Most independent contractors will agree that the ebb and flow of work can often book months at a time as well as create dry spells with no projects at all. I’ve been fortunate in being flat out since beginning to work for myself in 2009 but that hasn’t stopped me from preparing for possible downtime. Creating passive income, no matter how large or small the amount, is always a good idea when you don’t have a steady paycheck to rely on.

Envato, a rapidly growing collection of resource sites (and much more), is a great place to start if you’re a designer or developer looking to make some extra cash. Whether you’re handy with coding, designing, video, or audio, Envato has a site where you can sell stock files. There are many benefits in selling stock but the main attraction is potentially making numerous sales off of a file that you only need to create once. Add enough files and you may find yourself with a consistent stream of side money to help supplement your main sources of income.

The process is as simple as taking a quick seller quiz, uploading your files, then letting time take care of the rest while you continue with your main work. Chances are, most designers and developers already have leftover files or incomplete ideas that could easily be finished and sold as stock (just remember that the work needs to be yours and free of copyright). Envato also has multiple communities where you could become an author and write tutorials on what you know best, although writing a tutorial wouldn’t count as being passive income since you would only be getting paid once for each submission.

Recently, Envato launched Graphic River, one of the few stock websites I’ve found that allows authors to sell Photoshop files (nice!). I enjoy working in any of the Adobe Creative Suite applications but Photoshop has always been a personal favorite of mine. I quickly signed up for a new account (which works on all Envato sites, by the way) to read more on the fine print and test out the author program. The payment rates are 25% for non-exclusive sellers and between 40-70% for exclusive members, depending on how many sales your files make. The difference between exclusive and non-exclusive membership is whether you want to sell your files on multiple websites or only on an Envato marketplace. Compared to similar stock sites, such as istockphoto, Envato offers slightly higher rates, especially if you think your files will make a lot of sales.

One thing I was not impressed with was the Graphic River upload form, which seems to still be a work-in-progress. There are a small handful of files you need to upload for each submission, such as thumbnail, preview, etc., and every time I uploaded a new asset, the form fields I had already populated would reset. Hopefully that gets ironed out soon. Here’s a look at my first upload (click to visit the file’s Graphic River page):


Update #1: After testing out the Graphic River seller program a little more over the last week, the file upload and review process certainly requires a lot of patience. I have a feeling the interest in Graphic River is more than Envato anticipated, or was initially prepared for, and it shows in the timeliness and quality of responses from the file reviewers. It has been taking at least two to three days before my files are looked at and the reason I was given for one of them being rejected was laughably short and vague. I responded to the reviewer, kindly asking what the issue was and how could I improve it, but did not receive a straight answer until e-mailing two more times after that. Even then, I learned that there was nothing wrong with the file other than it simply wasn’t to this particular person’s taste. The reviewers should do themselves a favor and give honest critiques so that authors who have files rejected can know how to make the work better and ultimately improve the overall file selection of Graphic River.