Working as a freelance web designer has some serious perks: you meet a variety of interesting people, you (mostly) choose your own hours, and you can apply both your artistic side and your technical skills to helping clients get the most out of their web presence. At the same time, it has one major drawback: you can only bill for the actual work you do, and there are only so many hours in a day. Wouldn’t it be nice to set up a passive income stream or two that allows you to keep earning even while you sleep? Here, we present some proven techniques to do just that.

Start Blogging

People browsing the web are generally either looking for entertainment or trying to learn something. If you can share some of your skills in a way that will prove helpful to the latter kind, you can easily start a blog on your area of expertise. Once you have consistent traffic, repeat visitors and a mailing list, you can either use it to promote your personal brand or treat it as a money-making asset in its own right.

This isn’t to say that blogging successfully will be an instant payday for little work. Earning money this way requires at least six months of regularly posting interesting, informative content and not everybody is cut out for doing this. On the other hand, some people love to write and teach others. If this describes you, you can get an idea of what’s already out there by clicking here.

Design CMS Themes, Plugins and Templates

If you still use Wix or Jimbo to design sites for your clients, this won’t be for you just yet. If, however, you have a strong grasp of CSS, PHP and other lower level tools, there’s nothing stopping you from creating something once and selling it over and over again.

Be aware that users will be reviewing your product thoroughly and publicly, so make sure to test it and (especially) provide adequate documentation that even amateurs can understand. Themeforest and Template Monster are two of the marketplaces on which you can market your product.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has developed something of a bad rep. Some people who saw it as a get-rich-quick opportunity were inevitably disappointed, while others use all kinds of user-hateful, black hat tactics to bait clicks. On the other side of the coin, some affiliate programs seem to have a little trouble calculating percentages, or allow vendors to market products without applying any kind of quality control.

Even so, there’s nothing wrong with the business model itself: Amazon and other online retailers allow you to do marketing on their behalf and pay you depending on the amount of success you achieve. Assuming some basic rules are followed, the customer’s interests aren’t compromised at any point.

Some people do make a living out of AM and even a good one. Don’t limit yourself to only the well-known affiliate programs: approach individual companies directly, or focus on specialized services that pay real money for qualified leads. The best payday loan affiliate program, for instance, pays as much as $230 per action.

Again, this kind of business requires time and effort to get off the ground. To learn a little more, spend a few minutes browsing around this site.

Become a Hosting Reseller

If you’re already selling website designs, you might as well up-sell hosting solutions to clients looking for a no-fuss, turnkey option. In fact, a little thought will show you a number of additional services you can offer your existing clients, from advising them on software choices to training their staff in digital marketing.

If you’re technically savvy and willing to spend a bit on the necessary hardware, you can set up your own server, or you can re-sell hosting services from one of the established providers. Hostgator offers good support, but there are literally hundreds of hosting companies that will be happy to have you market their products.

Vending Stock Images

People, including web users, are visual creatures. The choice of feature photograph can easily make or break a web page’s performance, and savvy digital marketers know this.

If you have a huge pool of photographs you own the licenses to, either from having taken them yourself or purchased the rights, it might be worth your while going through your collection and adding tags to each. They can then either be sold on websites such as Shutterstock, or you can charge for the service of searching for the “perfect” image on your clients’ behalf.

Write an Ebook

Even if you’re very familiar with the subject, writing an ebook of 10,000+ words is a non-trivial task. The good news: you only have to do it once for it to (potentially) keep earning money for years to come.

Self-publishing is often done in conjunction with running a blog: the blog can be used to market the book, the book increases the credibility of the blog, and both help to establish the author as an expert that people are happy to consult. One key thing to remember is that a narrow focus is often best. A book called “What Makes a Website Great” will be buried under hundreds of similar titles, but “5 Steps to Creating Great Websites for Restaurants” will appeal to at least some readers.

Write an App

If you know how to code, writing an app that solves whatever problem bugs you from time to time represents another potential source of passive income.

Realistically, though, most apps tank rather than take off. Unless it’s something really simple, you’ll be investing a huge amount of time and money in building one, so do your market research beforehand and consider teaming up with somebody who has skills that complement your own.

Coffee Mugs and T-Shirts

If you’re occasionally struck by an idea for a visual design that’s bold, quirky and engaging, consider spending half an hour perfecting it in Photoshop and submitting it to one of the various fulfillment sites that are always hungry for new content. Success isn’t guaranteed, of course, but a couple of people have made good money in this way, and trying costs nothing.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.