Wouldn't you like to wake up each morning, and check your bank account to see some serious cash deposited while you were sleeping?
It is not a fairytale, and definitely something anyone can do with passive income!
Passive income is something I wish I would have considered when I first started my business.
In the beginning, I focused on my paper line of products and my baby items, BUT I chose to not try POD (Print on demand) or any other passive income alternatives because I was so attached to my art and I didn't think that the royalties from licensing my art would be significant.
Boy, was I WRONG!
That’s why I want to share this post and my story, so you can avoid making the same mistakes and start making passive income from day one.
I will also share the same strategies and ideas that are helping me grow my passive income and bring freedom to my schedule, so I can spend more time doing the things I love with my three little ones.
Hopefully, with this post, I can help YOU start your passive income stream and gain that FREEDOM as well. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is passive income?
Essentially, passive income is money you receive on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort to maintain it.
It is not attached to the time you have, like in the case of services or making products where you are limited to the time you have to create the product or service you are providing.
The traditional ways to make passive income include investing in real state and the stock market, but for today I am going to focus on ways that you can make money with your creative work.
For a lot of people when they think passive income they imagine a life of travel and adventure, sometimes interpreted as not doing ANYTHING and getting paid big bucks.
While this could be the case for some, don’t let the name fool you, passive income is not easy, it does require a lot of work, and many times you will have to put that time in before getting any revenue.
And it’s also not an overnight thing! You will have to work hard, for some time to start seeing revenue.
BUT the beauty is that you can sell that “thing you made” infinite times, which makes passive income extremely scalable and profitable when done right.
Most of the most popular passive income ideas are directly attached to digital products, the wonderful news with this is that overhead and cost to create them is incredibly low (most times, just your time and transaction fees) So there is no (or very small) upfront investment that you will need to make.
And the advantage of having low production cost is of course, that your profit percentage will be amazing!
You know what the best part is?
You will be making money while you sleep!
My passive income story
In my case, in the beginning, when I first started my business, it was 100% based on physical products and client work.
Both of those are directly dependable on the amount of time I had, to create projects for clients and to make and ship orders.
The other big factor that influenced me to only try physical products is that I just wanted to be a MAKER, I wanted to make handmade items and learn new techniques to make new products.
Just the idea of making something with my hands and have someone else buy it was so exciting!
Also, I was VERY attached to my artwork, that the idea of others shops selling products with my designs made me upset (I know, I know!) And the margins offered by POD (Print on Demand) websites seemed way too small in comparison to the margins I would get making and selling them myself. While this still holds true, and the margins are lower with a POD website, if you set it correctly you can have it on semi-autopilot.
Later down the road, I stopped doing client work and focused on my shop; I wanted to scale my income, so the obvious next step was to hire help and to outsource some of the manufacturing.
While that has helped my business tremendously and brought me up to making 6 figures my second year of having my shop, it was still not giving me the freedom I wanted, especially now that we have 3 little ones (my oldest was a newborn when I started my lettering business in 2013, and now we have a 5-year-old a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old)
With three little ones, things get busy pretty fast (like, as soon as they wake up) so I started searching for a way to still make the amount of money I had achieved with my physical products but with fewer hours of work a week.
That’s when Passive income seemed appealing again, and I gave it a try.
Fast forward two years and passive income is slowly becoming one of the bigger parts of my overall business income.
And it all started with the launch of my studio for digital goods and the opening of my shops in different POD websites.
To make this switch, I’ve also had to make a full change in my mindset.
I had to detach from my artwork and be ok with the royalties some POD companies give the artist, so now selling artwork and licensing my cut files to other shops is one part of my overall passive income strategy.
I started blogging again
Another popular way to create passive income is with a blog, and then it hit me!
Hey! I have one of those!
So I re-focused on my blog (this one you are reading right now!) and started creating content again after an almost 5-year break, BUT to do it correctly this time, and actually make money out of my blog, I started to actively research for ways to make it profitable.
