How to use Adobe Creative Cloud to make extra money at uni

By Leah Scott

You do not have to be a highly trained artist to make money doing something creative. You really don’t.

If, like me, you’re crap at drawing, don’t panic. If you have an eye for design, or at least the motivation to try stuff out and experiment, you can make money as an artist. Just arranging words nicely on a page can be enough to entice someone to buy something.

make money online

Incidentally this artist has made 7896 sales on Etsy.

Think of all those “Live, Love, Laugh” stickers people buy for their dining room walls. Those are literally just words someone’s typed, and then a nice font chosen. A word or two with a nice layout can be a logo. Add a few more words and maybe a nice background - boom! - business card. Design on a slightly larger canvas and you can make t-shirts, mugs, pillows, literally anything. If your design still feels a bit empty, grab a stock photo or nice illustration and you’re good to go.

If you don’t have Adobe Creative Cloud already you can get a 60% discount as a student. If you’re a total beginner all of the different features can seem a bit daunting to start with, but there are thousand of online tutorials and videos to show you how to do almost everything on Adobe software.

Adobe Photoshop is my go to software for creating designs. Although obviously its primary usage is photo editing, I find its basic layout and text features to be the simplest, and the easiest for newcomers.

adobe money making

If you’re feeling a little brave, open up Adobe Illustrator and using your mouse, or if you have one, a graphics tablet, and try a bit of drawing or tracing. The beauty of Illustrator is that when you’ve drawn a line, you can edit and reshape every little bit of it, until it’s perfect. You may, like me, be horrible at drawing on the unforgiving medium of paper, but Illustrator may surprise you.

Created something beautiful? Or at least passable? Great. Now let’s sell it.

example of adobe creation

Just make something better than this and you’re golden

Friends, Family and Local Businesses

If you can locate the ON/OFF button and can send an email, chances are a family member has already drafted you in to fix ‘that bloody machine’. And you’ve probably been asked to knock up the odd missing pet poster or party invitation before. Basically, keep doing this, but start charging for it. I’ve used Creative Cloud to design business cards, logos, posters, t-shirts etc for friends, and you don’t have to feel weird asking for money for it. Make it known you’re offering your services on Facebook and Twitter and you might find you start getting enquiries from local businesses too.

My first proper client was my dad, who paid me £120(ish) to make him a website. But of course, it wasn’t just the site, it was redesigning the logo, the colour scheme, etc, basically a rebranding.

With that project under my belt, I felt more confident and moved on to creating graphics, logos & business cards for a web design firm, a dog walker, an engineering firm, a building and construction company, a dressmaker, and many more - and I wouldn’t even consider myself a ‘freelancer’. That’s literally just work from friends and family. I get a percentage of the revenue from 6 different books on Amazon for designing their covers. Smaller jobs like this easily fit around uni work, you can gain wide experience, and the extra money is definitely helpful.

I used these initial jobs to set up my own portfolio website for free on WordPress, so I had examples of my work on hand to show people that were thinking of hiring me.

Become a freelancer

Once you get a bit more experienced with Creative Cloud you can offer up your services on a service like Fiverr or UpWork. Advertise yourself for the things you’re best at, but here are a few examples of what you can use Creative Cloud to help you make:

Logos - using a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator it’s possible to make an effective logo in a hurry, simple ideas are usually best, but with Photoshop it’s easy to change fonts and colour schemes to suit your client’s needs.

Business cards, posters and leaflets - Photoshop and InDesign are powerful tools to help you create attractive advertisements for businesses.

Photo editing - many professional wedding photographers use a combination of Adobe Lightroom with Photoshop to perfect the colour balance and composition of their photos. It’s like a much more powerful Instagram filter, and you can get some pretty great results just experimenting.

On Fiverr the base rate is $5 per job, but you can charge extra for additional services or if they ask for something quite complicated. It might not seem like much money, but it’s a good way of testing your skills and it can help you build up your portfolio. However when you start out freelancing try and have a few examples of your work for people to look at so they feel reassured you know your stuff. The downside to Fiverr is that it’s oversaturated. I’ve listed a few different things on there - logos, business cards, and my services as a proofreader; but so have a lot of other people.

Starting a card making business

card making to make money

While I was approaching the final term of my degree I thought about focussing more seriously on making money with the design skills I’d developed on Adobe Creative Cloud and began using Photoshop and Illustrator to create some funny greetings cards to sell online.

I first set up an account on Redbubble, it’s a free to use website where you can upload your designs to the site, and earn a bit of money every time someone orders one. Once you upload your designs Redbubble do the printing and posting for you, so it’s a good place to start. I made about 12-17p per card, so nothing major, but it helped me learn what my customers were interested in.

Tip: Make sure you check the recommended dimensions for your desired product before you hit File > New! It’s easy to change your canvas size on Photoshop when you start but it can be difficult to fix afterwards.

After I realised I was making such a tiny margin on my work I set up my own Etsy shop.

Etsy gives you a little bit more freedom to do your own thing. They won’t print anything for you, but you have the option of printing and shipping whatever it is you’ve made yourself, or selling printables. Which literally just involves sending the customer the file/design you’ve made, as a PDF or JPEG, which they can then print themselves. Easy as pie!

To start off I invested in a printer and 150 blank white cards (with envelopes and cellophane wrappers) from Hobbycraft. Printing a card from an Etsy order costs me about 50p, and I charge £1.50 for a card, with postage on top, so that’s already more than 5x the profit I made from Redbubble.

Tip: Research postage costs thoroughly. Weigh stuff. If you undercharge for postage you’ll end up eating into your profit to make up the difference. I lost about £10 before I realised it’d cost more than £1.20 to post my cards to Australia.


If you’re going to make a profit from your designs, you can’t just download and use any old fonts and images from the internet, you need to have the correct permissions to do so. If you need free images you can create your own, or use Google Images or Flickr to find royalty-free pictures, and check out Google Fonts for free (if slightly overused) fonts.

money making online

If you want slightly nicer fonts and artwork to use you’ll have to pay, it doesn’t have to be expensive though. Adobe frequently offer discounts and deals on Adobe Stock, which is a great resource for designers, but also check out Design Cuts, Creative Market, Graphicburger and The Hungry JPEG, as they all frequently sell bundles of fonts, illustrations, textures, backgrounds and tons of other stuff at a heavy discount.

Liked this? Find out more ways to make money with your creativity.

This article was sponsored by Adobe Creative Cloud - find out how you can get a student discount of 60% on a subscription.