Drumming up web design business can be a challenge. It’s often irregular; meaning you may get a lot of work requests all at once and go long periods with few or no new clients. For this reason alone establishing multiple streams of income is a great idea. Especially passive income steams that earn even when you’re not actively working on them. Ensuring that even when new clients are scarce, you’re not worried about cash flow.
In this article, we’ll talk a bit more about why it’s smart to use multiple streams of income as a web designer. We’ll also walk you through seven project ideas you can put into action to increase your earning potential.
Let’s talk business!
Why It’s Smart to Shoot For Multiple Streams of Income as a Web Designer
Putting all your eggs in one basket is rarely a good idea. If you work on your own, you probably spend a lot of time drumming up new business, keeping existing clients happy, and juggling a wide variety of other tasks. As such, even if you’re incredibly talented at your job, there’ll probably be times when your business doesn’t do as well as it could.
That’s why it’s smart to look into different ways you can monetize your skills, aside from regular design work. By ‘regular’ work, we mean fulfilling a client’s specific needs, whether it’s through an agency or on your own.
Using multiple streams of income won’t only enable you to ride out lean times. It can also help you build up your savings faster, afford things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and it can even pad out your resume, depending on the approach you take.
7 Ideas for Additional Income Streams for Web Designers
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that none of these approaches are get-rich-quick schemes but will require diligent work. As such, we recommend taking a measured approach. Start with one that seems like the best fit for your current skills and situation, then add more as you’re able.
1. Create and Sell an Online Course
Every web designer has valuable expertise, and that includes you. For example, you might be exceptional when it comes to logo design, branding, typography, user experience, user interfaces, and so much more. In any case, there are always people interested in improving their own skills in these design related sub-fields, which gives you an opportunity to make money teaching something you’re great at.
What you can do is create an online course, set it up on a website, and earn money while you’re working on other projects. Naturally, creating a program people are willing to pay for will naturally require a lot of work. However, you could potentially see significant financial rewards, depending on the interest there is on the topics you want to teach.
In order to launch your course, you’ll need to know how to create, host, and sell it. The answer to all three questions involves WordPress. There are a lot of excellent Learning Management Systems (LMS) you can use, which enables you to transform your website into an online school.
If you think this type of endeavor might be up your alley, check out our guide on how to use Divi to help you create an LMS website from scratch. Then, you can sit down and get working on a lesson plan.
2. Offer a Retainer for Ongoing Design Work
You’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you completed work for a client, they were happy with your designs, but they came back with a request for a change down the road. This happens all the time, and it’s not a reflection of shoddy work, but the fact your client’s expectations and needs shift constantly.
A lot of people may be annoyed by such revision requests, but they actually provide a business opportunity. More specifically, you can offer clients to sign a retainer agreement for ongoing design work. That way, you won’t need much back and forth with long-term customers if they need small design changes or want you to get to work on new projects.
Being on retainer for ongoing design work can be a fantastic way to complement your income. However, there are some things you need to consider for such an arrangement to work:
- You need to be very specific about the kind of work your retainer will cover.
- There needs to be a limit on how much work you’ll do in exchange for your retainer fee.
- You need a contract in place that discusses payment rates and how often you can send invoices.
To put it another way, the main problem with being on a retainer as a web designer is clients might ask for more work than is reasonable. For these cases, you need a firm contract in place to protect yourself.
In our experience, this type of arrangement only works with clients you’ve already worked with for long periods of time. After all, you should already know how they think and what their needs are, so transitioning to a retainer model should be simpler.
3. Design a Premium WordPress Theme or Child Theme
Calling WordPress popular would be an understatement. In fact, millions of people use the Content Management System (CMS) to power their website. This also means there’s a very healthy market for WordPress themes that offer decent functionality and look great.
To be upfront, there’s a lot of work involved in creating a WordPress theme. Even with the right skill set, developing and designing a theme can almost be a full-time job in itself. After all, your theme will require updates and support if you want it to flourish. Which is why creating a child theme for an existing (and ideally very popular) theme could be better fit. Child themes tend to require fewer updates and support than parent themes.
While the prospect might sound scary, creating a successful WordPress theme or child theme can make you a lot of money. As such, it’s an idea worth considering if you have the time, drive, and skills to do it.
