In the last few months, the world witnessed a serious plague destroy large swaths of the economy. COVID-19 basically shut down entire countries as it ripped through the world. It was then that many people realized how little they have in terms of an income safety net.
I, personally, knew a bunch of people who found themselves in serious jeopardy because they didn’t have a way to make ends meet. That’s why I’m a huge fan of passive income. Unlike active income, where you have to work around the clock to make a dime, passive income can be made while you sleep.
So, how do you earn money without having to work long term? It’s simple. You have to invest in or create assets that will make money for you. As someone who’s had to struggle with getting passive income started, I know how hard it is when you have no money to your name. So let’s talk about some ways that you make it happen!
Before I Begin: A Note About Passive Income
One thing I’ve noticed about passive income is that the main goal is to collect assets and help them work for you. This requires time (work), money, or both. If you don’t spend any money, then you’re going to have to work twice as hard to make sure that the assets you get are going to actually make you some cash.
What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t let the name fool you. Passive doesn’t mean “sit on your butt and do nothing.” It means that, if cared for, it will help earn you money when your job takes a nosedive.
1. Write blog posts and monetize them.
I am a huge fan of writing. In fact, it’s what I do as a living. Writing is a great way to add passive income—especially if you’re a fan of affiliate marketing. Having your own blog and writing posts about your favorite products can help you get some serious income without having to grind after you write it.
If you’re not a fan of affiliate revenue, don’t worry. There are other ways to monetize you blog posts. Some sites, such as Medium, let readers tip you. If you have a serious following, getting a Patreon to help your followers support your work is a great way to make your fundraising even easier.
2. Do YouTube videos on subjects you’re good with.
Some people might say that the YouTube monetization route is dead, but I’m not so sure. It’s still very possible to earn a good income on this platform, and once again, if you want to add nitro to your income, having a Patreon helps.
The important thing to remember with YouTube is that you need to advertise, promote, and also optimize the content you want to turn into passive income. No views means no money. The more views and followers you have, the more money you can make. This route might not involve you spending money, but it still will involve a lot of work.
3. Write and sell books online.
Still feeling creative? Not a problem. Another good way to make an asset that will make money for you is to write and sell books online. Amazon’s book marketplace remains one of the most popular parts of its platform and publishing on it is actually fairly easy to do.
You can literally write a book on anything and get it published. Much like with YouTube and any other form of content creation, you’re going to need to market it and help your fanbase grow.
Once you start getting fans, you’re going to start seeing more money pour in…and eventually you won’t have to work as hard to promote your stuff.
4. Create and sell an app online.
Though I am personally a “creative type” (read: I have the computer skills of a boot.) I do know that the app and software markets are massive. A single app can make you a lot of money, and while some might argue that the market’s flooded, I beg to differ.
Every single day, I have read yet another story of an indie app maker or game designer who managed to create something that went viral. I mean, remember Flappy Bird? Though it was a free game, it still spread around the net like wildfire.
If you have the coding skills and the graphics skills to do so, create an app and sell it on the market. You’d be shocked at how much money it can earn you, especially if you make a point of marketing it on your own.
5. Store other peoples’ stuff in your home.
Not feeling the whole “create something and sell it” vibe? I don’t blame you. It’s not for everyone and it can take a lot of work to actually kick off. Thankfully, there are other routes you can take to get your paws on that sweet, sweet passive income.
You might already have considered renting a spare room as an Airbnb. That is, in fact, a way to get passive income. However, I’m not going to lie. Airbnb isn’t for everyone. I, personally, wouldn’t do it because I don’t trust random people in my place. But, there are other options.
One of the newest ways to make it happen is by using an app called Neighbor. Neighbor is basically the “Airbnb” of storage. The way it works is simple: people pay you to store items for them via the app. You use your spare space to store the stuff. When the person’s ready to claim it, you bring it outside.
Unlike with Airbnb, you don’t have to make their bed. You just have to let their stuff sit there. It couldn’t be easier if you tried.
10 Signs You Shouldn’t Work For An Affiliate
Let’s just be honest here. I’ve harped and waxed poetic when it came to just about every aspect of choosing an affiliate. It’s literally the biggest issue that you will face as a marketer. Bad affiliate, bad time, no money. I mean it.
The thing is, there are so many different affiliate sites out there and so many products that you can choose to sell. We all know about the big ones like Amazon or ClickBank, but others still pop up that are new every single day. Sometimes, it can be hard to get an idea of whether or not an affiliate is worth it. These signs below indicate something might be up…
- You can’t find any reviews or information about them online. Every affiliate worth their salt will have at least one or two reviews from affiliate marketers who’ve worked with them backing them. If you can’t find a single ounce of information on them, you might not be dealing with a legitimate company.
- Any information you DO find seems to warn people against the company. If you end up finding nothing but bad reviews online, it’s better to trust the warnings others give you. It may save you from getting badly burnt.
