Passive income generation is a great way to utilize your downtime between your daily workload. Passive income is income that continues to flow long after the initial workload. The types of things I’ve tried include T-shirt design, video stock, image stock, book sales, and web hosting. Some have been very successful, and some not so much. Below, I’ll break down some figures and stats.
E-book sales – $9000 in the first 3 years
E-books are a good way to use your knowledge base to sell a digital product. In my case, I studied advertising at Award School Sydney and wrote a listicle book on the inspiration for ideas called “Extreme Nouns.” Back in 2008, when I wrote the book, I could sell about $3,000 per year of downloads for three years totalling $9,000. The book was priced at $37.00 US, and I had to use social media to promote and gain momentum. The book took about 200 hours to make and promote, so doing the math, I made about $45 per hour. The book still sells, so the money keeps flowing 15 years later. The amount I sell the book for these days is a lot less in this market, with most ebooks selling at $5 or less, and I don’t spend any time promoting these days. Still, because of established SEO and momentum, the income is effortless and will potentially last forever. The website is very popular and generates indirect income in the form of domain authority for SEO to other websites. I also can use this platform for potential sponsorships and affiliate marketing.
Monetize a viral Blog – 10K value in 3 hours
Creating a viral blog is a good way to get visitors to an otherwise low-ranking site. You can add advertising or sponsorships on the sidebar of your website. I’ve tried sponsorships, but have not seen any direct success with this passive income method from sponsorships or advertising. However, the blog generates domain authority and traffic for my websites; in that case, you could argue that my passive income comes from indirect traffic. Hopefully, this blog will become one of those blogs that creates some traffic for my graphic design business. The blogs that interest me are the ones that use real experience rather than those generated by AI, like Chat GPT, although I’ll run this one through that platform to iron out any grammar errors. I think Chat GPT is an excellent tool for graphic design and copywriting. Income from this is hard to gauge, but I can tell you that one written listicle blog on Prompt Engineering doubled my web traffic in one week. The idea is to make content that is very valuable and will potentially go viral on social media. 10 K is a random figure I’ve put on the value of a blog, but from personal experience, one good viral blog has doubled my traffic to my business site. This increased my SEO, and that flows straight back to more work. So 10K is probably an underestimate over the life of the website that receives the traffic.
Stock Video and animation – $2,000 per year so far and growing.
If you enjoy telling stories and creating videos or have a backlog of high-quality B-reel footage, I recommend uploading your ideas to stock libraries. This is a long-game income source, but I make monthly money from my uploads. It took a few months to start seeing that income get momentum. The most popular videos I’ve seen on this topic of stock video talk about Wirestock and Blackbox Global as brokers to upload your video to, but I’d argue that uploading directly to the stock video distributors has been more successful for me.
I am relatively new to stock video and don’t have the pro equipment like professional videographers. However, I could still get into Blackbox as a video contributor through my online portfolio. Blackbox makes me about $50 US monthly, with about 500 videos uploaded to that platform. I don’t consider that to be a significant investment of my time. However, those videos uploaded to Getty Images have earned me more than $100 per month, covering all my expenses and subscriptions as a graphic designer.
These days, Blackbox distributes to Adobe, Shutterstock, Vimeo, and Getty, plus a few more, so I have to be careful not to upload duplicate content to both platforms. From my experience in the first year, Getty was the better performer compared to the six other platforms that Blackbox was distributing for. I think the benefit to uploading directly to a platform like Getty Images is that you get to see more in-depth statistics of what is being seen, lightboxed by users, and ultimately downloaded so that you can hone and curate your video ideas in future uploads for more optimal topics and subject matter.
Stock images (traditional or AI-generated) – Still deciding
Stock images can still make money but are quickly being replaced by AI this year. If you have highly unique stock images, I’d still suggest putting them in stock libraries, but if you could imagine them being generated by AI platforms, I wouldn’t bother. If you like generating images with AI, the only platform currently accepting AI-generated images appears to be Adobe Stock. I have a few assets on here, and they occasionally sell, but not very often. As a graphic designer, you often end up with ideas that the client didn’t go for, but you think are good. In this case, uploading those assets as stock images is a way to make some income from the work that you’ve already put in. There’s nothing to lose except 5 minutes on meta-tagging that content. The income from stock images has been meagre, but in saying that, I don’t have more than 50 assets online at this stage.
Web hosting multiple sites under one plan – $3,000 per year
Web hosting can be bought in bulk. If you have technical skills in cpanel, then this a great way to make a monthly income from clients requiring web hosting services. No clients want or need to be bothered with the technical side of their websites. Website maintenance is becoming increasingly automated, so hands-on work for hosting is less and less. Getting hold of a good automated web hosting provider with a backup system can provide an excellent platform for hosting multiple sites, dividing that cost, and creating profitable side income from several clients. Profit from 10 websites is about $2,500 per year. That would be scalable.
Passive income is a great way to make money on the side as a graphic designer, and there are many options available to you. While not all methods may work for everyone, it’s essential to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you. You will learn valuable skills even if you don’t make money immediately.
One thing to remember is that passive income is a long-term game. It takes time to build momentum and see the results of your efforts. You need to be patient and consistent and continue to work on your passive income streams even when you don’t see immediate results.
In conclusion, making passive income as a graphic designer is possible and can be quite lucrative if you’re willing to put in the effort. Ebooks, blogs, stock images and videos, and print-on-demand are a few ways to generate passive income. Experiment with different strategies, be patient and consistent and don’t be afraid to learn and grow. Good luck!
Examples of work produced for a client that wasn’t used in the final product. This illustration idea was for the term (Pouring your heart out) These can be sold on stock libraries for passive income. By working this way, you’ve already been paid for your time on the project, but you can earn again from using the b-reel or leftovers.