Design skills are in higher demand today than they have ever been. For this reason, there are many businesses you can build based on your unique design skills. For instance, you can start your own online design blog, YouTube channel, or even offer your design services for passive cash.
How can designers make passive income? Designers can generate passive income in a variety of ways, may that be from print on demand to affiliate marketing, blogging, influencer marketing, YouTubing, selling printable art on eBay or Zazzle, lead generation, logo animation, restaurant menu design, product photography, selling online courses and more.
The good thing about design is that this industry is very broad. You can design ads, physical items, digital goods, or even leverage your design knowledge as an affiliate marketer. With that, let’s have a look at some actionable ways you can make a passive income as a designer.
Passive Income Ideas for Designers
Here is a brief look at some passive income ideas for designers, and even a beginner can use them. At Beginners Passive Income, we specifically focus on how beginners can make passive income with our detailed passive income guides. So if you would like to know more about any of them, feel free to explore the income idea further on our blog by clicking on the button to our guide.
Did you know blogging is still one of the easiest ways you can make passive income today, even as a designer? Blogs are here to stay, and that’s great news is that anyone who wants to make money through blogging can do it with the right methodology, regardless of whether they are a beginner or not. We highly recommend Income School’s Project 24 to learn how to make passive income blogging.
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They walk you through all the steps required to build a successful passive income blog. As a designer, you can easily start blogging about your favorite design niche, and if you have some great content to offer, you can rest assured that people will keep coming to your site and you can make money through ads or product sales. Read more in our blogging guide below.
2. Print on Demand
Print on demand is more and more popular today, and it’s one of the most popular ways to make passive income as a designer. Print on demand allows you to sell your designs on various items like shirts, hats, pants, pillows and phone cases without having to actually print anything. All you have to do is upload your designs to a print on demand service like Printful and promote them online. Once your item sells, the print on demand service will take care of printing the item, packaging and shipping it for you. They will also take care of returns! It’s pretty easy to start this business as because as long as you have some cool designs to share. Learn more in our full guide below.
Print on Demand Guide
3. Affiliate Marketing
Many designers have their own websites or YouTube channels. As you probably know, running either is literally one of the easiest things you can do today, not to mention very affordable. So, if you have a design website, you can have your clients view ads on various products that would be of interest to them. For instance, DIY design tools. It’s not just physical products you can promote on your site, but digital products such as popular design books as well in exchange for a commission on the sales you help create. You can easily do the same on YouTube. Learn more in our affiliate marketing guide below.
Affiliate Marketing Guide
4. Influencer Marketing
Your design skills can make you a legend on Instagram and other sites like YouTube. If this is something you are interested in, you can cash in on the fame by becoming an influencer, and it’s easier than you think. These days, many companies recognize and appreciate how easily notable internet personalities can promote their products. Therefore, if you are an authority in your design niche, you can reach out to companies that would need your marketing influence and you can strike a very lucrative marketing deal. You can become an influencer in a variety of ways but in the design world, one of the best ways is with video. Design is very visual and people love to learn more about best practices and the processes designers follow.
5. Selling Stock Photos and Videos
Do you love taking photos or videos? Thousands of websites are made every day and each of them need to capture visitors with interesting, pertinent multimedia content such as photos and videos. Website creators and designers alike rely on sites selling stock photos and videos to illustrate their work, and this is where you can come in to make passive income. If you create a couple successful photos and videos and sell them on stock sites, you can make excellent passive income selling photos and videos you maybe created years ago.
6. YouTube Channel
Video is where people’s attention is turning to. Millions of people spend hundreds of hours online watching all sorts of videos. YouTube, obviously, is the most popular video sharing site, and there are many designers who are making money sharing their design skills and tips on YouTube. You can try this out as well and earn pretty good money passively by promoting products as an affiliate marketer or by selling your own products.
7. Selling Printable Art
People will always have an appreciation for good art, and many don’t mind paying for it. But rather than sell all kinds or of artworks as a designer, you can focus on printable art. People like unique products based on things they love, and you can help them fulfill their wishes by selling them printable art. Printable art includes things like sayings, motivational phrases, designs, or color by number sheets for kids. You can do this through third-party websites like Etsy, but you can also launch your own website where you can promote your printable art and deal with your clients directly. The best thing about printable art is that you don’t have to ship an actual product. You can completely automate your sales.
