5+ Awesome Passive Income Ideas for Designers

5+ Awesome Passive Income Ideas for Designers

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I think you’ll agree with us when we say:

It really stinks when you’re in between clients and have no work coming in. 

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Well, what if I told you that there are ways you can easily create passive income systems that can get you through those tough weeks or months.

In fact, these could become some of the most valuable parts of your business and when done right, can help your primary business grow.

5 Awesome Ways to Start Making Passive Income Today

Let’s take a look at some of the best ones out there and how you can get started as soon as today!

Option 1. Create and sell an online course

Logo Course with Futur

Are you good at something that your friends, family, or even complete strangers ask you to show them how you did it? You might want to consider creating an online course. According to recent studies, the revenue from online courses is expected to reach $240 billion by 2021.

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You want a piece of that action right?

For some inspiration see the best courses on Skillshare and the best courses on Udemy or even the top logo courses online.

Well, here’s how you get started:

  • Choose a Profitable Idea – People pay for courses because they want to learn how to solve a problem. Do some research and if there is a course out there that’s similar to your idea, that’s a good thing. Competition is a good thing. Trust us.
  • Create a Course Outline – You can have all the best information in the world, but if it’s unstructured or jumping all over the place, anyone who buys your course will get lost easily. Creating an outline helps you put everything in place prior to creating content.
  • Create Your Course Content – There are many different ways to create content for your course. It can be written, audio, or even video content. Which format you choose to go with can be up to you but one thing is for sure, if you’re providing valuable content, the format doesn’t matter.

Pro Tip: One valuable piece of content for any course is a worksheet. Providing a downloadable PDF can help your students follow along and allow them to take notes or have a copy of your course that they can refer to when they are away from their computer.

  • Create A Course Online – Ok, so you have an idea, and you have all the content done. Now, let’s get your course online so you can change some lives. There are many different options for you to choose from when it comes to making your course available.
  • Earn Money – While some platforms like Udemy may charge students per course, other options such as Skillshare will pay you based on how many people watch your videos. If you want to keep all of your earnings yourself, you can set up a website and make it available to students.

Real World Example – Chris Do from The Futur

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Chris Do has made an even bigger name for himself in the industry by providing valuable free YouTube videos, that in turn promote his paid courses and resources on his website The Futur, and at an enviable price point. 


Option 2. Sell your design mockups

Tshirt Mockup Design

Did you create a mockup of a design when you were pitching some new clients only for them not to go with your design? Just because they may not have wanted your design, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who may find a lot of value from your work. Sites like DesignCuts or Creative Market give you an option to sell those unused designs instead of having them languish away in a file folder on your computer.

Right now, selling your designs on Creative Market is by invitation only, but you can submit a request in 3 easy steps:

  • Create an Account – You can create an account with your email address or through your Facebook account
  • Click ‘Open Shop’ Link Twice – Click ‘Open Shop’ of the top of the site and also on the next page to move forward
  • Fill in the Details – Creative Market asks you to fill in some information such as why you want to open a shop on Creative Market.

Or you can contact DesignCuts to join them as a supplier.

See here for some of the best mockups and free samples.


Option 3. Write & sell an ebook

i will teach you to be rich ebook

Maybe you’re not a graphic designer or creating a course doesn’t really appeal to you. If you’re more of a writer at heart, please don’t think that you’re left out in the cold when it comes to creating a passive income stream. Many people find success writing ebooks about subjects that they have intimate knowledge of and want to share with the rest of the world. 

You can sell your first ebook within days. Here’s how you do it: 

