Lesson 4: Creating Revenue Streams

What You’ll Learn: As a creative, it’s easy to think about selling your work as a simple, one-time transaction. But these days, there are ways you can monetize your work through multiple channels, reselling and repurposing it to create a steady stream of money coming through the door.

Creating Revenue Streams (continued)


While it may not connect directly to your creative passions, you can create additional revenue streams by using your creativity in different lines of work. The trick is to find something that won’t consume a ton of your time but will be able to bring revenue in with minimal additional work and resources. These side hustles should support your creative work, not become it.

  • If you’re a graphic designer with a sense of humor, you may want to create a line of t-shirts or coffee mugs and market them on Etsy, Amazon or dozens of e-commerce sites.
  • If you’re a wedding photographer, think about a side gig as a portrait photographer for professionals who need them for work or even photos for those on the dating circuit.
  • As a fashion designer or stylist, you may find that your keen eye leads to a revenue stream selling vintage pieces you find in local thrift shops and reselling them on eBay.
  • If you’re a set designer, think about doing an occasional party or wedding that needs that special artistic touch.

Ask your existing clients what they want

Use your clients to discover new revenue opportunities. It’s easy for a client to think that you do just one thing. They may have a big event coming up but don’t know you were an event planner in your last corporate gig, or they may mention a new online training video they need but don’t know your company just finished a similar project for another client in town. Don’t limit the questions to what you do now. Ask them what they are looking for and see if it could be a new opportunity for your business.

Upsell and down-sell

If you have a foot in the door, don’t let it close on you because you don’t have a second act. If the customer doesn’t bite on the offer you thought was perfect for them, be ready to pitch another idea.

This can be a simple down-sell that offers a lower price point. This doesn’t mean lowering your cost on your original offer. It means offering an alternative that removes features, options, extends the timeframe, offers less consulting or uses less expensive materials.

If you’re an artist who sells limited-edition, signed prints, think about doing smaller prints that aren’t mounted, framed or signed. Or offer the same art on trays, coasters, bags and shirts at various price points to capture an audience on a budget. If you write books, think about offering a paperback version of your new hardback or package several of your previous books with your new one and sell it as a value pack.

You may want to offer something on the higher spectrum as well. If you are designing a client’s website, offer a package that includes a warranty for a specific period of time, online tech support or even a retainer option to keep everything updated for them, including all the technical updates on the back end of the site.

If you are a craftsperson, consider offering customers the ability to purchase a commissioned work. Or provide repair services for heirlooms that have sentimental value to the customer. If you need inspiration, watch the Repair Shop, a popular British TV show where artisans restore family furniture, toys, radios and clocks.

Find a benefactor

This sounds like an idea right out of Bridgerton, but there are people out there who will underwrite a creative and their work. Patreon was created with this express purpose in mind. Today, members of that site support the work of more than 200,000 creatives. If you have a physical product to offer up, Kickstarter is another option. People will invest in your idea and often provide you with enough additional funding that you can support yourself while you’re getting your idea market-ready. Then there are sites like Ko-fi, which starts you off with a simple tip jar. Set up a page on the site, share it with your fans, and they can donate to your work, whether it’s replacing a tired old Mac or buying you a cup of coffee to keep the creative juices flowing.

Get a part-time gig

You may be shaking your head, but a part-time job such as tending bar a couple of nights a week can be fun and bring in a little extra dough. This works best if you are just starting out since it can remove some of the stress of stepping out on your own with a rapidly shrinking bank account to support you. If you’re an artist, you may want to work in a gallery or dabble in caricatures at a street fair or theme park. This isn’t a life sentence but a short-term way to support you while other projects are in the mill, awaiting approval.

Trade out

Bartering is one way to think about it. But it can be much more. You can get pretty creative in what the trade looks like. Say you want to get away for a week or a month, and someone needs a pet sitter. Offer to housesit while they’re gone, so you get some uninterrupted creative time away from the kids and loud neighbors.

The possibilities are endless. You can trade out a new website for accounting services or get a DJ to show up at your next party in exchange for marketing their next club gig. It’s a win-win. You expand your network and reduce your outflow of actual cash while solving a problem of a potential future customer who may connect you to new clients in their network.

Build your own empire

It’s nice to tap other channels for creating revenue streams. Still, there’s nothing better than owning your own channels and building your fan or client base by offering them continual value, meeting their needs and connecting with them on a personal and professional level.

You don’t need to own the world (unless you want to). You only need to own your little corner of the world. A website, some social media pages and an up-to-date mailing list will give you tremendous freedom to cut through the clatter and din of the marketplace, creating your own little niche. From there, you can offer up new products, add in some podcasts, sell books and apparel, promote your passions, develop lasting relationships and create ongoing revenue streams and wealth by sharing your unique place in this world as a creative.