8 Ways Freelance Designers Can Earn Passive Income

Why the hell wouldn’t you want to make some money on the side while you’re building your freelance business?

Got your attention yet? Good.

As a freelance web designer, I can speak from the heart when I say that there are times in my business building process that I just wish I could work on things I liked all day long and not have worry about anything else. Passive income is the answer to that problem and since I’m sure that I am not the only one who has thoughts similar to this – you need to continue reading 🙂


In this article I am going to list and discuss 8 different methods we can earn some passive income and build the ultimate side hustle. In my opinion, a side hustle like this is a must have for any freelancer, because we all know about the feast or famine cycle and the troubles that come along with depending on one source of income. You know the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket“? Yeah, we’re not going to be doing that anymore.

If at the end of the article you come across some questions or would like to discuss things further, just drop a comment and let me know and I’ll answer any questions you may have.

Stock Photography

With the relative low cost of a decent quality camera these days, anyone can take it outside for an hour or two and shoot some pictures to sell on stock photography websites. One site that sticks out in my mind is iStockPhoto.

Imagine uploading 10 photos a week for an entire year. At the end of the year, you’ll have over 500 photos that people can purchase and you can make money off of. This will take a minimal amount of time on your part and will also give you the added benefit of actually getting away from your computer and getting outside.

Vector/Graphic Files

We’ve all heard of Envato and their huge list of marketplaces that totally dominate the entire world, right? (ok, so they don’t dominate the world, but you get my point)

Why not take some of your old designs that clients didn’t accept, polish them up and place them on sites like Graphic River or Video Hive to see if you can earn some extra cash?

Reseller Hosting

Any web designer out there can utilize this method of passive income to the fullest. Places like This* Web Host (aff link) offer super low cost reseller hosting packages that you can use and sell to your web clients.

Now, you don’t have to build an entire web hosting business (you know, domain, logo & website), but by simply letting your web design clients know that you offer hosting, you can earn some really nice passive income over time. Imagine having 20-30 people paying you $10.00 per month hosting – thats an extra 2-3 grand per year in your pocket.


No matter if you’re a web designer, logo designer or anything in between, we all have creative juices that sometimes just flow out of control.

Put that extra energy to use and design some t-shirts. Make them for yourself and you never know who else might love the design. Places like Design by Humans have members vote on t-shirts and the winners win money. The shirt of the day wins $750, the shirt of the week wins $1,000, and the shirt of the month wins $1,750.

How To’s & Ebooks

You know a lot about your line of work, right? Could you put 20-30 thousand words together in ‘how-to’ form and tell people how to do what you do? Our friends over at Freelance Folder put out the Unlimited Freelancer book and I am sure are making some great passive income from the sales of the book.

Price your book right and pack it full of kick ass information and it can earn you some nice bank while you’re away from your computer doing something else you love.


Along the lines of the method above, why not take some of your knowledge and teach others how to do things the right way.

Do you know how to market a freelance business properly? Sell consulting services that teach other freelance business owners how they can make more money by marketing the right way. What about design/coding consulting? You could turn your knowledge into a pretty nice bank account by offering classes/seminars and giving out tips/tricks on how to design better.


There are two choices (in my opinion) that you can follow here. One, you can create templates (xhtml/css) or themes (wordpress, ecommerce, ect) and sell them on sites like Theme Forest or you can build your own brand up and sell premium themes like Woo Themes and StudioPress.

Yes, if you build a quality brand the work involved may be big, but in the end you’ll have the freedom to design things you love and not have to answer to clients – plus, if you’re that busy building themes, you’re obviously making good money, so stop complaining 🙂

Affiliate Marketing

No matter if you’ve only got a website that is your portfolio, you can place affiliate links to your web hosting company and other things like the invoicing software your use or premium membership sites you belong to, in the footer of your site where people usually place the “powered by” text.

You can also offer affiliate links during conversations through email/social networks/forums when you’re giving out advice. Make people aware of the links (like I’ve been doing in this post) and you’re good to go. The more your affiliate links are out there, the more likely you are to make some money from them.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Get out there and make some money! Any other tips you’d like to share? I’m sure we could all use some of your wisdom, please share your ideas with the rest of us! 🙂


  1. Austin December 8, 2009
  2. Donn Lavi January 16, 2010
  3. Painting September 19, 2012
  4. Lavada@seo consultin September 25, 2012