Web Designers Making Thousands of Dollars in Passive Income

Mar 6 2013 by Agota Bialobzeskyte | 33 Comments

Web Designers Making Thousands of Dollars in Passive Income

Web designers who want to make passive income are in a very good situation right now. Most businesses nowadays commit significant resources towards their websites. This means that the demand for web design skills is higher than ever. It also means that there are plenty of opportunities for web designers to create streams of passive income by leveraging their existing skills and experience.

Let me start by defining what passive income is. Passive income is money you generate from things that require little resources and time in maintenance. You may need to provide customer support or updates to your product, but most of the work will be done in the production stage of whatever you’re selling.

What are examples of things web designers can make to generate passive income? Below are some examples and inspiring success stories.


Now is a great time for writing and selling e-books. Last year, e-book sales went up by 46%, showing that the demand for books in digital form is increasing.

Similarly, sales of mobile tablets — the devices that make e-books much more convenient to read — is growing. In Canada, for example, 1 in 4 people have a tablet. And in the UK, the number of tablets in households is forecasted to nearly double this year, from 5.87 million to 10 million.

Now is a great time to make and sell e-books.

Web designer Sacha Greif (a guest writer here on Six Revisions) made $15,000+ in sales for an e-book about designing user interfaces from scratch. It only took him 3 weeks to write.

Web Designers Making Thousands of Dollars in Passive Income

Web developer Jim Gray made over $15,000 in 6 months with his e-book Clean Ruby. He shares some stats and tips in a blog post.

App designer Nathan Barry (who has guest posted on Six Revisions before) made $6,000 in the first day of launching his e-book, The App Design Handbook. He reveals his strategy for achieving this amazing product launch in a blog post.

Online Courses

Many people around the world are eager to get into the web design industry. They are hungry for quality information that would help them master the craft.

Online video courses are an excellent medium to teach web design. Either publish them yourself or look at sites like Treehouse, Code School, Udemy, etc. to see if they can be the publisher of your online course.

Can you make a good amount of passive income through online courses?

Let’s take as an example designer/developer Chris Converse who currently has over 3,500 subscribers to his $150 online course on Udemy about creating a responsive web design.

By June 2012, the course generated $80,000 in sales during the time that it had less than half of the current subscribers.

Mobile Apps

iPhone and iPad sales are not likely to slow down anytime soon, which means that there is a constant demand for all kinds of apps, from entertainment to productivity to education.

Nathan Barry made close to $30,000 in a little over a year and a half from the first app that he launched, OneVoice.

One of Barry’s other apps, a personal productivity tool called Commit, has generated $6,000 in profit.

"Start working on your app today," says Barry in a post where he discusses his experiences generating income from his apps.

WordPress Themes

With WordPress being a leading content management platform, there’s a big demand for affordable and high quality WordPress themes that allow users to have a beautiful website without having to spend a fortune hiring web designers.

In one report, Web designer Kriesi, a top seller at the Envato marketplace, was able to produce over $1,000,000 in sales from his WordPress themes.

Serial entrepreneur John Saddington has built a successful business around a single WordPress theme called Standard. "It’s not too complex to create your own WordPress theme," says Saddington.


Web designers have a very real opportunity to make themselves more financially secure and independent by creating sources of passive income.

I hope that these success stories have inspired you to, at the very least, get started on your personal project and thinking about how you could possibly monetize it.

Share your thoughts and other inspiring stories in the comments!

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About the Author

Agota Bialobzeskyte is a writer at FounderTips, the only online marketing blog for web designers and web developers. You can get her free email course "Write and Sell Your Own E-book" here.


Kreativ Font

March 7th, 2013

I did not realized that ebooks are so in demand these days but it makes sense with the rapid rise of tablets.

Also, I expected that iOS apps would do better that the figures displayed here … However I saw that the app showcased is 199$ … which is pretty expensive …

Anyway nice compilation of revenue streams ideas for bloggers … Thanks!


March 7th, 2013

you should also check this out http://www.wowthemes.net ty:)


March 7th, 2013

A great article and it is true now a days businesses are now growing through the websites and web designers jobs are now high in demand.


March 7th, 2013

and how much did it cost to write, design and release a book? How many days? it’s not passive income if you have spent time making it, you invested. How long does it take to get a return on what you put in? $15k could be a month of time off, or 3 or a year.


March 7th, 2013

I noticed WordPress plugins are not in the scope …

Do you think there is no income to be made or that it is not a passive income ?