- The promises are way too good to be true. Though affiliate marketing is fairly lucrative, it’s not going to be an overnight success. It takes months or even years to get a site that’s totally geared towards affiliate marketing to work. If you’re seeing ads telling you that you’ll earn millions, back away.
- People mention that it’s hard to actually get money from the affiliate in reviews. A very high minimum payout, having to jump through hoops to get your money, or being asked to pay a high fee for access to your account are all signs that you’re going to get grifted.
- The products are terrible. I can’t emphasize this enough, and it’s something I’ve spoken about at length when it comes to my other articles. If the product is crap, no amount of selling, hawking, and talking up will suffice. Bad products will only wear you and your business down. Skip bad products!
- Everyone in the affiliate market is selling the same product from the same affiliate. Back in the day, this was the issue that happened to some large affiliate networks. Their products became absolutely terrible in quality, and that meant that they had to trim down their wares. The problem is that this led to all of their thousands of marketers hawking the same product. The market was flooded and no one made any money.
- Their links and tracking system are glitchy. A company that has a reputation for glitchy or nonfunctional tracking is a company which will cost you more money than they’re worth. Unless you enjoy spending your time haranguing customer service or heading to court, you’ll avoid working for them.
- Something about the program just doesn’t make sense. If the program or product doesn’t make sense, seems too rough around the edges, or just doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. It’s better to go with a program you feel comfortable with than to go with one you don’t fully trust.
- The company asks you to buy a service in order to sell their goods. This is never a good sign, and in many cases, the company in question is actually making most of their profits from people buying the right to sell their goods. Companies that are worth a damn won’t ever ask you to pay money upfront just to sell their goods.
- You’ve heard the company’s name mentioned as an MLM. Affiliate marketing is not the same as multi-level marketing nor should you ever mistake the two. One will make you rich, and the other will alienate you from others while draining your bank account. If you start hearing about it as an MLM scheme, run and don’t look back.
What Can You Do If Your Affiliate Isn’t Paying You?
Let’s say that you decided to get the scoop on a new affiliate program, and the payouts are massive. The product is promising, and you’ve started up a massive campaign to get some of that sweet, sweet affiliate money. After two months, you have still to get a paycheck.
You take a look at your sales. You double-check to make sure that you’re actually getting traffic and that you have reason to believe that you’ve gotten at least a handful of sales. Unfortunately, your affiliate is not paying up. What can you do?
Having been in this situation, there are a couple of things you can do depending on the level of damage the affiliate has caused. Here’s what I would suggest.
1. First things first, reach out to them via email.
In most cases, the lack of payment is just a misunderstanding. Reach out to your affiliate via email to see if they have a reason for the lack of payout. You might just need to wait a little longer, or it could be a matter of using the wrong link.
Don’t accuse or get angry right off the bat. Simply show the proof you have that you converted X numbers of sales, and then ask what’s going on. In many cases, you’ll get a reply and you will be able to work it out with the customer service rep.
2. Have a follow-up email if they don’t reach out to you.
Sometimes, they might not actually follow up with you immediately. If you don’t get a reply in 10 days, give a follow up email as a nudge to get them to reply. In the meantime, take down all your affiliate links so that you don’t give a company that might not pay you additional money.
3. Contact them through other means.
Still no answer? Yikes, but you can still contact them through other means. Give their customer service support line a call, or find an online chat service that they use to talk to their clients. From there, you can either work things out with them, or you can proceed to the next step.
If you aren’t sure where to find more contact information, check the bottom of your affiliate’s page. They usually keep contact information there. If those already didn’t work, attempting to reach out through their customer service line might be the next best thing.
Some people have also gotten success by searching the company up and seeing where others were able to make a connection. Sometimes, you might even stumble upon forum posts about the same issue that you’ve had with them.
If you’re lucky enough to uncover forum conversations dealing with others who felt jilted by being unpaid, you might be in luck. These conversations often tell you how they solved the same issue you have, or what their result may be.
In some rare cases, it may be worth reaching out to others who were cheated out of their money for a class-action suit. However, this should be done exclusively as a last resort.
4. Ask yourself if it’s worth getting angry over.
If you only made $30, or have a site that’s got plenty of affiliates to choose from, you’re better off giving a bad review about them and calling it a day. You can clean up from that gaffe and replace the links pretty easily.
The same can also be said if you’re still getting payouts for the majority of your traffic. If you’re getting paid well, you might want to avoid bringing it up because some affiliates will just drop problematic marketers.
On the other hand, if you created an entire niche site that cost thousands to make, then you might have reason to “get out of bed.” If you decide it’s time to take action…
5. Contact any other parties that may have been involved in your transaction.
Did you get this affiliate through a toolbar’s use? Sometimes, the reason you’re not getting paid could be an issue that deals with a glitch on a third party toolbar. Talking to them could fix this, or could at least alert them of the problem that you’re having with one of their vendors.