8. Sell Hand-Made Items on Etsy
If making stuff is something of a hobby for you, and you make pretty good art pieces, then you are probably a few steps from becoming a well-paid seller on Etsy. This popular online marketplace is a great place to sell your hand-made items. One of the benefits of this passive income method is that it does not require a huge financial investment. Additionally, if you can make wonderful items, you can make a bit of money passively selling your items to your customers. Learn more about selling on eBay in the guide below.
9. Selling Designs on Zazzle
As a designer, you can use Zazzle to make money off your unique skills. This platform is great in that it gives you a large selection of ways through which you can make money. For instance, you can get royalties off the artworks you created yourself. You can also use the service to display various kinds of design products so that your customers can find you more easily. Zazzle also lets you promote and advertise your original work, among other things. The best thing about this platform is that it makes it easy for you to make money off your designs without needing your own website.
10. Create Slide Decks
This can start out as a side-hustle, a service you offer businesses. Businesses always need slide presentations, may that be to pitch to investors, clients, partners or to train new employees. These tools are also great at helping improve client engagement and improve brand recognition and respect. Done right, slide decks can help your audience understand and retain the information you have to offer them more easily. That is why there are businesses that would appreciate the skills someone with experience in creating side decks has to offer. So, if you can make great slide decks, you can ensure that your client’s pitch goes well and get paid for it. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest much to get into this business. If you get good at creating slide decks, you can easily sell templates for passive income.
11. Lead Generation
One of the online businesses that are really on a roll at the moment is the lead generation business. All it takes is for you to generate leads for a business or a client, and it does not matter what kind of business it is. Although it is a little harder to get started with this business (you will need an audience that you generate through blogging, or a YouTube channel for example), once you have established yourself, it can become the easiest and the most passive way to make some extra cash. As a web designer, getting into the lead generation business is pretty easy, and it can give you fantastic rewards. If you would like to learn how to create a blog that you can passively monetize through lead generation, click on the guide below.
12. Social Media Marketing Materials
Social media marketing is no longer just about posting links and short quips, but rather making elaborate ads that enlist advanced design skills. Therefore, if you are a designer, you can position yourself as a creator of social media marketing materials that businesses can use to promote themselves on various social media platforms. This can be an excellent site hustle to get you started monetizing your skills (and these skills are in high demand for businesses at the moment). As you know, each social media platform has its unique features. If you know them well and can create excellent social media marketing materials, you can transition from making active income to making passive income by selling templates for various industries.
13. Whiteboard & Animated Explainers
Whiteboard and animated explainers are so popular today. My guess is that you have come across a few especially by marketers trying to promote a particular product or service. These engaging works of art take a good designer to create. Therefore, if you have these unique skills, this is a business you can get into and make yourself easy money in a very passive way. You can create a site through which you market your services, but you can also advertise your skills on social media and put up some of your samples on YouTube. These videos can sell anywhere from $60 per minute to well over $1000 per minute depending on the production value. This is an excellent income generation opportunity for designers you can make more passive, for example, by outsourcing the work.
14. Earn Royalties
Hands down, this is one of the most brilliant ways to earn a passive income as a designer. All you have to do is get into royalty deals for your designs so that you can keep making money off them indefinitely. For instance, you can let someone use your art to promote certain products and services and you can get a cut off the revenue they generate as royalties. A lot of designers make good money in this manner, and you can as well if you can come up with a great collection of high-quality artwork for well-paying clients.
15. Product Photography
A lot of businesses are selling products online. But one thing they have to do is ensure that they have good photos of the products they sell. Taking these photos requires some skill, and it is worth paying an expert to ensure that the job is done correctly. So, if you are a designer who can get into this niche, you can look for such gigs and make yourself easy money with little effort. All you need is to promote your services as a product photographer and businesses in need of these services will find you and pay you to do this work for you. Once you find a niche you love, you can make this side hustle more passive by creating stock photos of various products. For example, if you are in the gardening niche, taking generic (non-branded) pictures of tools, seeds, plants, flowers, crops and so on, will allow you to serve a variety of companies by selling your photos to them for passive income.
