In this post, you will learn how to stop selling your time and start making money passively. As a web developer or graphic designer, you have valuable skills that can be leveraged to create income streams without actively working.
We’ll share with you 10 proven passive income ideas for designers that you can start implementing today to help you build a more secure financial future.
From creating and selling items to renting out your website design skills, there are many ways to turn your talent into a profitable business. Let’s dive in and discover how you can build passive income today!
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income for designers is a type of income that is earned with little to no effort or active involvement regularly. It is often referred to as “making money while you sleep”.
Passive income is typically generated from investments, businesses, or digital goods that can generate revenue on an ongoing basis with little or no effort required to maintain them.
The key to generating passive income as a web or graphic designer is to create high-quality goods that appeal to a broad audience and then market them effectively through social media and other online channels.
While it can require significant upfront effort to create and market these products, the potential for long-term passive income can be a valuable source of financial stability and freedom.
Passive Income vs Active Income vs Recurring Income
Passive income for developers is earned from assets that require little ongoing effort to maintain, like selling digital goods.
Active income is earned through work or effort, like designing custom client websites.
Recurring income is earned from a regular or ongoing source, like offering maintenance services or creating SaaS products. Let’s see the differences between these types of income.
|Passive Income = Recurring Income||Active Income |
|• Generated from digital goods that require little ongoing effort to maintain, such as website templates, WordPress themes, or online courses.|
• Typically earned regardless of whether the owner is actively working or not.
• Can provide financial stability and freedom by generating income even when the owner is not working on specific projects.
• Often requires significant effort and resources upfront to create and market the digital products.
• Examples include selling templates or themes on marketplaces, creating and selling courses or tutorials, or selling digital goods through a website or blog.
|• Generated from active work or effort, such as designing custom websites or web applications for clients. |
• Income is directly tied to the amount of time and effort put in by the designer or developer.
• Income is dependent on the availability of clients and projects, and may fluctuate based on market demand.
• Income is earned from completing specific projects or tasks for clients.
• Examples include designing custom websites or web applications for clients, providing website maintenance or support services, or working as a freelancer or employee for a web development or design agency.
Benefits of passive income for designers
As a web developer or graphic designer, there are several benefits to generating passive income streams:
- Additional income: Passive income provides an additional source of income that can supplement your regular design work. This can help to stabilize your income and provide financial security.
- Flexibility: Passive income can provide greater flexibility in your work schedule, as they don’t require your ongoing attention or time. You can take time off without worrying about losing income!
- Diversification: Passive income streams can help you diversify your income sources and reduce your reliance on a single client or project. This can provide greater financial stability and reduce the risk of income fluctuations.
- Professional development: Creating and selling digital products can also help you develop new skills and knowledge. You can learn about new technologies, trends, and customer needs by working on digital goods.
- Brand building: Developing and promoting digital goods can help you build your personal brand as a designer and establish yourself as an authority in your field. This way you can find high-profile clients and other career growth opportunities.
How much you can make
How much can you earn from passive income?
The amount of passive income you can earn as a web developer or designer depends on many factors.
Among them are the types of products or services you offer, as well as the audience you reach. Also important is the marketing strategy you use to promote your good.
|Digital product||Income (unit prices) |
|WordPress themes||$50 – $100 |
|Web templates||$5 – $100|
|Plugins/add-ons||$5 – $100|
|Stock photos||$0.25 – $499; depends on type of license|
|Icon sets||$3 – $40|
|Tutorial videos||$10 – $200|
|E-books||$5 – $20|
Creating five-star and useful digital products can take a lot of time and effort. It is worth investing in because it can be a serious source of passive income over time.
Additionally, you may need to invest in marketing to reach potential customers and increase sales.
How fast would you start earning real money?
Passive income typically requires an upfront investment of time and effort to create the product, as well as ongoing maintenance to ensure it continues to generate revenue.
It can be several months or even years to build up a large enough customer base to generate great passive income. High-quality items combined with a good marketing strategy can make your products start generating revenue after just a few weeks.
What is the most profitable passive income?
It is hard to answer this question because there is no one-size-fits-all answer to what is the most profitable passive income for web developers and graphic designers. However, our experience shows that the 3 most profitable are:
- Online courses: up to $50,000 per month;
- WordPress themes & website templates: up to 10,000 per month;
- Affiliate marketing: up to $10,000 per month.
Types of Passive Income: 3 Ways to Make Money
Web developers and graphic designers have many opportunities to generate various types of passive income:
- Affiliate third-party products or services: This can be a lucrative way to earn passive income, especially if you have a large audience and can effectively promote products that align with your brand.
- Resell third-party products or services: That is a good option if you don’t have the time or resources to develop their own products, but still want to earn a commission on sales.
- Build and sell your own products: Highly profitable way to earn passive income, as you have full control over the product and can potentially earn 100% of the sales revenue (if it is sold on your own website).
