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25 ways designers can make money without dealing with design clients

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This is not one of those posts that rants and raves about how great designers are and how horrible design clients are. In fact, I hate all the bad karma floating around the design community when it comes to dealing with design clients.

Clients are the life-blood of your design business. And it’s time to swallow your pride and find ways to peaceably work with clients.

But if the time ever comes that your client pool runs dry, it’s a good idea to have a backup source of income. So today, I’d like to brainstorm 100 ways to make $100 without ever having to find clients.

Have a read and let me know how you make money when clients are sparse by leaving a comment on this post.

Make money without clients design


One of the most obvious choices, you can sell things without ever having to find or “deal with” clients. Below are a few selling ideas that will help and designer make some extra money:

  • Sell WordPress Themes
  • Sell HTML Themes
  • Sell Javascript Snippets
  • Sell cool sliders and other jquery treats
  • Sell icons
  • Sell photography
  • Sell old or unused designs
  • Sell textures


There are a few ways that designers can make money from blogging. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Write for other blogs (I know of some design blogs that are willing to pay as much as $150 per blog post)
  • Start your own design blog and collect advertising revenue, sell products, or work with affiliates.


Designers who turn into consultants are like athletes who turn into coaches. Try coaching other designers in something you’ve been successful in yourself.

  • Help designers run a design business
  • Help designers manage their finances
  • Help businesses hire graphic designers
  • Help businesses with a rebrand (don’t be the designer, be the project manager and consultant)


Getting published is an exciting feeling. Even if you’re technically the publisher, it’s a great feeling to have someone care enough about your opinion to purchase your information in a book format.

  • Publish an ebook and sell it on your blog
  • Publish tutorials and sell them to other designers
  • Publish books that discuss the basics of good design and sell it to small businesses
  • Publish a book for someone else’s blog and split the revenue
  • Publish an inspirational coffee-table book and print it on demand


Okay, I know that Affiliate-ing isn’t a word, but some of the best revenue I make besides designing and publishing is by doing smart affiliate work. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Become an amazon affiliate and sell amazon products for a portion of the income
  • Become an affiliate for sites like MOJO Themes or ThemeForest and take a percentage of sales
  • Create your own product and find affiliates to help you sell it


If you don’t want to deal with design clients (or don’t currently have any), but want to still be around designers and the design process, becoming a designer’s assistant could be a great option. As a designer’s assistant, you could:

  • Help find stock art, textures, or other elements a designer needs to accomplish a project.
  • Do research and user testing for designs created by your designer
  • Offer your opinion on color schemes, logo choice, etc. – this gives the designer more clout to go talk to their client.

What else would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Written by Preston Lee

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Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more.

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  1. This is my number one thought at moment, I have one big client for almost a year now. We have great relationship, and I’m always doing my best when I’m working for them. Meanwhile I’m trying to find similar client or two, to have just in case things goes in wrong direction. Great article!

    Millo overall is great place for designers to find exactly what they are looking for!!! Keep up the good work!

  2. Jamie Croft says:

    Great List!

    I have been selling textures and other small files on graphicriver. I need to put up more files. I average about $50 a month, for work that did not take that long and they have been up there for a couple of years. Just remember stuff like this takes time. So be patient.

    Good Luck.

  3. boogQualo says:

    What are your favorite flowers? With a view example, I like hugely much astromerii.

  4. Brent Galloway says:

    I’ve read this post three times now! 🙂
    It’s been a good motivator for me to create products and designs to help try and raise my passive income. Your blog has become one of my favorites! Thanks for all of the great articles!

    1. Leo Gomez says:

      I agree with you Brent, great read. Perhaps, I can say that you are already using these techniques. I’ve stumbled upon your t-shirt mockups before. Are you seeing a good return?

    2. And how much you money earn now?

  5. Hi,

    i just want to sell my psd website template please help me how can i sell Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee………..

    1. Brent Galloway says:

      I’ve used and found Envato’s Marketplace to be one of the best places to sell your designs. You can submit your PSD templates to ThemeForest!

  6. This is an awesome write up! I’m still kind of new to the design market, and there for have no clients. I’ve been working to sell and promote my own blog themes but lately I’ve been thinking of selling my designs in other marketplaces, and then just splitting the revenue. Your article has given me some new ideas that I might want to try, in addition to selling blog themes. Thanks, Preston! 😀

  7. Morgan & Me Creative says:

    What about as an educator perhaps? It’s good to share knowledge and also gain a different perspective into fresh creative minds?