One thing we hear a lot from other designers is that once you get to a certain point in your business it’s hard to keep growing without trading more time for dollars. Enter passive income. This is easy for most business owners because logically the next step is to start teaching things through courses. However, most of us don’t want to create courses anymore. On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of people get hung up thinking that as a designer, the only option they have is to create website themes.
If you’ve been wanting to introduce passive income to your design business, we have good news. There are tons of ways to create that stream of income, and today we’re going to chat all about it.
Decide on your target market
The first and more important place to start when you’re thinking about passive income is who you’re going to create your products for. I highly recommend starting with your current target market with your design services. This way you avoid having to come up with a completely new set of people to work with, but you’ll also avoid “splitting” your business, which makes it much harder to keep your website and marketing efforts organized.
If you don’t mind splitting things, think about a complementary market to your design services. Kory here! This is what I currently do through my products for designers. However, you don’t have to create products for designers. In fact, you probably shouldn’t so we aren’t each others’ competition in more than one arena 😉
Start brainstorming ideas
By far the hardest step is to figure out what you want to create. I mentioned this before, but the default is ecourses, and not everyone is into doing that. Instead, there are two ways you can think about helping your design clients: before and after a project with them.
Before the project
When you’re thinking about helping your client before they book custom work with you, think about what they’re struggling with before they inquire. For example, if they don’t quite have the budget to work with you yet, maybe you have a cheaper option to help them get the design work they need. A great example of that would be pre-made themes and logos. If you’re thinking you might want to do this, you can check out some of our favorite shops: obviously ours at Coded Creative, our friend Fran at 259 West, and Lindsay Humes!
However, if you’re not interested in creating themes, you can also offer books or workbooks to help them nail down their branding before they hire you. I think this is a really unique idea for passive income, and it can help you make sure the clients you book are 100% ready for the project. My favorite example of this is the Brand Planner by Hello Function.
After the project
Aside from themes, creating products that clients can use once their project is over is another popular passive income plan. Why? Well, because most clients need help keeping their brand consistent after launching. Templates are a great way to do this, and you don’t necessarily have to give them ones that you create specifically for their brand. Instead, create and sell customizable graphics and maybe give your clients a discount to your shop so they can get what they need. Our favorite examples of this are the shops by January Made and Basil and Bark!
Creating for a complementary market
So, maybe you’re like me and find yourself wanting to help your fellow business owners. I know a lot of other designers that do this, and while it can be challenging, it all comes back to who you want to help. For me, I knew I wanted to help my fellow designers, which is why I created products for them. On the other hand, maybe you want to help other business owners in general. Although she doesn’t actively promote them, our favorite example of this is the Brand Mockups that Jamie at Spruce Rd sells for designers and other business owners to show off their branding on print products.
It’s also important here to consider what exactly you want to create. If you want to design and just have fun, there are still things that you can sell to make a little extra income off of your creativity. A lot of designers we know have shops over at Society6, and one of my favorites is the Union Shore shop. I have bought several products from her shop over the years. Other great examples, though, are Mel Volkman and Eva Black who sell hand lettered fonts.
Creating for a totally different market
There’s nothing saying that you can’t create products for a totally different market than the one you do design work for, though. In fact, we have a few good friends that do this! Kelsey at Paper and Oats has built an incredible business partially on selling printable planners on Etsy.
Important things to consider
When you’re getting ready to start selling products there are a few really important things to think about and the first is where you’re going to sell them. We recommend doing it on your site because other platforms like Creative Market and Society6 take a pretty big portion of your revenue, but the benefit of also being on those sites is that you’re getting your work in front of a large market who might not have seem it.
It’s also important to consider how you’re going to market your products as well as your design services. Krista and I both know that it takes a lot of strategy to promote services and products because it splits your time, your content focus, and it can even take away from your services. So make sure you’re being intentional about your marketing plan.
- If you want to add passive income to your business, set aside some time in the next week to start brainstorming on who you want to help with your products and what you want to create
- Take a look at some of the great examples we mentioned in this episode to get an idea of how they make passive income work while offering design services