passive income ideas for developers and designers

Passive Income Ideas for Designers & Developers

As developers and designers, we understand the value of passive income. Having multiple streams of passive income can not only provide financial freedom, but also the freedom of time. While they may require an initial investment and potentially some maintenance, the long-term consistent revenue they can generate is worth it.

We have compiled a list of 11 strategies that we use to generate passive income alongside our work as designers and web/app developers. Imagine making money while also pursuing other important aspects of your life such as improving your health or building stronger personal relationships with family and friends. Passive income also allows you to invest time and resources into new passive income opportunities, creating a self-sustaining cycle of income generation.

freelancer working from home making passive income

Some may argue about the true definition of “passive income.” To us, it means creating a well-crafted digital product that generates revenue consistently over a long period of time, without requiring constant attention or maintenance from us. If the product is performing well, we have the option to enhance it, promote it, or maintain it, but it doesn’t have to consume all our time and effort.

Here are 20 strategies for generating passive income as a developer or designer:

  1. Create and sell online courses or e-books
  2. Develop and sell software or apps
  3. Create and sell a physical or digital product
  4. Invest in stocks, bonds or real estate
  5. Start a blog or YouTube channel and monetize it
  6. Create and sell a theme or template
  7. Develop and sell a mobile game
  8. Invest in cryptocurrency or blockchain projects
  9. Create and sell stock footage or photography
  10. Start a dropshipping business
  11. Rent out a property or a room on Airbnb.
  12. Create and sell plugins or extensions for popular software or platforms
  13. Offer ongoing support or maintenance services for your existing products
  14. Monetize an open-source project by offering premium features or support
  15. Invest in or create a peer-to-peer marketplace for freelance work or services
  16. Create and sell virtual or augmented reality products or experiences
  17. Invest in or create an affiliate marketing program for a product or service
  18. Create and sell print-on-demand products such as t-shirts or mugs
  19. Create and sell digital assets such as fonts or graphics
  20. Invest in or create a subscription-based service such as a software or content platform.

The opportunities are endless, and with a bit of research, creativity and hard work, you can find the perfect passive income strategy for you.

1. Do affiliate marketing & advertising still work?

Affiliate marketing is a great way for designers and developers to generate passive income from their existing websites. By writing in-depth blog posts on topics that have low competition in search results and incorporating affiliate links to relevant products, you can earn a commission on every sale made through your link.

One popular affiliate program is Amazon’s, which offers a commission of 1-10%. The advantage of using Amazon is that they have a wide range of products that are likely to be of interest to your target audience. Other popular affiliate programs include Shopify and Thirsty Affiliates.

A common question is whether affiliate marketing still works in today’s digital landscape. The answer is a resounding yes, but it’s important to approach it in the right way. We recommend only promoting products that you and your readers are passionate about, and that are priced between $100 and $300. The reasoning behind this is that higher priced items typically require more research before a purchase, while lower priced items may not generate as much commission.

As an example, let’s say you have a website that receives 5000 visitors per month and you promote a product that costs $100 with a 3% commission rate. If 250 of those visitors end up purchasing the product through your affiliate link, you would earn a side income of $750 each month. And the beauty of affiliate marketing is that this income can continue to generate for years to come, even after the initial effort of creating the webpage.

Advertising is one way to monetize your blog, but it’s becoming increasingly challenging due to the widespread use of ad blockers. Even if ads do manage to bypass ad blockers, the revenue generated is often minimal. This means that it requires a significant amount of traffic to make advertising a worthwhile income stream. If you do have a high volume of traffic, it may be more beneficial to monetize it through affiliate marketing or another income stream.

If you don’t have a website yet, now is a great time to start one. When choosing a web hosting provider, look for one that offers the ability to host multiple websites on a single server, and includes free SSL certificates. This will give you more flexibility and security as you grow your online presence. Additionally, consider investing in a good website builder or hiring a web developer to create a professional and user-friendly website. We recently moved over to Siteground because of their speed, ease of use and their relatively low costs. We chose the Grow Big Hosting Package.

2. Sell an eBook online

sell an ebook online

Self-publishing an ebook on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Payhip, Shopify, Selz, or Feiyr can be very lucrative. First, create good content and have it proofread by someone on Fiverr. After that make sure you design a great cover that really sells your ebook. After you publish your ebook on one of the platforms mentioned above, promote it on social media (or pay for a Facebook ad) and websites that are in your niche. Not sure if you can write a complete book? All the content is somewhere on the Internet. Just repackage it in a structured way and pour over your secret sauce.

3. Create a course

Creating and selling an online course is a great way to monetize your expertise as a developer or designer. Platforms like Udemy, Treehouse, and Code School make it easy to create and sell your course to a global audience. With the current and ongoing high demand for programmers, there is a huge opportunity to share your specialized programming skills and knowledge with others.

To ensure success, it’s important to create a high-quality course that stands out from the rest. This means investing time and effort into creating comprehensive, engaging content that meets the needs of your target audience. You can also consider offering additional resources like quizzes, assignments, or a community forum to enhance the learning experience for your students.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to market your course to your existing network and on social media, to reach a broader audience. By creating a valuable and unique course, you can establish yourself as an authority in your field and generate a consistent passive income stream.

4. Create an app

Creating an app is another great way to generate passive income as a developer or designer. While programming skills are beneficial, there are many platforms such as GameSalad that make it easy for anyone to develop an app that is platform-independent, even if you don’t have any coding experience. You can also consider buying a pre-made app on these platforms and then customizing it to make it more “sellable.”