  • Naming Your Ebook – Once you have a good idea for an ebook, coming up with an amazing title can take your ebook from selling 2 copies to your parents to selling millions of copies all over the world. Being specific with what your book is about can make it that much more interesting.
  • Create Your Ebook – Now the hardest part of creating an Ebook. The actual writing of it. Much like creating an online course, create an outline of the points you want to cover in your Ebook. A simple trick is to start with the end result such as learning a new skill and reverse engineering it so you can cover each step along the way. Don’t think that your Ebook has to be a 300-page epic that will sit next to War & Peace. The draw of many Ebooks is their short length and easy to consume format. Speaking of which…
  • Format Your Ebook – Making the information easy to digest is an important factor in the readability of your Ebook. Much of that comes from good and consistent formatting. Using short paragraphs and lists keep the information broken up into smaller chunks and a good font never hurts. If your Ebook calls for it, be sure to use great images. For many of us, we retain what we see much better than what we hear. Giving the reader images to look at can help them retain the information much easier.
  • Proofreading – While the words you put down may have flowed with ease as you typed them, sometimes spelling and grammatical errors happen. While you can go through and reread your book, checking for errors, we would recommend having a fresh set of eyes take a look. There are many freelance proofreaders that can proofread your book with an objective eye.
  • Get A Kick-Ass Cover – Did you ever notice how they display books at a bookstore? With the covers out front, all designed to elicit a reaction when seeing it. Good covers do that. Unless you’re able to design one yourself, look for online services like ebook launch, a company that offers ebook covers starting at $99, That may seem like a lot, but if your book takes off, you’ll make it back quickly.
  • Convert Your Ebook – With ebooks being chosen more by consumers, the number of platforms that you can publish your ebook to is numerous as well. However, there can be differences so you want to make sure you get it right. Amazon uses MOBI as a file format while the universal choice is ePub which is used by the majority of online bookstores including Barnes & Noble and Apple iBookstore. You can also publish your book in ePub or as a PDF if you plan on selling it on your website.

Real World ExampleI Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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Ramit Sethi, a famous finance guru started his empire with a simple $4.95 ebook on Amazon. That single ebook helped him build one of the most successful businesses online. You can get a copy of his book here.


Option 4: Start a podcast

Best design podcasts for freelancers & creatives

Since the first podcast launched in 2003, there are now over 750,000 shows available for people to listen to. 

That’s great and all, but how do you make money from a podcast?

One word: sponsorships

Many podcasts make money by selling sponsorship space for their show, but not only that you get exposure and build your personal brand. If you listen to a podcast and hear that it is brought to you by “Mom’s Elbow Grease” then it is very likely that the host is making some money off that sponsorship.

It’s never been easier to start a podcast these days, here’s how to do it:

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Pro Tip: Starting a podcast is the one option on our list that requires you to have the right equipment to get started. We would recommend checking out our picks for the best microphones for a good place to start.

  • Pick your niche – Like with many other options when it comes to making a good amount of passive income, starting a podcast requires you to pick a niche or topic that your show is going to be about. Now you may be the 1,000th show about fried green tomato recipes but that competition is a good thing. You can listen to what the top podcasts in your niche do and focus on taking a different approach to set yourself apart.
  • Name your podcast – You don’t want to get too technical or too random in the name. If you’re new to podcasting, having your keyword as part of your name will describe what your podcast is about.  The most important part of naming your podcast is your cover art. We’re visual by nature and having cover art that has the name of the podcast and is easy to read, has a colored background and has an image relating to the topic of the show can help it stand out against other new podcasts out there.
  • Pick a Hosting Provider – Ok, so you have the name and your niche, so you’re ready to record right? Not just yet Jimmy. If you record your podcast, who is going to host it. Picking the wrong host could cause problems downloading your latest episode. Much like website hosting, there are certain things you want to pay attention to:
    • Price – Seems like this is a consideration for everything. With podcast hosting, the more you spend, the more space you’ll have. Starting off with a basic plan is best and you can always upgrade later.
    • Simplicity – The hosting service you choose should make it easy to use their service and not overwhelm you. If you’re overwhelmed, try finding another host.
    • RSS Feed support – Many hosting platforms automatically create an RSS feed for you, if the one you’ve chosen doesn’t, you may want to consider moving.
  • Hit Record – Phew! Finally. It’s time to record the first episode of your podcast. Let’s assume that your podcast is just you speaking into a microphone. This is the simplest podcast to make. With programs such as Audacity, you can easily hit record when you’re ready to go. We recommend doing a short recording and playing it back just to make sure your microphone is picking up your voice clearly. There are many different options that you can use to record your podcast, including Skype
  • Editing your Podcast – When it comes to editing your podcast so that your final result sounds just how you want it, you have two options. You can edit it yourself, which can have a learning curve depending on the software you’re using or you can use a post-production service to take care of it for you. If editing your recording is a little too techy for you, there’s nothing wrong with having a professional make it sound its best.
  • Promote, Promote, Promote – Once your podcast is ready to go, you can submit your RSS feed to many different outlets such as iTunes, Google Play Music and many more. But how do you get people to listen to your podcast? If you run a blog as well, getting the word out about your new podcast can be as easy as letting email subscribers know and asking them to check it out, or asking friends to check it out and leave a review. 

