Multiple Streams of Income All Web Designers Should Consider Creating

Posted on September 24, 2018 by in Tips & Tricks | 15 comments

Multiple Streams of Income All Web Designers Should Consider Creating

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.

As such, you can try your hand at designing a premium WordPress theme. You can then sell the finished theme on your website or through a platform such as ThemeForest or through your own website.

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:

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.

Conclusion

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:

  1. Creating and selling online courses.
  2. Offering retainers to your clients for ongoing design work.
  3. Designing premium WordPress themes.
  4. Creating graphics you can sell on stock websites.
  5. Join a hosting affiliate program.
  6. Starting a web design blog and monetizing it.
  7. 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

15 Comments

  1. Superb Article

  2. Great post! Regarding #7, why stop at t-shirts? Once you’ve created a website for someone, how hard is it to ask, “So how do you intend to promote it?”. You’ve got the graphics, the ability, the tools, why not create some Post-it notes for their sales reps to leave behind with prospects, or try a mousepad with quick reference information printed on it? It’s not hard, and they have trust in you that they don’t have in the online promo sellers that it’ll turn out well. I’ve always thought that web designers are leaving a fair amount of $$ on the table in this way.

    • John Hughes

      You’re absolutely right, Ted. We used t-shirts as an example of how you could apply your skills in ways that may not be immediately obvious to some, and all the suggestions you’ve mentioned are totally valid options. 🙂

  3. Great article!
    FYI, there’s something broken in your WordCandy link.

    • John Hughes

      Thank you, both for your kind words and pointing that out! The link should work now. 🙂

  4. The affiliate program is a great way! Great article.

  5. Thank you!

  6. Great article!

    I have found my own extra income streams, one of them is an absolute failsafe income stream. It requires knowledge and research.

    8. Offer domain hosting and hosting of the websites of your clients. I rent my own managed server, so I don’t loose time in the technical setup. The only thing I do is the setup of the resources for the site and the mailboxes for my clients. It assures me of a steady yearly income. It’s all in the numbers, my monthly cost is low while my clients base is growing. For example: monthly I pay €75 for my server while my clients pay €195 a year. What comes down to €16.25 a month for each client. With 100 clients that will be €19.500 what I’ll receive in January, because I send once a year the invoice. The benefit for my client is that he gets everything under one roof and I have a warranted income. The cost in the beginning for a server can even be much lower. So while your client base is growing your need for resources grow as well and can you afford to pay more. Maybe I could ask more annually but I have to deal with a lot of small business owners who look at all the cheap hosting companies and the €200 is a psychological border that makes it very acceptable.

    9. I offer also print service. Because I design most of the time the style of a company and its logo’s it’s a small step to offer print service as well, from business cards to give aways and everything in between. For that you need to find a reliable printing partner who can send your order white labeled at your clients door step and is offering very competitive prices so you will have sufficient space for your own margin. I work with clients in Europe and found a big printing partner who is represented in every country in Europe. They send all the orders as if they would be send by me. Until now I found that I am very competitive and even can compete easily with Vistaprint while making a good margin on print work.

    10. This one is more steep and not for everybody. Ittakes investment in equipment but you also have to invest in knowledge. I offer my clients a one stop shopping solution. That means for all the needs around a website he only needs me. Next to hosting I also offer content creation. This means that I do photography and video. The benefit is that the dependancy of my client is much bigger and therefore the loyalty. So they come back on a regular basis to update the website with new content that I can create for them. Just think of it: product launches, new spring fashion, new services, new products, new co-workers, new projects, finished architectural projects, food, etc etc. There is one catch, you need to be able to take a photograph of any type. Will it be 200 bottles of perfume for a webshop or the latest lingerie, a fashion model or a new architectural project, industrial photography or complicated food photography. You need to master it. This will absolutely guarantee client loyalty. Eventually you can use some of your own photography and sell it as stock. I also have my own databank with photos because I keep the rights on the images for myself. It’s just a matter how you make your agreement with your clients.

    I hope these ideas can help you to think big and creative!

    • Thanks Pieter!! Your comment was very helpful (as well as the Post itself) 🙂

    • John Hughes

      Wow, Pieter, thank you so much for sharing your tips. I’m sure these will be very helpful to other readers. 🙂

  7. Hey John, excellent write up.

    There’s a HUGE scope for website designing and services in almost all industries ranging from fitness to real estate to eCommerce. The key here is to find and attract highly potential clients so you can earn thousands of dollars with just one design.

    So if you’re good at website designing, make sure to focus your time and energy on finding clients instead of sharpening your designing skills. As you don’t have to be an expert to start earning thousands of dollars as I know there are so many average website designers who’re using their networking skills to make decent money each month.

    You can also start a website, start giving tips on website design, attract loyal readers, build your portfolio and then either offer services or create your own premium theme to start attracting paying clients (which is the most recommended strategy if you’re looking for the long term results).

    Above all, if you’re just getting started, it’s better to give a try to online marketplaces such as Freelancer, Guru and so on to build your portfolio and make quick bucks.

    Great tips btw! Thanks for the post John.

    • John Hughes

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Anil! 🙂

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