How to Go from Web Design to Product Creation And Generate Passive Income + Learn From My Costly Mistakes!

There’s always some form of excitement in juggling multiple projects and meeting deadlines. Yet, it gets repetitive and boring overtime.

Web design beginners (and even some veterans) have made it the norm of selling their time and skills on an hourly or project basis. Of course, this requires that you need to keep hunting for new clients, or work through a retainer fee model that can provide the monthly revenue.

In most cases, it doesn’t quite feel comfortable right? Wouldn’t you like to get out of the client trap, or at least discover a new revenue model where deadlines don’t really count?

Solution: develop your own product, and scale your business like never before.

Passive income generator

photo by: AMagill

There are some savvy web designers who are now profiting from their skills, passion or insider knowledge months and years after their initial effort.

The equation is simple: get your product done, then sit back, relax and let others do your marketing or promotion.

For example: you could setup an affiliate program (more details about that later) where you have a marketing “army” of men and women making you sales. You pay them a certain percentage of your profits, and commissions are sent once they make the sale. This is common practice within the associate programs industry.

Online, content drives sales…

Another way to generate passive income with your product is to take advantage of social media and content marketing – and make sure you get the most out of it.

Publish more content than anybody else in your industry. Be everywhere; on and off your web site.

You could outsource your entire marketing approach (social account updates, guest posting, article writing, forum marketing, blog comments, etc.) or team up with a content specialist who knows how to get the word out about you, your brand and your product. Share the revenue. Win-win!

What type of products to sell?

Here are some of the most known types and their formats:


If you’re specialized in WordPress, you could build a site selling WordPress themes and setup a membership portal where clients access the themes. In fact, they could get free unlimited updates or whatever, for a monthly fee…

100 clients @ $29 a month will generate close to $2,900 (minus merchant account fees and other related costs.)

Within months, with the right promotion and marketing strategy, your site could exceed $10k a month selling themes. Food for thought…

Inspire yourself from major theme selling websites such as Themeforest or Elegantthemes.


PDF reports and Kindle ebooks

Photo credit:

ClickBank has become the largest digital product marketplace with items ranging from membership sites to eBooks. Clickbank has it all – even software and tools in niches such as business, health & fitness, self help, sports, hobbies, home & garden, to name just a few…

Would you rather than write? Then podcasts and teleseminars could be your thing. You could run phone or Skype interviews with industry experts and sell them like hot cakes (considering the information you offer is hard to find elsewhere or so detailed that others will want to pay for it.)

TraderInterviews for example, is a site offering conversations with top traders. Paid members have two options to access the content: lifetime access pass ($1,499) and one-year access pass ($499).

Tim Bourquin, its co-founder said in an interview how he struggled to make money from sponsors, and why the membership model was the best decision ever.

“We made more money in the first 30 days than I had in the past 2-1/2 years doing it.”, says Tim.

“I was on the phone 4-5 hours a day trying to get at the door of ad agencies, trying to get to the director of marketing. I definitely put in the time. And because of that, the content suffered and so it was actually, it was, it had the reverse effect. I was probably losing traffic because my contents started to suck because I was spending so much time trying to get advertisers. And so I thought, this is ridiculous.

You know we need to find a different model that is going to work for a knit site where I am not constantly having to worry about sending media kits out, and I didn’t want to outsource it because there wasn’t enough money to even outsource it, to pay somebody because for the traffic we had, they weren’t going to make enough money doing that either. So the membership and selling the content itself was the other option, and it was the best thing that we ever did.” – Tim. (Source: Mixergy)

For a monthly fee Instantteleseminar gives anyone the power to host phone and web based audio seminars featuring web chat, one-click recording, replay hosting, free training and support amongst the major advantages.

Armed with the right tools and the right information, anyone who is (highly) passionate about a topic could get into the podcast & teleseminar business and develop multiple streams of income.


If you like the camera, then you could run a free interview series as Andrew Warner does for the business industry at Mixergy, and sell premium access to its archive (as well as expert training courses).

Andrew Warner

You don’t even have to create the content yourself, just come up with insightful questions, and let the expert provide detailed answers for your audience.