John Saddington

March 7th, 2013

Thanks for the mentioning Standard Theme here and for featuring some of my thoughts!

It’s worth noting that a theme business is anything but “passive” as there’s an incredible amount of work, every day, that needs to be put into it. That’s why we have 7 people working on it! It’s a real business!

Alastair Brain

March 7th, 2013

Along with wordpress Now its Prestashop and Magento as well. designers are earning great from those themes. People in times does not only buy but seeks a some custom work and that makes it more profitable. Targeting Prestashop, OScommerce magento or any other open source shopping cart becomes easy as you have the design for wordpress theme its just about making some adjustments to the existing idea and make it ready for e-commerce stores.

And you have mentioned that in the start of the article that people are spending more for there website. And this is true people are now taking online business more serious and this is the reason the number of e-commerce store are growing rapidly.

Earl Varona

March 7th, 2013

Wow, good to know! Thanks for the article Agota, you just inspired me to focus my energy on something a little different than what I’m doing now. :)


March 7th, 2013

Kresi just made 2 mils on Themeforest :D
That is news

Thanks for this great post!

Marko Saric

March 7th, 2013

Good overview! Content definitely sells and you’re a step away from selling your time for money and moving more into the passive income area.


March 7th, 2013

WordPress themes is not the only source of passive income. I think it’s also worth mentioning other types of templates – logo, print templates, office documents.

These are two sites I helped building, both are very good examples of evergreen passive income:
Print templates: http://www.bestindesigntemplates.com
Office templates: http://www.hloom.com and http://www.freetemplatesdepot.com

Built once, benefit forever.


March 7th, 2013

Kreativ Font, that iOS app for $199 was meant to replace devices that cost thousands of dollars, so it is priced accordingly.

Frank Waive

March 7th, 2013

That’s it, am definitely getting into large scale WordPress theme design

Vincent Le Moign

March 8th, 2013

Great article Agota! I’m sure it will be inspiring for a lot of designers.

You could also add the digital assets for designers, that’s a huge market.

I make thousands $/months selling 2 vector products for designers. A vector Icon Pack here: http://www.webalys.com/minicons and some vintage vector ornaments here: http://www.vectorian.net
It work so well that I could stop working as a freelance for customers, but it require me to spend full time on these 2 products. Still more satisfying to have my own products than working for someone else :-)


March 8th, 2013

Thank you for your comments, guys! :)

Kreativ Font: I agree with Twelve Design on the pricing on that $199 app – it was a bargain for those who use it to replace expensive devices.

any: I will check out that website, thank you for the link!

Jia: I’m glad you like the article. Yup, web designers and web developers are in high demand now, but there are also a lot more people competing for the same positions. That’s why I think passive income is more important than ever.

Avangelist: You seem to be a bit confused about definition of passive income. Passive income is a type of income when you do the work once and then get paid many times for it (you write an e-book once, you can sell it many times). Obviously, it’s not so passive as some sleazy online marketers would like you to believe, because even when you have a product, you need to promote it, etc. It still beats client work, though.. :P

FranceImage: I don’t know much about WordPress plug-ins, that’s why I didn’t mention them.. There are opportunities to earn passive income with them, at least from what I understand.. You can check out this interview with Joost de Valk, famous WP plug-in developer:


John Saddington: Thank you for the input John, that definitely gives a bit of perspective on WordPress theme development!

Alastair Brain: Yup, WordPress themes have potential, although as John mentioned, they required a lot of work.

Earl Varona: I’m happy to hear that! :)

meks: :P

Marko Saric: I think info products are the most straightforward way to earn passive income as a web designer and web developer. As you said, content sells.

Helen: Thank you for the input Helen! I might contact you sometime to hear more about this.. ;)

Twelvedesign: I agree with you, that app was very reasonably priced, considering the value it provides..


March 8th, 2013

Nice article.

But It doesn’t tell us how many people are not getting enough income for this kind of activity.

Gagandeep Singh

March 8th, 2013

Great Post thanx for sharing it…Keep up the good work


March 9th, 2013

Sorry to remain anonymous, but I made $27,000+ on a jquery plugin in 8 months. This year, I’m on track to make another $40,000 from it. I also had a broker look at the site and he gave a valuation of $200k. Not bad for something that took a week to write.


March 9th, 2013

Even blogging can lead to a bit of passive income.


March 11th, 2013

Hi there. Really a great post. Anybody loves incomes from another source. Thanks for sharing it.

