Being a freelancer web designer involves a certain amount of risk. One of the biggest risks is the slow months, when not enough clients knock on your door. Generally it is recommended that a freelancing company has enough savings to be able to operate at least for two or three months, but that may be difficult. One of the best alternatives to that is generating revenue streams that don’t depend on actively chasing deals with clients: passive revenue. There are many easy business ideas that don't require you to work full time on them, but can create a nice side income to help you when clients aren't knocking on your door as much as you'd want.
Nonexclusive Web templates
If besides being a web designer you are also a web developer or familiar enough with HTML and CSS, it is possible to create templates for resale with nonexclusive rights. While people may not want to spend 500$ on a bespoke designer template, they may be open to spending 50$ for the right to use a more generic one. Websites such as Monster templates make a business out of selling templates for a variety of CMSs and platforms, and those templates are provided by web designers looking to create additional sources of income. If your templates are timeless and attractive enough, they can be producing money for years at no extra effort from you. You can also take a look at ThemeForest, where high quality templates exchange hands regularly.
Many successful web designers already blog for SEO and brand purposes, and it’s possible to generate a fair amount of money from advertisement. Tutorials, How-tos and other informative articles that are unlikely to go out of fashion are best at producing a long term revenue stream, especially if they are keeping updated when things such as a new version of software come into the market. If you enjoy writing and teaching others about Web Design, this may very well be a great source of passive revenue, as you can make money fast and easy using AdSense or affiliate marketing. If you don’t like writing so much, you can record video tutorials or use plenty of screenshots to teach others the tricks of the web design trade.
Write a (digital) book
Taking blogging a step further and writing a book about web design is another passive income option. It doesn’t even need to be a real paper book published by an editorial, but you can make it available on your website as a downloadable material for a reduced price, saving you the publishing costs and overhead. It will not only generate some money, but may create additional business for you by displaying your expertise on the web design and development arenas. You can also use a shortened version of your book as a freebie to entice visitors to your website to subscribe to your newsletter.
Photography and illustration
Many talented web designers are also good photographers or graphic artists. In both cases, there’s many platforms on the Internet available to sell high resolution copies of your pictures for people who want a nice poster or need stock photography for their own websites. If you enjoy doing that as a hobby there’s no harm in trying to get some money out of your digital paintings or pictures.
While none of those systems have a high chance of allowing you to retire while the money flows in, they can be good alternative revenue streams that can provide you with revenue for years, with only a one-time effort. This can be especially good to offset those slow months where clients aren’t coming and you need to resort to company savings.