Like any small business, running a design business comes with its own ebbs and flows in inquiries. Some months you may get a ton of people ready to invest in your services, and other months may be quieter. It’s highly likely that these slumps in outreach have little to do with you and your work and everything to do with external factors far beyond your offerings.
Oftentimes when these slow periods roll through, we feel this pull to add other revenue streams in order to bring in more money and usually our first idea is to create “passive” products or digital products. While passive products can be incredible and I love the idea of adding multiple flows of income to your business, the title can be a little misleading! Passive products aren’t actually so passive.
Take it from me, I know first hand. The first digital product I made was in the form of website templates. I spent over three months building them, creating the resources to make them a success for everyone that purchased, wrote all of the sales copy, built the sales pages, wrote the emails, made the graphics…I did all of the things. And then when I launched them…I made a couple thousand dollars.
Now, I’m not saying that a couple of thousand dollars isn’t a lot of money — it is. But for the amount of work I put into this project, a few thousand dollars wasn’t a great return on investment and it wasn’t the most efficient use of my energy at the time. Looking back, there are a lot of other areas that I could have spent my time to move the needle more in my business.
Building passive products can be incredible for your business, but you will need a good chunk of time. It’s not wild if it takes you a full quarter or even a few to get all the parts done and ready to launch.
So instead of jumping right to passive products right now and being disappointed when it takes way longer to actually hit any kind of profit, here are some creative cash infusion ideas for designers to create some quick cash injections in your business:
Please note, there are no quick fixes and you won’t find “get rich schemes” here. But if you need a little cash infusion in your business as a designer here are some ideas to take matters into your own hands to generate some extra money for your business.
Create a VIP day and announce it to your Instagram, Email list, and all of your past clients. This is a great way to include people that may not have a big budget that fit into your larger packages like branding or web design. This can also be useful for your existing clients to work with you without committing to monthly retainer fees. Plus, it’s so fun to take on one project and complete it in a day. It’s a win-win for both you and your clients.
Send an email to your past clients appreciating them and asking how you can continue supporting them. I did this with one of my clients and it ended up bringing in over $4,000 extra income that I wasn’t expecting.
Send an email to your past clients and see if they could refer you to anyone they know that may need design support. You never know who they could have in their circle that was just talking about how they wanted to rebrand. Plus you’ll stay top of mind with your existing clients.
Create an affiliate program with past clients. For every client that a past client refers to you, you could send them a little thank you. If you provide an amazing client experience, your clients will be so excited to talk about you and refer you, so why not add an additional incentive for them. Another win-win for you and your clients.
Host a paid workshop. While this can take some time to put together a presentation and market it, it’s a much lower time investment to host a paid workshop. Need ideas on what to teach during your workshop? Start brainstorming with these questions to get you going: What’s your most visited blog post? What do people ask you about all of the time? Or ask your audience what they want to learn from you. While these are often lower ticket, you can still hit a good profit if enough folks sign up!
Promote tech that has an affiliate program like Flodesk, Thrivecart, or Creative Market. This is a great way to generate revenue without having to make a new product. Write a blog post about how much you love a product and how you use it and promote it everywhere. Better yet, host a paid workshop and show everyone how you use your favorite tool. After the workshop give everyone your affiliate link so they can sign up and start using it! Linked out here is Quill & Co’s Resource Page, which shows how we promote tech we love and use affiliate links!
Add a new service to your offerings like Brand Strategy! Here at Quill & Co, brand strategy serves as the foundation for all of our custom projects and in turn makes them higher-ticket. We’re just a touch obsessed with brand strategy and have a ton of blogs on what brand strategy actually is and why you should consider offering it to your clients. Also stay on the lookout for the return of Brand Clarity Academy coming soon and join the waitlist if you’ve been interested in this.
Running a small business is full of ups and downs and by no means are any of the above “quick fixes” to make money quickly. But these cash infusion ideas for designers are smart ways to use resources readily available to you, like existing or past clients, and generate new project leads and buzz around your business. If you’re loving these ideas, join Quill Collective — a new online community space for designers and creatives to create meaningful connections, share feedback, and learn from each other!