Passive income is often seen as the holy grail of the side hustle. There are many - especially online - who present themselves as passive income specialists, lying on a beach all day, sipping fruity beverages, and listening to their phone cha-ching to alert them to new sales.
If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.
For a long time passive income was dangled in front of people as a “set it and forget it” method of making money. Just do X, Y, and Z, then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Of course, that’s not really how it works. Passive income, in the sense of making money for doing nothing, doesn’t exist.
On the other hand, I woke up to 2 sale notifications this morning, meaning I made over $100 while I slept, so passive income is a real thing. And as a teacher who doesn’t want to hustle and grind my way into early retirement, it’s key to running a side hustle that doesn’t make me more stressed out.
Let’s explore the real world of passive income.
For today’s purposes we’re talking about ways to earn money that you can automate or fully delegate to others so that you aren’t active in the exchange of goods.
There are a number of ways to do this as a blogger because many of the primary streams of income bloggers have available to them are naturally passive.
One easy way to get started with passive income is to sell other people’s products or services. Placing ads on your blog is perhaps the easiest thing to do because once you set them up, you don’t have to do anything else. If you’re using an ad service like AdSense the ads they’re shown will even be based upon their search history, making them very targeted.
Affiliate marketing is similar, in that you just place links into your content and let people purchase through the other company. Because you have to select appropriate products or services to recommend, there’s a bit more work that goes into this than ads, but it’s still highly hands-off.
Items like ebooks and printables are things you can make with software you already have (and know how to use) that you can sell on your website. Courses are similar, but will typically require additional software to build and host.
These types of products require an upfront investment of time (and sometimes money for software), but once they’re done, you can automate the sales and delivery process with relative ease.
Whatever you sell, whether it be digital or physical products, you can utilize a number of third-party services or tools to allow you to automate or delegate the sales and delivery.
For example, Amazon has a print-on-demand option for authors who want to offer physical books, and if you want to sell through Amazon you can use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) so they hold, handle, and ship your products.
Investing is perhaps the closest you can get to fully passive income. All it takes is a bit of money, choose your investments, then sit back and watch them grow. Of course, not all investments grow, so make sure that you’re not investing more than you can afford to lose. Even if that’s just a few bucks you can use a service like M1 to get started. Use this referral link to get a $10 credit when you invest $100.
Regardless of what it may look like on social media, or in ads for passive income programs people are selling, there’s no such thing as 100% passive income.
Every business requires work to maintain it.
At a bare minimum, you will need to maintain your website, sales platform, and any other tools you use to run your business.
Some business owners choose to be hands-off with their businesses, but you still need to manage their teams, approve decisions, and help steer the company in the direction you, as the owner, want it to go.
It’s estimated that about 3% of customers are going to need extra help with your product. They may need help logging into your program, tech support, or to reset their password. Some may even just want you to walk them through things to make them feel more secure about their purchase.
In order to sell an ebook, you have to write the book first. In order to sell a course, you have to build the program first. This seems obvious, but many people forget that passive income is only passive after you’ve created the product. There is a lot of up front work that goes into passive income!
Oftentimes it’s suggested that people looking to get into passive income start with a more traditional model, like 1:1 coaching. This can help you get to know your audience, learn what they need support with, find areas where they get tripped up, and internalize their language for use in your marketing.
It is possible to jump right into passive income, be prepared to start small, tweak as you go. For example, I created my smaller courses Content Made Simple and Wicked Easy Website a year ago, tested them and got feedback, then moved on to my signature course, Teacher Blog Academy.
There are 3 things every blogger needs to know in order to create sustainable passive income.
Give your audience what they want. No matter which path you take to creating passive income, you need to offer things your audience is interested in and likely to buy. If your blog is about crafts and you’re trying to sell steak, you’re not going to be rolling in the dough.
Make it easy for them to buy. Don’t bury links on pages that people have to click, click, click through to get to. Put ads and affiliate links in places where people are going to look, and share links to your own digital products in as many places as possible without being obnoxious. This includes in posts, on pages, on social media, and in your emails.
Provide value first. Rule number 1 for bloggers is to provide value. Your readers aren’t coming to read a website full of ads. They want advice, inspiration, tips and tricks, hacks, information, how-tos, and other helpful stuff. That’s what will keep them coming back, believing in you as a source of authority, and trusting the products and services you create and recommend.
Remember that passive income takes time to grow and consistent effort to maintain. You will need to build an audience and cultivate their trust before they become loyal customers. You’ll then need to continue the cycle of attracting and nurturing new readers again and again.
Here’s the thing, passive income as it’s presented in internet ads may not exist, but there are ways to make earning money easier and less dependent on you for every step. As a teacher, you’ve got your hands full, so anything you can do to simplify making money is a win in my book.