16. Email Marketing
Even in an age where new is considered better, the phrase “old is gold” still has its place, especially when it comes to email marketing. People still check out offers they receive in their emails, and they do spend money because of them. So, as a designer who wants to create passive income streams, you can create email templates and sell them to help businesses market their products and services to their audiences. Conversions for email marketing are still high and now that they are becoming dynamic with AMP, the opportunity is even greater for designers.
17. Logo Animation
Static logos are useful, but not in video. An animated logo adds some life to a company’s identity, and good designers are making this happen. So, if you have the skills to animate logos, you can start doing this for your clients during your free time. This can be a particularly fun and exciting way to make good money. All you need is to promote your services on forums or platforms dedicated to doing this for designers. Once you get good at it, you can make templates that you resell for easy passive income.
18. Menu Design (Restaurants)
Every business has to raise the bar when it comes to the visual appeal of its brand, including restaurants. Plain menus don’t cut it anymore, and restaurants have to design their menus in a more attractive manner to make food ordering a more exciting and memorable experience for their customers. So, if you can design killer menus, you can market your services to restaurants looking to make their menus more exciting and make some money in the process. Menus should also match the brand’s general image online. You can make online menus and physical ones as a designer. Once you get good at creating these menus, you can easily sell templates for both physical and digital menus to international clients.
19. Online Design Lessons
There is no end to learning. People are always eager to master a new skill and online design lessons have become quite popular with DIY trends and ever growing access to educational content on YouTube. You can help people achieve their goals by offering online design lessons. You can come up with a video, ebook, podcast or any other format course, and your clients can pay for them providing you passive income in the process
20. Photoshop Editing
The only thing that seems to obsess people today more than taking photos is probably editing them so that they look good for various uses. On the web, photos are used in many places, but not usually in their raw form. These photos usually need some polishing on the most respected photo editing software in existence — Photoshop. So, if you are something of a wiz when it comes to this popular software, there is a great market for your skills as you can edit your clients’ photos for a price. You can turn this into a passive income endeavour by teaching others or making a course you sell to your clients.
Making presentations is something that happens very regularly. But now that we have such great technology at our disposal, a lot is expected of people who have to make slideshows. That is why expert help is always welcome, and also why many people will gladly pay an expert to make a slideshow on their behalf. This means that you can put those slideshow design skills you take for granted into good use and earn some money in the process.
22. Web & Mobile Design (UX/UI)
If you can do web and mobile design, then you are one of the luckiest designers in the world today because these skills are in very high demand. That also means that this design profession pays very well. And with many clients willing to pay you for your services, you can also expect to get regular work and also get the freedom to work based on your own schedule. It is also pretty easy to get into this business as you can promote your services on freelance design sites. You can transform your workflows, designs and other skill-sets into digital goods you can sell to clients or other designers for excellent passive income.
23. Banner Ads
Through banner ads, companies can target specific audiences based on what their browsing history says about them to improve chances of getting making a sale. So, this kind of advertising is still in high demand, and they can help improve brand recognition a great deal. And so, if you are in a position to design great banner ads, then you can make yourself pretty good money by getting into this business. Fortunately, it does not cost much to become a banner ad designer, and yes, the potential rewards can be pretty good. You can eventually create templates to resell for passive income.
24. Branding Services
There are people who know how to make a brand more visible and effective thorough design. If you have these skills, then you can easily make yourself a passive income stream by getting into this business. A lot of brands out there need to showcase their brands in the most effective of ways, and this often means using professional design services. This line of business can have great potential rewards, and it does not require much capital to start. So, it’s something you can try.
25. Brochure Design
Companies and organizations marketing their services today cannot take any chances as they have to ensure that they create good brochures that elegantly and professionally showcase their products and services. In fact, they are willing to pay qualified designers like yourself to design these brochures as they understand how much damage a poorly designed brochure can say about a company or its services and products. So, if you have experience designing brochures, you can market your skills and make easy money over your free time designing beautiful, compelling brochures. The startup costs for this business are low and you can eventually sell templates for passive income.
26. Create Car Wraps
Have you noticed how popular car-based advertising has become? If not read this guide on making passive income with car wraps. A lot of companies are willing to enjoy the benefits of using cars as mobile billboards that promote their brands. But this is a unique marketing field that requires special design skills. And if you know how to create amazing car wrap designs, then you can easily make yourself some cash off this great business. You can easily get clients by promoting your car wrap design skills on freelance sites.
