The Top 3 Ways to Make Passive Income in 2019 (that actually work!)
So many entrepreneurs dream of the day when they’ll be lying on a beach somewhere, sipping a piña colada and working on their tan, maybe reading a book or a magazine…
And the entire time, their phone is lighting up with notification after notification that they’ve made yet another sale.
Although this is a dream for so many people, I think we can all agree that it’s a little bit easier to dream up in our minds than it is to actually carry out. Amen?
Today, I want to help you start taking action as you work toward the passive income dream.
“Passive income” is pretty much the only kind of income I’m interested in these days, and in this post, I’m sharing three of my favorite passive income strategies that are actually working in 2019.
This post contains affiliate links for products I love. If you purchase a product through my link, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
What is passive income?
I think of “passive income” as any form of revenue that your business generates without you having to trade time for dollars.
Every different income stream falls somewhere on the spectrum between being completely passive, or being completely non-passive, or falling somewhere in the middle (which I call “semi-passive”).
A non-passive income stream would be something like a 1:1 service, where clients pay you for the time and work that you do for them. If you don’t invest the time and produce the agreed upon materials, you don’t get paid.
A semi-passive income stream would be something like a course launch. Although you’ve already created the course itself and so it’s “passive” income in that sense, putting together and executing a course launch takes (quite) a bit of time and energy — so it isn’t a completely passive stream of income.
A totally passive income stream would be something like affiliate marketing. You might include affiliate links in your blog posts and other areas of your website, but then you step away from them completely. Anytime someone makes a purchase through those links in the future, you earn a referral commission and the revenue is completely passive.
My top 3 passive income methods
Next, let’s take a look at my three favorite ways to earn passive income. These methods all fall into the “completely passive” category, meaning that once you put these three strategies in place, you don’t have to touch them/work on them/think about them again.
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is the bomb.dot.com. It took me months to get into affiliate marketing when I launched my website, which I totally regret because it’s quickly become one of my favorite ways to make money online.
Pssst. If you’re not sure what affiliate marketing is or how to get started with it, be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Beginners.
If you’re already familiar with affiliate marketing, let’s jump into my top strategies for generating passive income as an affiliate.
1. include affiliate Links in your blog posts
This strategy is pretty straightforward and likely the one that comes to mind when you think of affiliate marketing. Basically, any time you recommend a tool, product, course, service, book, or anything else to your audience in one of your blog posts, make sure it’s an affiliate link!
The blog posts I’ve found to generate the most affiliate income are tutorials where I show how to use a certain tool or product and explain why I love it. This works especially well if you include a “how-to” video or a lot of step-by-step pictures.
2. create a Resources/tools page on your website
If you’re always getting asked what your favorite tools or products are (and even if you’re not! 😉), why not create a “Favorite Tools” page on your website where you share all of your recommendations in one place?
And of course, you’ll include as many affiliate links as possible. If you do create a page like this, I also recommend linking to it in your top navigation menu.
3. include affiliate Links in your welcome SERIES & your FREEBIES
To get a bit more advanced, you can start including affiliate links in your automated welcome series that gets sent to new subscribers when they join your email list. You can also include affiliate links in your opt-in freebies (workbooks, guides, checklists, etc.).
4. include affiliate Links in your courses and digital products
This is one of my favorite strategies ever, and it works a treat. When someone has purchased one of your paid courses or products, that means they already have a certain level of trust with you — and that means they’re more likely to purchase another product that you recommend to them!
Of course, your recommendations should be completely related to the topic of the course or digital product. For example, in my email lists course, I include affiliate links for my favorite email list tool, ConvertKit.
5. create affiliate Pins on Pinterest
Affiliate marketing on Pinterest is a game changer, especially if you have a strong Pinterest strategy in place to make sure your pins are getting seen and clicked on.
To learn more about making money with affiliate marketing on Pinterest, check out my full blog post here.
