Shopify Passive Income: How to Generate Recurring Revenue

Web designers are earning passive, recurring income from getting their clients on Shopify and you can too. Let's go through how you can set yourself up to earn by being a Shopify web design expert.

Shopify Passive Income: How to Generate Recurring Revenue

If you’re a web designer, you’ve heard of how much passive income designers can make by offering monthly hosting packages to their clients. But what about websites where hosting is already taken care of, like on Shopify?

You can make passive, recurring income on Shopify sites by contributing to the Shopify ecosystem.

Before you can earn anything, you’ll need to set up a Shopify Partner account. This the first necessary step to working with clients on Shopify, and anyone can make an account instantly. We outline the benefits of having a Partner account in our article, What to know for your first Shopify client. Once you’re a Shopify Partner, you’re ready to earn.

Ways to Earn as a Shopify Partner

There are 4 ways to earn passive, recurring income on Shopify:

Become an Affiliate

Shopify Affiliates promote Shopify to their audience and provide a custom referral link, offering their followers a discounted introductory offer such as 14 days free, or $1/month for the first 3 months.

Affiliates earn 2 times the monthly plan price selected by the merchant that they referred, after the merchant has been active for 2 months. For example, if someone signs up to Shopify through your link and they select the Basic plan at $39/month, you’d earn $78 after their first two months. Easy!

To become an affiliate, log in to your Partner dashboard and click “Affiliate program” on the left sidebar. From there, you can apply to be an affiliate and get your unique sharing link.

Once you’ve been approved, share the link across your website, blog, or videos. Shopify offers branding materials such as banners (like the one below) that are easy to add to your website and start using. They also provide logos such as the Shopify Partner logo that you can add to your website to build trust as a web designer.

Grow your business, create an online store with Shopify

Grow your business, create an online shop on Shopify

Store development

If you are bringing a client to Shopify and building their store from a development store, you earn a commission once they start paying for their monthly or annual plan.

Development stores that switch to a paid subscription will earn you 20% recurring revenue share of the merchant’s monthly subscription fee.

For the Basic plan, this is about $8/month and for the Shopify plan, this is $21/month, amounting to $96 and $252 per year respectively, without you having to do anything at all. This continues for the lifetime of their site. Over time and with all your clients combined, this can add up to a good amount. Note that the price of Shopify plans does vary by country, so these dollar amounts are an estimate based on current US prices.

Unfortunately, if your client is already on Shopify and you’re helping with a redesign, then you cannot earn this commission as you were not the one to bring them to the platform. It’s only for development stores that then are transferred to clients that select a paid plan.

However, if your client reaches the point that it would make sense for them to upgrade to Shopify Plus, then you are able to earn recurring income when they make that switch since you referred them to that higher tier plan.

Plus Store Development

Usually stores don’t begin with a Shopify Plus plan, but they upgrade once the business grows to a certain size.

Plus Store Development will earn you 10% recurring revenue share of the merchant’s monthly subscription fee. Shopify Plus plans start at $2000/month so this is $200/month for you, or $2400 per year.

This referral process is a little more complicated and has some specific terms. The simplest way is to help your client with a Plus auto-upgrade that takes only 24 hours. Otherwise, you may fill out a Shopify Plus lead referral form from the Shopify dashboard. Note that in order for your lead to be attributed to you, the client must not have been in contact with the Shopify Sales team at the time of submission. This is where it will be important for you to understand the perks of Shopify Plus and help them decide if it’s a good fit, rather than sending them to Shopify’s team to get the answers.

If you’re wondering what the benefits of Shopify Plus are and when it makes sense to upgrade to Shopify Plus, look out for our article coming out in the next few weeks, "When to Upgrade to Shopify Plus”.

Shopify POS

For brick and mortar stores, there’s also the possibility to use Shopify. Physical stores are able to use Shopify’s POS (Point of Sale) app that they can use to sell products in person. Shopify’s POS processes orders, accepts payments, and creates receipts, all from a mobile app. This is a great solution for brands that sell products both online and in person because they can manage the entire business in one place.

Everything is synchronized between the physical store location and online store so that inventory and stock numbers are always accurate, payments are consolidated, and there’s the opportunity to capture customer emails through in-store purchases, ultimately offering a seamless experience.

A POS referral will earn you a one time bonus of $500. Note that Shopify’s POS is only available in some countries.

Talk to your clients about what frustrations they currently have in their business operations. One frustration that I hear a lot from clients is that they don’t have accurate inventory numbers between different locations and the online store. This makes it really difficult to offer online shopping, the ability to offer local pickup, and to know when you need to re-order items from suppliers. They also have issues with email collection because they collect in-store emails through appointments and online emails through the website, making email marketing very complicated. This is because they’re using 2-3 different systems to manage customers and inventory. What a nightmare.

For these clients, it would be worth exploring if Shopify’s POS would be a good solution to help them avoid these frustrations and streamline their business operations.


Shopify has summed up the ways to earn nicely in the below graphic. For more detailed information, see Shopify’s page on Partner earnings here.

Ways to earn as a Shopify Partner


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