9 min 12 sec

Graphic Designer Paints a Picture Worth $8,000/Month

This designer is the picture of success with a side hustle that draws in a full-time income.
Arts & Crafts Digital Low Startup Potential Passive Income Product

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What It's About

An artist hacks her way to passive income!

Business Model
Arts & Crafts
Skills Required
Creativity & Artistic
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

She researched what kinds of things people sold, how, and where, they sold them, and mapped out what they were missing. As Jade explained it, “people sell all sorts of things digitally, so if you're not a watercolor artist, there are still plenty of other areas to sell digital downloads.” Although her skills might be specialized because she had already honed her artistic skills, for other side hustlers, she recommends thinking about what you’re good at and how you can sell something related to it, digitally.

Fun Fact

The world’s oldest paint award goes to… watercolor! Found in Etsy shops, on refrigerators, and prehistoric caves, there’s almost nothing watercolor can’t do. Original cave paintings were made by mixing pigment with animal fat or spit, and only later on did prehistoric artists start using water to mix their cave-made paint.

Notes from Chris

Episode 587

Jade Orlando has always loved expressing herself through art. Pages of journals, margins in notebooks, you name it, she’s drawn on it. The lifelong artist ended up in a career designing illustrations for a children’s apparel company.

But even with a 9-to-5 that involved endless opportunity to create art, Jade still felt stifled. Her art was bound by client expectations, rules, and even color requirements. She was always creating art on her computer and never with her hands. She already had the desire to make some extra money in her spare time, and what better way to combine that search for artistic expression with a chance to let her hair down and get a little messy with paint to create some magic.

She also had a goal of retiring early, so with these twin goals of creativity + moneymaking, Jade did some market research on Etsy and Pinterest on her lunch break. She wanted to see what kinds of art did well, what kinds of things she liked and didn’t, and see what was missing in the vast online marketplace. Jade noticed that there was a market for downloadable clipart on Etsy and Creative Market, typically featuring an abundance of floral prints. But there wasn’t a lot of high-quality character art or children’s based watercolor packs.

Jade knew she had experience in both watercolor and children's illustration, so what better way to build her early-retirement fund than by making something for sale?

But then one sale turned into two, then 10, then 100. Eventually Jade had to mute the cash register noise as she began to make more from her side hustle than her day job. What an inconvenience…

Feeling the buzz of success and creative inspiration, Jade created enough prints and product that she could stock up and essentially create a passive side hustle. All she needed to do to make hundreds of dollars a day was answer a few customer inquiries a day.

Startup costs were $0 because she already had the art skills, and all the paint supplies she needed. She joined Etsy because they offered a trial with 30 free product listings, and she hit the ground running, going from 0-$67,500 last year from her Etsy and Creative Market. This year, Jade is on track to draw in about $90,000 from her shops—even though she took off three months of the year.

Because her art tends to be consistent, and doesn’t heavily rely on seasonal pieces, her monthly side hustle income is consistent, too. Her highest earning month this year was $9,500, but it usually hovers around $8,000. Jade says she owes this consistency to her extensive market research and knowing where the gaps are.

Jade is now well on her way to early retirement, especially since her watercolor print shop has led to other freelance work she can undertake in addition to running her online stores. She’s planning to branch out and open her own store, outside of Etsy and Creative Market. But even before that, Jade says she would like to get an assistant, or perhaps her husband, involved to process the artwork so she can get back to what she loves doing... focusing on the painting.


  • Etsy | Paper Sphinx: Learn more about the watercolor clip art packs that Jade is whipping up over on her Etsy page!
  • Etsy & Creative Market: The two platforms that Jade used to sell her clip art

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"I love my day job, and since my side hustle doesn't take up a lot of time I'm having fun doing both! It’s great for me because I only have to spend time on it when I want to. And I love researching trends and making use of what I've learned at my day job to help grow my business after work."
—Jade Orlando #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau