Passive Income for Freelance Web Workers: Is it Realistic?

For freelancing web workers, we sometimes get caught in the contract work aspect of our careers. Clients require your services, you provide, they pay. This cycle can get too comfortable that sometimes, you can’t imagine making money any other way. After all, you’re mobile and you own your time. This is something the average cubicle dweller dreams about, and you’re living it. What more can you ask for?

Despite the benefits of doing contract work, there are other ways you can capitalize on your web working skills and make an alternative source of income. It could be a great change of pace from the hard work that often goes into contract work.  And what could be better than a passive source of income?

Basically, passive income means that you make money from something that requires very little regular maintenance, if at all. If you’ve read the bulk of “make money online” websites, you’ve probably heard of this – but it’s often phrased in a way that makes it sound like a scam or a get-rich-quick scheme. Even with all the hyped-up words, I believe it’s still something a freelance web worker (and even regularly employed web workers) should consider.

Here’s an example: a client emailed me recently that an e-book I wrote for him gave him an 800% return of investment. Whatever it was that he paid me, he made 8 times more than that – which is a big deal, because I don’t think I was underselling myself! Of course, he was happy and grateful, but this got me thinking…

What if I wrote and sold that e-book myself? Would I have made as much money? Of course, there are other things to consider apart from simply writing the e-book – I’d have to market it, set up a website, etc. There’s a lot of initial work. But if I had the time or money to invest in something like this, it should be worth considering.

So what are the freelancing web worker’s options for making some passive income?

  • If you’re a designer, instead of just doing client projects, you can sell a variety of downloadable website templates or graphics collections.  WordPress template designer Adii has done this with success.
  • If you’re a programmer, consider making a unique paid script or app that people will need to download and use. (You might need to update these once in a while for bugs, though). Many programmers I’ve interviewed, such as Aaron Vegh of Homecourt and Adrian McEwen of Tedium, are now making some money from something they initially developed for themselves or their business.
  • If you’re a web writer, you can sell downloadable Private Label Articles that website or blog owners can edit and use if they can’t afford to hire you for something unique.
  • Generally, you can even make passive income by creating online seminars and lessons, or a paid membership website that teaches something falling under your expertise. Of course, this only works as long as you can provide content and multimedia that isn’t available for free anywhere else.

So is it possible for web workers to make passive income? Yes. But since there’s a lot of extra work that you might not be used to doing, you’d either have to devote some of your time to this side project or pay for other people to do it – both approaches having their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Another thing you have to consider is that competition can be tough - especially if you’re hoping to make “the next big thing” or create something in the online moneymaking niche.  Plus, what if your passive income plan backfires, and instead of ordering high-priced unique items from you, your clients start downloading your templates!

The key is to have different client profiles for your contractual work and your passive income source.  Usually, the latter is either a small business or an individual that wants a quick product, but they don’t have the funds to make it tailored exactly to their needs.  In this case, you can upsell.  “Yes, you can download that cheaply, but if you want me to make some unique modifications for you, you can pay extra.”

If you’re used to thinking with the mind of a contract worker, you might be limiting yourself and your skills. Remember that web working has such a wide variety of opportunities and it wouldn’t hurt to make an educated step outside of your comfort zone.  So take some time to ponder this: if you could make passive income from your regular web work, how would you do it?

Have you tried making money passively with your web working skills? Do you find that passive income works well, or it doesn’t live up to its promise?


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