first income stream. Grow that stream. Once that’s ready, go and find a second and third income stream to further diversify your side project.
After that, repeat. Keep at it, stay motivated, and in the long run, you will see great returns.
Designer & consultant. Working on providing designers the tools they need. Join the Designer’s Toolbox at https://bit.ly/jointhedesignerstoolbox