22 Ways to Make Money as a Web Designer

You may have never considered how to make money as a web designer outside of building websites for clients. Today we're going to challenge that and help you get those creative juices flowing by looking at 22 ways web designers can make more money from their skills and interest.

#1 Work For a Web Design Agency

Many web designers get into this business because they love design. come to find out in order to run a successful web design business you have to develop business skills. If that doesn't interest you at all, working for a web design agency is a great option.

In working for an agency, you get to focus on what you love to do most and forget the rest. 

Pros:

  • The majority of your time is spent doing what you love...web design
  • You will gain experience working with a variety of client projects
  • You'll likely be working with the team and not by yourself like you would if you were a freelancer or ran your own Agency
  • You'll have consistent income you can rely on without the stress of rises and dips in your income
  • As an employee will likely have additional benefits including health insurance, 401k, vacation time and other benefits
  • You'll have a set start and end time so you can leave your work at the office at the end of the day without worry

Cons:

  • You will not have the ability to choose which clients you want to work with 
  • You will be required to work the set hours your employer decides
  • All of your income will be tied to this one employer
  • You will not experience the same flexibility with your schedule as if you ran your own agency or worked as a freelancer

#2 Work For a Company as Their In-House Web Designer

As an in-house web designer, Your Role will be to build out and maintain the company's website. In this case instead of working on a variety of client projects, you will only be focused on the one website used by the company. This role will have very similar pros and cons as working for an agency.

Pros:

  • The majority of your time is spent doing what you love...web design
  • You will be working in a team environment even though the other team members will have very different responsibilities within the company
  • You'll have consistent income you can rely on without the stress of rises and dips in your income
  • As an employee will likely have additional benefits including health insurance, 401k, vacation time and other benefits
  • You'll have a set start and end time so you can leave your work at the office at the end of the day without worry
  • You may enjoy working on one website that you get to know really, really well and can fully master

Cons:

  • You may miss the variety of working on different client projects
  • You will be required to work the set hours your employer decides
  • All of your income will be tied to this one employer
  • You will not experience the same flexibility with your schedule as if you ran your own agency or worked as a freelancer

#3 Work as a Freelance Web Designer

Working as a freelance web designer is where you start to venture away from being an employee and starting to work for yourself. This is the fastest and easiest way to enter the world of web design  while working for yourself.

As a freelancer you will experience all of the benefits in the responsibilities that are required. Not only will you be able to work on projects that you love, you will also be required to handle additional tasks including finding clients, writing contracts, sending invoices in handling all client communication.

While this will require additional tasks that you will not experience when working with an agency, you have a lot of flexibility over the types of projects to work on and how much or how little you are paid. 

Being a freelance web designer is a great opportunity as a side hustle or in building a part-time income if you want to test the waters or build up your client base to become full-time. 

Pros:

  • Do you have the ability to select only the clients you want to work with and the projects you will enjoy
  • Create your hours and schedule,  whether you want to work part-time, full-time, during the day or at night
  • You can choose the type of web design skills that you want to use and focus solely on what you enjoy most

Cons:

  • If you do not enjoy lead generation or sales,  this is a skill you will need to develop in order to do well
  • You will need to pay for health insurance and other benefits you would normally receive as an employee
  • As you are responsible for landing deals,  you may experience more inconsistent income until you develop a system that works for you
  • You will be responsible for tracking your income, bookkeeping, paying taxes and other money related tasks

#4 Run a Web Design Agency

As a web design agency owner, your primary job will be to bring in new clients and develop a team to help you handle the workload. As an agency owner you can handle part of the task or  have your team handle all of the client work while you focus on running the agency.

Agency owners often enjoy speaking with clients, strategizing on a project and bringing a team together to create a successful project and great results for their clients.

As an agency owner, you will also need to become good at hiring the right people and putting systems and processes in place to manage their work so all clients experience consistent results when working with your agency.