Most of these platforms will have at least some clout, which means that they could pressure their vendors to pay up.
6. Warn others and leave reviews on major affiliate sales sites.
If you’re in this position, you probably wish that someone warned you about this issue ahead of time. You might’ve saved someone some serious time and effort. Moreover, it’s worth pointing out that some companies will fix things if and only if news about their behavior becomes public knowledge.
At the very least, you will give others a heads up about their bad practices and potentially help curb damage from hitting others. It’s the right thing to do.
7. Contact a lawyer to find out if you have a right to sue.
If things still don’t sort themselves out, the final line of defense you have is to talk to a lawyer to sue for unpaid fees. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, especially if you are suing for more than $10,000. So, if you need to hire a lawyer, do so if you only believe it’s truly worth it.
If you aren’t owed more than $10,000, you have another option called small claims court. You don’t need a lawyer in small claims. All you need to do is file a lawsuit against the company and show the court the evidence that you have in your possession.
Should you choose to go to court, make sure to compile evidence. Make your case very clear, show any receipts that prove your issue, and with hope, the judge will rule in your favor. If he or she doesn’t, you can still appeal the decision in some cases.
Your Brand Is Your Reputation: How To Build It
I forget who told me this, but someone very wise once said, “Your reputation is like a bubble. You can take a long time to make it big, but once it’s damaged, it’s no longer there.” This statement was told to me about how people view others, but I’ve always found it to be far more applicable to the world of business.
Think about it. When you think of a major big box store, you tend to have a certain opinion pop up in mind. For example, Walmart is viewed as the all-American place where people go when they want to save money without having to dress up. Target is viewed as an upscale version of Walmart. And Kmart is viewed as the place you go when you need to buy something really quick. See what I mean?
Building your reputation is something that you need to take seriously, but how do you do it? Here are some of the best ways to maximize your rep and keep it carefully guarded.
Choose good products!
No matter what type of industry you’re in, the quality of the product you’re peddling will always matter. It is the core part of your reputation and will be the first thing people think of when they decide to buy from you.
People go to Porsche dealerships because they know Porsche makes quality cars. People go to Citizen for watches because they rock. If you choose good products that ship in a timely manner, your reputation will follow.
Use quality photos and posts to market yourself.
Did you ever meet a person who probably had the best of intentions, but dressed poorly and lacked self-awareness? You knew they probably weren’t a bad person deep down inside, but at the same time, the way they presented themselves made you averse to the idea of befriending them, didn’t it?
The way a person presents themself is the way the he or she markets herself. With products, the way you present them will change the way people view them. Good photos, elegant marketing techniques, and the right presentation will build your reputation fast. Using bad photos, on the other hand, will break it.
Join the cool kids.
In school, you probably remembered the lunch room where kids all sat with their respective cliques. There were the cool kids, the jocks, the geeks, and then the outcasts, right? In business, it’s kind of similar. Businesses tend to be aligned with similar businesses, sometimes to the point that they cross-promote one another.
What most people forget is that influencers and social media pages are also still businesses. Getting influencers to tout your gear or working with them on a special whitelabel collaboration is a great way to boost your reputation, especially among the trendy crowds.
On a similar note, it’s a good idea to avoid the “unpopular” kids in your realm. Associating with businesses that have a bad reputation, such as MLM businesses, can easily cause your entire company to tank.
Address complaints properly, but don’t encourage bad behavior.
One of the easiest ways to gain a good reputation among buyers is to learn the art of customer service. Good customer service will involve knowing how to professionally address complaints without having to harm your bottom line too much. Here’s what you need to know:
- Address complaints promptly. Waiting one to two days, or worse ignoring complaints will cause your company to lose traction with customers.
- Have your company’s policies written for all to see. It’s a good thing to have a return policy, a shipping policy, and a special gift order policy somewhere on your site. This way, people cannot argue over what your policies really are.
- Thank customers, but be firm if their demands are unreasonable. If you can’t give a customer a refund or a discount, tell them it’s against policy. Apologize and tell them when there’s nothing you can do.
- If a customer writes a bad review without a real reason, politely and professionally explain the situation to as a rebuttal. Something along, “This person has never actually shopped at our store,” can work.
Encourage a community to form around your store.
A good way to bolster your reputation is to encourage interaction among customers and encourage your clients to feel like part of a movement. Many dropshipping stores have gained a reputation by encouraging people to tell their thoughts on social media or starting a specialized page for fans to model their goods.
It’s a small gesture, but when done right, can help you reach a new level of awesome in terms of reputation.
Don’t be afraid to give back.
We live in a world that’s increasingly focused on corporate responsibility. People don’t want to buy from companies they feel are greedy or self-centered. By choosing to give back to organizations you support, or supporting initiatives that help people live better lives, you show that your store stands for something.
This gesture seems like a small one, but it’s important to remember your market. People are increasingly focused on corporate responsibility. If they can do more by spending with you, they will.