I’ve been working online for many years and during that time I have come across so many people selling the idea that I can make money while I sleep through ‘passive income’. To be honest, I already do a lot of what they suggest works and I make a very decent income as a result of it. But … and it’s a big but, the phrase ‘passive income’ just doesn’t do it for me. Why? Because it’s anything but passive, and today I thought I’d weigh in to the argument and share the reasons why I know there is no such thing as passive income.
We’ve all seen the ads that make the promise that we can earn easy money online, we may have clicked on the links and signed up for someone’s free e-course; some of us may even have paid good money to learn (and earn) with the best internet marketers around. And that, my friends, is the nub of the problem. Because we bought into the idea, we now need to believe it’s possible for anyone and everyone to achieve the dream.
Now, don’t get me wrong. What I’m not saying is that you can’t make money while you sleep. As authors we all know the truth of that. For example, our books sell on Amazon whether we’re awake or not. But that’s not passive income, it’s just income.
So what exactly is passive income? Well it’s the idea that without any effort on my part whatsoever I can create a ‘set it and forget it’ routine that regularly brings in a huge wedge of cash each month. The problem is that the theory ignores the amount of work needed to:
- get the product you are selling created in the first place, and then
- tell the people that might want to buy it that it’s available.
As authors we also know that writing the book is the easy part. Getting it published and then marketing it, either directly to our audience or to agents and publishers, takes much more time and effort than many of us anticipated.
Another type of so-called ‘passive income’ include affiliate links. The ebooks would have you believe that all you need do is sprinkle a few choice links to other people’s products in to your blog post or email and, hey presto you’ll be a multi-millionaire in no time. Of course, ‘this only works if you have a huge audience to work with’ they say, and ‘it’s important to build an email marketing list’.
Now, I’m quite fortunate I do have an audience, a rather large one as it happens with an email list that contains some 20,000 names and email addresses who are all actively engaged with what I do. it’s highly targeted and focused around women’s health. I also happen to have written ‘the book’ on the subject (snappily titled ‘101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy‘!). But even though I have all these benefits already, I have never managed to get anything but a paltry sum from affiliate links, so I stopped bothering.
In fact, even though I have the ‘ideal’ online business in some people’s eyes because I have the traffic and the email list, I still need to expend time and energy running that ‘business’. Every day I need to write the emails, respond to the comments, answer the queries, add content to the website and feed Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
The website, which currently receives about 200k unique visits everyone month is anything but passive. Sure, people can buy products 24/7; they can leave comments, add their own stories and join in on the forums … but I still need to process the orders, approve the comments, share the stories and moderate the forums.
Generating passive income is a full-time job. Yes, you will be able to sell things to people all over the world at any time of the night or day, whether or not you’re in bed, at your desk or on holiday. But, it’s not going to happen by itself, even if the website is hugely popular, top of the Google search ranks and self-generating in terms of email marketing lists.
So please, don’t be sucked in by the promise of easy money; you can earn a good income while you sleep but not without a great deal of up-front and continuing effort on your part.