Passive Income Tips for Web Designers

A huge business world is at the tip of every web designer’s fingers. And, there are lots of ways to generate income. Here’s a top list of the passive income opportunities you should be exploring:

Selling Pre-Built Themes and Templates

Selling templates or CMS themes for WordPress, Joomla and other platforms makes great business sense since it presents “recurring” passive income. Authors, for example, can only write a book once; but if a great deal of people, say a few thousands, bought the book, the author gets paid for each purchase.

How to Sell Themes and Templates?

Theme marketplaces are available in the web in case you don’t think whether your followers can provide you a good number of buyers. Individually selling and promoting of pre-built templates has been good for some designers. The usual net price for every theme is $50. The main advantage in independent selling is: you don’t share a cent with anyone.

Tips in Selling Themes Individually

1. Offer a free version. You want to develop as much traffic for your website as possible to be competitive in the gigantic market you are in. You will attract more eyeballs when people see you offer free versions. You can then offer for paid ones.
2. Advertise your themes and templates. Let’s be realistic. Opening up your own site to sell themes will require some time to gain traffic.  You may need to make an investment in advertising to get some traction.
3. Be unique.  Your themes should be original and amazing enough to make it through the market.

Selling Through Theme Marketplaces

Conventional marketplaces in the web are visited by a huge crowds worldwide. Even though your income will be divided, an independent site will not have as much following as there are in these markets. But there have been numerous success stories of theme authors who earn millions by merely selling WordPress themes via marketplaces. Here are three of the biggest theme marketplaces you can start off with and the commission rates they offer:

1. ThemeForest by Envato

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To lead buyers into the right theme that’ll suit their need, ThemeForest organizes the themes into logical categories such as wedding, e-commerce, blog/magazine and a lot more. A designer’s theme will clearly fall into one of these for easier navigation and preview.

ThemeForest staff defines the price of each theme they approve to be sold online. Some go for as low as $25 and as high as $60+, but most themes seem to sell for a competitive $40-$45. You earn 33% of the sale price if you sell your theme(s) in other places. You earn 50-70% of the sale price if you sell exclusively through ThemeForest.

2. Mojo Themes

Although the number of themes offered at Mojo Themes is not as large as ThemeForest, the quality of the best themes is the same.

They start at $6 and go up to $59. Compensation rates for non-exclusive sellers are slightly better than ThemeForest, at 50%. Selling exclusively through Mojo-Themes can give you between 50-70% from each sale.

There are a ton of marketplaces out there. But if you are just getting started, we suggest you stick to these two as they are the best and most comprehensive.

Publish and Sell E-Books


Just like selling CMS themes, publishing e-books provides recurring income. Creating the content happens once while profiting from it is chronic. It can sell for years in the future.

There is a great advantage here since the skills and tools needed are accessible enough. Designing, packaging and publishing an e-book online is much easier for a designer than for mere mortals. Just make sure that you are knowledgeable of your topic. Think about writing something that would guide another designer in a particular area. Through this, you can also link them to other online businesses you have.

And please don’t presume that finishing the content is the end of it. The real battle starts when you place the e-book on the market and start to sell it. But there are good opportunities for promotion available. Publish guest posts on some developer blogs, offer an affiliate program so others can promote your e-book, or run promos at sites visited by other designers.

Writing an e-book  will not only gain you profit but will help develop your credibility and size up your name online. Testimonies from wise e-book and instructional video makers earn $5,000 a month and more!


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There is a common notion about blogging all over the world: it is like an online journal from a person who has a more exciting life than anyone else. But those blogs are mainly a thing of the past. The most successful blogs are made to present helpful substance. And it can generate passive income through ads people click in your site. For small traffic, an average cost per click for ads of $0.25, could net you $150 a month.

However, a blog site may not at first serve as an income generator but an instrument to draw attention in the environment and enrich your site’s competitiveness. This can proportionally entice advertisers, other blog sites, individual companies who might pay you to write them a blog or brands who would arrange sponsorship deals with you. There is a vast opportunity to earn in running a blog site of your own.

Tips in Starting a Web Design Blog

1. Make your site look attractive. The blogosphere is absolutely a jam-packed platform. We are so familiar with the proverb saying “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. But let’s face it. You won’t bother scrolling down a dull website. So build an impression through the design.

2. Know your reader’s pulse and speak to them. Giving the readers directly what they need and not just what you want to share about will surely gain you a following.

3. Keep things simple. You may say that it’s contrary to the first trip, and it’s tempting to go crazy to be different. But, simple and classy is better than colorful but confusing. The same is true with your blog’s content.

4. Invest and promote. Put a little amount at first. Affiliate and publish some guest post and other promotional tricks.

Affiliate Marketing and Advertising


Most of the biggest websites survive and succeed with the ads posted on them. And it is undoubtedly true that it brings good income. To effectively benefit from the traffic you have or will gain through time, you need to attract and accept advertisers. But it requires a bit of hard work and devoted time since wise advertisers won’t toss their money in something they know won’t benefit them much. Gain a great deal of traffic and you’ll gain a great deal of ad profit.

Same is true with affiliate marketing. These two sources of passive incomes are in line with blogging. Control affiliate marketing properly, build some traffic and create substantial blog content, it can be one of the best passive income jobs in the web. Generating valuable content that the audience will find relevant and engaging is a great way to gain a following and attract ads.

Since bloggers are usually paid to review and recommend items from gadgets to books, they have a unique opportunity to take advantage of an affiliate program like Amazon. This site pays between 4%-10% commissions based on a combination of overall traffic, with caps on specific items. You could profit as much as $750 a month if your affiliate blog links sold for an average priced a laptop a day.
This is also a recurring income since commission pay comes with every product sale you linked in your blog.

Stock Graphics


Today, nearly everything is digital. And, selling unused stock graphics on various marketplaces could actually make nice amounts. Logos, vector illustrations, UI sets, textures, icons, print templates, JPEG’s, and PSD files are all possibilities of stock graphic items.

Although percentages are moderately small, roughly making $5 per download, it is once more recurring revenue. Selling a single illustration online for a hundred times a year can provide a satisfactory amount, which more likely is selling multiple graphics that sell well.

Tips on Selling Stock Graphics Online

1. Craft/Pick commercial graphic designs. Since “selling” your designs is the main aim for these illustrations, they should be commercially competitive. Critically think of adaptable designs that can be used in a number of needs. It is more important that you gain downloads than self-satisfaction. They shouldn’t belong to a narrow range but are generic enough to be universally applicable at that.

2. Submit well. Carefully follow the technical requirements provided by the stock market site you would wish to post your creations in. One of the largest is Shutterstock which offers commissions ranging from 25-52% on every sale and requires signing up on their website providing 2-3 sample submissions to be a contributor.

3. Load them up. As the lottery saying goes, “more entries, more chances of winning”. Since a ton of competition is waiting for you in the stock graphic market, volume is vital. You can’t expect to make significant money from 5-10 graphics; some of the most successful illustration sellers keep their volume up. If you see good results, slowly build your portfolio to see significant downloads


Of course, nothing big is earned overnight. Passive income sources for web designers, freelance or employed, require some effort along with skills, creativity, wisdom and proper motivation. In every platform, not giving up is absolutely a must for success. Many successful freelance and full time designers started as you are now.