The term “passive income” has pervaded the internet community. At a time when salaries are dropping and jobs are being eliminated, people are seduced by the two buzzwords in that term. Obviously people want to increase their incomes, and the term passive means, to many people, “no work.” Of course, there is a lot of work that goes into generating that passive income — and it’s really not all that passive at all.
Almost all passive income plans revolve around a website. Yet that is the vaguest of vague descriptions. Only certain types of websites work for the purpose of creating income. If you build the wrong type, or execute poorly along the way, you’ll invest time in money in a losing effort.
Follow this blueprint, on the other hand, and you’ll stand a better chance of succeeding, and making that elusive passive income (that is not really passive at all, though it is real income) in no time.
1. Find the balance between competency and passion
For some reason, the standard advise for career-seekers has become “follow your passion.” That’s great and all, but there are a few glaring issues with this trope. For starters, if enough people don’t share your passion then there won’t be much of a market for your skills. Then there’s the killjoy factor: taking your passion professional might lead you to hate the thing you once loved.
Allow me to introduce some more refined advice. Instead of merely following your passions, also assess your competencies and skills. Perhaps you’re not passionate about math, but if you’re good at it you can get an engineering degree. With that you can get involved in the world of tech startups, which might be your passion.
The advantage of taking your skills and competencies into account is that it helps ensure you’re on a money-earning path. You might have a passion for Pokemon cards, but there isn’t much you can do with that passion to make money. (Though some people have.) Finding that balance will help you make money in a field that you enjoy.
2. Research, research, research
Just because you find an area where you can thrive doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed success. In any field or discipline, there are many smarter and more experienced people than you. The only way to play at their level is to immerse yourself in the subject. That means a healthy dose of research.
Research will let you know a number of important factors, such as:
- What kind of content works with your niche?
- How active are the prominent communities in the niche?
- What keywords generate the most search traffic?
- How do people discover content in the niche?
- What kind of products well well to community members?
- What rates do advertisers typically pay?
These questions and more come into better view when you take the time to immerse yourself in the niches and communities you wish to enter. Once you start compiling ideas and answers, your strategies should start to form. But none of that happens if you jump in without conducting proper research beforehand.
3. Practice your design skills
The old adage declares content king, but that was coined in a different era. At that time, most blogs looked pretty similar. There were a few innovations here and there, but almost every blog centered on the same design ideas. That has changed quite a bit in the last two to three years. Design is now king.
New designs abound, and publishers are taking advantage in every way. Chances are blogs in your chosen niche have started adapting as well, employing new designs that resonate with the modern, social media using reader. To use an out of the box WordPress theme is no longer enough. You need to start working on your design skills.
Despite all the code you’ll need to learn, picking up design elements is actually relatively easy given the huge number of resources available. You can start here and then go to places like CodeAcademy to learn hands on. That will put you in position to study design trends and implement them yourself.
4. Create content people want to read
While people get the “content is king” mantra drilled into their heads, most of them misunderstand the concept. Mere content won’t win you readers and customers. Anyone can create content, after all. What a new site needs is content that people actually want to read. But again, this gets mistaken.
The easiest trap to fall into as a content creator is trying to please everyone. If you create content for everyone, you’re creating content for no one. In order to woo an audience, you have to find out what readers in your niche want. Again, this harkens back to research. Read the blogs and publications in your niche. Figure out what’s been talked to death. Take time every day to come up with ideas that haven’t been covered. Even if only a few of them turn into blog posts, you’ll still have a steady supply of new thoughts.
5. Spread your message
Content creation is not enough. In order to attract readers you must get the content in front of them. The landscape isn’t the same as five or six years ago, when readers would go searching for content themselves. In the social media age they need it plastered in front of them. That means mastering social media constructs.
This involves a bit more than simulcasting your posts on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the idea of spreading your message is in a way misleading. What you need is others to spread your message. Two words will guide you along the right path to achieve this:
It’s not enough to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms as a means to spread your content. You have to actively and sincerely use them for the sake of using them before you can realize the benefits. Only after you’ve shown your true colors will people bother to engage with you and share your content. In other words, it’s a long, hard journey to social media success.
6. Get your ducks in a row
Finally, you get some money rolling in. Perhaps you’ve sold some products and received affiliate commissions. Maybe a few ads have netted you a couple of dollars. The point is that your research is paying off. You’ve created content people want and gotten it in front of a good number of people. Your reward is a steady stream of income.
That income stream can be from a number of sources, making it a bit more difficult to manage. Don’t think you can accomplish this with a simple Excel spreadsheet. That’s the lazy person’s way of managing, and eventually it will stop working. If you’re making money, you need to invest in your ability to account for your money.
There are a number of accounting programs that work. I always recommend QuickBooks Mac accounting software (because you’re using a Mac, right?), because it works both on computers and on the cloud. It’s a bit more expensive than putting new cells in an Excel sheet, but it’s much more organized as well. If you can’t account for your money, how do you know how well your business is running?