Freelancing & Passive Income

As a freelancer you’re never more aware of your value. You’re paid for the time you work, generally by the hour. It doesn’t take long until you start seeing breaks in your schedule (whether they’re days off ill, meetings that you can’t charge for or something entirely different) as a direct loss of income.

Passive Income

The idea of passive income is incredibly appealing, what could be better than a steady stream of money that requires little to no maintenance on your part? There are countless blog posts out there talking about the subject, here’s my approach…

Affiliate Deals

The first thing I want to say about affiliate deals is that I will only recommend a service that I believe to be good. This is the key. If you start distributing affiliate links for any old service, you’ll quickly find that people will stop listening (and rightly so).


My main source of passive income over the years has been affiliate deals, and the champion in the stable are my referrals to online accounting software FreeAgent. I have no issue making referrals to FreeAgent as first and foremost it’s a fantastic service, I would recommend it even if it didn’t pay its generous (20%) referral fees. If you want to know more about why I rate FreeAgent so much, you can read my review of FreeAgent and grab a 10% discount here.

Average income from FreeAgent: £70/month


This is a new one for me. I’ve never taken on ecommerce sites for clients as its not really my area of expertise, over the years I’ve turned away probably hundreds of ecommerce projects. Step forward e-commerce platform Shopify and its partner program.

Shopify pays 20% of any generated income from your referrals, rather than just flat turning these projects down, I now introduce the client to Shopify.

Average income from Shopify: £0/month (this is new to me and I expect it will start generating money shortly)
I was really pleased with the quality of my new business cards that I had printed at, I’d definitely use their service again which means that I would also recommend them to anyone else looking for anything print related. Moo’s referral scheme puts credit in your account rather than paying cash but I’m definitely going to need some more cards soon.

Average income from Moo: Hopefully some more business cards!

Selling Digital Goods

This is another new one for me. I’m a big fan and long time user of 3D software Cheetah3D. In my spare time I’ve been known to produce the odd Cheetah3D video tutorial which I’ve distributed freely through my YouTube channel. The reality is that these tutorials take time to plan and produce so I have recently started selling my tutorials. At this stage it’s difficult to gauge how much money the sales may bring in, but what I like about this is that it’s a scalable model – the amount earned is directly linked to the amount of tutorials that I produce.

Anticipated average income: £30/month (based upon a short-mid term target of around 7 tutorials)

Other Possibilities

Many designers look to sell either graphic templates for items like business cards, Wordpress templates etc using online marketplaces such as ThemeForest and GraphicRiver. At this stage in time, these aren’t areas that I’m looking to explore as I think they’re either incredibly saturated and/or involve a lot of maintenance that takes the passive element away from the income.

EDIT: A few months back I uploaded a rejected logo to GraphicRiver and it’s sold a few times so this is something I may start to look at.

Obviously at this moment in time, none of the sources I am using are generating huge amounts of cash but it’s a case of building them over time. I’m not expecting them to produce thousands of pounds but if they can contribute anything at all with minimum involvement on my part then I’m happy. Smart readers will have spotted my affiliate links used throughout this article!



24 Apr 2014 03:25:46

I’m curious about your Shopify income. Has it increased? Has it been paid to you?


24 Apr 2014 11:15:29

Hi Ryan, actually no it hasn’t – Shopify has probably been both the one that I have pushed the least and is perhaps the most difficult sell, not because it’s not a good product because it is. If I were taking the e-commerce route myself it would be the one I would use. Typically though, anyone looking for digital help for an e-commerce site doesn’t want to take the project on themselves. I still hold out some hope for it as a source of passive income, but it’s certainly the most difficult in terms of referring.

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