There are many different ways to earn money as a web designer other than just creating websites for clients. Many freelancers choose to supplement their income from the client’s work by doing other things, such as creating and selling digital products. These products could be marketed to end users or other designers.
Almost 10 years ago, I started selling digital products with the launch of Vandelay Premier, and it has been an important part of Vandelay Design ever since.
If you are interested in creating and selling your own products but don’t know where to start, there are two main details to discover. First, what kind of products will you create? Second, where and how will you sell them?
This article will help you answer both questions. Let’s start by looking at some of the types of products you can create.
1. Website Templates
HTML and CSS templates have been a popular item for years and there is still money to be made here. Their templates can be purchased from companies or organizations looking for a website on a tight budget, or they can be purchased from other designers who will use them in their clients’ work to speed up the process.
The downside to creating and selling templates is the potential for excessive customer service demands. If you are going to sell on a large scale, you will need some kind of plan to serve your customers or you will be overwhelmed with support emails.
2. WordPress Themes
While HTML website templates are popular, WordPress themes are even more popular. A WordPress theme is more practical for most clients than an HTML template because the WordPress theme is ready to be used immediately with a CMS (WordPress).
Your customers can purchase and download your WordPress theme and implement it on their website in no time.
Like HTML website templates, WordPress theme providers often have extensive customer service requirements. Almost all customers will need support at some point and you should be able to provide basic customer service.
While the customer service requirements can be high, the earning potential is just as high.
3. WordPress plugins
Another option for WordPress designers/developers is to create a WordPress plugin. The customer service requirements and income potential of plugins are very similar to WordPress themes. Successful plugin developers can make a lot of money, but you will need a system (and probably a team) to provide adequate customer service
4. Shopify themes
Shopify is a very popular e-commerce platform that also offers an opportunity for designers and developers. You can design and code Shopify themes that other people could use to easily create their own eCommerce site.
You can sell your themes yourself or apply to appear on the official Shopify theme store. Your themes will need to be updated from time to time and you will also need to provide customer service.
5. HTML email templates
Another type of template that you can create for a sale is an HTML email template. Email marketing is critical to many businesses and the look of an email can have a major impact on your success. As a result, many entrepreneurs and businesses will buy templates that they can use to easily create attractive emails.
6. PSD files
The first five items on our list have to do with encoding. The level of customer service for these products tends to be high because customers will need help and because there may be differences between browsers, servers, and other technologies. Now we will move on to some types of products that generally have much lower customer service demands and can provide income of a more passive nature.
I call this type of product a “PSD file,” which is a general way of classifying many different types of products that can be used in Photoshop. UI sets that can be used in web design are extremely popular, and PSD mockups that allow users to view a product in a realistic way are also popular.
7. Photoshop brushes
Photoshop brushes allow users to easily add different types of effects to their projects. You can create watercolor effect brushes, strokes, splashes and many different types of effects. Almost anything can be made into a brush, it doesn’t necessarily have to be some kind of painted effect.
8. Icon sets
Icons are used on a high percentage of websites, but most designers don’t have the time or ability to create their own custom icons for each project. This means you can design and sell icon packs that will speed up the design process for others, while also generating revenue for you.
The possibilities here are endless. There are many different types of icon packs you can create (blog, business, finance, e-commerce, travel, food, etc.) and many different styles and types of icons.
9. Vectors and illustrations
Vectors and illustrations can be used in all types of graphic and web design projects. If you have some Illustrator skills, this is a type of product you might want to consider. Even those designers who have the ability to create high-quality vectors and illustrations may not always have the time to create custom graphics, so the products you sell may be in high demand.
10. Logo templates
Custom logo design services may be out of reach for some small businesses. In these cases, the business owner can choose to purchase a logo template at a fraction of the price of having a custom logo.
Additionally, some designers will purchase logo templates so they can quickly create attractive logos for their customers who don’t already have a logo.
Designers can use textures in their own designs and creations. Textures can be created with a camera, a scanner, or simply using the tools available in Photoshop (or a combination of these).
