We always encourage freelancers in our community to diversify their earnings and build passive income streams as well.
In the previous article, we talked about what freelancers should know about passive income. So we wanted to follow up on the topic and give you some ideas on what passive income stream you could go for.
Which one of these ideas will be the right for you completely depends on your skill set, and your entire passive income strategy. So approach this article as a way to get inspiration rather than an answer to your specific situation.
All websites that are listed below, we have either personally used or have received verified recommendations from our community. But some of them might not be the best option for you, depending on the country of your residence, or other factors. So before you commit to investing your time, please do your own research to find the options that work the best for you.
Table of contents:
- Passive income ideas for freelancers:
- How much do other freelancers earn from passive income?
- Related articles
Passive income ideas for freelancers:
Selling design assets and tools
Jack Butcher from Visualize Value promotes the idea of ‘selling your sawdust’. What this means, basically, is selling the byproducts you get from working on your main projects.
For example, an illustrator might have to create a set of brushes to complete the project. Or a designer might create textures or handwritten fonts to finish projects. All of those assets are, in Jack’s words, ‘ sawdust’ you can sell.
Of course, there’s a legal aspect here and if you have used some assets to complete client work, you do need to double-check whether you are allowed to put that for sale on third-party websites.
But for all assets that you have created for personal use and want to share with other creatives, these are good websites where you can list them for sale:
Selling design templates & stock illustrations
This can be a superb way to reach an audience that could use your services, but might not have the budget to hire you.
You probably have a lot of unused or old designs and illustrations that you can upcycle into different templates, or just publish as they are for others to use them.
Here are some websites where you can upload your digital products:
To really turn this into a solid income stream, you do need to put some time into research. Browse through the websites we have listed, see what’s trending, and what are bestsellers – those are all products that have high demand, and that people want to buy.
Print-On-Demand (POD) sites
Bring your designs to life – just upload your artwork and these POD sites can print them on mugs, wall print, bags, notebooks. They then ship them on your behalf, handle returns, customer support, sales – and you get a percentage from the sales from each item sold with your work on it.
POD sites sound like an easy-to-build passive income stream, but there are a couple of challenges with them that you should be aware of:
- They are very competitive, some of them have thousands of artists submitting their work each day. So it can be hard to stand out and get noticed. That’s why usually they require quite a lot of work to build a following and, consequently, your sales.
- They are not the most lucrative income stream unless you are selling in high quantity. This of course depends on the POD site you choose, but you will need to have consistent sales in order to get a noticeable income from it.
This is not to discourage you from getting started – just to give you a heads up that you need to have a proper strategy, otherwise, you might end up wasting time without seeing results.
Here are a few sites that our community have had success with:
Licensing your artwork
By licensing, you are basically selling the license to your artwork directly to a company, and receiving royalties for each item sold that has your artwork on them.
I’ve seen many artists say that the biggest part of their income comes from licensing rather than client work – and you can get very profitable deals here.
However, you need to be careful legally to fully protect yourself and your rights, and prevent companies and brands to take advantage of you.
So if you are thinking this could be the right option for you, here are some resources about licensing that can help you get into it:
- Illustration Licensing 101 by Maggie Enterrios
- How to Start Licensing Your Art (and Why You Should) by Natasha Wescoat
If you love sharing your skills with others and know how to do basic filming and editing, then teaching might be your calling.
If you have a solid following on social media, then platforms like Teachable, Kajabi or Thinkific are worth looking into.
These sites give you full control over your course, and you can expand your offerings and tap into coaching or start your own membership program.
Have in mind that you have to pay a monthly (or annually) fee though, so make sure you price your course properly to be able to cover the costs as well as make a profit out of it.
If you don’t want to deal with that on your own, there are great platforms out there where you can publish courses without having to pay a fee to host them there. Many of these platforms – like Skillshare – are well-known, but again, it can be hard to get traction there.
Alternatively, you can start a YouTube channel and share your skills and knowledge for free. If you are consistent and putting the videos people enjoy watching, over time you can monetise the channel but also start a Patreon where you can get additional support from people who love what you are doing.
Finally, if you run a blog on your website, affiliate marketing is definitely something you should be thinking about.
Affiliate marketing is basically including links in your posts that you earn a small commission from if a user clicks and orders. The key here is to be honest and only recommend software and products that you are personally using.
Otherwise trust can quickly fall apart. You don’t want to turn your blog into spam.
Some companies have their own affiliate programs that you can apply for, while for others you can just get a unique code once you create the account.
I also recommend joining affiliate marketing networks like Share A Sale. They make it very easy to access and manage affiliate programs that you want to be part of.
How much do other freelancers earn from passive income?
I always find it helpful when other freelancers share a breakdown of their earnings – specifically what proportion of their income comes from passive income streams.
This gives me good insights and allows me to level my expectations, but also offers ideas of some other passive income streams that I should consider focussing on.
So if you also find these things helpful, here are some of the creatives that have successfully diversified their income and are happy to share insights about it:
- Charly Clements, an illustrator from the UK, shares her income pie in this Instagram post
- Mimi Purnell, an illustrator from Australia, breaks down her income as an artist in this video
I hope you find this helpful, and please share any of your ideas in the comments below!
Until next time,
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