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How To Make Money from Vector Illustration

There are many options for earning money, but in each separate direction you will have to work, and work a lot. And yes, it will take time, and also a lot. You can combine some directions, but, it seems to me, no more than three, and this is provided that you are engaged in drawing full-time (that is, you do not have your main job and / or other responsibilities that you devote most of the day to).

First, I will consider the methods of "direct" earnings, that is, when you draw a picture, you get money for it.


The most banal way, you probably already know :) You draw pictures, upload to stocks, get your payments - a great way to earn money for introverts, for whom any communication is pain and anguish :) If suddenly somehow you managed to find this blog , but you don't know what stocks are, then here you can find out more (tyts!)

The disadvantage of this method is that you need to do some pretty serious work on yourself in order to draw not just anything, but commercially successful pictures. Well, you need to spend time researching the market, searching for niches, and often drawing not what you want, but what you need, for example, some set of wrenches (and it doesn't matter that you are a girl, and wrenches are never in I didn't see my eyes). I have already written about the importance of treating stocks as a business (tyts!) - without this there will be no success.


Also drawing pictures, but not in your portfolio, but in the portfolio of the team. Advantages of the method - you are most often told what to draw (and approximately in what style), you get paid immediately, regardless of whether the picture is selling and how well it is.

Cons - you get paid only once (and you stop getting paid if you stop drawing), plus in order to be hired on the team, you need a certain, rather strong, level of understanding of stock and the ability to draw high-quality pictures in an illustrator. That is, the option is not for beginners. Announcements for recruiting teams periodically appear in the news feed on the m-rank (on the right side, in the vacancies section, tyts! - if it is empty, then the site does not see any vacancies at the moment, you can search for ads in the stocker's blogs).


In terms of a business model, print shops are similar to stocks, only there customers do not buy the images themselves, but the items on which these images are applied. All sorts of mugs, T-shirts, pillows. By registering as an author, you upload your work, and you get a certain amount (all print shops have different royalty models) for each work sold. The production-delivery issue lies with the print shops, you don't think about it.

Pros - it's nice to see your picture on conventional T-shirts-jackets (and it's especially nice when someone buys these things!), Cons - you need to study well what themes, styles and trends are popular in print shops so that your clothes are sold (or have your bright and memorable style, as well as attracting buyers), you need to prepare your files in a special way - most often save JPEG with high resolution in different sizes (under a T-shirt, under a mug, etc. - the size specifications are different for all print shops, which does not simplify the task) , it takes time. Well, in order for sales to go to print shops, you need to be active - comment on other people's work, like them, make special offers, ideally - have pumped accounts in social networks with loyal followers who will follow your links. In general, it's not worth just uploading work and waiting for the flow of money.

Examples of my pictures from the RedBubble print shop:


Pictures can be drawn to order - for individuals and different types of businesses. Most often, customers need something specific: a print on a T-shirt, a logo, a menu for a restaurant, and so on. In the article "FAQ: how to work with private customers" (tyts!) I talked about this type of earnings in detail, but I will briefly repeat here: I have never looked for customers specifically, they usually find me themselves. Most often - through stocks and the Creative Market, sometimes through Instagram, Behans and Dribble.

There are customers everywhere, in order to lure them, you need to choose some narrow niche (the narrower the better) - and figure it out. For example, do only brush-lettering logos or only icons for websites in a linear style. And, of course, show the process and the result. It's just better not to try to shove it everywhere, but to choose one or two or three sites and work closely with them - one interesting story in a lively and active social network is better than ten faceless re-posts in the spirit of "my new picture, like".

The advantages of working to order - you can coolly improve your communication skills, as well as illustrations (drawing on someone else's assignment is always more difficult than on your own, but this develops more in my opinion), you can also earn good money, especially if you improve your English and work for western market.

Cons - you need to communicate, communicate a lot - to find out what the client wants and what he doesn't want, to understand various legal and financial aspects (from drawing up a contract to a method of transferring money), make edits, explain why the background cannot be green, and so on ...

Private order example - London map:


It's about the same as working for a stock team, only usually with some kind of flat rate per month and with the need to design and draw what they say and as much as they say. In the Russian market, this option is usually considered in the prism of offline, that is, a kind of office work. I don’t know how they are looking for it, I have never tried it, but I was approached several times with offers to go to work in the office (once in Latvia, a couple of times in Moscow). For me, sitting in the office is the most extreme option, which, I hope, I will never have to agree to, so I politely refused :)

In my opinion, this is the most uninteresting option (perhaps to some cool studio, or for cool money), since it takes a lot of time and usually does not bring a lot of finance, plus these finances are directly related to the number of months worked. I left my job - I lost my salary, it's not interesting.

In theory, there is also the option of remote work in a design bureau, but in practice I have met this option only a couple of times, and the guys who worked this way were already successful illustrators and had previously worked in the office of the same company.


Bundles are large bundles of products that are sold in a “buy 100 products for $ 29 instead of $ 1800” format. I wrote more about bundles in the article "What are bundles, how to fit into them and how much you can earn" (tyts!).

