How I Earn Money as an Illustrator. My 9 Income Sources Explained!

Since starting my business just over 2 years ago, I've learnt the importance of multiple income streams. For years, I just had one income, sometimes 2, and I had to rely on that to pay the bills. The problem with doing this, when one of those sources slows down or stops, we start to panic.

Since I began Emily Harvey Art in May 2019, I have been expanding my income sources to the point where I now have 9 different income streams. I chat about this over on my Patreon often (just one of my sources) and I'm so happy to share this with you here too.

The truth is, we don't talk about money enough. I certainly struggled to get the information I needed when I was starting out. This isn't about showing you the money I make, because honestly, some of these sources bringing me hardly anything. It's to show you that by having multiple sources, there's less pressure if one source starts to dip... which it will!

So let's get into my 9 sources... these aren't in any particular order!

Me speaking in a university in 2018.

Because of Covid, I haven't done many of these recently, but I used to all the time. I now do them virtually. For me, it tends to be Colleges and Universities that invite me in as an industry professional and practitioner to talk to their students. I can be paid £150 for a 60 minute talk and its great way to help those just starting out. Get in touch with your old college and university to see if they have the budget available and get out there! Do a great job and they might invite you back every year to talk to students!

An advert I did with Sudio on Instagram.

I think there is a misconception that you need a large following online to be offered AD opportunities on Instagram and Youtube and it's simply not the case.

I was getting offers at around 2k followers and thats because I had a very engaged audience. Now honestly, the majority of ads I turn down (around 80-85%) because I just dont think they fit my audience. But, the ones I have done have been great! Most of the time I am offered products for free but I have had a couple of paid deals which although are rare for me, have been a nice little extra in my bank! Make sure to read all about the rules and regulations before working on the projects and please remember to declare them!

This is one source of income that is very exciting to me. If you have a blog, a Youtube channel or even if you just talk to others about products you are buying online, you need to be looking out for affiliate opportunities. Most websites will have these in place. It means you can share a special link to products, and when pressed and purchased by your audience, you get paid a small commission. It doesn't cost anything extra to the buyer, just think of it as a little payment for promoting the product!

The biggest program I use is Amazon Associates and its a free platform for you to share and earn on Amazon products. I also use a lot of referral codes for different companies which gives the buyer a discount and me some store credit!

Whenever you share a link online, first check if there is an affiliate program!

Earnings Ive made in a month on Amazon Associates!

Again, because of Covid, I haven't been able to do many of these events recently but I do have some lined up this year! They can be really hit and miss. Some markets I haven't made enough to pay for the table, some events I've earned 10x the table price. Its a great experience to get yourself out there and meeting your customers and it could be a really great income source as well!

I'm slowly stepping away from this income source but I have definitely done some freelance work in the last 12 months! For a daily rate, I work with studios and companies to create artwork for them. I invoice them and get paid usually after 30 days. I fell into doing freelance work back in 2014 when I was struggling to find work. A studio wasn't able to hire me but had a small project they were happy to pay me a weekly rate for. It can be hard to get out there but once you have a few clients and studios on board, this can be a great income source.

Because I have over 1000 subscribers, I am eligible to earn an income through Youtube. Every time a video is watched, a little bit of ad revenue is sent to me. We are talking pence, but as my channel has grown and more of my videos are being watched, this income is increasing!

The trick to Youtube is to just getting starting and to build a back catalogue of videos. It can be slow to begin with but for me, after 2 years of building my videos, im now earning around £150-£200 a month. Now that doesn't seem like much, but I upload one video a week and I don't spend much time editing and creating videos so for me, its a great income stream! It's also a great passive income as if I was to stop making videos, I could still earn an income from the content already created! I could upload more videos and it would definitely improve my income there!

Income from my Website.

I have 2 online shops. I have my Etsy shop and my Website. I treat these as 2 separate incomes. My website is definitely where I earn the most. I drive all of my traffic there and I spend a lot of time there. My Etsy is the opposite. I upload my listings and leave them. I don't share them and I don't promote them. This is reflected in the income I make. In the last 30 days, my website has brought me £2.8k and my Etsy has brought me £200. These figures are definitely not consistent, during Christmas or when I hold a sale, they do much better. I can then have a month of very little sales.

And then finally, my most consistent income, my Patreon. I started this page in November 2019 and it has now grown to over 400 patrons. It's an income I can rely on and is the reason I can have an office space. Although my shop income is higher, its so unpredictable. Starting a Patreon can be really hard work, it can be draining in the beginning but like Youtube, once you build a catalogue of content and you build your subscribers/patrons, it can be a wonderful income stream!

My Patreon income over the last 6 months.

So those are my 9 sources of income... I really hope this has been useful and you have made a note of one or two ideas that can be applied to your business! Please let me know that would be so exciting!

I have other avenues I'm moving into including Wholesale, Online Courses and Building Digital Assets so keep following to see how I get on.

I would love to hear from you and if you have any income sources that I haven't mentioned please let me know in the comments below!

Speak soon!

E x

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