5 Ways to Make Passive Income For Freelance Designers

Editor’s note: This article is contributed by Stelian Subotin. Stelian is an enthusiast and design fan who is working on his new design-related blog called Rocket Graphics.

Each day, more and more freelancer designers are looking for a way to earn more money than the usual client work or full-time position they have. In the following article we will discuss a lot of ways how you can earn more from being a freelance designer.

The one true weapon a freelancer has is total freedom on how to manage their time and work. That can be put to good use to diversify the income streams. There is more than one way to make a buck on the Internet.

passive income
(Image source: Fotolia)

Some of these methods may need you to work outside of your comfort zone but they are great ways to help you hone your craft, reflect on your own skills, pick out your weaknesses and strengths and utilize that to increase your income pool.

Here are 5 ways to make extra passive income as a freelance designer.

1. Writing

Your Own Blog

One very good way of creating a cash flow-in is to start writing about your experiences or design topics you are interested in or have a background in and share it with people. If you have the right skills, you could also prepare tutorials which are on a high demand in blogs that publish them on a regular basis.

With all the tools the Internet has to offer, you can get your own design blog up and running in almost no time regardless of whether you can code or not.

blog writing

If you have decided to start your own blog then there are various ways of earning money, the most common being the adverts you can display on your website.

With the huge numbers of pay-per-view and pay-per-lead advertising systems, you won’t have a hard time finding a suitable network to work with, if your content is top-notch.

Guest Post on Various Blogs

Many big design blogs out there are willing to pay you a good buck for your top-notch articles and sometimes even more for welll-written tutorials. The payment ranges from a dozen of bucks to hundreds, depending on many factors. Guest posting is an good way of generating extra income, but the effort you put in must be high as well.

Write a Book

Many designers have proven that e-books are a very good source of income. Sacha Greif, a reputable designer in the community reported an income of $40,000 for his latest e-book over a period of a few months, while Nathan Berry reported that his last book made him over $28,000 in the first day alone!

There are various ways to get your book out. For printed versions you can try Amazon Publishing Services and for e-books you can definitely try services like eJunkie.

ui book

2. Stock Graphics

It’s been getting more and more popular in the last year, and still it is. Selling stock graphics on various markets doesn’t sound like a very easy job but many designers could actually make nice amounts by working on their own products and putting them up for sale.

There are actually various way of selling them, and you can easily choose between a marketplace, or your own web store. Again, creating a web-store isn’t as hard as it sounds, whether you can code or not. You can totally unleash your creativity and create whatever kinds of files you’d like.


Stock items that you can usually put for sale include, but are not limited to: icon sets, photoshop filters, fonts, web layouts – basically anything that you have expertise in creating will do the trick.

Below are a few markets that can help you start out.


ThemeForest is the leading site for selling and buying web templates and WP themes. If you cannot code, you can also focus on the PSD template category. PSD Templates here are priced from $8 to $10, depending on the sub-category. A single-paged template is usually at $8, while a 5+ pages template comes in at $10.

themeforest earning

Based on the analysis of 30 files submitted a month ago in the PSD Templates category, I can conclude that the worst-selling template ended up making $20 for its owners, the best-selling between these made $300, so it’s up to you to decide whether you want, or do not want to invest your time into stock graphics, and PSD templates in specific.

Another pro for selling there is that you can find a developer to work or build a team with, here.


If you are a graphic designer, then GraphicRiver is probably the most suitable marketplace for you. It is the place for business cards, icons, fonts, photoshop actions & filters, flyers and other stock items. GraphicRiver has grown much in the past few years, so you should be aware of the competition and a huge number of (similar) files. Unique items would probably sell better here.


Creative Market

Creative Market is a “newborn” in the design stock community, even though it has some very good “parents”. Built by the guys at ColourLovers, the place sells any kind of stock items but the very best thing about Creative Market is that it considers authors’ opinions most and gives them a lot of freedom.

There is no review process and no prices based on categories at Creative Market. Once you are approved as a seller, you have the possibility to upload as many items you’d like, set the prices, and see them for sale fairly quickly.

creative market

3. Side Project

Side projects are usually small tools, utilities, services, products and probably memberships that help you solve or make a task easier for you and the community. Depending on the popularity of these tools, they can earn somewhere from a dozen of dollars to a few hundreds, not including services and products that vary from one to another in their income.

Some tools that can be given as examples are:

960 Grid System

960 grid



Your Rate


Space Box


4. Physical Goods

Another way of building a stream of passive income, which has been quite popular in the last years is selling physical goods such as posters, t-shirts, compilation books or other similar items. There are many creative people out there who are constantly looking to revamp their wardrobe and walls with cool and strange things!


I’ve seen both agencies and freelancers succeed at selling their stuff to the masses, and often times they end up building a massive shop, such as Ugmonk to cater to the demand.

5. Design Contests

Design contest websites have been around for a very long time, and many designers out there have gotten their start from there. Websites like 99Designs would pay you well, starting at $249 for a logo design, $599 for a website design and $199 for a postcard or flyer.


The best thing about design contest websites is that there is always work to do. Hundreds of projects are set as open and you have the opportunity to earn a few hundred of dollars for a “design piece”. The bad part is that there are thousands of others like you hunting for the same bounty. You have to really impress the contest creator and show that your work is the best, otherwise you are simply wasting your time working on a project that you’ll never get paid for.


To conclude this article, I wanted to say that there are a lot of ways of creating a flow of side income, and you never know how this side income will turn into your main source of income or even your main job. Try to put focus on a category that fits you most and start “digging” for your best way to earn yourself a great passive side income.

via hongkiat.com http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/build-passive-income-designers/