Potential Add-Ons for Web Designers

Most web designers and web design firms have an interest in finding alternate sources of revenue in addition to providing design and development services for clients. While these other sources of income are unlikely to completely support the designer or the firm, they can be excellent complementary add-ons that are also a help to clients in addition to producing revenue. These are my suggestions for potential add-ons, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.


Some freelance designers and a lot of design firms also offer hosting to their clients. Obviously, this can provide a nice residual income, plus it allows you to combine the design services and the hosting into a package that may be more attractive to potential clients. Re-seller hosting is a popular option in these situations because it provides the designer the opportunities without requiring as much time and investment. Re-seller hosting can still be more commitment than many designers are interested in, and in these cases affiliate programs are ideal. In the best situation, the hosting company that you use will offer an affiliate program so that you can refer a product that you genuinely believe in.

Domain Names

Although less profitable than hosting services, domain names will be needed by some of your clients. Becoming a reseller of domain names you can continue to offer your clients another essential service. Much like with hosting, you could also simply become an affiliate of a leading provider of domain names.

Premium Templates or Themes

More and more designers are jumping into the market of premium WordPress themes . By selling high-quality premium themes you can increase the potential earnings of your work. On the down side, you’ll also have to be willing to dedicate some time to providing support. WordPress themes aren’t the only option here. Premium HMTL/CCS and Flash templates are also fairly common.

Files and Scripts

Sites like FlashDen provide a marketplace for developers to sell their work. At FlashDen you can sell stock flash, audio, video and pixel fonts. You can create an account and upload your files. Then, every time one is sold you’ll earn a commission.

Vector Images

If your expertise is in the area of graphic design you can create and sell vector images at sites like Vector Stock, iStock Photo, and Stock Xpert. All of these sites, and several others, will allow you to create an account and place your images into their marketplace to be sold. You’ll earn a commission on anything that is purchased.


While many designers give away free icons to gain some exposure for their services, there is still a need from some clients for premium icons. Some designers, such as Dan Cederholm, sell packages of icons from their website.

Content Creation

Some full-service design firms also provide their clients with the option of paying to have content written for the site (although Vandelay Website Design is not full-service, we do offer content creation). While writing content for websites and blogs is a completely different skill than design, many designers are able to do well with this service because they have learned what types of content a website will need to serve its purpose and to attract visitors.

SEO Services

While the web designer does have certain responsibilities involved with building a search engine-friendly website, dedicated SEO services go well beyond this point. If you have the knowledge and the ability to produce desirable results for your clients in terms of search engine optimization, this can be a natural extension from design services. It’s not for everyone, but those who are experienced can really improve their business with SEO services.

Website Consulting

There’s much more to having a successful web presence than building an attractive website. Design services are part of the equation, but some clients are really seeking a service that will guide them through the entire process of building a strong website that will help them to achieve their goals. With consulting services you can help clients to bridge the gap between an attractive website and an effective website.

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14 Responses

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  • Jacksonville, May 24, 2008

    Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.

  • Web Design Lincolnshire, March 30, 2008

    Indeed offering a high quality service, the market is saturated, therefore, offering a more services will help

  • Samantha, March 19, 2008

    Thanks for sharing.
    Time frame is hard for alot of us, so any tools that help make the job easier is excellent

  • Vandelay Design, March 17, 2008

    B2B Guy,
    I absolutely agree. I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgeable on SEO, but I don’t offer those services because I don’t think I’m capable (at least at this point) of doing it well enough. In my opinion, only a small percentage of designers are qualified to offer this service, but for those who are, I think it can be a good fit.

    I agree. I’ve only ever helped people informally, but I’ve been thinking about adding it in the future. We’ll see.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hosting can definitely be a huge time sucking ordeal. I know some designers do re-seller hosting, but I would stick to just affiliate programs to save time and headaches.

    Not John Chow,
    The market is pretty saturated, but the point of offering it as an add-on service is that you’ll be able to offer it to your existing clients. For example, if you decide to add SEO services you may only offer that service at first to those clients that you’re doing design work for. If you have one client and you can offer them 2 or 3 different services you may be able to make more on each client.

  • Not John Chow, March 17, 2008

    There is definitely a demand for all of these services. My question is how saturated is the market already? It seems to me that a new service is available everyday. Competition is stiff.

  • Brad C, March 17, 2008

    When I first started freelancing I was offing several services to boost my income. It only took a few months to realize they weren’t for me. When I started offering hosting or SEO services I found that I spent more time managing projects and clients than doing the work I enjoyed. There was also a learning curve on how to bill your clients on these services. I lost time and money on them. Same with some of the passive income ideas like selling stock, it just wasn’t profitable.

    In the end I found the best way for me to be a web designer was to focus on trying to be a great web designer and work with other people who provide great support.

  • Vinh Le, March 17, 2008

    I find that website consulting is a nice change of pace from designing and coding by yourself and it can be a whole lot of fun too. I started doing informal website consulting a while back and found it to be a nice break because it lets you talk about what you love. I also find that sometimes clients ask questions that you don’t know, which helps you figure out where your knowledge has gaps.

    I am now thinking about offering it as a service in the future.

  • B2B guy, March 16, 2008

    Can’t say enough about selling SEO services “not being right for everybody”. SEO goes infinitely farther than screwing around with meta tags and stuffing some keywords, and out of the designers our firm has dealt with over the past 2 years, I would say less than 5% even know the bare basics of SEO and probably about 40% are actually hurting their clients’ business with design practices that block search bots or destroy any chance of them ranking.

    However, I see about 80% of the local mom-n-pop design shops around our town (we don’t cater to local small biz clients so this isn’t sour grapes on my part – they’re not competition) offer SEO while the sites in their portfolios are absolute SEO disasters.

    What ends up happening is that a gaggle of people looking to get some recurring revenue is slowly undermining people’s confidence in an art & science that can benefit their business.