There are many reasons to become a freelance web designer; the freedom to work where you want, when you want, and with whomever you want are big ones. Freelancing can also enable you to make more money than if you were tied to a single employer.
That said, freelancing isn’t without its risks.
Many freelancers know what it’s like to go through cycles of feast and famine. It can take a while (as well as a lot of hustling) before you get to a point where things feel steady. Even then, other disruptors can cause business to dry up.
One way to safeguard yourself as a web designer is to diversify your earnings. By creating multiple revenue streams — including recurring and automated revenue — you won’t be as susceptible to freelancing famine or disruption.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 15 ways to diversify your income.
15 Ways to Diversify Your Revenue Stream If You’re a Web Designer
You could be a 10-year freelancing veteran and it would still be a good idea to diversify your revenue as well as to open up recurring revenue streams.
For starters, it would make you less dependent on services-based earnings. Secondly, it wouldn’t feel as earth-shattering to lose clients since you’ll have plenty of other revenue streams to fill in the gaps. Plus, every side hustle you get involved in will breathe new life and passion back into your work.
Income diversification can lead to some amazing things. Just make sure you focus on revenue streams that make sense for you as a web designer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Expand Your Web Design Services
Some people don’t like the idea of doing anything other than the job they set out to do. As a web designer, you won’t have to.
For instance, if you currently build eCommerce websites, consider other niches you’d like to build websites for. There are many kinds of businesses and individuals in need of websites.
You won’t need hands-on experience designing for other niches in order to make this leap either. ThemeForest has thousands of high-quality themes for every niche that will help you get acquainted with the needs for other types of sites:
Also think about niching down in a specialty that pays more. For instance, if you can make a name for yourself as a UX designer or researcher, they tend to make more money than traditional web designers.
You could also look into developing mobile apps for your existing niche. That could be an especially lucrative opportunity in a field like eCommerce where many companies invest in both a website and app.
2. Create Turnkey Websites
You don’t see many people selling pre-made websites nowadays, but I think it could be a worthwhile venture considering how many people are looking to cut costs right now.
Essentially, you’d set up a store on your own website where people could buy hosted websites that you built. You’ll fill in as many of the details on the site without getting too specific. Customers would then pay a monthly or annual fee to “buy” the site, quickly customize it, and publish.
3. Flip Websites
This option is similar to turnkey websites in that you’ll be building complete websites. However, flipping websites is similar to flipping houses. You’ll need to put a lot of work into them — we’re talking tons of SEO and affiliate linking. Plus, you’ll have to wait long stretches so the site has enough time to build up its link juice in search engines while also bringing in money from affiliate marketing.
So if you’re looking to sell higher-ticket websites without the hassle that can come from managing clients through the process, this could be an interesting avenue to pursue.
4. Offer Web Development Services
You don’t have to choose between doing design and coding.
If you enjoy digging into the code of a website — whether it’s to enhance what you’ve designed or to code it from scratch — you have the option of working as a web developer as well. Or you could increase your rates and market yourself as a web designer/developer hybrid.
5. Provide Graphic Design Services
Businesses need more than a website in order to reach their audience and stay in touch with customers. While they can hire a graphic designer to help them with creating these other assets, they’re going to get more consistent results if the same designer works on everything.
If you’re interested in graphic design, this would make for a great offshoot of your web design services. Your clients will need things like:
- Social media graphics
- Email marketing graphics
- Business cards
Whether you’re new to graphic design or you prefer to streamline your workflow as much as possible, Envato Elements is going to be a useful resource:
There are millions of digital assets here — from stock content to editable templates — that will help you get your clients’ graphic designs completed and out the door in record time.
6. Sell Website Maintenance Packages
WordPress websites, in particular, require a lot of upkeep. While WordPress users have the option of paying more for managed web hosting, there’s only so much they can do to help in this regard.
On the other hand, a web designer they know and trust offering to help with monthly maintenance would be attractive to many clients. The level of maintenance you offer will depend on the type of website it is and what kind of budget your client is working with. Regardless, you might find yourself doing things like:
- Website backups
- Software and plugin updates
- Uptime monitoring
- Performance audits and optimization
- Security monitoring and patches
- Broken link fixes
- Google Analytics monitoring
You could also offer services related to content editing, SEO improvements, responsive checks, and more.
By the way, you can streamline a lot of this work. One way to do it is with a tool like ManageWP. Rather than log in and out of each of your maintenance clients’ websites, you’ll have a single dashboard to manage them all from:
Another option is to outsource the work to WP Buffs. It will be white labeled, so your clients will never know that an external team of experts is handling their maintenance.