The combination of the above opportunities allows us to diversify and create a stable source of passive income.
Let’s see how you can exchange your creative skills for extra money! Here are the 10 best passive income ideas.
1. Create and sell website templates
Creating and selling templates can be a good way to generate passive income if you’re a web designer with coding skills. By creating customizable and easy-to-use themes, you can sell them on your online store or through popular marketplaces, such as ThemeForest or Creative Market.
For example, you could create restaurant website templates that include features like online ordering, reservation forms, and menus. This template could be sold to multiple restaurants, saving them the time and expense of building their own website from scratch.
Example of template you can sell
How to start?
- Research popular website design trends and identify a niche.
- Create high-quality, customizable templates.
- Market your templates effectively.
- Sell UpMenu’s website template “UpRestaurant”, which is perfect for all restaurant types.
- Sell UpMenu’s website template “Sushi Bar” designed specifically for sushi restaurants.
- Selling wordpress templates: ThemeForest or Creative Market
2. Become affiliate partner
Becoming an affiliate partner is a popular way of building passive income for developers by promoting products or services to your own audience. As an affiliate, you can earn extra cash by referring customers to companies that offer commission-based partnerships.
This approach is particularly appealing for web developers and designers, who often have a large online following or client base. In this paragraph, we will show you how to get your affiliate income, become an affiliate partner and join an affiliate program.
How to start?
- Find affiliate programs that align with your speciality.
- Sign up for the program.
- Promote the products.
Examples of affiliate programs
3. Become reseller partner
Becoming a reseller partner can be one of passive income strategies for web developers and designers. You can sell products or services created by others and earn a commission on each sale. This is how you can leverage the work of others and build a profitable business with minimal investment.
In this paragraph, we will show you the best examples like the UpMenu reseller program.
How to start?
- Research products or services to sell.
- Sign up for a reseller program.
- Promote the products or services.
Examples of reseller programs
4. Create and sell Online Courses
Creating and selling online courses has become a popular way for graphic designers to share experience and knowledge while earning money. Online courses offer a flexible way to learn and are in high demand.
If you have design skills, you can create your courses to teach others your skills and techniques, and potentially earn a significant amount of money.
How to sell your own courses?
- Do research, choose a topic and create a course where you share your design skills.
- Set up a platform: host the course on your own or use third-party platforms.
- Market your courses: promote it on social media, run ads, offer discounts and free trials.
The best third-party platforms to sell your courses
5. Create and sell Tutorials
Creating and selling video tutorials can be a profitable option. Just like creating an online course, tutorial videos can be sold on various platforms and are a great way to showcase your skills and expertise.
However, compared to creating a full-fledged course, creating tutorial videos is relatively easier and requires less effort.
How to sell your own tutorials?
- Create high-quality tutorials based on your own experience.
- Choose a platform to sell your tutorials.
- Promote your tutorial and optimize sales strategy.
The best places to sell tutorials and earn money
- Thinkific — https://www.thinkific.com/
- Vimeo On Demand — https://vimeo.com/ondemand/startselling
- Pluralsight — https://www.pluralsight.com/teach
6. Create and sell E-Book
Creating and selling an E-Book can be an excellent source of passive income for designers. It can be an effective way to share knowledge with a wider audience and generate passive income.
An E-Book can be created based on a course or video tutorial. When creating materials, it is best to work on the E-book, course and video tutorials simultaneously.
How to start?
- Choose a topic and create content.
- Prepare the layout of the E-Book and fill it with content.
- Sell your E-Book in your own online store or use third-party platforms.
Where to sell your E-Book?
- Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing — https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
- Apple Books — https://authors.apple.com/publish
- Sellfy — https://sellfy.com/
7. Write Guest Posts on Different Blogs
As a web developer or graphic designer, you can write guest posts on blogs. This is a great way to earn extra money — usually you get a fee and exposure to a new audience. It can help you build your personal brand.
For example, you can write a guest post for the UpMenu blog in which you share your knowledge, from your course or ebook, and promote your product.Another example is writing for other designers.
How to start?
- Identify blogs where you can share your knowledge.
- Pitch your idea and set the details of cooperation.
- Write and submit your post for review.
Where to find blogs?
- Use Google search: type your niche keyword followed by “write for us” or “submit a guest post”.
- Check out social media platforms. Use hashtags related to your specialty to find blogs.
- Join guest blogging communities.
8. Start a blog
Blogging is one of the best passive income sources — it can even turn into a full-time job. Nowadays, starting a blog has become easier than ever, and with the right strategies, it can be the only source of income.
Writing a blog is the perfect way to monetize your knowledge and passion — you can get passive income from website and every single blog post!
How to start?
- Choose a blogging platform or hosting: you can host a blog on your own or use platforms like WordPress.com, Blogger, or Medium.