Pros:

  • Web design agency owners have a high-income potential as your income is a direct reflection of your work as an agency
  • You have full control over the clients and projects you accept
  • You can design your business around your lifestyle, clients you enjoy working with and the work you love most

Cons:

  • You will be responsible for paying your team members and yourself
  • More of your time will be spent running the business than doing the design work you enjoy

#5 Specialize in a Particular Web Design Service

Many web designers focus on one particular service or aspect of web design which helps them be very successful as they become known for that particular service.  For example, some companies provide PSD to HTML or PSD to WordPress service.

Pros

  • Become well known for one aspect of web design
  • You can provide the service to both companies and other web designers
  • Results in repeat clients
  • Become really good at one particular service instead of trying to get good at a lot of different services
  • Easier to create processes in your business to complete work accurately and quickly
  • The processes will help you build a team, if desired, to complete the work

Cons

  • The work can be repetitive since it is the same service although you would be working with a variety of websites

#6 Outsource Web Design

Outsourcing some or all client work is a great way to be able to take on more client work without having to build an extensive team. You can outsource to freelancers, agencies or companies who provide a white label service allowing you to act as the middle man between the client and the service provider. 

For example, companies such as ManyPixel or SEO Reseller will handle the web design work for you and you can mark up the prices as much as you’d like.

Pros

  • Handle more client work without having to work a lot of extra hours
  • Earn more money from projects you don’t have to do yourself
  • Never have to turn down clients if your personal plate is full

Cons

  • It takes time to find the right person or company to work with and which of their projects will work for you

#7 Create Profitable Partnerships

Partnerships cannot only be a great lead generation strategy, they will help you increase your web design business revenue. The idea behind partnership is to identify other complementary freelancers or companies who either:

  1. Provide web design services and have an overflow of leads. They need help with the excess web design projects so they don’t have to turn them away.
  2. Provide complimentary, non-competing services such as SEO or other marketing and need somewhere to refer clients. 

Pros: 

  • Allows you to focus more on web design and less on lead generation
  • Gives you the opportunity to work on a variety of projects 

Cons:

  • You have less ability to turn down projects if you want to consistently receive leads

#8 Become a Web Design Writer

If you enjoy sharing your experience and knowledge with other web designers, becoming a web design writer is an excellent opportunity to get your name out and earn some extra income on the side. 

If this is something that interests you, you’ll want to check-out our post on 25+ websites that pay web designers $500+ to write.

Read now: 25+ Websites that Pay Web Designers $500+ to Write


Pros:

Cons:

  • You will not be accepted by all the websites you request to write for
  • If you are not naturally a good writer, you’ll need some practice 

#9 Create a Web Design Blog

If you really enjoy writing and want to do more of it, it may make sense to start your own web design blog.

On the blog you can share your knowledge, experience and research on a variety of web design topics such as business, photoshop or other design related tutorials, how-to-guides, web design tools and software and many other topics.

Pros:

  • Can use multiple methods of monetizing the website including selling products, services, ads and more. See a full list of ideas here.
  • Has the long-term potential to earn a significant income
  • Doesn’t require working with clients to be successful
  • You can create your own schedule
  • After the blog starts to become more successful, you can allow others to write for the blog and accept sponsored posts.

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of writing and promotion before making any real income
  • To begin you will need to build the site, write the content and promote the content and site to generate traffic and visitors

#10 Become a Theme or Template Developer

Most web designers rely on WordPress themes to build websites, especially those who do not know how to code or prefer not to. 

If coding is your thing, developing your own website theme or template is a good opportunity to increase your revenue.

Pros:

  • Can make additional and / or recurring revenue from theme updates, support and services
  • Can earn a full-time income with a valuable theme especially when you can carve out a specific audience to provide your themes to

Cons:

  • You will need to do a lot of marketing to grow your theme business and income
  • Selling your theme on a marketplace will put you in front of a lot of customers but you will pay a percentage or flat fee per sale
  • Themes can be rejected on marketplaces
  • There is a lot of competition
  • Will need to spend a lot of time providing customer support and dealing with technical issues


#11 Become a Plugin Developer

Similar to developing a theme, you can also develop a plugin or extension for websites that solve a particular problem. These opportunities often present themselves as you are working on a website and come across a function you need that either doesn't exist or exists, hasn't been solved well or you have an alternative way of solving the problem. 