Do you prefer to teach people “over the shoulder”? Then creating screen-capture tutorials could be your favorite way to profit. You could show others how to build a theme from scratch, how to design a site or how to create a forum, step by step, everything from basic to more advanced methods.

If you open up Google AdWords keyword research tool and type in “tutorial”, you’ll gather plenty of ideas for screen capture video clips and tutorials.


Java tutorial
Excel tutorial
Php tutorial
Html5 tutorial

You could create in depth video tutorials on any major software program, tool or utility that large groups of people are using, and build a comfortable living doing so.


If you’re a coder and like to have your own software, then building WordPress plugins, iPhone Apps or Android games could prove a profitable path; these are three of the most popular software ideas in today’s cyberspace.


The challenge is to figure out what people buy and connect that with your skill, passion or knowledge, and vice-versa. That’s how you test a product idea. You wouldn’t want to create something and find later if there’s a market for it, right?

Learn this: if there are already people looking for specific products or solutions to their problems, then you could create a similar item and tap into a (large) pool of established buyers.

If there’s demand, but not many products available in a particular industry or niche, then you have a big competitive advantage.

Decide on one product and implement the process as fast as possible.

You can get ideas from the specific keywords and key terms people type in on Google.

You can look up for top selling books on Amazon and Kindle.

Or, you can check out eBay to see what sells.

I just gave you three proven methods that you can start off with.

Content ideas

Considering your product is not going to be a software program or a mobile app, then you will have to brainstorm and research for the type of content that you’ll be writing or compiling yourself.

Let’s think about why you and others buy products online.

As a standard rule, most people buy info products online because they’re looking for specialized, hard to find knowledge or insider “secrets”. Others buy info products because they are looking for priceless information in a short, concise format; they’d hate to spend weeks (or months) finding the desired content.

Does it make sense?

There are people obsessed with reading blogs and magazines, while others are addicted to buying products on topics they’re most interested in or highly passionate about. These are hungry buyers you want to sell too – information dependant or hobby addicts.

Product Creation

Do it yourself!

Sacha Greif is a web design specialist in user interfaces for web and mobile apps. He has worked with big companies such as UNESCO before starting his freelancing career. He earned close to $15 000 from selling a web design e-book that took him only three weeks to create.

FounderTips ran an interview (and case study) with the guy… Here is something we all can learn from…

“There were three main phases of selling the e-book: the launch, after launch and affiliate promotion (selling the e-book through the third party sites).”


“During the launch, which was really good, I sold about 2000 copies in the first week or so, which generated revenue of about $8,000.”

Sidebar: most product launches are making the bulk of their profit when they’re having momentum. Snooze or you lose.


“After the launch, I kept selling the e-book for a couple months and it brought in around $4,000 more. At that time, I was promoting the e-book through other sites, getting guest articles on some blogs, etc. So, it was much much slower than the launch, since it was half the amount of the launch in two months, although it was still good.”

Sidebar: without a proper content marketing plan, your eBook will cease selling sooner or later.


“However, after a while it started slowing down, so what I’m doing now is I’m selling the e-book through sites like AppSumo, which are basically sites that give their readers special deals on different products. That has made me around $2,000 so far.

Altogether, the e-books has generated around $15,000 so far, which is really good, because I never expected it to bring in so much (especially considering that it’s a rather short e-book).

I’ve spent around two weeks on writing the content and then, of course, much more time promoting it via articles, interviews and such.”

Sidebar: promotion totals to 80% of your marketing, before and after launching a product.

“The main lesson I’ve learned over the last couple of years is to have a long-term view and invest in yourself, not chase a quick buck.

The plan is rather simple, then: build a network, cultivate a strong identity to ensure the network knows who you are, and then come up with a product you can market to it.“ – Sacha (SmashingMagazine)

Now, you don’t have to go solo with a product creation or launch.

Find a partner

photo by Kheel Center, Cornell University

Team up with someone who has already created (and launched) their own item, preferable in the same niche or industry as yours, and propose them a deal.

You agree to give him or her a % percentage of all the sales coming in for the first 3, 6 or 12 months. Not everybody will want to team up with a beginner, particularly if they’re busy launching their own stuff, however, if your proposal is irresistible, and assuming you have a proven idea or worthy cause, you could find the ideal partner, sooner than later.


