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13 Best Illustration Jobs: Is it a Good and Well Paid Career?

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13 Freelance Sites For Illustrators


Fiverr Summary

  • Set your own prices for your services
  • Choose from over 500 service categories
  • 3 different options for cashing out
  • Protection from fradulent chargebacks

Fiverr is a platform where anyone can offer their talents and skills to earn money by selling “gigs”. Many professionals got their start on Fiverr and the portfolio that they created on the platform has helped them to land high profile jobs.

The base cost for most gigs is $5 but you can upsell your clients by offering more. You can offer any kind of freelance illustration jobs or services, from designing an ebook cover to creating a new logo. This can be a lucrative side hustle as you build your illustrating reputation but Fiverr do take a 20% commission on the gigs you sell.


Etsy Summary

  • Easy to set up & maintain your store
  • 45+ million active Etsy buyers
  • List your first item for just $0.20
  • Automatic deposits and secure transactions

Etsy is a wonderful platform for creative people that want to sell art and homemade craft items. 

If you have physical art that you want to sell you need to create an Etsy store and start listing your items there. Etsy charges $0.20 to list each item. Additionally, if it sells they take a 5% fee on the final selling price of your item and this doesn’t include shipping. 

If you choose to use the Etsy Payments processor, you’re also charged an extra 3% plus $0.25 to use this service. However, Etsy provides a great level of service to sellers and buyers, the charges are certainly worth it because you get access to a large marketplace and a secure payment system.


Behance is an interesting platform for online graphics. It’s a marketplace and it was acquired by Adobe as a place for users to display their design work. 

There are two levels of membership: 

  • As a free member you can upload your portfolio with some limitations on features and design. 
  • The subscription plan is $9.99 per month and this allows you to have access to potential clients via the Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Talent. 

This is a great platform for illustrators, although you really need the paid membership to get the most out of Behance it is worth the modest investment.

Smashing Jobs

Smashing Magazine  was founded in Germany back in 2006. It’s dedicated to providing relevant information and opportunities to web designers and developers. Smashing doesn’t follow trends, they focus on the fundamentals of creating successful projects and they have a loyal user base. 

The platform has a membership model. They create digital books, helpful articles, they hold regular conferences and have a buoyant job board. This platform even features some great step-by-step tutorials on designing vector illustrations and other topics. 

If you’re interested in illustration work for the web you should take a close look at Smashing for the resources,  networking and job opportunities. You can even submit your own art and articles, Smashing pays $50-$200 for good quality work related to graphic, web and UX design for mobile or WordPress.


Dribbble is an online community for designers. In the early stages, it was an invite only platform for certain designers to:

  • Show their work, 
  • Network 
  • Collaborate on projects. 

This has changed in recent years and the membership is now available for all creatives. Dribbble now has a marketplace for designers and a job board to find projects that interest you. As an illustrator, you can create a Dribbble portfolio of your work and clients that like what they see can contact you directly or via the job board. Because Dribbble is a community, you can also get constructive feedback on your work from other designers.


99Designs is a website that connects designers with freelancing opportunities. If you’re a good illustrator, you will find clients on 99Designs working on:

  • Graphic work, 
  • Merchandise, 
  • Packaging, 
  • Branding 
  • Illustration. 

Companies will create a brief, post it on the platform and invite participation from designers. The designer can then enter the contest and seek to win the project with their skills. Every year there are thousands of active design contests, this is a great way to build your portfolio, improve your design skills and get the valuable feedback that you need.


Indeed is a job search website that has lost a little of the market share in recent years. But it still has at least three million active job listings. 

It’s simple to create your resume. A potential employer can search your profile and contact you directly. As a job seeker,  you can scroll through the listings using the mobile app. 

Indeed aggregates many jobs from company career pages and paid listings and it has an employer review section. This is a great job search engine, it offers helpful career advice and it remains relevant even with serious competition from ZipRecruiter and Google Jobs.


SimplyHired aggregates active job listings from many sources, including: 

  • Job boards, 
  • Company career pages, 
  • Web listings 
  • Niche job sites. 

The platform regularly lists jobs from approximately 700,000 potential employers located in 24 nations in 12 languages! 

Many employers use SimplyHired because the job positions created here are sent out to more than 100 additional job boards to further boost visibility. The platform also has some great information on writing cover letters, crafting a resume and securing an interview for your next illustration job. If you are in the market for work you need to add SimplyHired to your list of resources.

Hire An Illustrator

The Hire an Illustrator platform is the ideal way for an illustrator to find work. Fill in the membership application form and set up an automated subscription with your Paypal account.