At my most active time blogging I was able to get 250,000+ views a month, but after almost five years of neglect the traffic had dropped dramatically (but that was kind of obvious right?)
So it was a starting from zero again because even though I used to have a good amount of traffic, I never monetized this blog other than by adding Adsense, so the money I would get from those ads was never very significant.
While researching I came across an article by Paul Scrivens (aka Scrivs) about niches on Obstacle.co it made so much sense! So I signed up for The Free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp, I learned so much with the free resources that I decided to jump with two feet and signed up for the Billionaire Blog Club.
To my surprise, BBC is so much more than a library of courses and challenges; it's a community and Scrivs is so engaged in nurturing it. There is this Slack community that will help you no matter the stage of the journey you are in.
I also enrolled in the course Making sense of Affiliate marketing by Michelle from Making sense of cents, and within a few hours I started implementing some of her tactics and received my first affiliate sale.
Thanks to this re-focus, I’ve managed to grow my traffic and affiliate income significantly in only two months, and I am on track to hit my 6-month-goal next month.
Why passive income?
The biggest advantage of passive income is that it allows me (and it could allow YOU) to FREE TIME on my schedule while still making money and focus on what really makes me happy. If you are still not convinced, here are some great advantages of passive income:
- It’s not dependant on the number of hours you have available to work. After you make the products and set the passive income stream, you can make money with little work to just maintain it (most time just emails to assist your customers).
- It’s evergreen, and while you will need to put work upfront, it will pay in the long run, because you will receive income from it for years to come.
- It gives you Freedom! And since you will have more time, not only you’ll be able to spend it with the ones you love, BUT you can also focus on creating the things you love or have been wanting for a while. There’s nothing like not having the pressure of having to meet a number each month to pay the bills, since you are going to free more and more time, you can develop strategies to make money with the things you love.
Now, one thing that I should emphasize is that passive income is not for the lazy!
While you can make a lot of money AFTER you have set everything up, you will need to put a lot of work UPFRONT and develop products before you can make any money.
That’s why strategy is SO important and why you should test the waters if you are thinking about spending a lot of time developing a specific product.
Passive income for lettering artist
While there a full range of possible passive income streams, I want to focus on the ones that are easier and specific to lettering artist (or any other creative artist for that matter)
So, in our case, we can make passive income out of artwork or products that we design only once.
The three most popular ways to make money as a lettering artist are:
And we can actually make passive income with all 3 of them!
So let’s look at each one of them in detail:
1- Client work
While, normally client work would be active income and directly linked to the amount of time we have to take them on, licensing your artwork to companies can fall into one big passive income stream.
I’ve been lucky to license my artwork to a couple of companies and have my products featured at stores like Nordstrom, Tj-Maxx, Marshals and other small ones.
This kind of client work falls into passive income because while some pieces I have developed specifically for them (but not exclusively), the royalties that come once the design is bought in a product is a recurrent revenue that it takes no more work from me after the piece is submitted.
One important thing to look when working with big companies to license your work is that you retain full copyright, that your royalties are fair and also that the deal is non-exclusive. Otherwise you will no be able to sell that particular piece anywhere else.
Another way to license your work is by working with POD (Print on demand companies) Some of them will let you set your own royalty fees per product and other’s have a set percentage. But all of the ones I am listing are non-exclusive, so you can select one, two or sell on all of them!
