Opinions & Lessons

Making Money Really Quickly as a Creative | Leif Kristjansen

By February 15, 2021 No Comments

People who create for a living go by many names—independent creatives, solopreneurs, social media consultants, brand designers, freelancers. Many of them change their titles every 10 minutes, depending on who’s asking.  But there is one thing all freelancing creatives have in common. Their time can directly be transformed into money which makes a creative’s time more valuable than normal people’s.

Whereas regular employees can afford a few moments of downtime but still be paid, freelance creatives commodify every single one of their minutes, on-and-off the clock, as these may translate to projects. Like many things, efficiency is key and integral to maximizing your productivity. 

What’s a teacher going to do who wants a bit of extra money? Teach a few extra students? It doesn’t work like that. They could work an under the table job but lucky for you a graphic designer/freelancer can pick up an extra job.

Still, I should also mention that despite the impact various creatives have in society, they’re not always the most compensated people. Nowadays, it can be easy to exploit an artist, as the talent pool is so wide. That is why for this blog post, I’m writing down the best ways creatives can make money quickly. I’ll also be jotting down straightforward techniques to help you raise up your pay rate, with some of them by being more effective off-the-clock.

Making Money Really Quickly as a Creative

Photo by Emilio Takas on Unsplash

Commodify what you’re good at to make money

Probably the best thing about being a freelancing creative is understanding how influential your work can be. For instance, web designers have the power to determine the mood, vibe, and energy of an online portal. In that sense, a designer’s output is critical to the success of their client. Narrow down a list of your best skill sets, and look around if there are clients you can pitch those best skills to. 

Are you awesome at social media management? Perfect! So many clients need help with marketing their products and services on Facebook and Instagram. 

We all know time is a valuable resource for everyone, but because you likely charge by the hour your time literally equals money. You should focus on what gets you the most bang for your buck.

For example, if you can charge $20/hr for social media graphic design or $10/hr as a virtual assistant who schedules meetings and manages email accounts, set yourself the goal of having exclusively $20/hr gigs! Put all of your efforts into building that digital client list and grow from there. If you pull it off, going from $10/hr to $20/hr is a 100% increase in your pay rate, somewhat instantly.

Sell things you don’t need or rent out things you own

Service-based entrepreneurship is a great skill, but if you have something tangible laying around that you can sell, that should be good too! Look around your personal space and get rid of things you no longer need. Even better, if you have collections that no longer hold value for you, get rid of them. 

For example, do you have pieces of vinyl of a particular artist you can live without now? Sell them. If you want, you can even sell them in bulk! Are there stuffed animals, figurines, or clothes you’ve outgrown? Great! Sell them, too. Hold a garage sale, if you have to. You can also sell the gifts you’ve received from your friends that you almost never use. Like that unopened curling iron you got for Christmas. If you sell that for 60 bucks and make $10 an hour, you just earned money worth 6 hours of work without the effort!

Another idea you can explore is to rent out things you own. If you own an expensive camera, for instance, find an online marketplace that can help you look for clients who need them. If you’ve invested in gadgets to further your career as a creative, it’s highly likely that there are things you don’t always use and someone else might pay to have this week. Rent that stuff!

If you can rent out your photography gels and filters for $100 a month and you get paid $10/hr, that’s like 10 hrs of work without breaking a sweat. Great!

My favorite is to consider renting out an extra room in your crib if you can. Maybe even your car? If you’re writing up a storm or designing the next best thing in animation, you won’t always be driving around anyway. Overall, renting or selling your property can free up lots of money, enough for you to take days off or recharge somewhere nice!

Get rid of subscriptions you don’t need

On the topic of getting rid of things you don’t use. Look for things that suck up your time and cost money, like cable TV or a tad too many on-demand entertainment subscriptions. Honestly, one streaming service should be enough. You don’t need Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and Netflix all at once. You don’t even have that much time to watch and binge, so skip all of that.

Assess each of your monthly bills and determine which ones need to go. You’ll thank yourself later when you have more time to work on your passion, AND your bills have shrunk!

Refinancing loans

Hear me out: refinancing loans isn’t (always) a bad thing! Often it’s great!

Good refinancing involves substituting existing loans with new loans. Ideally, this new loan should have better terms and should be able to drastically add value to your lifestyle. Taking care of too many loans at once can be exhausting, with each of them having different terms and conditions, and you’ll probably pay less each month!

The more intricate details of refinanced loans can differ, depending on our lender and the type of loan you get. What can you finance, you ask? You can refinance an auto loan, a student loan, a home loan, or just about any type of debt! If your existing loan or loans are too expensive, then best believe this is a suitable option for you. If you save $200/mo you’ve effectively gotten a contract for 20hrs of work minus the brain work and commitment. Isn’t that awesome?

A few tips: Refinancing is like shopping for any other mortgage or loan but you first have to make sure your credit score is as decent as can be to grab the lowest interest rates. Going into your shopping trip, you should have a goal for the terms and rates you want and need in your new loan. 

3 extra reasons why refinancing loans is a good thing: 

1 – Since refinancing a loan pays off your existing debt, you can lump together a few loans into 1 new loan so now you’re only paying one lender, making it easier for you to track your payments and save some mental space.

2 – Loan companies want your loan (especially student loans for well-paid people) and it’s not going to magically disappear. So you might as well take advantage of it and take the cash signup-bonuses some companies offer (to the tune of $200-$750). That’s easy money if I ever saw it!

3 – When you are refinancing you can add in a cash-out refinance to supply you with extra cash, perfect for a variety of things such as taking a course or buying that equipment you need to take on some new jobs. “Having a little extra cash with you is the worst thing,” said no one ever.


There has never been a better time to be a creative than today. People are using their voices to make a change, amplify their advocates and fight for what’s due to them, and artists are at the forefront of the people who do that. I think that’s awesome! 

Overall, income streams can be challenging for everyday freelancer, so it’s important to always work to increase your pay rate. Artist or not, wise money management is important for everyone, and to move forward with finances as efficiently as we can, we have to be smart. 

Leif KristjansenLeif Kristjansen is the co-founder of FiveYearFIREescape.com writing about finances and early retirement for busy people. In their early 30s, they even retired from their corporate 9-5 and want to teach you how you can do the same. They have kids and a house in a high cost of living city but managed to succeed via saving skills and rental houses.

Twitter: @5yearFIREescape



Leave a Reply