Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

So we are both still lucky that we have our jobs and are working from home for now. There have been preliminary signs of a haze on the horizon however. Mrs FW’s workplace have laid off quite a few staff and my work is seeing less projects.

We are both still learning new skills on the side as mentioned in our original post about the pandemic situation around the world here. But it doesn’t feel like enough and so have for the past few weeks seeing what other options there are out there to potentially add a bit of side-income, or resort too should we have to.

There are platforms where you can offer any skills you have, and some where you can sell digital images and products.

Sell your skills

We haven’t tried selling our skills on these yet but have used them as customers. They look to be quite a good option if you have some skill or knowledge in a particular area. Most people are good at something, whether it is design, baking, diy, knitting or translation.

  • Skillshare – become a teacher and sell your course. Teachers get paid per minute of their videos watched.
  • Upwork – freelancing platform where you set an hourly rate and can bid on projects that need doing. The more ‘traditional’ system from my understanding.
  • Fiverr – similar to Upwork but seems to work in reverse, where freelancers offer gigs, stating their offering at different package rates.

All of the above have customer reviews and ratings for teachers and sellers, so like many things on the internet, the better your reputation the better you may do. I’ve signed up to Upwork and Fiverr but haven’t put myself out there yet. When I do and I have some results to share then I will do so.

Fiverr. Will definitely try something on here in the near future.

Sell your photos or products

I have been using the latter however for some years but only to the point of a tiny amount of residual income, mere peanuts, I’m talking $30 a year on average or thereabouts. I could probably expand on this but they usually take quite a bit of effort in setting up in the first place, with no guarantee of success or even acceptance into the selling platform in some cases such as stock photo websites. Some people probably do make useful or significant income streams but it’s likely they do so on a near full-time basis and have thousands of images up for sale.

  • Zazzle – have your images and photos on digital products for customers to sell.
  • Etsy – more for handicrafts and physical products more than digital. I’ve never bought anything from here as it all seems the opposite to being frugal, but no doubt it works for some people selling their creations.
  • Shutterstock – sell your photos as illustrations as stock images. This is a long slug and you really need to be doing it for a very long time to get results. Applications and photos have to go through an approval process before they are available for customers- also time consuming. I was rejected the first time here and a couple of other places. This can be frustrating when images are rejected for a plethora of reasons including technical, artistic or limited commercial viability reasons. Like social media these days, it is advantageous to be continuously adding new content. The other big drawback is you literally get cents for each image sold, hence the large volume required. In total I’ve made just over $3,000, but that is about over ten years..  although I’ve barely touched it since I started nor added more in. I set the minimum payment to $50 which means I just receive a more regular small amount every now and then.
  • There are numerous stock image sites including Dreamstime, Fotolia and Alamy. Alamy was harder to get into and apparently to get sales. I’ve had one sale which was two years ago, although it was $18 for one image which is much better. GettyImages is another big one but I don’t seem to have an account (probably rejected). Google for more as new ones seem to always be popping up, though their customer base may be limited.

*EDIT writing all this turned into an exercise to see what else was in my various stock portfolios I’ve not looked at in five years or more. I also noticed that Fotolia is now part of Adobe Stock. Regardless, they have been slowly collecting pennies over these past few years and I now have the following accumulated in these (in $AUD):

  1. Shutterstock: $3074
  2. Adobe Stock/ Fotolia: $50
  3. Zazzle: $43
  4. Alamy $18 (only one sale from one image but at least the value per image is much better).

I’m really not sure if there are any other forgotten accounts out there. If there are then maybe in another 10-20 yrs I’ll get an email saying I’ve received some money in my paypal account 🙂 .

Lifetime Shutterstock earnings to date in $US. Potential here, if one can bear the slow and occasionally frustrating process.

One final tip:

If you’re thinking of doing design or illustrations for this, please don’t do what I did when I first started and spent hours making what I thought would be interesting designs that would sell well. They did not. My best selling images are travel photos, and they are much quicker to produce (take a photo) than an illustration, unless you have a quick and successful turnaround system.


I hope this has been useful to you. If I wasn’t working then I would totally be all over the skill selling platforms, and considering topping up my Shutterstock portfolio.

Even so, a good plan would be to get acquainted with them and even aim to do at least one project just to get started, then gradually ramp up as and when the need or desire increases.

If you have had success (or otherwise) on any of these platforms then I would love to hear about it.