The Holy Grail of anyone who eventually hopes to get ahead is having passive income–or as some would say, to “make money while sleeping.” But as Kristin Wong points out in “Most Passive Income Isn’t as ‘Passive’ As You Think” on LifeHacker, there really is not any such thing as a perpetual money machine.
Each of us is given the same number of hours in a day. Most spend that time trading hours for dollars to clients willing to pay for our time and expertise. Some of us have learned to charge according to the value of the work provided instead of how long it takes–and that is a step in the right direction.
The well-known drawback to providing services, though, is that when for any reason you can’t or don’t want to work, the income stops. There are two obvious ways to make sure you don’t run out of money when you aren’t working:
- Develop your skills to the level that you can charge so much when you do work that you can cover times when you are not working.
- Create products you can sell through e-commerce systems that will deliver them whether you are available or not.
Do freelancers and bloggers earn passive income and make money while sleeping? Absolutely, yes. But it is typically built upon a lot of work they’ve already done and will need to continue to do to keep the money flowing.
The myth of passive income is that you don’t have to ever work ever again to keep the income flowing…false!
Turn Your Expertise Into Passive Income
Regardless of which method you decide to use to generate income when you’re not working, most people prefer turning their expertise into something buyers can access around the clock.
The most common way to do this is by offering consulting services. Live consulting, however, is anything but passive, so many freelancers create either membership sites, or they create training materials to sell.
The key to earning a passive income is turning your expertise into something you can sell: e-books, training courses, videos, etc. First you have to acquire the knowledge, then actively make the products, and finally reap repeated income from sales that come in while you’re sleeping and any other time.
Start a Membership Site: Pros and Cons
Building a membership site can be expensive, and to maintain it while WordPress (WP) and other components are constantly being updated can be a nightmare. One SEO I know is abandoning a membership site she spent thousands to build because WP updates broke it and the original developer is not interested in recoding it; it would cost more to fix the site than to start over.
To deal with the frustration of membership sites not working with the latest WordPress or code updates, or merchant accounts not functioning correctly, many entrepreneurs are seeking alternatives.
New platforms like eKco allow unlimited storage of content and videos for as little as $29 per month.Unlike well-known platforms used for selling training, eKco allows you to use your own domain and maintain control of your users and pricing. This is very important, as you must control your own audience and how much you charge for your products in order to maximize your income and upsell new offerings without paying commissions repeatedly.
Your users pay you via PayPal using eKco’s e-commerce platform and there are no transaction fees. Instead of commissions, eKco charges a flat fee based on how many registered users you have and the number of downloads. It supports all the common file types and offers a 30-day free trial with no contract required.
Benefit From Sites Like Udemy While Hosting Your Own Training Courses
Udemy.com, a marketplace for online learning, provides a platform for entrepreneurs to create and promote training courses. The video below explains the major drawbacks to using Udemy:
- Udemy massively discounts your course prices.
- They own your audience–not you.
- No contact details are available to you.
- Artificial maximum of $400 per course; you can’t offer more expensive courses.
- You must pay commissions on every sale.
- Use platforms like Udemy to test course ideas and reach the site’s 7 million users.
- Offer free or lower-end programs to make a name for yourself and attract clients for your services.
- Sell your transformative, actionable training as high-value programs on a website that you control.
Just as you should own your own domain, build your own list for your business or blog, and use social networks to grow your audience, you can use sites like Udemy for their audiences.
Tip: While Udemy can provide a marketing platform for your business, to maximize your income, you need to pull people over to your own site to directly sell your programs. You cannot directly solicit people on Udemy, so make sure your offerings can be found easily on your website.
For more tips on how to use Udemy, and also host your own content, read “Hosting a Course on Udemy: Pros & Cons + Results.”
Become an Influencer
Influencer marketing is all the rage and is quickly becoming the next big thing. Bloggers Crystal VanTassel-Lopez and Kelli Miller have recorded over eighty Learn to Blog Hangout videos, and founded a Facebook membership site with more than 3,200 members that is growing by about 30 a month.