Offering free and premium versions can help you attract a larger number of interested people and a portion of them will want to upgrade to the premium version to access additional features.

If you do not know how to create a plugin, you can either partner with a developer or you hire one to create it for you. 

Pros:

  • Easy to sell additional services such as plugin customization, web design and other services
  • Can earn full-time or supplemental income

Cons:

  • Will need to spend a lot of time providing customer support and dealing with technical issues

#12 Sell Digital Files

As a designer you can create and sell a variety of digital files:

  • Icons
  • PSD templates
  • Backgrounds, patterns, brushes
  • UI assets
  • Graphics
  • Fonts
  • eBooks
  • Documents


You can start off using existing marketplaces to sell your work and later sell on your own website. 

Pros

  • Once the files are created, this can be a nice source of passive income
  • Can sell multiple files to the same customers

Cons

  • Need to make a lot of sale to create a substantial income
  • Will have to spend at least the same amount of time, if not more, marketing your digital files as you will need to spend creating theme

#13 Create a Web Design Course

Can sell on your own website. Building an audience around a particular topic and then  selling a course is a good way to guarantee sales. Alternatively, if you don't want to spend as much time building an audience there are some marketplaces who will help bring the customers to you. 

Some places where you can sell your web design courses include:

Pros

  • Once created can be a source of passive income
  • Can produce enough income to take over your freelance or agency income

Cons

  • Can take a while to create significant income if you are starting without an audience 

#14 Upsell Your Clients

There is no better way to increase your web design income than to upsell your existing customers. Services such as website maintenance, website security, Google Analytics and upgrades.

Pros

  • Make more money from your existing clients
  • Add additional value to your current clients to make them happier and see better results

Cons

  • N/A

Did You Know? 

If you have a WP Engine reseller account, they’ll create daily backups of the site for you which is an awesome time saver.


#15 Sell Relevant Services

A beautiful part of being a web designer is there are so many complimentary services you can sell. These services can help the website owner with other relevant task they need to promote their business. Some relevant services you may want to consider offering are:

  • Logo design
  • Print products (brochures, business cards, other graphic design)
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid ad campaigns such as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Facebook ads, etc.
  • SEO


If you’re thinking, “but I don’t have all these skills,” you can certainly team up with others by outsourcing the work or by partnering with others who do this work.

Pros:

  • Easy way to increase the average client value
  • Earn more from each client whether you provide the service or outsource it
  • Easy to convince clients to let you handle these additional tasks as they’ve already hired you for web design

Cons:

  • Requires time to either learn the skills or find the right people to send the work too
  • Can distract you from growing the web design service you most want to provide

#16 Build a Portfolio of Websites

The idea behind building a portfolio of websites is to create websites overtime that generate income for you. These sites can be on any topic that interests you. A great way to build your portfolio is to buy existing websites that already have traffic, an audience and revenue that you know you can maintain or grow. 

This strategy becomes very powerful when the websites are relevant so you can promote one website to the audience of the other. Each time you add a new, relevant website to your portfolio you can do the same. 

When first building or buying a website, it makes sense to do the work yourself at least until the website is 1) making revenue and 2) you have processes in place to run the website. At this point you can bring in someone to manage or run the website for you.

Pros

  • Can grow into a passive income source for you
  • The income you can generate is unlimited
  • Can be fully managed and run by someone else

Cons

  • Will take time to build up

#17 Build and Sell Websites

With the ability to build websites, you can either build starter sites that give people a pre-built website they can turn into a business or build a website, grow it's traffic and possibly revenue before selling it for a higher price.

You can be successful with either strategy so it's a matter of which strategy interests you the most and how patient you are. 

Starter sites sell for a lower multiple since they do not have revenue. Sites that are more established with consistent traffic and revenue will sell for a much higher multiple. Typically these sites will sell for between 24X and 30X multiple. To do that math, simply take the average monthly income and multiple it by 24 to see the minimum price. The amount depends on the quality of the site, industry and other factors. 

#18 Flip Websites

We’ve all seen the house flipping shows on TV where a distressed property is purchased for a low price. The new owners fix up the property to increase its value and then they turn around and sell it for a higher price. 