I have made this type of earnings a separate item, because it can really be a separate item of income. And if you correctly plan the creation of your own vector graphics, that is, create large sets for some real tasks facing buyers, it is beautiful to arrange the whole thing (read about how to design a preview for the Creative Market - tyts!) - you can participate in different bundles every month (and even several times).


I'll be honest: I know about this method only in theory, I've never tried it. Etsy is a trading platform for everything in the world, where you can sell both real goods and digital items (for example, vector pictures). As far as I know, you have to pay some money for placing one position. They say that you can make good money on Etsy, I saw a lot of good American illustrators there (however, they often sell not digital goods, but real ones - with their illustrations), which confirms this theory. I personally don't know people who would live only on income from Etsy, but, probably, we just have different social circles with such people - we don't intersect)

Pros - you get almost 100% of the amount from the sale (there are probably some commissions, and taxes), you can set the price for your product yourself. Cons - placement takes time (and a little money), so that your product is shown close to the top, you need to invest a lot of time and effort in promoting your account (don't ask how to promote, I don't know, I only know what to do :)).


Almost the same as Etsy, only on some of its platforms. This option is definitely not for beginners, but rather for those who have their own established style and understanding of what and for whom they want to do. It seems to me that it is best to sell not just pictures, but pictures in use - that is, for example, make your own online store with T-shirts (with your own, of course, illustrations). Moreover, the more niche and cool product you create, the more likely it is that such a business will be successful and will be profitable. If you try to sell both cute cats on pillows and gothic lettering on T-shirts, it will be very difficult to attract buyers. Because it's like a client who says, “I want a logo with a flower. And that there was a sword. And this sword was realistic. And lettering in that Gothic style. And make a stroke to the inscription. And draw a pot to a flower. And let the cat sit on the pot ”- when a person wants everything, it becomes clear that he himself does not know what he wants.

I can only imagine how to implement in Russian realities in theory - find a supplier of products on which you plan to make your illustrations, find a printing house that will print the whole thing, create an online store website - and go :)

Pros - to do something real and tangible is wildly pleasant, to do it for someone else who likes it so much that he is ready to pay money for it, it is triple pleasant. If you promote your business well, you can make good money almost passively (but for this, of course, you need to debug production well). Cons - starting such a business without experience is very difficult - many technical issues need to be solved. Production is an unpredictable thing, your favorite supplier of T-shirts may suddenly declare that next time the minimum purchase is 1000 pieces, the printing house may mess up and print the picture in the wrong colors, the transport company may lose an order, customers may be unhappy with the quality or unsuitable size. There is a lot of turnover, constant control is needed, it will be difficult to go on vacation or go somewhere for the first six months or a year (for this reason, I dropped this option until other times :)).

And now the methods of indirect earnings are when you get money not for pictures, but for something near-picture :) I will continue the numbering, since we are still talking about the same thing - about ways to make money on vector pictures.


For those who do not know: if an author registers on Shutterstock using your referral link (how to become my referral - tyts!) - the first two years from all his sales you will receive $ 0.01. It is important to know that this amount is not deducted from the author - it is paid by Shutterstock as if in gratitude for bringing the person.

Potentially, if you collect a lot of referrals and actively help them, you can earn good amounts.

The advantages of this method - the win-win situation is always pleasant: if you help the author to grow and develop, then both his income and yours grow. Cons - you need a lot of active referrals to earn sane money. And you really need to spend a lot of time when it is not yet clear what will come of it - that is, you can answer a newbie's questions for several weeks, and then he decides that he is not interested in stocks, but it is interesting to crochet - and it will be lost :)


Many stocks share their earnings if you bring buyers. If you set a goal, you can build your income on this - to make a big, good site, offer visitors a lot of usefulness and unobtrusively follow the affiliate links. This is how travel blogs earn, for example. In the field of images, for example, the GraphicBurger site has taken this path - it offers visitors usefulness in the form of freebies (free goods) and articles like "how to do something" or "the best textures for your design", links lead to the Creative Market. The burger gets its kickback.

You can become a partner of the Creative Market and receive a percentage of buyers by submitting an application (not everyone approves, you need to describe what exactly you will do to promote KM, how and where you will do it), you can read more here (tyts!). For those who decide to try this method, this is what the Creative Market itself advises to do in order to earn more on the affiliate program (tyts!). Other stocks have similar programs, but, to be honest, I was not interested in them in such detail as to go into details.

Advantages of this method: you can not draw anything and still earn money :) Disadvantages - you need to either already have a well-promoted site, or not be lazy to create it, that is, invest time, effort in writing notes, selecting products, promoting any different, interesting, To do this, you need to understand how a specific social network works (you can attract buyers even on Instagram, even on Pinterest). In general, it is only suitable for those who like to communicate and who are relaxed to be online and share information on a daily basis. Plus, to make good money, you need to attract really a lot of people (or a lot of "fat" clients - those who buy a lot of things at once).

As you can see, there are many ways to earn money, and I am sure that each of them can earn enough money for a decent life. The main thing is to find what you are really interested in, because the best results, both in terms of satisfaction in life and in terms of money, are always achieved when you do something meaningful and interesting for yourself.

Are there any other ways that I have not mentioned? Add in the comments and share your experience! :)

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