10 ways to make passive money with Photoshop (that work)

By Julia Gifford read
29 Sep, 2023
10 ways to make passive money with Photoshop (that work)

So you’ve got Photoshop skills. Now what?

You know that it’s a marketable skill. In fact, the leading US employment site Glassdoor named it one of the top skills for entry-level jobs.

But what if you could be making money with Photoshop every month, without putting in the work.

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

But it’s not. It’s called passive income.

And people with Photoshop skills have every opportunity to get their hands on it.

Before we get into passive income for photoshop, let’s first get into what it is.

What is passive income:

Passive income is when your earnings are not directly related to the actions you perform. You set it up once, and money comes rolling in, without having to do anything.

Let’s compare:

Active income: when you get paid for completing a certain task. It’s a hands-on task that requires you to be actively involved in producing the output that the customer has purchased.
Example: image post-production editing

Passive income: when your clients are able to pay you for a product that does not require your active involvement.
For example: your clients are able to buy your photo editing presets, that is available 24/7 online, with an automated buying process

Now that you know that passive income is a great way to earn money while creating a product only once, here are 10 ways to earn passive income by selling your Photoshop art:

1. Create Photoshop tutorials and/or courses

When you’re a master at any skill, the obvious option to provide a product of value that people will pay for is to pass that skill on.

And Photoshop is no exception.

You can teach others by recording your tutorials or courses and uploading them to existing course markets.

For example, SkillShare and Udemy are great places to start.

If you have a devoted audience and brand, consider selling your courses on your own platform, directly to your audience.

Potential earnings: $200-3,000 /month

The SkillShare website states that new teachers earn on average $200 in their first months, with top-performing teachers making up to $3,000.

2. Create fonts and sell them online

Another great way to generate passive income is to create and sell your own fonts.

Places you can sell fonts:

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Potential earnings: Varied

Very few sources disclose the amount they’ve made through creating and selling fonts. The majority of sources say that font selling can make money, though unless you sell a font to a major company, it’s very likely you won’t be making astronomical amounts. However, it is possible to make a living.

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3. Sell your Photoshop presets and LUTs

When you’ve mastered the art of color grading and you’ve got your tried and true presets and LUTs, you’ve essentially got a new byproduct that can add value to other people’s’ lives.

Sell your presets online to help amateur photographers attain the same effects that your professional eye has created.

A great example of a person selling their LUTs and presets is Sorelle Amore, who uses her YouTube audience following to popularize her presets collection “Hipster AF”, and to sell on Instagram.

Potential earnings: up to $100,000 /year

Photoshop presets are in demand. This stay-at-home mom is earning over $100,000 per year by working from home in Photoshop.

Of course, this depends on the activity of your community, the attractiveness of your images, and how they are generally marketed. 

4. Create and sell stock images

If you have a ton of images that are just taking up space in a hard drive, why not put them to work and offer them up as stock images?

Though these days stock photography sites, like Shutterstock and 500px, have developed higher standards and don’t just take anything, rejecting about as many images as they accept.

Pro tip: because of the high volume of stock photos being uploaded, it’s suggested to keep uploading regularly to ensure that your percentage of the market doesn’t decrease with time.

Potential earnings: up to $500 /month

Photographer James Wheeler earns approx. $500 per month with 350 stock photos (out of 750 he submitted).  

Though he sells a few on 500px at $5-$50 per piece, the majority of income comes from microstock sites, where the pricing is set at $0.25-$5.00 per image. Some examples of microstock sites include Shutterstock, Getty Images, and more.

Though not enough to make a living, it certainly has the potential to be a lucrative additional income stream to support your lifestyle and diversify your income.

5. Create and sell graphics

Photoshop can be used to create all manner of graphics, not only photographs.

A great way to set up an additional stream of passive income is to sell Photoshop art – create graphics that are ready-made and sold online to anyone who may need visual elements.

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Graphics can range widely:

    • Icons
    • Decorative images
    • Stock illustrations
    • Desktop/mobile wallpapers
    • Textures, shapes, stamps
    • Etc.

Potential earnings: $5,000

For example, the creative collective “Offset” offers a variety of stamps, textures, shapes, image masks and even retro diagrams that buyers can use to enhance their digital images. In this article, they describe how they market their products and get the word out.

6. Create and sell website themes

With over half a million websites created every single day, it’s reasonable to assume that website design is also in demand.

With a growing amount of non-technical or design-skill-oriented individuals trying their hands at creating their own website, an entirely new industry came to be – the industry of website themes.

Website themes let you create the design for a website, and use that theme over and over again.

You’ll be able to create the website layout in Photoshop, however, to create a usable theme, you’ll need to turn the design into code. If you’re not skilled at coding, consider hiring a freelancer for the job.

You can sell them at a variety of locations:

    • Creative Market (Magento and other platform themes) – 30% commission
    • Sellfy (for any platform themes) – $29 /month + 2% transaction fee

Potential earnings: varied

As with any digital goods sales, the results are varied and depend on a wide variety of factors.

