Graphic design can be a rewarding career for talented creatives who know how to market themselves – and rather lucrative for designers who create passive income streams. Getting paid while you sleep might seem too good to be true, but many designers have leveraged their skills to do just that.
Passive income isn’t easy income, however, and it takes real commitment to not only design salable products, but also market them so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. To that end, here are ten passive income ideas you can consider for your design business.
1. Sell design templates
Designers and DIY marketers are always on the lookout for graphic design templates, especially templates that are editable in Photoshop and Illustrator. Bestsellers include flyer and poster templates, brochure templates, and website templates.
“If you’re skilled with Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, or other graphic design software – even PowerPoint – you can easily sell your own templates,” says Adam McIntyre, a freelance designer who sells flyer and brochure templates via BrandPacks.com while he travels Europe in his campervan. “Thanks to online marketplaces like Graphic River and Creative Market, and the evolution of free-to-use software like EasyDigitalDownloads, generating passive income as a designer is easier than ever before.”
Like Adam, you can sell templates on your own website; or, you can sell your designs via online template marketplaces. Options include:
2. Sell fonts
Do you have a knack for typography? If so, you can create your own fonts and sell them to other designers. Follow font-making tutorials and brush up on font design tips (or take a font design course), then design your own fonts with software like:
3. Sell shirts and other print on demand (POD) products
You can create designs for shirts, hats, bags, posters and prints, coffee mugs, and other products, then sell them via print on demand websites. Options include:
- Café Press
- Design By Humans
If you want to sell print on demand products via your own website, but you don’t want to deal with printing and order fulfillment, you can even set up a Shopify store and connect it to an add-on like Printful’s Shopify app.
4. Sell stock photos
If you moonlight as a photographer, or simply snap your own photos for your designs, you can repurpose them into revenue by selling them on stock photo sites. Options include:
5. Sell WordPress themes
If you have development skills, you can design and develop WordPress themes to sell. Or, partner with a developer and split the profits. Check out online WordPress theme design tutorials to understand best practices, then sell your WordPress themes on sites like:
6. Sell Adobe add-ons
You can create and sell add-ons for Adobe’s uber popular software. Photoshop brushes and actions, Lightroom presets, After Effects plugins, Premier LUT’s, text styles, layer styles, patterns, and other add-ons make it easy for other designers to quickly and easily implement creative styles into their designs. That means you can profit from a healthy market for Adobe add-ons.
“Selling Adobe add-ons can be low-hanging fruit for many creative professionals, as they often have their own collection of actions and presets. Why leave ’em hidden on your hard drive? Uploading these assets to sites like FilterGrade enables designers and photographers to generate additional passive revenue streams with very little effort,” says FilterGrade’s Mike Moloney. “Many of our partners have managed to double their income in just a matter of weeks, and some are even able to quit freelancing altogether.”
Sell your Adobe add-ons via:
7. Sell design tutorials and courses
Help other designers enhance their skills by creating and selling your own design tutorials. Design tutorials are among the easiest digital products to create: you’re already doing design work, after all, so you can simply fire up your favorite screencast software and narrate your process.
You can create your own design tutorial website, or sell via online course marketplaces like:
In addition to design tutorials, you can sell entire courses about the business of design, how to get clients, and other valuable information you can share.
8. Create marketable content
You can sell design tutorials and courses directly; or, you can create content that attracts advertising and helps you earn revenue via affiliate links. Ideas include creating your own design blog and publishing tutorials on YouTube.
Earning passive income via ads and affiliates is a long game, and it’s not easy – you need to craft killer content, develop ad partnerships, and develop a strong marketing strategy – but if you can pull it off, the rewards can be tremendous. Learn more about how to create content that engages your audience (and attracts advertisers).
9. Sell mockup kits
Mockup kits are gaining popularity among designers who want quick and easy ways to create scenes for product displays, brand identity displays, and more. You can create niche-themed mockup kits and sell them to other designers. Ideas include Italian restaurant mockup kits, pizzeria mockup kits, mobile app mockups, brand identity package mockups, business card display mockups, shirt mockups, and product setting mockups – there really is no limit in this field.
Create mockups in your favorite graphic editor or use a tool like Mockup Editor to get started. You can sell mockups Creative Market and other marketplaces.
10. Sell books
Do you have an interesting take on the world of graphic design? Helpful advice to share with fellow freelancers? A step-by-step process for starting and growing a design business or agency? Or, have you crafted unique artwork that deserves its own publication? If so, you can self-publish your own book and sell it via sites and services like:
Creating passive income streams takes commitment, hard work, and ongoing marketing; but, if you’re dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort, you can leverage your design experience to generate reliable and recurring revenue!
This post was written by Brian Morris. He serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. He can be found on LinkedIn.