When I got laid off from my job in 2015, I promised myself that I'd do whatever it took to become my own boss and never go back to a full-time job.
It was a goal that came with many brainstorm sessions and lots of Excel spreadsheets. In the end, I not only wanted to make enough money to cover my bills and increase the funds in my savings account but also to match and possibly exceed my old annual salary.
One of things I quickly realized was that as an entrepreneur and freelancer, job security was far from guaranteed. To cut down on my stress, I quickly decided that to make this goal work, I needed to diversify my income.
I became fascinated by the idea of passive income. Common passive income sources can come from renting out property, making investments with dividends, or equity investments. Passive income is defined as income that requires little to no effort to earn or maintain.
The more research I did, the more I realized there were so many other ways to develop a passive income strategy that aligned with my existing business, my personal brand, and my financial plan.
Over the last five years I have made thousands of dollars each month from my passive revenue streams. Here is how I've done it.
When I got laid-off, I decided to start digging deep into skills I had, and ways I could teach others how to master the knowledge and experience I gained over the years. Rather than teaching one-off workshops, in person or live virtually, I decided it would be a better use of my time and resources to create digital courses with a longer shelf life.
The first course idea I had was one that would teach people how to start a wedding business similar to the side hustle turned full-time gig I launched in 2014. I set it up on a website where people could purchase the course and access the material whenever they wanted. It took me a few months to develop the digital course, but it's provided me with passive income every month since it went live.
Video by David Fang
Sometimes I wake up in the morning, check my email, and notice I made a couple of sales while I was asleep. Most of my courses range from $47 to $150 and I host them on a platform called Thinkific, which is similar to Skillshare and Teachable. It's been a model that I've been able to repeat with a lot of success.
During the pandemic, I created six new courses that have helped make up for the significant amount of income I lost this year from other projects and clients.
One way I've been able to monetize my blog, which I've had since 2011, and the content I provide on social media and my email lists is through affiliate links. I primarily use Amazon's affiliate program and I'm able to link to products I mention in my content — whether it's books I'm reading or products I bought and loved — and make a percentage of any sales I bring in.
This has been a good way of making anywhere from $40 to $200 a month.
While it's not big money, the more your audience grows and the more you produce content with products that could be of value to them, the more potential you have to increase your revenue.
There are other programs I have considered using, such as ShareASale and Rakuten, which gives you access to more brands and products that offer affiliate links. Many influencers and bloggers use sites like that when posting about outfits or decor. This year I plan to expand my affiliate offerings around products that I endorse and also software that I use as a digital creator.
Another way to make monthly income, without doing repetitive work, is to put out downloadable e-books. I've written five of these, on the same topics as my long-form classes, as well as nonfiction books, and I sell them on my website.
While it can take anywhere from a few months to a year to write these downloadable books, it can bring in income for you for years to come, without you having to rewrite or provide any additional content. I usually charge anywhere between $5 and $25 for these e-books.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
While the price point is low, it's still a great way to bring in a few hundred dollars a month. It also introduces people to my brand and content, for a little bit of money, with the hopes they'll buy a higher-priced item along the way, such as a digital course.
I use free programs like Reedsy and Canva to format the books so that they look professional and provide the buyer with a good user experience.
I've had a blog since 2011 and a YouTube channel for over six years. I was told early on that one way to make money off that content was through ads. I used programs like Google's AdSense for my blog and turned on YouTube ads for the videos
I only make around $10 a month from ads on my website or videos. While it's not a lot of money, it's a good start and it helps me think of new strategies to grow the potential here.
Since a lot of the money you can make through ads is based on your audience numbers and page views, it gives me fuel to want to optimize my website and my content to draw more people to what I'm putting out there.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
A big change I made to my finances, three years ago, that I'm proud of is moving all of my money out of a savings account that only offered 0.01% interest to a savings account that offered over 1.8% interest.
Having your money in a high-yield savings account, that compounds monthly, allows you to make hundreds, or even thousands, a year just by keeping your money in a savings account.
While I'm only pulling in less than $150 a month in interest, it's still far more than my old bank account. Plus, it requires no additional maintenance or attention and is an easy way to pull in monthly passive income.
Over time, passive income streams have helped me feel more secure as my own boss, and have helped me during this uncertain moment. This year in particular, when some of my longstanding clients and jobs were paused because of the pandemic, these passive income strategies have continued to bring in income month after month.
Jen Glantz is the founder and CEO of the business Bridesmaid for Hire, the voice of the podcast "You're Not Getting Any Younger,″ and the author of the Amazon-bestselling books "All My Friends Are Engaged″ and "Always a Bridesmaid for Hire."
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