4. Create Graphics You Can Sell on Stock Websites
Free stock images might be easy to come by, but finding good ones is decidedly harder. If you’re willing to pay for stock images, though, a world of possibility opens up to you. As a web designer, that also means there’s a market for creating those premium graphics and selling them.
This has plenty of benefits, as a single design can keep earning you money for a long time since you get paid for each purchase (or license). Plus, the more designs you create, the bigger your potential income.
To be fair, it’s very rare for someone to make a full-time living from selling stock images. However, it can be a fun way to supplement your main income. You can even create multiple different types of stock images, such as vector graphics, icons, photographs, and more.
Getting started down this path is relatively simple. You’ll need at least one – although preferably more – designs under your belt and then apply to be a contributor for a stock image site, such as Shutterstock.
5. Join a Hosting Affiliate Program
As a web designer, you probably get to interact with a lot of people who are in the planning stages of setting up a website. Some of those people might not be sure about what hosting service to use, which means you can help them make that crucial decision.
This could be mutually beneficial, as several web hosts run their own affiliate programs, which pay members for each new customer they refer. That means you can potentially earn money only by recommending your favorite web host to your clients.
However, there are some considerations you need to keep in mind if you want to give this monetization strategy a go. For example, you should only recommend web hosts you know for a fact are a good fit for your clients. You should also avoid being too pushy about it, as this may just lead to annoying your clients.
Ultimately, your goal should be to keep your web design clients happy. If you try to push them too hard to sign with a particular web host you’ll look unprofessional, so tread carefully!
6. Start a Web Design Blog and Monetize It
First of all, blogging is fun and the idea of thousands of people reading what you have to say is exciting. Plus, there’s also the possibility your blog might earn you money, which is never something to scoff at.
To be fair, the vast majority of bloggers don’t earn much (if anything) from their websites. However, if you play your cards right and have a strategy in mind for growing your blog and creating unique, worthwhile content from the get-go, you might stand a chance to earn some decent money from it. Additionally, running a successful blog can work wonders to position you as an expert in your field.
When it comes to web design, there are always people looking for how-to guides, tutorials, news, and all sorts of materials they can use to learn. You can target those users by creating a blog focused on web design and keeping these tips in mind:
- Know which audience you want to target.
- Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) from the start to grow your blog.
- Try multiple monetization methods until you find the one that works best for you.
There’s no secret to making money blogging. However, one thing most successful bloggers have in common is they see their sites as a business instead of just a hobby.
7. Create Custom T-Shirt Designs and Sell Them Online
Finally, let’s look at a slightly different opportunity. You’ve probably noticed there are a lot of websites selling shirts with unique designs online. That’s because people love to buy custom shirts and there’s always room for a new player with unique designs.
As a web designer, you probably have the technical skills to create the kind of graphics that would look great on a shirt. If you also think you have the skills and creativity to create some striking design, breaking into the market might not be as hard as you think. In fact, there are several services that enable you to upload your designs for sale, at which point they take care of printing and shipping the shirts when you get orders.
Naturally, these services charge a healthy cut, but using them means you can run a profitable t-shirt business without worrying about logistics. In the past, we’ve talked about how you can use WooCommerce to set up a dropshipping business. One of the services we mentioned is called Printify, which enables you to integrate a WooCommerce store with a print-on-demand service.
The advantage of this approach is you can design and market a website to sell your shirts using WordPress. If this type of work sounds like it could be up your alley, then this solution could be a great addition to your usual streams of income that also challenges you creatively.
Web design is a highly competitive and crowded field. You need to be both talented and good at marketing yourself if you want to succeed and make a good living from it. However, there’s no need to limit yourself to only traditional web design work.
In this article, we’ve looked at some of the many streams of income you can shoot for as a web designer, beyond regular freelance work. Some of these include:
- Creating and selling online courses.
- Offering retainers to your clients for ongoing design work.
- Designing premium WordPress themes.
- Creating graphics you can sell on stock websites.
- Join a hosting affiliate program.
- Starting a web design blog and monetizing it.
- Creating custom t-shirt designs and selling them online.
Have you ever explored any non-traditional ways to make money as a web designer? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by Sira Anamwong / shutterstock.com