- Society6 – They allow you to set your own royalties for prints, but all other products are set by default, you can select what items to sell with a specific piece of artwork. They promote new designs and artist so there's also a chance to get an extra boost from their campaigns. Open a shop here «
- Zazzle – They have an overwhelming number of items that you can customize, so the best way is to select a specific niche and focus on the products that would fit there. That's why I selected baby items for this shop I opened. They allow you to set your own royalties, but you don’t want to start too high, check what the average is for the most popular products and start there, you can always change depending on how your designs are selling. Open a shop here «
- RedBubble – Allows you to set your own percentage of royalties for all products, they are very popular on the T-shirt division, but also offer items like stickers, notebooks, clock and other home and apparel items. Open a shop here «
- Casetify – Their royalties are fixed and not very high, but remember when I mentioned that every little count? Casetify is one of those. While they only offer phone cases, apple watch bands, and tablet sleeves, their products are great, and they have a great online following, so if you can get your designs featured, it can translate to a lot of money in royalties. Open a shop here «
- Design by Humans: They have a set royalty and set up with a storefront that you can promote and share, like all the others, if you don't have a shop, it's the easiest way to put your foot in the door. Open a shop here «
- Amazon merch – For now they only have tees and hoodies, but they have hinted about adding more products to their selection. You get to set your own royalties, but you can't upload a ton of designs at a time. They put you on tiers, s you start with ten designs and you have to build up to each tier. You only get bumped up if you sell, so you need to curate your offering. Request an invitation here «
- Minted – While setting your profile as a designer is super easy, to have your work listed as products for sale, you will need to either win a design contest or get selected by the editors. So starting a shop there is a little harder than any other of the previously mentioned. The good thing is that they are a very highly curated site, so if your design gets selected, you will definitely see money coming your way. Check it out here «
- Other sites worth checking out are Cafepress, Spreadshirt & ArtfullyWalls.
IMPORTANT: One thing to remember when you list a product on POD websites is that there are thousands of designs on each one, if you are posting five designs on each and go lounge by the pool sipping margaritas hoping the money is going to start rolling in at any minute, you will grow old waiting.
You have to research what’s popular, the current trends and design a lot of versions; you need to list a lot of good quality designs if you plan to make serious money from it.
Someone that is doing POD in a very successful way is Cat Coquillette from Cat Coq. If you want to read her story check out her blog here. It is very inspirational how she created her brand with POD as the base of her business model and now travels the world while maintaining and flourishing her brand and continue to create artwork.
CLASS ALERT: Cat Coquillette also shares how she has managed to create a successful Passive income business on her Skillshare classes listed below.
(and if you want to give Skillshare a try, Use my link and get 2 FREE MONTHS)
This category is probably the biggest one because the range of products that you can create to generate passive income are endless.
Like I mentioned before, you will have to create the product ahead of time, but once everything is set, the only work that you will need to do to maintain it is to provide customer service.
The most popular products are in digital download format because of the profit margins, but another very popular way to sell products with your artwork is by using a POD (Print on Demand) production partner.
There are POD companies for pretty much every product you think of, some of them do fulfillment automatically (so you do less work) and some you will need to submit the order manually (but it's not a huge amount of time)
So depending on what you are looking for in terms of product and on the amount of work you are willing to invest, a different company might be a better fit for you.
The biggest advantage of going this route is that you will not need inventory (even though I always recommend to order samples, so you can test not only the products themselves but also the speed of shipping and the packaging) and you can start selling as soon as you are happy with your samples.
Some POD sites can also integrate with WordPress E-commerce apps like Woocommerce, that is also a budget-friendly way to get started, especially if you are already considering to start a blog, you can add a shop and have everything in one place.
IMPORTANT: In the case that you plan to sync your shop and have a POD site handle the production and shipment, you will still have to handle the customer service and cover the transaction fees. Some popular POD's you can sync to various websites are:
- Printful – You can connect directly to Shopify, Etsy, Storenvy, Bigcommerce, Gumroad, Amazon Woocommerce & Weebly.
- Printify – You can connect directly to Shopify, Woocommerce, and Etsy.
- Art of where – You can connect directly to Shopify, Woocommerce, Etsy, Bigcommerce & Big cartel.
- Printed Mint – They only offer batch processing if you are able to export a CSV file from your shop platform.
3 – Teaching
Sharing your knowledge whether it’s on a blog or by offering virtual workshops or classes is another extremely profitable way to make passive income.
Classes – Sharing your knowledge by offering classes using sites like Teachable, CourseCraft, Skillshare or your own WordPress site by adding a plugin can be extremely profitable. But most times you need to establish your audience and have people that are eager to learn from you, and that can be accomplished by social media or by starting a blog to gather your audience and start an email list.
