Written by Mat Casner

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What if I told you that as a graphic designer, you have some amazing opportunities right now to make money while you sleep? 

It may sound too good to be true, but for a freelancer used to trading hours for dollars, passive income can be a powerful tool, allowing you to scale your business and enjoy a steady source of income. In this post, I’ll explain how, and give you some passive income ideas for designers.

Setting up a passive revenue stream is one of the most powerful ways to do this. Do you have passive revenue set up in your business yet? Pop over to my private Facebook group, The Freelance Collective, and share your passive income ideas for designers.

I’ll give you an example. As I was getting started in my graphic design career, I was working for a small clothing store in the town where I grew up. It was also a store where people would get custom t-shirts designed for ball teams, events, family reunions, etc. 

As I was working at this store, they had an opportunity for a graphic designer to come learn a piece of software they were using to design the custom t-shirts. I was a duck in water! I was so happy to have found a niche for myself as a creative!

Fast forward many years…I’m working in my own design business, and I’m thinking, why am I laboring so hard for my customers? I love them, but at the end of the day I’m a business owner and I spend so much of my time trading time for money. 

Do you know that feeling? 

That’s when it hit me. I have some pretty amazing skills which people have been paying me for and their businesses have profited. Why don’t I use my talents and take advantage of the gifts and skills I have?

When I found out about the print-on-demand companies where you could upload your designs and sell them, with no inventory etc, it occurred to me. How many opportunities are there for us as graphic designers to be able to set up recurring streams of revenue for our own businesses but we just don’t do it!

Maybe because we didn’t think about it, but also because we’re so used to trading time for money, we’re not really thinking about the bigger picture. Here are some reasons taking time to brainstorm passive income ideas for designers can be advantageous.

Passive Income Is Scalable

As a freelancer, you’re trading time for money, whether it’s by the hour or for the project (I hope you’re charging the latter). But you can only do so many things in the course of the day to earn that money. I can’t scale myself and time, because there’s only one of me. (Check out this post on growing and scaling for more)

But I can create a product that I can sell over and over again. With really no limits! 

That is what scalability is all about – doing something once and selling over and over. 

Passive Income is Automated

Passive income can work for you 24/7. Literally, you can make money while you’re asleep because you’re making products and selling them virtually. You don’t have to be there – all you need is a payment processor that allows you to take the sales online! 

Passive Income Can Reinforce Your Expertise

The third reason passive revenue is so incredible is that it allows you to reinforce who you are as an expert.

You can create so many different products that accentuate and show off who you are as a designer. It creates extra evidence that you know what you’re talking about. You have the skills of being able to implement these passive revenue initiatives, it gives you an interesting foothold in the marketplace. 

Passive Income Ideas for Designers


One of the things you can do as a freelance designer is TEACH! You could simply record your lessons and sell them, create an ebook, create a slide deck or presentation, and then make it available for purchase! As long as it answers a question or helps your customer achieve a certain goal, it has value. 

Graphic templates are huge. If you’re a print designer you can design artwork and put it in a format or website where someone could easily download it for a fee. They can fill in the blanks and make it their own. 

T-shirts and apparel 

I love designing t-shirts. It’s one of my favorite things to do! It’s so awesome that you can just upload the art, set the price and collect the profits. 

Become an Affiliate 

If you have products or programs that you love, and you have a platform (instagram, facebook, newsletter, podcast) you can recommend products you already love. If the customer uses your affiliate link. Even Amazon has affiliate programs (if you read Buzz Feed) you’re probably aware that the Or a sponsor

I hope this whets your appetite with how passive income is the secret, hidden gem in our business that we don’t always take advantage of. I encourage you to do some innovation in your own business, and set up some passive revenue streams for yourself!

How To Start A Freelance Design Business

Starting a freelance design business can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset and a solid plan, it can also be a fulfilling and lucrative career path. Whether you are a seasoned designer looking to branch out on your own or a beginner looking to break into...

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