6. set up Sales funnels
Finally, you can create a sales funnel that’s completely dedicated to promoting an affiliate offer (not one of your own products, courses, or services). This works the same way as any other funnel, beginning with a relevant opt-in freebie that’s followed by a series of emails, and then ends with a pitch for a product that you’re an affiliate for.
2. Digital products
A digital product is any type of product that you create, sell, and deliver digitally. Some of my favorite types of digital products are:
Templates (e.g., social media templates, graphic design templates)
Design elements like fonts, patterns, and icons
Digital products are amazing because they’re quick and easy to create, they help your customers get results, and they’re usually an easy sell because they’re low—priced. For some great examples of how to create a full-time income with digital product, check out my friend Alysha’s template shop (*affiliate link).
Once you’ve created your first (or next) digital product, here’s how you can turn it into a reliable source of passive income.
1. create a shop on your website or use a platform like Creative Market
If you’re using Squarespace (highly recommend!), you’ll be able to easily set up a shop right on your website. You can add as many products to your shop as you like, completely customize your virtual “storefront”, and even charge sales tax.
Another great place to market and sell your digital products is Creative Market. Creative Market is THE hub for all things graphic design, stock photos, and templates, so if that fits your products, you’ll definitely want to list your products on Creative Market.
2. Create a sales funnel for your product
A good sales funnel will be your no. 1 strategy for generating consistent passive income online. A funnel takes your prospective customer from being maybe-slightly interested in purchasing something from you to being definitely, super interested — ending with them buying one of your products.
In the case of digital products, you can play around with offering some kind of discount code for your products at the end of your sales funnel as an extra incentive. You can set it up so that the discount code or link only works for a short period of time (maybe 24 or 48 hours) to encourage people to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
3. Online courses
You didn’t think I could write a post about passive income without talking about courses, did you!?
I love online courses, and they’re how I currently make the majority of my income. I mentioned at the start of this post that course launching isn’t a completely passive form of income, but that doesn’t mean you CAN’T generate passive income with your courses.
Instead of launching your courses, what you’ll want to do is create (shocker alert!) a sales funnel for your course. The same sales funnel guidelines from above apply. Your funnel will look like this:
Relevant opt-in freebie → Email series with free value → Pitch for your course
Add some kind of time-sensitive offer, bonus, or discount to the funnel to encourage people to sign up quickly.
Now, let’s quickly chat about what makes a standout, sellout course that will actually generate passive income for you…
1. the course has a clear promise
Your course needs to promise some kind of result or transformation to potential students. It can’t just be about learning something; it has to be about achieving a specific result — whether that result is a goal your students want to achieve or a problem they want to solve.
2. The course pricing is aligned
Pricing is a notoriously tricky thing to master as an entrepreneur, and there technically aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing. Luckily, you can play around with your price until you land on the “magic number”.
How do you know if you’ve found the magic number? A) You feel good about it, and B) The sales start rolling in!
3. You have a kickass sales page
Courses are usually a bigger monetary investment than smaller digital products, which means your sales page is crucial. Your sales page should take potential buyers on a journey and show them how your course will bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be, positioning your course as the answer to their problems/prayers.
4. You share testimonials, stats, and results
A lot of what you want to do when it comes to selling is tap into people’s emotions and show them what’s possible for them. But with that said, it’s equally important that you satisfy the rational, logical side of your prospective customers’ brains. This is why it’s smart to share testimonials from your former students and clients on your sales page, as well as any stats, graphs, and charts that highlight their results.
5. You’re super passionate about the course
Successful courses are built on a foundation of passion. In other words, when the course creator is so darn passionate and excited about the topic of their course, and when they know the information in the course will change people’s lives, they simply couldn’t not create the course. That kind of passion leaps off the page and the excitement is contagious!
In this post, we covered three different ways to generate passive income online. Now it’s time to get to work!
Let me know down below: Which of these income streams are you going to work on setting up in your business next? Do you already have a digital product or course that you can turn into a source of passive income by setting up a sales funnel?