E-books: We already covered this topic, but you can also make an instructional PDF teaching something you know. Or worksheets, coloring pages, organization printables, calendars, etc.
Start a blog: One of the most popular and easier ways to make money with a blog is with affiliate marketing. And this holds true for a creative blog as well, sharing your favorite tools or by reviewing products and sending your readers to sites where you get a percentage of the sales when they purchase is basically how affiliate marketing works. Some of the most popular and my favorite affiliate programs for creatives are:
- Amazon affiliate: This is one of the biggest affiliate programs and even though the commissions are not big at all (they range between 4%-10%) the fact that they have a 24hr cookie and offer pretty much everything you can image, makes it a great starter alternative. (The 24rh cookie means that everything your reader buys in the 24hr after clicking your cookie gives you a commission, even if they end up not purchasing the specific product you recommended –and they clicked–)
- ShareASale – Online affiliate marketplace: ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate marketplaces among bloggers. Once you are a member, you can join the affiliate programs of thousands of brands. They have Brands for pretty much every niche, and it's super easy to keep track of your earnings and best-performing Brands in their Dashboard. They also have a handy tool to build collections of products that you can then add to your blog as well. Apply to become a member here.
- Awin – Online affiliate marketplace: Just like ShareASale, and MaxBounty, they host many brands you can apply to (in a ton of different areas) and get paid when your readers purchase their products or services using your affiliate links. Their referral program is also very good; you will get $30 for everyone you refer who gets approved. Apply to their marketplace here.
- MaxBounty – Online affiliate marketplace: Just like the other ones I've shared above, Max Bounty is a Marketplace where different brands post their affiliate offers, you get paid depending on each brand's terms. The only extra step required to join is a personal phone call, they just ask regular questions to make sure you are legit (nothing to be afraid of!) Join their network here.
- Media.net – Contextual AD program: This program is very similar to Adsense, where you can place ADS (pieces of code that display advertisement in different sizes) in your sidebar or other places of your blog or website, then you get paid when your readers click on the banners. Apply right here.
- Linqia – Influencer agency: Bloggers can use this network to partner up with brands for sponsorships and get paid to write sponsored posts. They accept bloggers who have 2,500+ monthly visitors or followers. You can apply here.
- Izea – Influencer network: Is a network for influencers to work with brands to make money from sponsored blog and Instagram posts. You will get paid by leading brands and agencies to produce and share sponsored content with your social media followers. Here is your invitation.
CLASS ALERT: Michelle from Making sense of cents has a class names Making sense of affiliate marketing where she shares how she makes more than $50,000 each month with affiliate marketing. Check it out here <-
How to decide what product to sell?
I know all of this can be a little overwhelming.
In the beginning, you might be wondering where should you focus your efforts, what and where to sell. So let’s simplify it
- The first thing you should do is make a list of all the possible things you can make.
- Research the market and see how successful others are selling those same things.
- Check what places or platforms they are using.
- Rank your list to cross what you can make, with what is popular and on demand.
With passive income, you don't have to invent the wheel, with some research on a particular product you can easily find what’s selling but don’t go to the extreme of copying other people either!
Remember to use other’s products and popular items just as guides, we are only checking for “proof of idea” to make sure there is a market for our product, do not copy what’s popular, create your own interpretation or version of the product.
Passive income product ideas for lettering artist
As I mentioned before, the products you can add lettering to are endless, but I want to share the ones that I've had (and seen) the most success with:
- Fonts – The best place to check what’s selling would be Creative Market, their front page shows what’s popular, so you can get ideas for styles that are popular there. If you are not sure where to even begin with fonts, my friend Teela created the “Learn font making” course that I took to start making my own fonts. I 1000% recommend it!
- Graphics – My very first products in Creative Market was a vector pack, I found that at that particular time of the year they were in high demand and it was super fun to make. So popular options seem to be the Social media and Watercolor graphics packs.
