13 Side Projects for Fun and Profit

As web designer, you already work hard. You may feel that you’re doing all that you can possibly do. And that’s perfectly all right.

But many freelancers are taking on side projects–sometimes for fun, and sometimes for money.


Besides the obvious opportunity to earn extra money, there are several reasons why you might want to start a side project:

  • Gives you something other than your work to think about
  • Helps you meet people with similar interests
  • Keeps you busy during the slow periods
  • Provides the opportunity to learn new things

We’ve discussed side projects here on Vandelay Web Design blog before. We’ve talked about how to make them successful and explained why they might not succeed.

In this post, we’ll describe thirteen side projects you might want consider starting. These are all projects you can work on at your own pace. Put as little or as much effort into them as you wish.

Project #1: Write an eBook

Many freelancers choose to write an eBook. This especially true for web designers who also have some writing ability. Or, you can hire a professional writer to help you put your ideas in book form.

If you write an eBook about web design, it could help your freelance business by:

  • Enhancing your authority in your field.
  • Connecting you with colleagues.
  • Bolstering your online reputation.

You may choose to sell your eBook, or you may wish to give it away as a free premium on your website in order to build your mailing list. If you want to publish your eBook on Amazon, you’ll find The Ultimate Guide to Publishing Your eBook on Amazon’s Kindle Platform from Paul Jun on CopyBlogger to be helpful.

Project #2: Sell a Premium Theme

Creating and selling premium themes puts your web design skills to use and can earn you some extra money. This is a very popular side gig with freelance web designers.

The main advantage is that you create a high quality premium WordPress theme once, and it has the potential to earn you money for months (although you may need to upgrade your theme from time to time). This is especially true if your theme becomes popular.

The disadvantage, of course, is that there are already a lot of premium WordPress themes on the market. Your theme may never get noticed.

You can sell your WordPress theme from your own site, of course. Or you may want to use a popular marketplace like ThemeForest or MojoThemes. If you use a marketplace, be sure to read the fine print. Most WordPress marketplaces take a percentage of your sales income.

Project #3: Serve as a Coach or Mentor

Coaching can be side gig, or even an alternate career path. Many entry-level freelance web designers are looking for someone who they can trust to get their careers started.

If you have years of successful experience as a web designer, you may be able to help someone who is just getting started in the field by serving as an official or unofficial mentor.

Coaching or mentoring can help you meet others in your field. It can also help to build your authority as an expert in your field.

Project #4: Give a Webinar or Training Session

If you like helping others, you might also wish to consider giving a webinar or training session. Online training sessions are popular, and many freelancers are willing to pay to enhance their skills.

You might even be able to develop a course and sell it over and over again. And of course, training others enhances your own professional reputation as an expert in your field.

Some tools to help you present a webinar include:

Project #5: Start a Subscription-Only Site

One way that some freelancers earn extra money is by starting a subscription-only site. Members pay a small monthly amount to access premium information like training, interviews with experts and other high-quality resources.

While owning a subscription site may seem like a good way to earn extra money, keep in mind that you need to provide value to sell memberships. Consider carefully what information and services your site will provide for members. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to maintain and update the site.

Project #6: Start a For-Profit Blog


If you love blogging and are willing to update your blog often, you may be able to start a for-profit blog.

The truth is that most for-profit blogs are owned by organizations that can afford to hire a team of writers. Most blogs do not earn a profit. However, that does not mean that it’s impossible to make a profit from blogging.

Blog owners typically earn money through selling advertisements on their blogs. However, you must have a fairly large reader base to attract advertisers. They can also earn money by selling products through their blog (affiliate sales).

Keep in mind that there is more to blogging for money than just updating your blog with new information. You must also promote your blog. This likely means having a very active social media presence. You may even need to advertise on other blogs or submit guest posts to popular blogs to attract a larger audience.

Project #7: Buy and Sell Collectibles

Many freelancers love to collect things. Buying and selling can make a great side gig, especially if you’ve studied and know which pieces are valuable and which are not.

The choice of what to collect is almost unlimited. For example, all of the following are popular with collectors:

  • Antiques
  • Coins
  • Rare books
  • Stamps

The trick is to specialize mainly in one type of collectible so that you can learn all about it.

If you decide collectibles will be your side gig, be prepared to spend some time at thrift stores, swap meets, and garage sales. You can also look for deals online on sites like eBay.

Project #8: Make and Sell Crafts

You’re a web designer, so you’re probably pretty creative.

Do you also make craft items? If so, you may be able to turn your creations into extra cash. Handmade crafts are popular gift items.

Two sites that are popular with crafters looking to sell their artwork are:

Project #9: House-Sit for Friends

This is a side-gig that takes practically no effort on your part. It’s also ideal for single freelancers or students who live in a small apartment.

Many vacationers prefer to have someone stay in their home while they are gone. This discourages break-ins and the house-sitter can also pick up the mail and make sure that routine maintenance tasks (such as watering houseplants) are done.

All you need to do is let your friends and family know that you are willing to house-sit while they are on vacation or traveling. If you’re serious about house-sitting, you can sign up with a service like HouseSitters America or MindMyHouse.

Be sure to specify that you must have access to an Internet connection. It’s up to you to decide if you are also willing to watch the homeowner’s pets while you are house-sitting.

People are often willing to pay a daily amount to make sure that their property is safe while they are gone. Just be sure to get any agreement between you in writing.

Project #10: Raise Animals

If you love animals (and have the space), you may want to raise animals on the side.

Which animals you decide to raise is totally up to you. If you have a lot of outdoor space (and if it is allowed where you live), you could raise farm animals such as chickens or even horses.

You could also raise pets. For some animals, such as purebred dogs, you can also show your animals in competitions.

If you choose this side gig, be sure to check the laws where you live. Many areas have restrictions on the number of animals that can live at one location.

Project #11: Start a Garden


Freshly grown produce is a great way to enhance any meal. Imagine your favorite recipes, with fruit and vegetables you grew yourself.

Or, you may choose to grow flowers.

Many people also claim that gardening reduces stress.

Project #12: Take Up Digital Photography

Do you love to take pictures? Are people always complimenting you on your photographs?

Digital photography might be the side gig for you. You may be able to sell your photographs through your site, or even sell products (such as tee shirts and mugs) that feature your photographs.

Just remember, digital cameras are extremely popular. So, if you are trying to earn money by selling your photographs, expect the competition to be fierce.

Project #13: Volunteer for a Cause

You won’t earn money through volunteer work, but you can get a non-monetary reward from knowing that you did something to make a difference in the world.

Volunteering is also a great way to build your social network.

Your Turn

The important thing to remember about a side gig is to pick something you enjoy. That way even if you didn’t earn much, at least you had fun.

Do you have a side gig? What is it?

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