27. Convert PSD files
Photoshop, as you know, is arguably the most popular image editing software in the world. But it saves its image files in a proprietary PSD format that will not work with most other image viewing and editing programs out there. Therefore, you can help make these files more appropriate for regular use by converting them into more common formats such as JPEG and PNG for a fee. This process is not hard, and that makes this hustle an easy way to make some extra cash without having to invest a lot of money. You can monetize this by creating an online tool to do so (that is monetized through ads or other means).
28. Custom Landing Pages
A landing page can determine whether a lead will turn into a sale, or a lost potential customer. Today, many businesses fully realize this, and they know the importance of having great landing pages. That is why they are not above hiring a design expert like yourself to create a good landing page for them so that clients who end up viewing it feel encouraged to go ahead and make a purchase. With your own site or a professional social media account, you can promote your services and get clients to pay you for professional landing page design services. You can also create and sell templates. We highly recommend Unbounce to create professional landing pages as this SAAS software is supported, easy to use (drag and drop), offers quality SEO and mobile features, A/B testing tools, conversion tracking and much more. You can make a lot of money creating high converting landing pages for customers. Learn more about Unbounce below.
29. Flyer Design
Flyers have been a popular promotion method for businesses for years, and they still are. Many companies regularly use flyers to get the word out about new products and services, or new offers they are willing to give their clients. Obviously, these business entities regularly need the services a designer can offer so that their flyers can make a good impression on their target audience. This business is pretty easy to start as it does not require a huge investment, and the rewards can be pretty good with regular work. You can eventually create a passive income stream from this with templates and other services.
30. Infographic Design
Infographics make learning easy and fun, which is why many websites use them to make their visitors interested and want to share what they have to say. But packing information in form of graphics is not easy, and companies are often willing to pay an expert to prepare and present information in this manner. So, if you can design infographics, then you can make a passive income creating these informational graphics for your clients and eventually selling them as templates. You can market your skills through social media or relevant platforms.
31. Logo Design
There are a lot of people who are willing to see how far their entrepreneurial instincts can take them. These people also want to start businesses with the coolest and most memorable logos so that they can build their brands more easily. So, if you can design great logos, you can make money off this passive income stream. To get into this business, you just need to have some logo design skills and the appropriate software. Otherwise, marketing your services easy as most online freelance sites have clients looking for people to design their logos.
32. Packaging Design
Marketing a product effectively requires quite a bit of effort, and you cannot lose focus until the very last step. That is why companies try to package their products in the most effective ways possible. For this to happen, they need someone with the skills to create great package designs that will make their work easier and even impress their customers. So, as a designer with these skills, you can make easy money very passively by designing packages for such businesses.
33. Postcard Design
Can you design great postcards? Then don’t let your talent go to waste. Many people use the internet to find postcards they can send to their friends and family, and the most popular designs can grow phenomenally popular. Therefore, you can design postcards and sell them online. Although a single postcard might not sell for much, getting a flurry of orders on a single design can earn you good money. This passive business is therefore very easy and inexpensive to start.
34. Poster Design
You see posters all the time because many businesses know how effective they can be as a way to market a brand. These posters are designed by people who have the design skills you probably take for granted. Therefore, if you can design a great poster, you can try making a passive income off these skills by creating these pieces of art during your free time. You can obviously come up with a website that promotes your poster design services or look for these jobs on a freelance site. Luckily, you don’t need to invest much, although the financial rewards can be quite enticing.
More Passive Income Ideas
There are designers today who have great online businesses, and they built them very easily with the paid or free tools available on the web. Therefore, if you have special design talents, you might be surprised to discover how much money you can actually make selling your design skills or products in the most passive of ways. Want even more? Check out our massive amount of passive income ideas for beginners.
See More Passive Income Ideas
Do I need to have my own website to make passive income as a designer? You do not need to have your own website to be a designer. Design skills are in very high demand, and there are platforms that have dedicated themselves to linking people and businesses in need of various design skills to designers like yourself. This makes starting a passive design business very affordable.
Do you have to spend a lot of time to create a good design? Not necessarily. Some kinds of designs are pretty easy to make, especially if you are an experienced designer. Over time, you get so good at it that you can put out designs within a very short span of time. That means you can do this work on your free time and still make good money.