6 Ways to Earn Passive Income From Your Graphic Design Work

Are you a graphic designer who wants to make money from his work, but doesn’t want to spend hours creating new things every day? Earning passive income is the perfect solution for you.


Passive income is a great tool for making money from your job while you sleep. Not all creative work needs you to be sitting at your drafting desk or computer to make money; you can earn passive income without the day-to-day creative expenses.

Not everything is easy with one click, but it is doable and beneficial.


What is the difference between passive and active income?

You may have heard of passive income, but if you don’t fully understand it, you may not know how it differs from regular active income.

Active income is typical for most regular jobs. You are the active element of the work-income relationship. You charge for your time and labor – by putting in the hours – and you get paid for consistently working, whether you’re employed or salaried, self-employed or salaried.

Passive income is usually found in self-employment or, what many call, side hustles. To receive passive income, you make your work work for itself. If that doesn’t make sense, count it as one hour of time and labor, but receiving 30 hours of money as a result. So let’s dive into ways to earn passive income from your graphic designs.

1. Sell tutorials

The best passive income comes from selling something you already make for free. If you’re a graphic designer or illustrator, you probably produce drawings and illustrations on a daily basis. So, rather than just profiting from the results, why not profit from the process of creating these things as well?

You can easily film or take screenshots of a tutorial while creating the work and then turn it into a video or written tutorial for sale. If your design work is already impressive, many people will want to know how to achieve it. They will see you as a leader or a teacher and will pay for your knowledge. You can easily make passive income this way.

Sell ​​tutorials of your most popular work or style. You can sell them through Patreon or other subscription services to keep them more exclusive, or you can sell them directly from your website. You can even write articles about them and use affiliate marketing to receive income or create YouTube videos of tutorials and create an income stream from that.

2. Create and sell models

Selling design templates is a surefire way to make money. Popular social media templates or trending template ideas can be created and sold on various platforms. You can create Figma presentation templates to sell or Canva layouts that users can modify later.

Templates are constantly being uploaded and purchased by social media managers, content creators and influencers. Even other graphic designers who don’t have time to create them or average social media users will buy well-designed and unique templates.

You can sell the same templates you use for your own social media pages, which keeps the workload passive, or you can design one or two simple templates and sell them from multiple places. Check out our list of places to sell your design work online for some starting points.

3. Sell Lightroom Presets

One of the best ways to differentiate your style from other photographers or content creators is to use distinctive presets. You can create Lightroom presets and sell them, individually or as sets, to other content creators, photographers, or social media users.

Presets can be marketed for portraiture, wedding photography, grunge, preppy styles, or anything that gives photos a distinctive look. Selling presets is especially popular if you’re already a well-known photographer or content creator with a specific visual style. People will want their photos to look like yours because you inspired them.

For passive profit, sell the presets you already use yourself. If you don’t want to divulge your unique secrets, you can, of course, modify them slightly so that they are not identical. It’s a great way to get your work out there and increase the popularity of your personal style.

4. Sell your creations via Dropshipping

If you’re a graphic designer, you’ve probably designed things for fun, made things for your family and friends, or developed your skills by drawing or creating random things. Instead of letting these designs get lost or used once never to be seen again, you can very easily add them to an eCommerce or dropshipping website for people to buy these designs on real products.

If you’ve already spent time or money creating these designs, they shouldn’t stay on your Instagram page. You can make money with them. Add them to websites such as RedBubble or other dropshipping sites; you can also add an eCommerce store to your own website.

Through these means you can add simple illustrations or designs on items such as t-shirts, cushion covers, cards, stickers, notebooks, wall hangings, clocks or bags.

Note: Do not reuse designs for which you have been commissioned by others, they must remain exclusive. But if you have universal designs that you created for unique gifts for friends, made from boredom or creative design challenges, you can earn some passive money.

5. Licensing Your Work

Licensing your work allows your designs to appear on branded products, increasing your audience while earning money without extra work. To get your designs on t-shirts in Target or custom plates and bowls in Walmart’s housewares section, licensing is the way to go.

Similar to forming a successful creative collaboration, licensing allows you to work with brands that share your creative vision and morals.

You don’t have to be a seasoned or well-known designer for this to benefit you. Once your work is licensed, the company will advertise and sell your products designed using their brand.

Before licensing your work, be sure to retain copyright to your artwork and designs and not waive exclusive use for others. We’ve written about Creative Commons licensing and non-exclusive use that you should be aware of before selling or licensing your work.

6. Affiliate Marketing on Your Website

This one takes active work at first, but with hard work and persistence, you can become a great passive earner. Adding affiliate marketing or advertising to your website can earn you money just from people viewing your work. they don’t even have to buy it.

For this to become profitable, you will need a strong following and enough page views on your site. This is where the initial active spending comes from. Once you have a consistent audience and reach, passive marketing comes into play.

Whether you add advertisements that generate revenue from page views or choose to incorporate affiliate links to products on your website, both are great options for earning a little extra cash without too much active work.

Be sure to stay transparent about the use of affiliate marketing by sharing a disclosure on your site. It is also recommended to only use affiliate links for products that you really like and use. Don’t sell just to make a few extra bucks.

Make your graphic designs work for you

Being a graphic designer or illustrator can be tough. But when you lack inspiration or motivation to create new work, there are always ways to make money from the work you’ve already done.

Using any of these passive income tips can keep the bank account running smoothly without you needing to devote more hours to your creative work. Passive income takes a little time to set up, but earns you a long time afterward.

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About Cecil D. Ramirez

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