- SVG cut files – Etsy, and So Fontsy and The hungry JPEG are the best places to check if maybe this could be an alternative for you. The process is simple, and you just have to be super cautious with trademarks and quote copyrights. But other than that is a great way to make extra income. This year I focused on growing my SVG shop on Etsy, my own website, and The hungry JPEG. And it has paid off tremendously.
- Printables – This can be just a wall piece (for nurseries, kitchen, office, etc.), or something more tailored like organizers, planners, calendars or books. You can always look into what’s popular on Etsy and get ideas. I also opened a separate shop for this category (and my fonts), but I haven't had time to re-focus on it since I created it. And you can see that reflected in the sales.
- Ebooks – Whether is an instructional or maybe some worksheets, getting started with a PDF product can be very easy! And if you don't have a shop set up, you can use Sellfy, Send Owl or XXXXXX to take care of the delivery and hosting of the files.
CLASS ALERT: Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog has this super informative class called Book Boss on how to make a successful E-book, she walks you from conception, development, and launch. Enroll here <-
- Clipart, scrapbooking paper: Etsy is again a great place for this kind of product because many crafters search there for digital paper and clipart. Another good place to look is craft bundles.
- Fabric, wallpaper – Spoonflower and Patternbank are good options, the margins are not the biggest, but it's a good way to get your feet wet and practice preparing files for those mediums.
- Photos – If you are handy with the camera, creating flat-lays, or product mockups could be a great option. There are many super successful shops that offer stock photography and product mockups in Creative Market, Etsy, and The Hungry JPEG.
Where can you sell?
To round up, this is the list of places to sell your artwork passively.
Digital goods like Vectors, PDF files, SVG files, Photo stock or Ebooks:
- Sell Digital goods with Shopify and one of their apps for Digital downloads
- Sell Digital goods with WordPress and Easy Digital Download
- Sell Digital goods at Creative Market
- Sell Digital goods with Sellfy
- Sell digital goods using SendOwl
- Sell digital goods on Etsy
Print on Demand Websites to list your artwork and receive Royalties
- Sell your designs at Casetify
- Sell your designs at Zazzle
- Sell your designs at Redbubble
- Sell your designs at Society6
- Sell your designs at Design by humans
Share your lettering knowledge and create courses, ebooks or start a blog
- Teach a class with Teachable
- Teach a class at CourseCraft
- Start a blog with Bluehost or Siteground
- Sell printed copies of your ebook with Blurb
CLASS ALERT: And if you want to dig deeper into the making money lettering subject, I recommend you to check this class by Dina Rodriguez on Creative Live.
My last advice to make money while you sleep
Like I mentioned before passive income is not easy, invest little bits of time here and there. If possible make blocks of time and batch design collection so you can see faster results.
If you go the POD route, try to add a new design at least once a month.
When possible, check stats to see what is selling in your shop, and also what is popular in the marketplace. Then, make iterations of those designs that are popular in your shop and create your own versions of what's popular in the marketplace.
Prepare an editorial calendar so you can start working on seasonal designs 3-4 months in advance, so you can upload them with plenty of time before the season is here (Ex. Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, etc.)
I hope this post helps you make some serious $$$ with your lettering or gives you ideas that you can start implementing to start or grow your passive income streams.
Resources I love at the moment
Below you can check my favorite resources to learn and make money with your creativity!
- SKILLSHARE: Is an awesome platform to learn lettering, photography, marketing and just about anything you need. I have a yearly subscription because I think that's an unbeatable value. If you want to give them a try, use my link to get 2 FREE MONTHS!
- SHOPIFY: I switched to Shopify about 3 years ago and I love how easy it is now to have orders and my shop no longer goes offline and I never have customers unable to checkout, if you are thinking about opening a shop give them a try! FREE for 14-days.
- ZAZZLE: Thinking about selling products with your art? give Zazzle a try. They have an incredible amount of products that you can customize and tools to create a branded storefront that you can promote. Open a store here.