You have quite a few options here. Start off with Elance and Guru to hire content writers and software developers. Most people who have zero experience with product creation have no experience with outsourcing either.

Effective outsourcing requires you know exactly how the project should start, and finish. You give the client concrete details on how the product should look like, and share the nitty-gritty with him or her. Otherwise, the output might not be exactly right.


If outsourcing doesn’t seem viable, then you could take the crowdsourcing route and hope others will believe in your project and raise the money to cover, and possibly exceed your costs.

People from all walks of life are using this model to fund for their startup or non profit cause.

Here are some of the most popular crowdsourcing platforms you should inspect for yourself:

Mistakes to avoid

photo by mikebaird

Spending too much (time, money and resources) trying to create the perfect product or ideal item.

I have (lots of) friends and contacts who spent months (some even years!) trying to create the right product, and didn’t launch it even today as we speak.

You want to get your first product out there as fast as possible.

Fail to succeed is the norm. The faster you launch, the more “secrets” you’ll be discovering down the road. There’s no set in stone product creation formula. Just go with your gut instinct, and follow the guidelines shared herein.

Pricing the product too high (trying to make more money with less clients) or too low (generating a ton of “low quality” clients, fast).

Price your item accordingly. Study your competitors. Be honest. Would you pay your required fee for your own product? What about others, how much would they pay? Do a survey or ask them directly.

Product Selling Platforms


Clickbank is a complex platform for selling products with custom-built affiliate tracking and client follow-up system.

  • Supported payment processors: major credit/debit cards & Paypal
  • Pros: it’s a complete online selling and marketing platform
  • Cons: monthly fee (starting at $47)
  • Advantages: large affiliate network and brand name

SellFy enables anyone to upload & sell ebooks, music, videos, software or anything digital they create.

  • Supported payment processors: Paypal, Stripe, Paymill
  • Pros: free to setup, and instant payments into your account
  • Cons: simple affiliate program system; 2GB maximum file size upload
  • Advantages: fast setup – sell anywhere with one link


Digiresults is the selling platform dedicated to Internet marketers and business related items (online and offline)

  • Supported payment processors: Paypal
  • Pros: free and easy to setup within minutes
  • Cons: limited payment methods; only marketing related products accepted
  • Advantages: immediate payments for both vendors and affiliates


Gumroad helps you sell digital items or real goods like albums and T-shirts.

  • Supported payment processors: major credit (and some debit) cards
  • Pros: no setup or monthly fees; weekly payments
  • Cons: not suitable for products that cost more than $1,000l; no Paypal option
  • Advantages: priority customer support, rapid setup, easy to manage


Bluesnap formerly known as Plimus, is a platform similar to ClickBank, where vendors can market and sell goods and services around the world, online and on mobile.

  • Supported payment processors: Paypal and major credit/debit cards
  • Pros: multiple payment methods; no setup or monthly fees
  • Cons: time consuming to setup; 10% commission for products under $49
  • Advantages: free dedicated ecommerce tools and large affiliate network

Reality check!

Selling your product via an affiliate program is the ideal business model because there are no out of pocket expenses for marketing and generating traffic – however, depending on the selling platform you’re using, it won’t be that easy.

This approach requires time, knowledge and investment to put everything together – and to reap the gains. This does not mean you shouldn’t try to sell your product through an affiliate program, especially since it’s so easy to start, and most options have no setup cost whatsoever.

Affiliate Marketing Integration

Regardless of how well your product is doing, one product is not sufficient. You need multiple products to generate multiple streams of income and make a comfortable passive income living.

Thus, promoting other people’s products to your client base is the next ideal solution. In fact, before launch, if you don’t have a second product available, you could look up and research a suitable affiliate product, join the respective program, and promote that item through your affiliate link as a “back-end” offer either on your THANK YOU or DOWNLOAD PAGE.

The trick is to ensure your affiliate promotion is the right mix with your primary item, meaning it has to be targeted to the same audience. In other words, if your affiliate offer is the next logical solution to your customers, a portion of them will also purchase your recommended product, making you a sizable extra profit. Free new-found money!

This article was written by one of our guest authors. We always appreciate contributions and if you'd like to contribute too, please don't hesitate to visit the contribute page.