Branching out: 6 ways to diversify your creative income stream

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Artist, pattern designer, entrepreneur and cofounder of the Make It In Design online education platform, Rachael Taylor, discusses the importance of diversifying your income stream as a creative in these trying times.


It’s important to not always rely on one income stream or focus on a single project. While that might be a great idea at certain times, particularly if you need to give something lots of attention to make it work long term, it can add pressure to get that one thing right.

It doesn’t mean you have to work in lots of areas (as I do) but diversifying the area you are in can really bring something new to the table. For example, if you sell products and rely on Instagram to generate all your sales, why not open your own website shop, or join a platform like Etsy? Not only does this bring in a new audience, but it also gives you peace of mind to not be reliant on one income source.

1. Ad your own unique stamp on things and inject you in into everything you do

I also call this ‘following my weird’. I’m often told my work is instantly recognizable and this is because I have a list of core ingredients that I use in my work: colourful, energetic, layered and playful. Some pieces are all these things, whereas others may contain just two ingredients.

Whichever combination I use, my personality is always present. Having confidence in my quirks has been a great way for me to attract clients and collaborations, and ultimately provide me with more authority in my teaching. So never underestimate the power of doing it your own way.

2. Revisit, adapt, and monetise existing work


As creatives, we have the natural urge to keep creating. That in itself is a gift. However, at times I have created endlessly, producing a mountain of drawings that I never get time to make into prints and patterns. I encourage you to allocate time to past creations that may not have seen the light of day, or pieces with great potential that with a little refresh can be something quite spectacular.

This has personally worked for me over the years, financially through a new income stream, and creatively as it has given me more freedom to experiment with other projects. I always encourage this with my design school community, because once someone licenses or sells something they already made, they realise the worth of their creations and that perhaps they are sitting on a pot of gold.

3. The power of collaboration

Many creatives can work solo and shy away from interaction, myself included, but I have found it can become very detrimental to my health and creative energy.

Some of my best creations and projects have happened as a result of conversations, learning from others, or joining forces and collaborating.

4. Explore new styles, compositions and colours


Expanding your range of subject matter opens up new audiences, clients, and markets for your work, so it’s a vital part of growing your creative skills. When trying new things, try creating a number of versions to loosen you up, zooming in for detail and zooming out for a different perspective.

Look up, look down. Flip it, reflect it, rotate it. The more you are willing to adapt and push your boundaries, the more things will become less daunting over time. Continuing to try out new ideas is a fantastic way to expand your comfort zone and strengthen your creative muscles.

5. Create what you like and dislike

It’s inevitable that there will be certain subject matters you love to work with and go back to time and time again. There will also be subjects that you find challenging to create. It is important to explore new options while allowing your signature creative style to shine through.

I truly believe that the most successful creatives (whose careers have longevity) are the ones who are willing to adapt, change, mix it up, broaden their horizons, naturally evolve, and face new challenges head-on.

6. Create the work you want to attract


I have sworn by this throughout my whole career. Early on, after leaving my in-house design job, I wanted to avoid working on restricted designs, Christmas art, and limited colour palettes, and stressing over genre and my customer base.

I wanted to attract commissions for art that were playful, energetic, and bursting at the seams with colour. So I carved out the time and began to create that kind of art, and it felt so liberating. That was when the type of client I wanted also began to take notice. By being clear on what you want to create, you set the tone for what will come your way.

Power Up Your Creativity by Rachael Taylor (Quarry Books, £18.99) will be published on 15th November

Header image by Charlotte Edwards


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