4 Things Web Designers Can Do To Get Extra Income

Posted on July 2, 2013 by

Finding some extra income is often a concern among professionals. While juggling between day jobs and freelance tasks may wear them down, the prospect of gaining better financial situation always sounds quite motivating. There are various ways of earning more income through online means and designers should try to explore any available avenues.

Themes Design

Themes seem like a good way for inexperienced designers to make some extra cash. Earning money this way doesn’t require years of experience of a fancy degree, just make something really cool and people will reward us. Some top designers already gross six figure annual incomes only from selling themes and many continue to do so while being relatively unknown from the rest of the design community.

Many new web designers consider this a worthwhile experience as themes can help them launch their design career. Often, early freelance clients are people who contact designers after seeing their templates. Revenue of a few thousands of dollars a month isn’t unheard of in theme design business. However, theme designers need to respond to changes in customer expectations and overall market trends. In some cases, designing good-looking themes is no longer enough. To be competitive, professional theme designers also design multiple layouts, build custom back end and support short-codes, not to mention establish a documentation website and provide excellent support. Some web designers found that that themes building tasks went from something they did on the side to a full-blown day job. This should be appropriate for those who like to become some kind of a WordPress guru and spend most of their time building unique themes.

Overall, theme design is an easy way to earn passive income, but it can also be tricky. It makes more sense if designers are willing to be in it for a long run. Eventually, they can make great new themes faster by streamlining the process and reusing bits of code.

It’s worth noting that designers need to release multiple themes before the whole venture becomes sufficiently profitable. Providing good support can be time-consuming and a lot of CSS and HTML coding is often needed. Professional theme designers also typically need to have some familiarity with WordPress or any kind of popular CMSs.

Icons and Vectors Design

Many web designers have GUI elements such as icons and buttons that can be used for future projects. Some of them decide to make a comprehensive package and release it for free and received impressive feedback. Seeing the steady traffic and interest, they follow up by building premium, commercial packs filled with hundreds of vector icons and this is when the magic might start to happen. PayPal payments start to arrive and sales went up gradually until they can become a full-time icon and vector designers. This can earn designers thousands of dollars a month from direct sales.

Obviously, designing quality content won’t be enough to make decent sales. Icon and vector designers need to invest plenty of time on polishing product website, write marketing text and create interesting sales pages. Instead of wasting plenty of time with sales process, designers should choose proper e-commerce solutions and improve SEO by using products like Curebit, SEOmoz, GetClicky, Google Nalaytics and MailChimp.

Designers may not have the time to provide comprehensive support, but they can commit to responding to clients as soon as possible. To save time, they can write documentation with some screenshots to avoid providing the same kind of answer over and over again. So it appears that design skills and creativity are not the most essential elements for success. Other than marketing and coding, icon and vector designers also need to learn and practice analytics, copywriting, customer support and SEO.

Actually, there’s the beauty of releasing our own products, we will become much better designer, not by delivering more impressive graphics, but because we have a complete mastery on all aspects of online business. We can see customers with new perspective and create designs with higher efficiency, instead of prioritizing only on outer beauty. The icon market is getting more competitive, but the same shift also takes place with other online markets.

There are also many discounted bundles released, where tons of icons and vectors are released for a couple of bucks. These could risk drying up the market and have convinced more designers to create more resources, thus further expanding the market. The tougher competition have compelled designers more than double the number of icons released and add a little more variations. Time and expenses are going up these days.

In the end, icons and vectors can be appropriate for web designers as they already have the skill to build graphics content. In some cases, establishing a dedicated website is not needed, as there are marketplaces for graphics, such as GraphicRiver and iStockPhoto.

Web designers typically want to take a dip into the torrential river of cash that flows into online ads. In most cases, online advertising ads are no fun. Website owners won’t bring in hige amount of cash, unless there’s enough traffic or if the plaster their websites with so many ads. By spending an hour for writing blogposts, web designers can pull in a few hundreds of dollars, more if some of their posts go viral. In many cases, income from online advertising are a decent way of paying a family meal during the weekend, but there won’t be serious cash coming unless designers decide to be a full-time blogger.

E-book Writing

It might seem relatively easy to write an e-book. After all, web designers know more than a thing or two about their field. In reality, writing a book isn’t the hardest part, instead developing a proper writing style takes a good deal of practice. Sure, readers would forgive clumsy writing if designers have really valuable things to say, but the real work often happens before the writing part starts.

Before designers write the first word, they already need to come up with really good topics. If necessary, they also have enough skill in web design to become the authority in specific topics. Blogposts can be consisted of compiled existing knowledge, but when people plan to hand out hard-earned cash, they expect to see something new. Designers should consider writing e-books only if they have more than a couple years of web design and coding experience More successful e-book writers set up a dedicated website for their books and target a niche. It is also a good idea to partner up with Hyperink and AppSumo to open more distribution channels for sales.

When performed properly, writing e-books can turn out to be wonderful for web designers. They can have great launches, making them about a few thousands dollars in first couple weeks alone. However, since then sales would slow down considerably, but still allowing them to make thousands more in subsequent months.

Overall, e-book writing requires plenty of promotion and the market is already somewhat competitive. Sales may also dry rather quickly a few weeks after launch. On the other hand, no special skills and consumer supports are required.


Regardless of methods designers decide to choose, they would benefit from a fully established network. They should find a way to get fully connected with others, whether it is by becoming a blogger or designer. They can also keep in touch with former classmates in web design schools or regularly attend web design meetups. One way or another, whether during their normal day job or side job, most successful designers always have a fully maintained network, even if they do not really aware about it. In any case, web designers should have a strong identity and seek to stand out from the crowd. This can be achieved through cultivating unique style and getting involved in various high-profile, viral projects.

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