Making money from a podcast is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It may take you quite some time to start making money. As your podcast gets more popular, sponsors will start to notice and may contact you for a space on your airwaves. See here for a guide on how to start a podcast.

Real Life ExampleEntrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas

Dumas was the guy who would listen to podcasts during his drive to and from work but when he found that there wasn’t a podcast that had a new episode every day, he started the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, interviewing entrepreneurs and other business personalities and now has more than 2,000 episodes and counting. See here for the best podcasts for designers & creatives.


Option 5: Affiliate marketing

Amazon Book Recommendations

Have you ever done a search for a gift for a loved one and came across a website reviewing the best products and a link to it on Amazon? More than likely, they were affiliate links. While some others may create affiliate income by becoming an affiliate of certain web companies, being an Amazon affiliate is the most common.

Here’s how you can get started as an Amazon affiliate:

  • Create a website – One requirement that Amazon has to become an affiliate is that you have to have a website first. If you have a website or a blog already, then you are already ahead of the curve. If you need a website, setting one up can be done in less than five minutes.
  • Visit the Amazon Associates homepage – Once you have your website set up, go over to the Amazon affiliates page and either log into your Amazon account or create a new account by clicking “Join Now For Free”. The whole sign-up process takes no more than a minute or two.
  • Build your Amazon Associates profile – Once you sign into your account, you will want to complete your account profile. Click “New Customer” and go through the following steps to complete your profile:
  • Enter your account information – This includes your name, address, and phone number, pretty basic stuff.
  • Enter the address of your website – Enter the address for the website that you’ll use Amazon affiliate links on. You can also list links for a YouTube channel if you want to.
  • Enter your store ID – On the next page, enter the store ID that you want to use (many will end up using the primary site name). On this page, you’ll explain what you’re hoping to accomplish with your site and also choose which Amazon topics that the links you create will target.
  • How do you get traffic on your site? – In this area, explain how your site brings in income, how you normally build links and how many visitors your site brings per month
  • Enter the code – Enter your phone number and press “Call me now”. Amazon will call you with a four-digit code, enter it and your account is all set.
  • Choose your payment method – Finally, you can choose to enter your credit card number or tax id number to receive payments. You don’t have to do this now, but you will need to in order to get paid
  • Create Amazon Affiliate links – Once you’re all done, it’s time to start creating links to put on your website. To break it down into an easy-to-follow process, here is a breakdown of how to do it.
    • Choose either “Quick Links: Search for Product” or “Browse for Product” – “Quick Links: Search for Product” allows you to search for a specific product keyword while “Browse for Product” allows you to search for products via categories like “Video,” “Health & Beauty,” and “Books”. Once you find a relevant product, click the “Get Link” button.
    • Customize your link  – Depending on the link type,  you can customize the background color, title color, and image size.
    • Preview of the link before adding it to your site
    • Copy and paste the link, short link, or HTML copy and place it on your site

Real Life Example – This Blog!

That’s right. The very site you’re reading uses Amazon affiliate links on some of the blog posts that are posted (even that ebook above). Generally, the articles reviewing the best products available will contain affiliate links that will help keep the site going for your reading pleasure. This comes at no additional cost to you, so it’s win win for everyone. 

More Passive Income Ideas

  • Open an online store selling your goods
  • Sell experiences or workshops
  • Offer subscriptions to valuable resources


5 Awesome Ways to Start Making Passive Income Today

With the internet today, there are so many different ways to make money. When you’re working in a design or creative field, being between projects can make things tough.

We hope that our list of 5 Awesome Ways to Start Making Passive Income Today can help give you some ideas that you can use to make some additional income that you can use to grow your business or even just make ends meet.

Do you have a way of making money online that we haven’t covered here? Let us know about it in the comments below!!