Creating textures was actually how I started with Vandelay Premier. I found the textures fun and relatively easy to create. Grab your camera and get some quality pictures of concrete, wood, metal, rust, or any other kind of worn or rough flat surface. Once you have the photos, you can work with them in Photoshop to create a texture that other designers can use.
12. Brochure templates
While most of the options we’ve covered so far have focused on web design, creating assets for print-based design is another option. You can design templates for brochures and other marketing materials (flyers, business cards, etc.).
13. Social Media Image templates
You can design cover images that can be used for Facebook pages and profiles, as well as other image templates that can be used with social media.
Another option is to create your own fonts. Many fonts are available for free, and others can be purchased. Your fonts will need to be of high quality if you want to sell them, but popular fonts can generate a lot of income for their creators.
15. Ebooks and Courses
The last option we will cover is to create your own e-book or online course. This is very different from the other options listed above because it is an educational product rather than a design resource. If you enjoy teaching and would like to teach a particular aspect of design or development to aspiring designers, this could be a great option.
When deciding between writing an ebook or creating a course, there are a few key factors to consider. First, courses tend to require more maintenance than e-books. Selling e-books generally requires very little customer service, but courses tend to bring more potential problems (such as login and login issues), and many courses also involve private groups (such as Facebook groups) who bring work additionally.
However, courses are generally sold at higher prices than e-books, so you may be earning more, which makes up for the extra work.
How to Sell Your Creations
Now that we’ve covered some of the different types of products that you can make and sell, let’s take a look at the options for selling your products.
Your Own Website
The first option is to sell your products on your website. This is ideal because you will have full control over details like pricing, sales and promotions, marketing strategy, and refund policy. You also want to split the revenue with a third party (in addition to the payment processing fees).
The downside to selling via your website is that you are solely responsible for generating traffic and sales. Selling on your site can be very profitable if you have an established website, but starting from scratch can take a lot of time and effort.
Another potential downside to selling on your site is the increased time it takes for product and store administrative tasks.
If you want to sell on your site, you can use Shopify, SendOwl, WooCommerce, or any other option.
Through a Marketplace
Another option is to sell your products on the market. There are many different options here. You may be selling certain types of products through a large stock photography website. These sites can provide a lot of exposure, but there are millions of other products on these sites and they generally pay low sales commissions.
Other markets like Creative Market and Envato still offer a lot of exposure and generally higher commissions than most stock photography websites. Smaller marketplaces like FilterGrade can offer you a higher percentage of each sale, as well as less competition from other sellers.
Besides the markets, you can also sell your items on bargain sites like MightyDeals and InkyDeals. These are usually limited-time offers.
There are a number of benefits to selling on a third-party site, such as a marketplace or tender site. More importantly, those sites already have an established audience and you may be making some sales without creating your own audience. If you expect long-term success in a market, you should plan to be active and work to establish your profile on the site, but you will benefit from the established audience of the market.
Another significant benefit is that you won’t face any basic customer service and payment processing issues related to particular orders. You may need to provide customer service related to the products you sell, but everything related to transactions will be handled for you.
Bookkeeping is also easier as you will typically be paid once a month for once for all of your sales rather than many small transactions.
The downside to selling elsewhere is the fact that you will share the revenue, which means you could earn much less from each sale. Hopefully, the exposure provided by the market can offset this by helping you make more sales.
Another factor to consider is that you may or may not have control over the prices of your products sold in a market. Every market is different. Some give product creators the right to set their own prices, but others will check the prices for you.
As a freelancer
While the two main options are to sell your products on your site or sell them elsewhere, there is a third option you can consider. You can independently design or create products for other companies that sell similar products. For example, many of the products available on Vandelay Premier were not created by me. I hired several freelancers to create products specifically to sell in-store. I know that many competitors operate in the same way.
As a designer, this gives you the option or opportunity to do freelance work. You will give up ownership of the product once paid, but you can earn a flat rate for your work similar to what you would do with other types of customer projects.
Creating and selling digital products may not be the right option for all designers, but I can say from personal experience that there is great potential and it can be a great way to supplement client project proceeds (or even make a profit. of time). If you’ve ever considered ways to earn money as a designer in addition to client work, this is something you may want to explore.