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If you're a graphic designer, you can leverage the convenience and prominence of websites such as Ebay and Etsy to build a steady stream of passive income for years to come. Browse over to these websites and click on the "Art" categories to find opportunities to sell. Then, spend a Saturday morning or a weekday evening here and there designing artwork that is similar, though unique, to the types of things selling on these websites. Money is to be made if you're willing to tap into your creativity and push a compelling pitch!
Wall hangings, posters, prints, collages, drawings, illustrations, paintings, mixed media and photos are all things you can sell. Consumers like buying direct from the artist (you) because it's unique and authentic. You can appreciate websites such as Ebay and Etsy because they handle half of the marketing for you. People are coming to these websites looking for what you sell, so it vastly limits your competition.
Such websites can also serve as portals to your own website. If visitors like the work you put on Ebay and Etsy, they're likely to browse over to your website to see what else you sell. If your salable products are easily reproduced, such as anything designed using software, then you can partner with an online printing company to print each piece one-by-one as it's sold.
Other websites, such as CafePress, allow you to sell designs on clothing, hats, mugs, mouse pads and other merchandise. As a designer, you can take advantage of the built-in features of this website to create and brand your own online store.
There are other ways to sell your designs online as well. You could, for example, create a logo, button, web template, brochure template or other package to sell on websites such as Template Monster, Clickbank and Master Resale Rights. In addition, many designers and photographers sell their work through websites such as iStockPhoto. Any opportunity you have to compile a package of design work that others can purchase for use in their own creations is an opportunity to put the work in one time and earn passive income for the lifetime of the product's value.
The key to success is to sell something that is quality and unique, and fills a void or under-represented niche with at least moderate demand. Studying what others are selling can help you select a product type, while using applications such as Google's keyword and trends tools can help you recognize what customers are looking for. More importantly, the combination of these research strategies can help you define that elusive niche with few or no competitors and high customer demand.
Putting in the work to sell your designs before you have a buyer might seem like a waste and a big risk. If you do your research, however, you can focus on a niche just waiting for you to take it by the horns.