This is the same premise for flipping websites. Purchasing a website for a low price, increasing traffic, conversions and revenue and then reselling it to a new owner. By doing so, you not only keep the difference in price between what you bought the site for and how much you sold it for but also any revenue generating during the months you owned the site. 

Pros

  • Doesn't require you to work with clients
  • You have the freedom to work the hours of your choosing
  • You are generating income from the website as you build it up and then profit with a large lump sum when the site is sold

Cons

  • It can take time to build up quality traffic and revenue that would be of interest to potential buyers

#19 Join Web Design Affiliate Programs

We recently covered a lot of high quality affiliate programs for web designers.

By simply promoting web design related products, when someone makes a purchase after clicking your link, you will receive a commission. There are a lot of products to promote that have an affiliate program you can sign-up for. There are programs for web hosting, website themes and templates, and more.


Pros

  • Easy way to supplement your existing income
  • Is possible to create evergreen affiliate related content that generates passive affiliate revenue 

Cons

  • Hard to make a lot of money doing this unless you have an audience or rank your website, tutorial or video mentioning the affiliate product. 
  • Take time to build momentum

#20 Write a Book

Writing a book may not be your first thought when it comes to making more money as a web designer, however, this can be a way to not only introduce potential clients to your business and work but it can also generate passive income for you.

This can work especially well when you primarily serve a particular audience, industry or have a particular skill set.  writing about web design in general is not very unique and can be a much harder sell.

On the flip side, if you serve pediatricians for example, you can write an e-book on ‘17 Ways to Use Your Website to Generate More Pediatric Patients’ for example which will highly appeal to the exact audience you want to serve.

Pros

  • This can become a source of passive income
  • This is an excellent way to convert leads into higher paying clients I first delivering a lower-priced product

Cons

  • It takes time to research and write a well executed ebook that would be of value to the readers that they can take action on and is not simply a sales pitch for your higher price products. The writing however can be fully outsourced.

#21 Become a White Label Reseller

As a website reseller, you have the opportunity to white label relevant tools of other companies and brand them as your own. There are all types of products and tools you can resell such as website builders, email marketing tools and others.

Pros

  • Makes your business look well established
  • Keep your clients in-house
  • Make more money off of software to supplement your web design work
  • Can promote this as a separate product which can bring in additional leads for your business
  • Can be a source of recurring revenue

Cons

  • Will need a number of clients to generate worthwhile income from this

#22 Resell Hosting

All websites need hosting. Duh! That’s news to no one here. This presents the opportunity for you to offer website hosting to all your clients. This allows you to manage your clients hosting account, website and maintenance and be able to monitor it all in case something goes wrong. 

For clients, this is a way to keep everything together so it can be a win-win for both parties. 

For reselling web design hosting, Flywheel is highly recommended. This host is specifically created for web designers and offers several features you just simply won’t find with other hosts such as:

  • Create blueprints for quickly and easily building out future websites
  • Build free demo sites for clients (for 14-days)
  • Make changes to live sites using their built-in staging sites with the click of a button
  • Clone sites
  • Invite team members to work on projects without sharing passwords or creating multiple logins 
  • Easily transfer billing to client accounts so you don't get billed for their account
  • All clients are on VPS servers, not shared servers
  • Nginx is used so sites run so much faster
  • 24/7 support so if you ever need them, they’ll be there

See more details about Flywheel here.

Now let's look at the pros and cons of reselling hosting.

Pros:

  • Excellent way to add recurring revenue to your web design business 
  • You don't need to learn about web servers and server maintenance  to provide web hosting services 
  • You have the full support of a hosting company to answer any and all of your or your clients questions about their accounts

Cons:

  • Still need multiple clients to really build up a good income source
  • It can be time and cost intensive to switch post down the line (which is why I recommend using a highly reputable company like Flywheel) 
  • You will need to provide customer service (although you will receive support from the hosting company when you select the right one)

Where to start

Fastest way to make money as a web designer is by serving clients. We looked at several ways to serve clients here you can start with.

Over to You

What ways are you making money as a web designer? Let us know in the comments below.

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