Tiyo Kamtiyono

March 11th, 2013

This post is almost making me stop blogging, because no matter how big commission you get from affiliate or ads, that will likely impossible to get 1 million in one year like theme creator :lol:

Chandan Sanwal

March 11th, 2013

Its a best way to generate online income through your blog. I am also thinking to write a ebook about blog tip. But want to know that in starting time (its my first ebook) should i prefer it free to sale or paid.?

Rohit Singh

March 11th, 2013

This is a great motivational post for all the bloggers. thanks for sharing


March 12th, 2013


Yup, I get what you are saying, most people who try fail, like with many other pursuits.

However, it’s important to understand, that there’s a difference between statistic and an individual shot at achieving something.

It’s like discussing the odd of getting black belt:


Gagandeep Singh:

I’m glad you liked it!


That’s really awesome.

I’d be interested in doing a case study on you, what do you say?

Drop me a line at agota (dot) bialobzeskyte (at) gmail (dot) com


Blogging can lead to A LOT of passive income if you know what you are doing.


March 12th, 2013

If only my boss allowed me to generate income outside of work :( Written into my contract that I can’t!


March 12th, 2013

Not just passive income, so many great things why web/interface/graphics designers are VERY in-demand :)

Mayank Patel

March 12th, 2013

Quick update: Kriesi, one of the top sellers at the Envato marketplace has recently surpassed $2M in sales! :-)


Awais Raza

March 13th, 2013

I am not sure about ebooks, but both other ways got much potential of earning. You can even teach for free on youtube to earn good income as youtube partner. But if you are really very good at coding and design then envato is best platform to earn handsome income.


March 15th, 2013

Mike: I know about non-compete contracts where you sign an agreement that you can’t run a competing side business. But not allowing to generate income outside of work? Like, you wouldn’t be allowed to walk your neighbor’s dog for 5$/hour? What the ****?!

Bluroon: Yup, definitely, most businesses are either completely virtual, or have a web presence, so demand for web designers/web developers is HUGE.

On the other hand, it’s also very competitive, since web designers/developers from all over the world are competing for the same jobs online.

Mayank Patel: Whoah! I guess I should write a case study on him or something.. :D

Awais Raza: I’d say that it’s not worth it to bother with youtube. In my opinion, someone who wants to teach web design/web development via videos should build a course and either run it themselves or go straight to Udemy.

E-books work well because there’s a huge demand for quality web design/web development material. You have to know a bit of online marketing to be successful with them, though.


March 15th, 2013

Sorry guys I only noticed your comments now.. :/

Kristinakathy: I’m glad you liked it! :)

Tiyo Kamtiyono: Honestly, if your primary goal is to make money, blogging is not the best way to do that. I’d suggest you to take a look at other option, like you could create e-books, video courses, or maybe SaaS something. You don’t need a blog to sell those.

Take a look at what Nathan Barry is doing with his web app challenge:


Chandan Sanwal: It depends on what you want to do with that first e-book.

If you want to use it to build your e-mail list, then it should be free.

If you want to make money with it, then, obviously, you should charge for it.

Don’t forget that you have to build an audience BEFORE selling that e-book, otherwise it will be very hard.

I’ve written a free guide on writing and selling e-books, you can take a look at http://www.foundertips.com (opt-in required).

Rohit Singh: I’m glad you liked it!

Jim Gay

March 15th, 2013

Thanks for mentioning my book.

It’s not ebooks that are in demand, it’s solutions to problems. Sometimes that means an ebook is the best option.

For the record, as of today, my income has surpassed $30k in sales from http://clean-ruby.

Daniel Rabattkod

June 3rd, 2013

There’s alot of opportunities right now and you can for example also make user interface elements and sell on graphicriver and make fiverr gigs for easy repetive things.

Lukasz Kokoszkiewicz

September 18th, 2013

I work in a small interactive agency in Poland,Cracow. Few months ago I decided to do something on my own, my own slider script and publish it under ‘free for not commercial use’ license. And that is how http://w3widgets.com was born. Now I’m offering 2 scripts in total, not impressive I know, but it’s gonna be better.

It’s not that profitable yet that I want it to be, but, I have to say, that my skills level went up big time because I had to resolve problems that I wouldn’t even approach when only working for the agency.

My little dream is to build some kind business around selling electronic content like scripts, themes, photos etc.

I think this kind of work is great for every creative being. It doesn’t bound you to any agency frames, you have total freedom of what you create and when and (based on my experiences) as long as it’s good, it will sell.

Good article BTW.

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