10 Side Hustle Ideas for Hand Lettering Artists. Want to make some extra income from your creative passion? Here are ten legit ways you can turn your love for lettering into a little extra dough!
10 Side Hustle Ideas for Hand Lettering Artists
Many of my readers are purely into lettering and calligraphy as a hobby and that’s totally cool. For some people, turning a hobby into a business would take the joy out of it. For others, it’s the perfect marriage of doing what you love and making some extra income doing it.
As a full-time lettering artist myself, I have first-hand knowledge of the many ways you can generate income from your lettering work.
Passive vs. Active Income
First, let’s chat about the difference between passive and active income.
This means you’re making money, but not actively performing labor each time you make a sale. Oftentimes, this means you create something once, like a digital eBook or font, and then once you list it for sale, all income from that product is primarily passive. The use of affiliate links is also a form of passive income.
Passive income ROCKS. It is what allows you to work less while still generating income and make money while you’re out of the office and even while you’re sleeping. For this reason, I primarily focus on growing my passive income streams.
This means you need to perform labor to fulfill a job or a sale. Let’s stay you own an Etsy shop making hand-lettered wood signs. Each time someone places an order, you must create and ship the sign.
Active income requires work each time to need to satisfy an order or meet a client’s demands (such a creating a logo).
As I list the side hustle Ideas in the next section, I’ll identify which gigs are passive and which are active.
Side Hustle Ideas for Hand Lettering Artists
These are the top ten ideas I came up with for you to turn your hobby into a legit side hustle.
Sell Custom Handmade Goods (Active Income)
Selling handmade items is first on the list because it’s one of the most accessible places for many people to start.
Many years ago, I started on Etsy selling handmade and hand-lettered art prints, wood signs, coffee mugs, tote bags, pencil pouches, t-shirts, greeting cards, etc. You can also sell your handmade goods at local craft fairs in addition to selling them online.
I used (and still use) a Silhouette CAMEO machine to turn my lettering into custom stencils and vinyl decals to create the goods.
Teach Hand Lettering Workshops (Active Income)
Teaching hand lettering workshops is my favorite form of active income. You can teach in an online format or in-person. I enjoy both!
- For my online course, I used Teachable to host the class.
- Check out my article on Hosting a Local Lettering Workshop. This was a local class I taught here in Charleston on behalf of a California-based company.
- Last year, I taught a Hand-Lettering class at Pinners Conference Utah on behalf of a Tombow. I’ll be teaching two more this Spring for them at Pinners Conference Atlanta.
If this is something that interests you, I suggest reaching out to a local art/DIY shop and see if they’re interested in collaborating with you to teach lettering/calligraphy workshops in their store. You could also talk to your church or local schools about hosting workshops.
Get into the Wedding Game (Active Income)
The wedding market is enormous. You could do wedding suites, table cards, place cards, save the dates, invites, seating charts, and wedding signage.
Once you have a decent portfolio of work, attending wedding expos would be a great way to source new clients. You could also creatively collaborate with local wedding shops and florists!
Design Hand Lettered SVG Cut Files (Passive Income)
Designing hand-lettered cut files is a fun and low-stress lettering job!
Currently, I design SVG Cut Files on my iPad Pro in the Procreate App. I digitize them and turn them into SVGs in Adobe Illustrator. If you’d like a detailed blog post on how I do that, let me know!
I’ve sold SVG Cut Files via an Etsy Shop, my own shop (powered by Shopify), and via third parties such as the Silhouette Design Store (click here to check out my Silhouette Cut File Collection).
Letter on Walls + Signs for Local Business (Active Income)
A lot of lettering artists I follow on Instagram letter on walls and signs as a considerable part of their business. Off the top of my head, here are a few you can check out:
I’d start small and consider doing a wall or large chalkboard in your own home first. Then, you could start reaching out to local coffee shops and cafés.
Create + Sell Procreate Brush Bundles (Passive Income)
Creating Procreate Brush Bundles is another thing I love to do. I currently sell several bundles in my Shopify-powered shop, and it is a substantial portion of my monthly income.
Molly Super Thorpe’s comprehensive “Mastering iPad Lettering with Procreate 4” on Skillshare has a great lesson on creating custom brushes.
Create + Sell Hand Lettered Fonts (Passive Income)
Teela of Every Tuesday has a fabulous online class on Font Making (It’s Mac and PC user-friendly!). I’ve taken it myself and have created a few fonts to sell.
Write Hand Lettering Books or eBooks (Passive Income)
This has been the bread and butter of my passive income for many years now. I’ve written both traditionally published and self-published books on lettering. I currently create digital 30 Day Brush Calligraphy Workbooks on Brush Calligraphy for Beginners and sell them exclusively in my online shop.
Some people may find this work tedious or overwhelming, but I LOVE creating workbooks! The main tools I use to design workbooks are brush pens, my iPad (Procreate App), and Adobe Illustrator.
These sell easily for me mainly because I created workbooks that are exactly what my readers, who are mainly beginner-level lettering hobbyists, kept asking for.
It’s easier to find products that fit your audience than it is to find buyers for your products. Let that sink in and then get to work figuring out what your followers want.
If you don’t have a decent sized readership or audience to sell to, this may not be the best option for you until you grow a following.
Consider Licensing Your Artwork (Passive Income)
It can be harder to find work in this area without the help of an agent, but it’s worth putting on the list because a lot of artists go this route.
Early in my blogging/lettering career, I was lucky enough to have a third party reach out to me. They had seen my work on Pinterest and asked if I’d like to design some hand-lettered Wall Vinyl sayings for Hobby Lobby. I still submit designs to them to this day!
To do this without an agent, you can create and license your work for other artists to use on a site like Creative Market. Spend some time on the site to check out what kind of products might be in your wheelhouse.
Blog as a Creative Business (Active/Passive)
Blogging in and of itself can be a fabulous income stream. While you have to create new content actively, once you publish a blog post, it becomes a passive income stream. I love that blogging allows me to create on my own terms and work any hours that fit my life on any given day.
Check out my free twelve-lesson Blogging as a Creative Business online course for a ton of info on how I use blogging to grow my income.
If blogging interests you, be sure to check out lesson ten on four main ways to monetize your creative blog. In this lesson, I’ll talk to you about the “$300 Money Mindset” that changed everything + exact revenue streams that add up to a six-figure income.
Side note: I didn’t find font making to be something I’m super passionate about doing, but many of my lettering friends love making and selling fonts, which goes to show that there are many different ways to be successful with a hand lettering side hustle. It may take a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you!
How to Price Your Work
Pop over to read my article on How to Price Your Design + Lettering Work.
How to Find Clients
Every single opportunity I’ve had has come to me as a result of putting my work out there via my blog and social media. As such, I’ve never had to hunt down work and often had to turn it away because one person can only do so much. So don’t underestimate the power of blogging and social media!
Use Social Media as Your Porfolio
Post your work on social media. I find Instagram to be an especially great place to turn into a portfolio of sorts. Don’t be shy about telling people you’re accepting new clients and lettering work. I see many lettering artists put this info in their Instagram bio!
Representatives for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts contacted me a few years back after seeing my work on Etsy, and I had the enjoyable opportunity to create a hand-illustrated Valentine’s Day Doughnut box. My kids thought that was SO cool!
Despite what some people say, blogging is NOT dead, and it is a legit job. It can take time, even years, to grow a blog to a part or full-time income, but it is one of the most flexible and rewarding things I do as a lettering artist.
Do you have any additional Side Hustle Ideas for Hand Lettering Artists?
Share them in the comments!