- Create content: you can share your experience in web design, graphic design or other. With a self-hosted blog, you can open an ecommerce store where you can sell courses and E-Books.
- Promote your blog and build your brand: share posts on social media, and gather fans.
Real world examples of blogs
- Webdesigner Depot — https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/
- Designer Daily — https://www.designer-daily.com/
- David Walsh Blog — https://davidwalsh.name/
9. Start a YouTube channel or podcast
Recent years show that both YouTube and podcasting have grown in popularity, making them attractive options for those looking to monetize their skills and knowledge.
Starting a YouTube channel or podcast can be an opportunity to make passive income with the potential to earn much money in the long term.
It may require some initial work to get started, but the benefits of having a successful channel or podcast can be significant.
How to start?
- Plan and research: Decide on topics you want to cover and research the audience for it. Decide on the format, length, and frequency of episodes.
- Set up your equipment: you’ll need a camera (for YouTube videos), microphone, and editing software. You can start with basic equipment and upgrade later as you gain more experience.
- Create and publish content regularly. Be consistent and engage with your audience through comments and social media. Promote your content on other platforms to reach a wider audience.
Popular YouTube channels and podcasts
10. Sell physical goods
If you have an eye for design and want to turn your creativity into your own business, start selling physical goods! There is plenty of print on demand services, where you can easily create and sell your own designs and custom merchandise.
There’s no need to invest a huge amount of money. That’s why selling physical goods can be a great way to generate extra income or even start a full-fledged business.
Examples of things you can sell:
- T-shirts and other clothes and accessories
- Phone cases
- Tote bags
How to start?
- Choose a service and create an account.
- Create designs. Try making matching sets, for example t-shirt, hoodie & mug.
- Set up an online store to sell your merchandise.
Bonus: 11. Design and sell other digital goods
If you are a graphic designer, you can make money by creating and selling digital goods such as stock graphics, stock photos, and logos. These products are in high demand, and you can earn a passive income by selling them on various online platforms.
Here are income ideas for designers:
- Stock graphics and vector images: These are digital illustrations, icons, and other design elements that designers create and sell through stock image platforms like Shutterstock and iStock.
- AI generated graphics: Selling AI-powered images is possible through Adobe Stock or Dreamstime.
- Fonts: Designers can create and sell their own unique fonts, which can be used for branding, design, and print projects. Font can be sold on Creative Fabrica or Creative Market.
- Lightroom presets: These are pre-made filters that photographers and designers can use to edit photos in Adobe Lightroom. Designers can create and sell their own Lightroom presets on platforms like Etsy and Sellfy.
- Poster designs: Designers can create and sell digital poster designs for events, home decor, and more, through platforms like Design Cuts and RedBubble.
- Social media templates: Design and sell pre-made templates for social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Sell it on Canva.
Bonus: 12. More recurring revenue ideas
- Earn from your fans on Patreon.
- Create and sell custom WordPress plugins.
- Offer SEO optimization services to clients for a recurring monthly fee.
- Provide web design or development consulting services on a monthly retainer.
- Develop and sell browser extensions or add-ons.
- Create and sell custom ecommerce solutions.
- Offer design consultations on a recurring basis.
How to start in 4 steps?
- Choose the way: There are three main ways to earn passive income as a web developer or designer – affiliating third-party products or services, reselling third-party products or services, or building and selling your own products.
- Define your niche: Once you’ve chosen your preferred method of earning passive income, it’s important to define your niche. This will help you focus your efforts and target the right audience. It can be creating and selling templates or WordPress themes/plugins, or selling digital assets or creating and selling courses and tutorials.
- Build your brand: Building a strong brand is essential for earning passive income. This means creating a professional website, establishing your social media presence, and creating high-quality content that appeals to your target audience.
- Promote your products: Finally, you’ll need to promote your products to your target audience. This could involve running paid advertising campaigns, creating content that showcases your products, or using email marketing to reach out to potential customers.
- Passive income is about stopping selling your time for money.
- Passive Income is better than active income because you don’t sell your time for money.
- Passive income is about getting recurring revenue, whether you work or not.
- There are many ways to provide passive income. By diversifying your sources, you can ensure a steady income.
- Every passive income can provide cash flow. Mostly it depends on the quality of goods.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Designers can make passive income by creating and selling digital goods such as stock graphics, fonts, and templates. They can also earn from print-on-demand services by designing their own merchandise or creating designs for others. Finally, they can monetize their design skills by creating educational content such as courses or tutorials.
Graphic designers can make the biggest income when the quality of the designs is high. Some of the best paying services include Redbubble, Society6, and Zazzle; popular stock graphic websites include Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and iStock.
There are several ways for graphic designers to make money, such as by creating and selling digital products. Another option is to create and sell online courses or tutorials, or to offer design services on a retainer or subscription basis.