5 Stellar Ways Designers Can Gain Passive Income

May 12, 2010 • By

Not every designer is constantly working on a project or with a client, and when the downtime sets in and your bank account isn’t growing, there’s a variety of things you can do to “survive”, one of them being gaining passive income. If done right, you can be well on your way to making money on a continuous basis.

However, gaining passive income can be a little misleading if you don’t have the right set of tools and the wrong information. This is why we’ve taken the time to put together this useful article outlining a variety of sites that allow you to gain income when your design/developing skills aren’t being commissioned.

Marketplaces to Sell Your Work

Envato Marketplace

Envato is a large network of websites that produce quality web design and development content. ThemeForest (among others) happens to be an Envato Marketplace and it is one of the most popular choices to sell your work. You can buy and sell web templates in minutes. If you have any knowledge in developing themes for CMS’s such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal then you can start selling right away. Prices range from five to forty dollars. As an author, you’ll gain a percentage for every one of your templates that are sold. Once you upload your theme, members of the Envato network are able to purchase your theme any time.

Vector Stock

VectorStock is a marketplace for selling and buying quality vector art. Since its launch in 2007 it’s managed to house 100’s of thousands of stock vector icons, design elements, illustrations and more. It is a rapidly growing marketplace with members from across the globe. Before anything, you need to apply and once you’re approved then you can gain a 25% to 30% per sale if you can provide your work exclusively.


Being a typographer has its benefits such as exposure, and the ability to sell your fonts to a large crowd with maximum relevancy. MyFonts allows you to sell your fonts to thousands of users without the need to fulfill your own orders as they take care of the rest for a fee. Upload your font to MyFonts and receive recognition and monetary compensation.

Graphic Leftovers

Graphic Leftovers is one of the newer marketplaces to sell your works of art. By becoming a seller you’ll receive 52% commissions on all sales. Which is more than most similar websites. You’re also able to set your own prices raining from $1 to $20, upload multiple files at lighting speeds, and you can sell your images on other marketplaces as well.


Inkd allows anyone to contribute designs to the marketplace with a few easy steps. Simply sign up, create a new graphic design submission using their product templates and upload your design files. Your artwork will be reviewed and once approved it will be displayed for sale. Inkd offers 20% of each sale, which is the average.


Threadless is a great place to sell your graphics that can be printed on t-shirts. After a 7-day waiting period, once your design has been uploaded the Threadless community will be actively commenting and rating your design. After the waiting period if your design is chosen for print, then you’ll instantly receive $2000 cash, then $500 in gift certificates, and $500 cash every time your design is on its way to be reprinted. You can ultimately earn over $22, 500 if you win a “Bestee” award and more.

Guest Blogging

A lot of designers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that’s worthy of sharing, and a good way for them to gain exposure (and monetary compensation) is through writing guest blog posts for select web design blogs. Writing isn’t for everyone, however, if you think you have what it takes to write a concise, straight to the point blog post on the valuable experiences you’ve learned, then start searching for a blog who’s niche serves you best.

With the recent evolution of the Internet and everything in it, the way we learn has also evolved. I’d say a large portion of designers went to design school or took similar programs, however there’s been an increase in self-taught web developers and designers. Now how do you suppose a lot of them got started? Well through design blogs such as this one! Share your knowledge and help someone learn. Plus the compensation you receive isn’t so bad. Depending on the available time you may have, you could write one or two blog posts a month and still juggle your design work effectively.

Using Advertising Networks

This is a tip that’s seldomly elaborated on. There’s two parts to this form of passive income, first you’d need to set-up your very own blog or website, and then you’d need to drive visitors to your site and sign-up with an advertising network such as Google Ads or

There are two different types of networks, one that you gain compensation based on the amount of impressions your site receives on a monthly basis, and the other by waiting for an advertiser to upload their ads to your website. Either way you have the potential of making a good chunk of money if your website is seeing some growth. Both are automated and you would virtually make some cash while you sleep. Start your blog or website today and see where it goes. One of the most popular design blogs make an average of $3-6k per month. Not a bad deal, however, hard work, patience, quality content and dedication is what it takes.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting is one the more newer versions of gaining monetary compensation. Hosting companies like offer a great reseller program that allow you to provide awesome hosting services to your clients at a low price with maximum percentage of payout. Imagine you have 13 past clients that pay you $8 per month. This is a bit over a thousand every year. You can ultimately increase your income by thousands using this service. There are a variety of hosting services that allow you to use their reseller programs at a low cost. I’d suggest you “shop” around and compare which ones provide the best payouts and services.

Writing a (E)Book

If you’re great at what you do, and you’re often chosen for consulting because of your extensive expertise, then why not put your knowledge and vast experience into a book? Writing a book is very different from writing a few blog posts a month, and it will definitely take much more time. However, books such as the Unlimited Freelancer and what a lot of the Envato Network has put out, have been dominant in this industry and I’m sure gain a lucrative amount of passive income.

The first step would be to put your ideas together, then research the necessary steps on writing an effective book. Once you’re finished you can plush it as an eBook, or through a publishing company that will not charge you an arm and leg to reprint.

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