Crystal and Kelli are paid $750 per sponsored post by major brands like Kraft, Disney, Crayola, and many others. Kelli once received an entire kitchen full of stainless steel appliances. But if you look up their sites in SEO toolbars, you wouldn’t pick them out of a crowd. Their value lies in the enormous amount of traffic they are able to drive through social networks and their loyal audiences on their in-house lists.
Because they are personal friends of mine who I mentored years ago, Crystal was kind enough to share with me how the site makes money and how she managed to increase her monthly page views from 519,000 page views in December to 628,780 in January.
How Does She Drive So Much Traffic?
These are the actual January traffic results for Crystal’s blog CrystalandComp.com, straight from Google Analytics:
- 28.94% from Pinterest; 30 percent of the content she pins is her own content.
- 24.21% direct traffic from her email list; it took her seven years to build the list.
- 22.19% from Facebook mobile; she spends $200 per month boosting her content at the rate of $5 per post to very targeted demographics.
- 10% (but typically as much as 20-25%) from Google organic.
- Referrals from other bloggers she knows; Kelli sent Crystal 2,100 visitors in January.
- Other search engines.
What else drives her traffic?
- Participating in tribes and groups and using services like PubExchange.
- She has a core group of five related bloggers who consistently promote for each other.
- A Facebook membership site.
628,780 page views is a HUGE amount for a mom blog–or any blog. Because she and Kelli mentor so many bloggers, and they and everyone else constantly asks them how in the world they drive so many page views, they wrote an e-book telling how.
At one time, they offered classes to their Facebook members and mailing lists. However, they found live classes took too much time and effort, and the students often did not have sufficient backgrounds to absorb everything, so they now focus on writing e-books.
I am now going through Crystal and Kelli’s e-book Skyrocket Your Pageviews, and here are some tips from my conversation with Crystal about the book. They show how to use little-known sections of Google Analytics to dissect the real-time behaviors of site visitors to give visitors more of what they like. Then they use that demographic data to hypertarget their boosted Facebook mobile content. They also regularly create more content targeting the keyword phrases that bring them the most traffic and to give readers what they obviously want most.
How Freelancers and Bloggers Are Making Money
Most bloggers do not actually make money from their blogs. They use them to attract clients for services they offer such as writing, business blog editing, social media management, virtual assistance, accounting, and consulting.
Crystal shared with me her top sources of income:
- Sponsored content (about 50 percent)
- Advertising in the sidebar of her blog
- Including an affiliate link in every post because you never know which post might go viral. Examples include:
- Amazon books
- Recipes that link to ingredients
- Products she (and other bloggers) know will sell:
- Printables (digital pages parents or teachers print out for children to color or solve)
- Other products she has created
An example of a current trend are books about physical life planning. There are people who create the books, while others sell stickers. These books are popular in the same way scrapbooking is popular. One registered nurse (RN) Crystal knows is making so much money selling stickers, she is quitting her job to run her business.
Passive Income Exists, But..
Yes, it is possible to generate passive income, primarily from publishing e-books or recording video training. These sources will generate income whether you are working or not, but you cannot expect to just retire on a beach and never have to work again.
Your first product isn’t where the money comes from; offering recurring products to an audience that you’re growing provides a healthy income. Typically, a first product is inexpensive, and each one thereafter increases in price, especially in the “how-to-make money” niche.
There are many courses that teach these strategies. Choose one person whom you feel is trustworthy and take action on what they teach. Avoid “shiny object syndrome” or continually buying every new course. You already know most of what you need to do–the key is in getting it done.
Influencers who make a living from passive income are continually developing new products and promoting them. They aren’t on permanent vacation, and most of them aren’t getting rich. But many do make comfortable livings and it is possible that you can, too–if you have marketable expertise to share.
Need more incentive to get started? Read or listen to the success story of Belinda Weaver who left a full-time job in “How To Go From A ‘Paid-By-The-Hour’ Freelance Copywriter To Making Money While You Sleep Selling Information Products.”
Ready to Make Money While Sleeping?
Anyone with an expertise can make money selling e-books, courses, training, services, videos, business plans, templates–anything a small business or freelancer needs and values.
The examples in this post are about people just like you who made the time and acted. They created products they could sell online to make money while sleeping. There is no time like the present to add generating passive income to your revenue stream or supplement the income your business earns.