passive income fact or fiction? small business article for YBKBS magazine
If you don’t find a way to make an income while you sleep, you’ll work until you die
Warren Buffet
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By Jess Dixon

I have a bit of a problem with the expression “passive income”. Specifically, I think it’s a misnomer and doesn’t really do justice to what is actually quite a useful concept.

When people hear “passive income,” it conjures up images of money for doing nothing. It’s a very seductive myth. Who wouldn’t want to have the cash rolling in while they lie on the beach sipping a cocktail?

The problem is that it’s just that: a myth. And unfortunately, many people are willing to exploit and sell this unrealistic dream. Anyone who tells you that there’s a quick fix solution, one that will have you rolling in money without doing anything, is selling you something (probably a ludicrously expensive course of dubious quality or a pyramid scheme, let’s be real.)

So what’s the reality?

There’s no such thing as money for nothing. Those people you see who always seem to be on holiday somewhere exotic and claim that they work about an hour a week? It’s not real. It’s an illusion, a deliberately curated image. One of three things is going on:

Either they spent years working their butt off to build a business, then either sold it for millions or outsourced most of it and are now living off the profits. Yes, it happens, but it’s rare – and they didn’t get there easily or overnight…

…Or their lifestyle is actually funded, at least in part, from another source (partner with a high paying job, rich parents, inherited wealth, etc.)…

…Or they’re straight up lying about how much they actually work and there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that you don’t see in those glossy Instagram shots.

If you want to run a successful business, you have to put your heart and soul into it. You have to believe in what you’re doing and be willing to work very, very hard. At first, you might not make much or any money. It takes time, energy, investment, and commitment to build a business. If you go in with the idea that it’ll make you rich and then you can run away to a tropical island and leave it all behind, you’ll be in completely the wrong mindset, which will ultimately lead to disillusionment and failure.

Quoted in Forbes, Silicon Valley executive coach Bryan Franklin says, “Every time I’ve seen someone create a business, with the ultimate intention of getting away from that business and its customers as quickly as possible, instead of moving towards that business and its customers, it fails.”

In other worlds, build a business you’re passionate about and keep striving to make it better.

It’s not all bad news, though!

What is often referred to as “passive income” really isn’t all that passive at all. The expression is often used to refer to something that continues to make you money when you’re not actually working – in other words, beyond or outside of the pay-per-hour model. And this is actually a useful and viable concept for business owners. But this type of income still requires upfront work and continual effort and investment.

So what’s the secret? Honestly, it’s the same as any other area of successful business, and it really isn’t that complicated. Find something there’s a market for, create it, and then promote it. That’s it.

With all that said, here are a few ways you might want to explore to add some additional income streams to your business.

Affiliate marketing

At its most basic, affiliate marketing works like this: you advertise another company’s products and get paid every time someone makes a purchase through one of your links.

There are affiliate programmes for almost any kind of product or service you can think of, from travel to web hosting to fashion, and much more. All reputable programmes are free to join, and all you need is a place to post the links. If you get significant website traffic and/or have a large social media following, affiliate marketing might be for you.

The more high-quality content you create and the larger your audience, the more money you’ll make. Affiliate links can theoretically make you money for years after you post them, but you’ll need to keep driving traffic to your website and offering valuable content if you want to see those benefits.

Write an ebook

Do you have specialist knowledge in a niche subject area? Why not write an ebook about it, which you can then sell on platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?

Yes, writing an ebook is a serious time investment upfront. Even a very short ebook is typically well over 10,000 words, while some rival traditional print books, coming in at 80,000 words or more. There might also be a financial investment, such as hiring an editor, proofreader, or cover designer. However, once your book is available for sale, it can theoretically make you money forever. You’ll have to promote it, of course, and you might even need to release an updated edition every couple of years if your information is of the kind that goes out of date.

Create an online course

No, not a course on “how to work an hour a week while lounging on the beach and making millions” (please, I beg you, no more of these!)

What knowledge do you have that others would find useful? If you’re a marketer, why not create a course on PPC advertising or social media marketing? If you’re a designer, how about a course on how to create visually appealing websites? I’ve been pondering a course on basic copywriting skills for business owners, and I might even get around to actually creating it one day!

Once you’ve identified the marketable skills that you could teach, you can choose an e-learning platform, create your course materials, and launch. You’ll need to actively promote your course, and update your materials from time to time to ensure they’re still current. You’ll make money each time someone takes your course.

Building a sustainable business

These are just a few of the ways you can bring in additional cash beyond the pay-per-hour model. As you’ve seen, none of them are truly “passive”. They all require an active and ongoing investment in creation and promotion. But if you do one (or more) of them really well, the rewards can be substantial.

So instead of chasing the lie that is raking in the cash while doing nothing (unless you’re Jeff Bezos), follow your passions and build something awesome and sustainable, while making the most of additional revenue opportunities.

Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on linkedin LinkedIn Jess Amy Dixon is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager based in the East Midlands. She helps clients grow their businesses via the written word, whether that's through marketing copy, blog content, or social media posts. She's also working on her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, and has won prizes for short fiction. email LinkedIn Facebook Instagram Twitter Website

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