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Freelance Illustration

Projected Income $300 to $8,000+ per month
Costs to Start $100 to $2,500
Time to Start Immediate to several weeks
Category Miscellaneous Freelance

Our Side Hustles Breakdown

We recommend freelance illustration as a side hustle for those passionate about art and looking to monetize their creative skills. With the digital era in full swing, illustrators are more in demand than ever. Key concern: Building a consistent client base and managing the unpredictability of freelance work can be challenging.

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cons-icon Cons

  • Inconsistent Income: Freelance work can be unpredictable with feast and famine cycles.
  • Self-Promotion: Continuously marketing yourself is vital to secure new clients.
  • Skill Upgradation: With evolving design trends, continuous learning and adaptability are key.

pros-icon Pros

  • Passion to Profit: Turn your love for drawing into a revenue stream.
  • Flexibility: Choose projects that align with your interests and manage your own schedule.
  • Diverse Opportunities: From books to advertising, the demand for illustrators spans various industries.
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Do you like art and can see yourself creating graphic novels, children’s books, or custom illustrations?

If you have a knack for drawing and design, consider a career path as a freelance illustrator.

A freelance artist can work in various fields, like marketing and media, or start a freelance business and cater to various clients locally and globally.

If you’re unsure if this career suits you, here you can learn more about becoming an illustrator, pros and cons of the job, and its career outlook.

An Overview of Freelance Illustration: A Primer

Freelance illustration involves any design or drawing commissioned by clients from the marketing, advertising, publishing, or media industry.

Freelance illustrators use traditional and digital tools to draw or illustrate concept art, graphic design, cartoon characters, product packaging, book covers, and more.

You have to have a lot of creativity, artistic ability, communication skills, and critical thinking to succeed in this field.

Also, consider developing interpersonal and business management skills to develop strong client relationships and improve client satisfaction.

Many freelance illustrators are self-employed, but some also work as contractors for companies. They mostly find work via freelancing platforms, advertising agencies, personal projects, and building good relationships in their network. 

How Much Can Freelance Illustration Earn You?

A freelance illustration career offers varied salary ranges.

For instance, an illustrator on Upwork can earn $15 to $45 per hour. Meanwhile, according to ZipRecruiter, freelance illustrators earn up to $64 hourly or $132,138 yearly.

The factors affecting the total income of freelance artists include their skill level, experience, the type of work, and the number of clients they handle simultaneously.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Freelance Illustration Side Hustle?

The process of becoming an illustrator involves plenty of investment in your time, tools, equipment, knowledge, and experience.

Most illustrators attended art school with a degree in illustration, visual art, digital art, or animation. Getting a degree can cost you upward of tens of thousands of dollars.

However, many are self-taught artists who learned illustration as a hobby or through online classes. Consider enrolling in online Skillshare courses, which cost an annual subscription fee of $168

Besides this, you have to invest in a computer or laptop with decent specs to run illustrator tools. Many recommend the MacBook Pro as an excellent laptop for an illustrator. The latest 16-inch model starts at $2,499.

Plus, you have to pay for design software. The Adobe Creative Cloud plan for individuals costs $54.99 monthly.

Overall, it can cost you about $3,000 in a year to become an illustrator.

Where Can You Find Freelance Illustration Gigs?

Explore the following platforms to find various freelance illustrator jobs:

Where to Independently Find Freelance Illustration Work

If you want to find clients by yourself and directly work with them, check out these recommended websites for freelance artists:


Dribbble offers illustrators and digital designers a self-promotion and social networking platform.

It allows you to showcase your work, connect with top global talents, and work with brands and agencies. 

You can find print, mobile design, typography, branding, and custom illustration jobs.

Membership plans include a free basic account and paid accounts for the Pro and Business plans.

Overall, consider joining Dribbble if you want to gain inspiration, feedback from a community, and get hired.


Similar to Dribbble, Behance provides a large creative network to showcase your portfolio, meet other illustrators, graphic designers, and creatives, and discover work from global clients.

You can find opportunities as an illustrator for a supplement label, an illustrator and character designer for an animation project, or a freelance graphic designer.

Explore Behance if you want a free platform to promote your works and receive commission from agencies and brands.

Gig Economy Companies That Offer Freelance Illustration Work

If you need a platform that specifically caters to a freelance illustrator, consider joining or applying for these websites:


IllustrationX connects illustrators and animators with global brands, businesses, and agencies.

The platform accepts and showcases different styles and categories, like animals, food, drink, people, retro, comic books, and more.

To become part of their talent pool, submit your application and links to your published work on their website.

Unfortunately, they only respond to successful applicants due to the number of applicants they receive.


Hireillo offers a member-only community for professional illustrators. Members receive personalized advice and support, member-only exhibitions, and opportunities to get client jobs.

Consider joining Hireillo if you prefer gaining support and advice and learning from other illustrators globally.

The platform charges $7 (weekly), $30 (monthly), or $320 (annually).

Why You Should Consider Freelance Illustration As a Side Hustle

 Learn about the perks of becoming a freelance illustrator.

  • Work Anywhere and Anytime: As a freelancer, you can work at home, in a cafe, or anywhere in the world. Plus, this job usually doesn’t set specific hours, giving you the flexibility to work during your preferred time. 
  • Find High-Paying Projects: Most job opportunities offer high fees, especially for experienced artists. You can also take on multiple clients simultaneously, giving you a higher total income.
  • Turn Your Passion Into Profit: If you love art and drawing, then this job allows you to make money from your passion or hobby.

Problems With Freelance Illustration for Money

What challenges come with becoming an illustrations freelancer?

  • You Have to Make a Large Initial Investment: To become a freelance illustrator, you have to invest in proper equipment, software, and courses to prepare you for the role and give you an edge against the competition.
  • Offers Little Opportunity for Beginners: Unfortunately, many potential clients prefer seasoned artists, resulting in unstable projects and income for beginners. You should have a strong portfolio to get noticed. 
  • Miss Out on Regular Benefits: A freelance career doesn’t entitle you to paid holidays, health insurance, or other regular benefits from your clients since you identify as self-employed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Do Freelance Illustrators Start?

A freelance artist often starts looking for work by showcasing their online portfolio on freelance websites like Behance and Upwork. Many also use social media to present their skills and past works.

Are Freelance Illustrators in High Demand?

Yes! Employment for artists is projected to grow by 6% from 2021 to 2031.

Illustration also lands at the top three most in-demand design skills for 2023.

Freelance artist jobs will continue to be in demand as more companies produce online and offline marketing materials.

Ask a Question About Freelance Illustration?

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19 Sep 2023
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Embarking on freelance illustration transformed my hobby into a full-fledged career. Every project brought new challenges, but seeing my artwork in children's books and ads has been so rewarding!

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