Written by Mat Casner

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Ep. 18. How Passive Revenue Can Be Your Freelance Design Business Hidden Gem


Freelance CEO Mat Casner
The Freelance CEO Podcast with Mat Casner
Ep. 18. How Passive Revenue Can Be Your Freelance Design Business Hidden Gem


How Passive Revenue Can Be Your Freelance Design Business Hidden Gem

So, I wanna let you in on a little secret. You know that you have some amazing skills, talents, and experiences that you use to help your clients grow their businesses, right?

But did you know that you could be leveraging those same skills and talents to work for you in your own business? Why is it that we’re always creating new and innovative ways to grow our customers’ businesses, but we miss out on the obvious opportunities to innovate in our own businesses? And setting up a passive revenue stream is one of the most powerful ways that we can do this.

It All Started In a Local T-Shirt Shop

I wanna tell you a little story. As I was getting started in my graphic design career, I found a job working for a small little clothing store in the town I grew up in. The store would also be the store where people would come in and get custom t-shirts, design t-shirts for ball teams, for events, family reunions, you name it.

If somebody needed a custom t-shirt, they would come into this store and they would order it. As I was working at this store, they had a, an opportunity for a graphic designer to come in and learn a piece of software that they were using to design these custom t-shirts with I was like a duck in water. I was so happy, and I had really found a niche for myself as a creative.

And one of my first graphic design jobs was actually working in a t-shirt shop. Fast forward 30 years, I’m working in my own business and I’m thinking, you know, why am I, why am I laboring so hard for my customers? I love my customers, but at the end of the day, I’m a business owner and I spend so much of my time trading time for money.

Leverage Your Skills In Your Own Business

That’s when it hit me. I was like, you know, I have some pretty amazing skills that people have been paying me for many, many, many years to use to grow their businesses. Why don’t I start using these skills to make myself a little bit of income and, you know, take advantage of the gifts and skills that I have? Well,

I’m gonna share later on, but when I found out that there were these print on demand companies where you could upload your designs and you could get them printed, and then you could sell them online with no inventory and no hassle, I was like, this is a match made in heaven. And it occurred to me, how many opportunities are there for us as freelancers, as graphic designers to be able to set up recurring streams of revenue for our own business? And we just don’t do it? Well, partly it is because we probably didn’t think about it. But number two, we’re so used to trading our time for money. We’re not really thinking about the bigger picture. So recurring revenue, number one, can be scalable.

What does that mean? Well, here’s an example. As a freelancer, you are trading time for money. Now, you may be charging by the hour, you may be charging by the project. I hope you’re charging by the project, and you have an opportunity to, to earn an income with those skills and talents. But at the end of the day, you can only work so many hours. You can only do so many things to earn that money. Now, on the flip side, if you are able to create a product and sell it many times over, then you are talking about a scalable business. I cannot scale myself personally because there’s only one of me. I can’t clone multiple Mats and set myself down and get all this extra work done.

Making Money While You Sleep

It just doesn’t happen that way. But Mat can create a product that he can sell over and over and over again, okay, with really no limits. That is what I’m talking about. That is what scalability is all about. And for us as freelancers, it’s a brand new world. So another thing that is great about passive revenue is not only is it scalable, but it can be automated. It can work for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Literally, you can make money while you sleep because you’re making products and selling them, but you’re doing it virtually. You’re doing it in a online store, or you’re doing it in some other form of website that allows you to put your products up and sell your products.

And you don’t have to be there. All you have to have is a connection to a payment processor, a PayPal or Stripe or something else like that, that allows you to take those, those sales online, and you don’t have to be there. So this passive revenue thing is just like, it can really be a breath of fresh air for your business.

Using Your Expertise to Earn Income in New Ways

But the third thing that makes passive revenue so incredible is it allows you to reinforce who you are as an expert. You can create so many different products that accentuate and show off who you are as a designer, that it really becomes extra evidence that you know what you’re talking about. And because you have the skills of being able to implement these, these passive revenue initiatives, it really gives you an interesting foothold in the marketplace. So we’re talking about passive revenue, being scalable in terms of, it’s not selling time for money, but creating one thing and selling it many times, which is awesome. It allows you to, to make money while you sleep 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it reinforces you as the expert in your field or area.

Now, what are some examples that I could give you to just kind of get us started? I’ve got a note here. I’m gonna pull it up so I can see it. One of the things that we can do as designers is we can actually teach, okay, what I’m doing right now in front of the screen, as I’m teaching you about how to build a Freelance business and you know, a lot of valuable things and some of those things could be very valuable to your audience, and you could simply record them, create an ebook, create some, a presentation, a slide deck, and make it available as a resource for purchase. As long as it answers a question or helps your customer or your audience achieve a certain goal, it has value.

And like I said, it continues to reinforce you as an expert. Now, you’re not gonna tell everybody how to do everything that you do, and that would be kind of silly, but you can share information with people that’s valuable, and that may be a little bit counterintuitive, but trust me, when you share valuable information like I am with you right now, does that make you feel like I’m, I’m less an authority or maybe more of an authority? Same will happen for you. So courses, eBooks, things that you can put together that shares value is a way to create some passive revenue. The next thing would be templates, graphic resources. If you’re a print designer and you design brochures and business cards and flyers and posters and, and all sorts of different print related material, you can create templates that other people who don’t have as much skill as you could. Download your template, fill in the blanks, and be able to have what they need. You’ve done all the hard work already. All you have to do is to present that artwork in a place or a format or a website where someone could easily download it.

Products and Apparel

Another idea would be products and apparel. I mentioned to you that I used to work in a t-shirt shop and I still love designing t-shirts. It’s still one of my favorite things to do. And I have actually thought, you know, how awesome is it that I can actually design my own shirts, hoodies, and be able to put ’em out for the world to buy?

And with print on demand services today, you don’t have the overhead. You don’t have to worry about customer service. All you have to do is upload the art, set the price, and collect the profits.

Become an Affiliate and Promote the Products and Services You Already Use and Love

The last thing is you can become an affiliate. If you have a blog or a website or a podcast, or you have some sort of newsletter that you’re communicating in an audience with, and you have products and services that you’re a big fan of and you’re always recommending them to your clients and your customers, then you can become an affiliate. You can become a sponsor, and you can recommend those products and services to your audience through your blog, through your email, through your newsletter, through your podcast. And you’ll receive a commission based off of the sell that your customer buys from your affiliate link.

And there are a ton of different things. Even Amazon has affiliate programs, and you can recommend all sorts of products that you recommend for your customers and allow them to shop through you. So guys, I hope this is just kind of whet your appetite with how passive revenue is the secret hidden gem in our Freelance businesses that we don’t take advantage of. Okay?

So, I want to encourage you do some innovation in your own business and set up some passive revenue streams for yourself.

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