Once your membership is accepted, you create your profile and login details. The weekly membership fee is $7 per week, but the better deal is $320 for an annual subscription. If you have talent and you are proactive on the platform you can quickly recoup your investment with regular work.


Upwork Summary

  • Earn up to $34 per hour as a freelancer
  • Get 10 free Connects every month
  • Get 40 extra Connects when you pass a test
  • Time tracker ensures you get paid

Upwork is a very large freelancing marketplace where potential employers can hire many types of creatives including illustrators. There are multiple jobs posted every day, many are one time projects ,but there are ongoing opportunities too. Working on Upwork isn’t free, a commission fee is in place for each of your clients, as follows:

  • Up to $500: A 20% fee is charged.
  • Up to $1,000: A 10% fee is charged.
  • Over $10,000: The fee drops to only 5%. 

As you can see, Upwork rewards you for working consistently with clients and this trust is built by providing high quality work. Each Upwork freelancer also needs to purchase “Connects” at $0.15 each to bid on a project and this must be factored into your potential earnings. This paid bidding method has discouraged scammers from the platform and since its introduction the company has seen a significant increase in business.


Zazzle Summary

  • 3 different ways to earn with Zazzle
  • Earn up to $200 per day as a Designer
  • Decide on your own royalty fee (up to 99%)
  • No fees to join and unlimited uploads

Zazzle is a great platform where you can sell your art with a print on demand and through a design manufacture system. This is a fantastic way to sell your art on items, including: 

  • T-shirts, 
  • cell phone cases, 
  • tote bags 
  • Other print items. 

As the designer, you pay Zazzle a 30% commission and the shipping fees on each item you sell. This may seem like a lot, but Zazzle handles everything and leaves you to do what you do best, designing. As the creator, you set your own prices and the top Zazzle sellers can make as much as $150,000 per year.


CafePress is a well established platform to sell your designs which can be used on mugs, T-shirts, totes and other items. Getting started with CafePress is simple, you don’t need any inventory or out-of-pocket setup costs.

Every CafePress item that you sell through your basic store includes all the selling fees and shipping and you keep the profits. If you enjoy using the CafePress platform you can opt for a Premium ship that offers extra options to improve your store and earn more.


DesignCrowd is an interesting platform that uses a crowdsourcing model. The goal is to connect a designer with a client that wants to view their portfolio and hire them for a design project. Every client hosts a design contest, the designer submits their proposals and the winner gets the project. 

You can link your DesignCrowd account to your own personal website to build interest in your online portfolio. The amount that you can make will vary depending upon the scope of the project and payments can be made via Payoneer to limit transaction charges.

If you enjoy taking part in design contests and you want to build a solid reputation for high quality illustration, DesignCrowd must be considered.

What is an Illustrator?

An illustrator is an artist that takes the idea of a client and brings it to life. Creating digital art to promote a product or service or simply to be an attractive piece of work to sell takes skill. 

As an illustrator, you may be working on a wide variety of projects, including: 

  • Greeting cards, 
  • Business cards, 
  • Ebook covers, 
  • Wedding invitations 
  • Children’s books. 

This is very rewarding work and you may find that you are working on projects that people have had in the memories for a long time.

How Much Can You Earn With Illustration Jobs?

This is a tricky question to answer, because your skill and your work ethic will determine your level of success. There are a number of ways that you can earn money working as an illustrator, including: 

  • Selling prints and merchandise, 
  • Working as freelancer, 
  • Creating art for ads, 
  • Illustrating books and magazines 
  • And much more. 

The premier job search site Glassdoor shows an average illustrator salary of $69,659 per year, working in the U.S. as of January of 2019. These are the latest salary figures we have, it’s likely that that figure has grown in the interim and a talented illustrator could earn much more.

What Skills Do You Need to be an Illustrator?

An illustrator needs the follow key skills if the want to succeed in this career field:

  • A good eye for design and detail
  • Excellent drawing skills
  • A good working knowledge of IT 
  • Plenty of imagination and creativity
  • Great communication skills to work with clients and solve problems
  • Self motivation 
  • Good organizational skills to meet deadlines
  • Excellent self promotional abilities

How to Become Illustrator?

To get started with illustration jobs, you will need to build a portfolio. This is necessary to showcase your skills and style to potential clients. You can then join one or more platforms to seek out work. Don’t worry about taking on lower paying remote illustration jobs. These will add to your resume and you can earn more as you develop a reputation.

How Do You get Hired as an Illustrator?

If you want to start working on illustration jobs, you will need to develop a portfolio. Prospective employers will want to know what you can do and your illustrating style.

Once you have your portfolio, sign up for multiple platforms and set up your resume. This will allow you to connect with employers and find work. 

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Kate Starr


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