It’s worth noting that often it’s not the most unique or special apps that perform well in the app stores, but those that have a great user interface and high search rankings. One strategy to consider is developing free apps that have in-app purchases, as this can be a great way to generate revenue.

Another tip is to consider developing a localized app for a smaller country or community that has less competition. This can be a great way to tap into a niche market and generate more downloads. As the writer mentioned, they have had success with German math apps and found that the same app did not perform as well in the US.

It’s also important to keep in mind that developing an app requires a significant investment of time and resources, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you plan to monetize your app before starting the development process.

5. Sell Digital Files

sell digital files for passive income

Selling digital files is another great way for graphic designers to generate passive income. Whether you use Illustrator, Photoshop, or another design software, you likely have a collection of high-quality, vector-based or high-resolution images that are not currently in use. Browse through your work and see if there are any files that you can sell on platforms like Etsy, which allows you to easily set up an online store to sell digital files.

Another option for designers and photographers is to license your work to stock photo websites like Shutterstock. These platforms allow you to upload your images, and then they will license them to other users for a fee, earning you a commission on each sale. This can be a great way to monetize your work without having to actively market it yourself.

It’s important to note that if you decide to sell digital files, you should have a clear idea of the license you are selling and what the buyer can do with the files. You should also have a clear return policy in case the buyer is not satisfied with their purchase.

Additionally, you can also sell digital files in your own website or platform, by creating a shop section, and setting up payment and download systems.

6. Outsourced Businesses

OK, I admit this does not fully classify as passive, but it is doable for most developers and designers who are doing client work. The easiest way to free up time is by outsourcing as much as possible. You will maintain the decision-making or visionary role, but you bring on other people to handle simpler tasks. These tasks can often be performed by less experienced people at a lower price.

7. Crypto Trading or investing

Why is this a passive income tip for developers and designers? Well, cryptocurrencies and blockchain are all about technology. In my opinion, the cryptocurrency market, Bitcoin in particular, is just as disruptive as the dotcom bubble was in the late 1990s. And boy, I wish I had paid more attention to it back then! So pay close attention now, while it has not yet become mainstream, and invest some money into Bitcoin (never more than you can afford to lose, of course).

Try to make more Bitcoin by trading Altcoins. I want to quickly add that most traders lose money 😉 but it is possible to make a profit if you have a good trading strategy (and you stick to it). There are many free day trading or scalping strategies to be found online. If trading is not for you than investing in Bitcoin and holding (HODL) for a few years might be a better option. A good strategy is Dollar cost averaging (DCA) which reduces the impact of volatility and therefore minimizes downside risk. Read our article on how to start with Crypto

8. Create YouTube videos

Overcome your public speaking fears and start a YouTube channel! YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Many people (especially the younger generations) prefer YouTube to Google. There is money to be made on YouTube ads and affiliate links that you put in the description below the videos.
Not sure what to talk about? Interview a friend or colleague on a certain topic and record it.

If you don’t want your face in front of the camera you can hire someone on Fiver to do it for you. Just send them the text you wrote and let them record it. You can edit the video by adding images, sound and other effects to it.

Now, if you really are not into filming and you don’t have great marketing skill there still is a way to earn money from YouTube. There is a course available that teaches you the secrets to make money step-by-step without making your own videos. Sounds shady but it is totally legit. Take a look and see if this is something for you.

9. Create a Theme or plugin for WordPress

Many of you have developed websites for clients. Do you always use the same WordPress theme or do you make the same theme customizations over and over again? Chances are that many people are looking for the same customizations you make to your theme. So why not develop your own theme and sell it on A common price for a theme is $30. If you sell your theme 100 times a week that’s $12000 a month. This is not uncommon for an average theme. Be aware that you must support your theme, so be prepared to answer customer questions. Make a good FAQ website for your theme or pay someone that knows your theme to answer questions for you.

If you have more technical skills you can consider developing a plugin that is free to download but has some paid futures in it. Since there are millions of WordPress-based websites online (more than 30% of all websites), the potential customer base is enormous. If your plugin really ads value to users and you systematically and nicely ask for donations, you could make serious money. It is worth exploring but a bit more challenging to develop than a theme in my point of view.

10. Build and sell websites

As a developer, you may have a few domains or websites that are doing nothing at the moment and you don’t have the aspiration to make an income out of it anytime soon. These domains could be very valuable to someone else because they see the potential of it or don’t have the skills to build a website as you do. Put these websites on Flippa and see what people are willing to pay for it. You don’t have to sell it if the price is to low.

11. Buy an existing website

Buying an existing website can be a great way to generate passive income as a developer or designer. Platforms like Flippa make it easy to search for websites that are currently for sale. You can then use your skills in website design and SEO to improve the site and monetize it. Once the website starts generating income, you can then flip it again on Flippa or another platform, potentially earning a profit on your initial investment.

However, it’s important to do your due diligence when buying an existing website. Before making an offer, be sure to carefully review the website’s traffic, revenue, and potential for growth. You should also have a clear plan for how you will improve and monetize the site.

Additionally, you may want to consider buying a website that is already generating revenue and has a strong user base, rather than a new one. This way you can immediately start earning from it, and also use the data from the website to make informed decisions on how to improve it.

It’s also important to keep in mind that buying an existing website requires an initial investment, and you should be prepared to invest time and resources to improve and monetize the site.