The top-selling Themeforest template Avada is making upwards of $20 million, having sold over 440,000 copies of the theme for $60 per piece. That is, of course, an outlier. In fact, of the 8,000 WordPress themes on the platform, only 19 crossed the $1M threshold in 2016, and the average theme that sells over 100 licenses has taken 2.5 years to do it. Though you may not be making millions (at first, at least), a solid earning is certainly in reach.

7. Sell designs on print on demand sites

If printmaking is your thing, you might consider selling your products on print on demand (POD) sites.

The concept is simple:

    1. You upload images of your designs to either a print on demand site or your own website.
    2. The image is displayed as for sale on products of your choice that the POD platform offers (common products include posters, mugs, pillows, etc.).
    3. Visitors purchase the design on a product that they would like.
    4. The POD provider prints and ships the product to the customer.

There are different print on demand sites that you can make use of, many of which are very similar.

Some popular sites include:

Potential earnings:

On POD sites, you’ll be earning royalties on sold items. Most sites let you set your own profit margin that you’d like to receive, on top of the POD provider’s base price.

So your profit margin depends on you.

Artist Marc Johns sells his designs on Society6 and regularly makes over $1000 /month.

8. Create and sell document templates

When in the business of designing with Photoshop, the sky’s the limit as to what you can do.

So why not expand to creating different document templates? People often look to ready-made templates to kick their performance up a notch and look a tad more professional, put together, or thoughtful.

Here are some ideas of document templates that you can sell online to create passive income:

    • Resume/CV templates
    • Ebook templates
    • Email templates
    • Magazine layouts
    • Wedding, baby shower, bridal shower invitations
    • Etc.

Potential earnings: $5,000

As with any digital product, your potential earnings have much to do with how many copies of products you sell, and what the product’s price is. A moderate example is that of Janna Hagan’s, who had sold $5,000 worth of resumes. You can get inspired by her experience and story here.

Though this may not be achievable by everyone, it certainly is not out of the question.

Consider these price points:

As you can see from these price points, you’re able to quickly scale your income by providing services that others perceive as valuable.

Sales can be stepped up in a variety of ways – by offering more products to be sold, as well as ramping up the marketing and visibility of existing products. Take a look at our ebook for some actionable tactics to use.

9. Printable planners, journals, workbooks

Creating printable planners and journals, in a plethora of different niches, is a way to provide great value with a product that can be infinitely scaled.

If you have any other niche you’re interested in, you can put together and sell a journal or planner for your specific topic.

Say, for example, you’re passionate about organizing your workday and developing a workload to create sustainable income – a challenge that many creators may have. You can create a printable workbook that sets goals, challenges, etc.

Etsy is one marketplace where you can go to get inspired as to the different kinds of workbooks, planners and journals that are available, and at what price points.

Potential earnings: up to $2,000 /month

Selling printables is a great way to generate recurring income. Especially as they take on a life of their own. You can read how artist Michelle Rohr went from $3 /month to $4,000 per month, entirely with passive income and selling online printable worksheets.

Pro tip: Use the Sellfy “Upsell” feature to encourage buyers to supplement their workbooks and planers with add-ons.

10. Create and sell mockup images

Mockups are the potential holy grail of digital products.

There are so many cases when they’re in demand. From online sellers using print on demand to branding specialists who need to demonstrate their new-found brands to clients, to software products that have to be demonstrated on screens.

In fact, the majority of Graphic River’s best-selling items in 2024 are mockups.

Potential earnings: $500 – $30,000 /month

The team at the Creative Bloq blog has quoted that most designers make between $500 – $30,000 per month selling mockup images.

Why use Sellfy to sell your Photoshop products?

When it comes to selling digital products, Sellfy is the platform that will make it easiest for you. Created for digital product creators (here’s a list of 101 digital product ideas you can sell), you’re not required to create and maintain a website (though you can, if you want), you can focus on selling your goods.

As a Photoshop artist, you can set up your online store in 5 minutes, set a price for your products and easily create promotion strategies with Sellfy’s useful tools like Upselling, Email marketing, etc.

If you’re ready to set up your passive income streams, sign up for Sellfy’s 14-day free trial.

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FAQ: making money with Photoshop

How much do Photoshop freelancers make?

The earnings of Photoshop freelancers vary depending on their skill level, experience, and location. According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for a Photoshop freelancer is $25. However, rates can range from $15 to $100 per hour.

Some freelancers charge by project or offer package deals. It’s important to determine your worth based on your expertise and the value you provide to clients.

Where can I sell my Photoshop work?

Sellfy is a great platform to sell your Photoshop work. It is an easy-to-use eCommerce solution that lets you create an online store and sell digital products. With Sellfy, you can easily upload your Photoshop work and start selling it in a matter of minutes.

The platform offers various payment options, a customizable storefront, and built-in marketing tools to help you promote your products. Plus, Sellfy comes with zero transaction fees.

Are Photoshop skills in demand?

Yes, Photoshop skills are in demand in various industries like graphic design, advertising, marketing, and photography. It is a widely used software tool for editing and enhancing images, creating digital artwork, and designing graphics for websites, social media, and print media.

Having a good command of Photoshop can give you a competitive edge in the job market and open up opportunities for freelance work as well.