7. Manage Web Hosting
If you find a web hosting company that you know and trust, and that offers a resellers’ program, think about leveraging it. SiteGround, for instance, is a web hosting company that offers reseller hosting:
The best way to do this is to convert your web design service that clients pay once for into an all-in-one website service that they pay a monthly or annual subscription fee for.
So what you’d do is charge them a recurring fee that covers the cost of:
- Their web hosting plan (which you’ll set up and manage for them)
- The website you’re going to build for them
- The ongoing maintenance services you’ll provide
This is a great option if you want to differentiate yourself from other web designers. Rather than offer a one-time service to clients, you handle all of their technical website needs as well.
8. Offer Optimization Services
There’s more to website maintenance than just ensuring the site loads quickly and that WordPress stays up to date. For a website to be worthwhile and profitable over the long run, it has to evolve alongside its users’ needs and expectations.
There are a couple of methods that will enable you to do this.
The first is search engine optimization (SEO). As a web designer, you’ll be in the best position to help clients manage technical SEO (basically all the stuff you’d do in a maintenance package) plus on-page SEO.
The second is conversion rate optimization (CRO). This might already be in your wheelhouse. If you like running A/B tests, pouring over Google Analytics data, and analyzing heatmaps, this could be a great way to create a new revenue stream for your business.
9. Do Website Consultations
Find what you’re good at and then offer up your expertise to clients (and non-clients) who need it. There are various ways to do this via consultations. It all depends on your area of expertise.
For instance, if you’re a website maintenance guru, you could sell technical SEO audits. If you’re more interested in the creative side of website design, you might be better suited to doing website audits and then pitching redesign/rebranding packages to your clients.
10. Coach New Freelancers
There are new designers entering the field every day. While there are plenty of online resources at their disposal — like the kind of tutorials, courses, and guides you find on Tuts+ — coaches can provide practical knowledge and business acumen that doesn’t easily fit into these materials.
If you enjoy one-on-one training or coaching, consider launching a side hustle where you do just that for fledgling designers.
11. Develop WordPress Themes
Have you ever felt like there’s a gap in the WordPress theme market? With how quickly web design trends change, that wouldn’t be a surprise.
Plus, every time Google rolls out a new algorithm update, webmasters are always scrambling to update their websites with features that allow them to rank. We need more people who can develop great-looking themes that help websites perform well in search results.
You don’t need to go all in and launch a WordPress theme agency in order to make money doing this. What’s important is that you develop high-quality themes and then build good relationships with users via updates and support. This will allow you to generate tons of positive reviews and press around your work.
Your reputation and reviews will matter more to users than the quantity of themes you’ve built.
12. Create WordPress Plugins
WordPress plugins offer another way for you to develop products for WordPress. One option is to sell specialized plugins that offer a solution that few others can via a site like CodeCanyon:
Another way to do this is to develop plugins and make them available for free on WordPress.org.
In order to make money from them, you’ll need to build a landing page where you sell the premium version of the plugin. You can entice users to the upgrade by offering enhanced support or providing extra features.
13. Sell Digital Assets
There are other things you can create and sell beyond WordPress products. Brands and even other designers are always in need of stock content and templates. For example:
- Sound effects
- Textures or patterns
Just as you might use Envato Elements to download resources for your web design work, you can use the same platform to sell your creations.
14. Create Video Courses
One of the great things about the world we live in today is that you don’t need to be a great videographer in order to create your own video courses or tutorials.
The first thing you need is a tool that enables you to film your screen. I prefer to use WeVideo as there’s a ton of flexibility in what you create and how you create it. The editor is also easy to use.
Then you need somewhere to host and monetize your video course. While you could use something like YouTube, you’d be dependent on them and their advertisers to help you make money.
I think it’s better to use a course plugin or even a third-party course platform like Teachable if you want to go the self-hosted route. Or if you want to leverage a course platform that already has tons of traffic and users, you can submit your courses to a site like Udemy.
15. Do Affiliate Marketing
This last option will require you to be doing some form of marketing. For example:
- Social media
You’ll then need to hunt down affiliate partnerships that make sense for the kind of content you’re creating.
As a web designer, you’ll likely be writing or talking about design, freelancing, or niche-specific topics. Your affiliate partnerships should fall into those categories if you want your links and ads to get clicks and convert.
There are so many other ways you can diversify your income as a web designer. Manage clients’ social media accounts. Do wedding photography on the weekends. Drive for Uber.
However, I wanted to give you a list of revenue streams that would naturally branch off from the work you do as a web designer. And the 15 suggestions above are a great place to start.
Trust me, it’ll be much easier for you to start generating more income if you can tap into your existing or former client base than if you’re having to start from-scratch. Plus, doing things that are in your creative wheelhouse means you won’t have to work so hard or spend as much time doing them. Efficiency is key in keeping your profit margins high!